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Bodh Gaya and the Guru's Comments

INDIA | Saturday, 6 February 2016 | Views [227]

I have now arrived in Bodh Gaya, for non Buddhists the scene of the Buddha's enlightenment and for Buddhists that and the most pivotal spot on the planet. 

I arrived after a 16 hour train journey from Puri, leaving around 9.45pm and arriving in Gaya around 1.30pm. A fairly short and very bumpy auto-rickshaw ride by a wild eyed betel chewing driver that had me clenching my teeth and nursing my back and which included a detour via freshly laid (as in seconds) pieces of tarmac and dirt roads in order to avoid a traffic jam, saw me deposited at my hotel, the Buddha International, in Bodh Gaya. I now await Manidhamma and a Buddhist pilgrimage. I'm looking forward to handing over some of the reins of responsibility for a while at least.

My last day in Puri was a rather weird and challenging one. It started with a swim in the Indian Ocean and the best shave/ head massage I have yet recieved in India. I am going to miss these. The barber did something with my neck in particular, a sort of osteopathic twist/click/multicrunch, that felt divine. The whole experience prompted me to buy some after shave lotion, something 'stone', which I very rarely do. I'll probably use it too.

Over breakfast at the Pink House I picked up a message from Guru, my Canadian friend from Sikkim, saying he was free and would I agree to meet up. He even offered to come into Puri to fetch me and take me to a great beach, to which all I agreed. 

I had anticipated that Guru and I might reminisce about our times in Sikkim and talk about fellow travellers and what had happened since we last met. Meeting up with Guru I was soon disabused of this notion. Enigmatic at the best of times, he seemed to have had a brush with reality at the secluded beach side resort he had been staying and was not only even more enigmatic but also direct and challenging in his comments towards me. In fact, what conversation there was consisted mostly in pointed comments about the nature of reality on his part and defensive or confused fumblings on mine.

Anyway, I have come away from that experience a little shaken and not in a bad way. I also feel a little angry. More grist for the proverbial mill.

Anger is a predominant emotion at the moment, a little weird for that to be the case here in the most holy of places. Yesterday's encounter with Guru on top of a challenging time in Puri where I felt that so many people wanted to get their claws into me, has left me a little drained and short of tolerance. Even in Bodh Gaya, even within the Bodhi Temple itself,  things have not eased off. I just know that if I respond to a seemingly friendly enquiry or helpful comment a sting is going to follow. 

The other side of this is that this is India, what do I expect, and it is good practice for spoiled old me to be kind and firm. Still reading the Bodhicharyavatara chapter on awareness it's also up to me to control my own mind irrespective of what is going on around me and how others are behaving. 

I am now reaching the end of the novel, Sea of Poppies, which I am thoroughly enjoying. I was comparing it in my mind with The Poisonwood Bible, though, and wondering why I don't have quite the same feeling for the characters in the currentl novel as I do for that. This may be because of the relative merits of the novels but also because I know for sure that something bad is going to happen to one of the Poisonwood characters. In the Poisonwood Bible, too, the main characters each narrate the successive chapters which may give me more of a feel for them.

A brief respite into fiction, now back to reflecting on the Guru's comments and hopefully an early night in Bodh Gaya!! How exciting (really!)



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