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Namo Buddha

NEPAL | Wednesday, 13 November 2013 | Views [1194]

Namo Buddha

 Namo Buddha is the site where according to the Jataka Tales, Gautama Saykamuni in an earlier life offered his body to a hungry tigress so that she could feed her young.  This is one of the previous life events that prepared him for his ability to become enlightened during his 5th C BCE lifetime.  The cave has been a Buddhist pilgrimage site for many centuries, and there has been a Tibetan Buddhist monastery on the site for a number of decades.  The current complex is quite large and new with beautiful paintings lining the walls in the main prayer hall. Unfortunately I wasn’t permitted to take pictures inside.

 Ten years ago the only way to get to the site was via a five hour hike from Dulikhel, but now there is a paved road until about 4.5 km. down the hill from the monastery.  The first part of the windy dirt road is fine, but the latter part turns into a jeep trail with big ruts along the forested cliff face. Once beyond the monastery gates the pavement reappears. The view from the monastery is spectacular, although it needs to be a clear day to see the Himalayas in the background.   

 There are two sets of caves above the monastery, one directly behind it, which has the offering site with a fairly large stone draped in katas (white silk shawls) and an explanatory diorama. The “real” cave off to the left has modern statues of the tiger and her cubs.  Above the “real” one is a mediation cave for adepts.

 Behind the monastery is a path to the top of the hill that now is a burned garbage site in the middle of the prayer flags.  The burned garbage surprised me. If this was supposed to be an offering site, then I don’t understand why there were soda cans and beer bottles amid the ashes. On the other hand, it seems an odd place for a bonfire. 

 Like the bonfire, the story behind the site is a bit confusing.  The Buddha is honored for giving his life to feed those in need, even a tiger; an animal that is often a threat to the local people. It is his selfless offering that makes him worthy of recognition and prepares him for unveiling the 12 Steps of Dependent Origination in his Sakyamuni incarnation. From a metaphorical perspective though, the story seems to be saying that, according to Buddhist philosophy, as one’s enemy is one’s teacher giving one’s life for one’s enemy is the most compassionate act one can do.  Fear is based on attachment, attachment to a way of life, to people and things, and to one’s physical existence – and for me at least a fear of pain –( I just don’t like it) and the offering of the most precious gift one has, one’s life, is an overcoming of all fears. 

Yet, on the other hand, there is also the flip side; was this a suicidal act???  The Dalai Lama has repeated stated that actions which can be interpreted in various ways should be understood through the intent of the actor. We will never know what is in anyone else’s heart and mind, but according to the story, the future Buddha offered himself without desire or fear to what should have been his mortal enemy. So, not a suicide, but a true gift of life.  In a sense, this tale depicts the Buddha as perhaps the first organ donor.

 

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