Buddha Jayanti in Buddha’s own Birthplace

Every time I travel for an extended period of time, I try to keep a journal. Not because I like journalling. I actually really don’t like journalling. More because I like the idea of 80-year-old me sitting in a rocking chair in the woods somewhere, reliving all the crazy shit I did as a youngin’.  So, in the spirit of being crazy and trying new things, I’m going to tell the story of my trip to Buddha’s birthplace mostly through excerpts. Journal excerpts, a Facebook message, and a few photos along the way.

On the list of coolest things I’ve ever done… this weekend might be winning an award. I’m going to be at the place of Buddha’s birth on his actual birthday, on a full moon, on my friends birthday (which this year falls on the same day) and I’ll be sleeping and eating and living in a monastery with buddhist monks while I’m there. – Facebook, May 19



This place is taking my breath away and I’m actually looking forward to 5am worship tomorrow and that’s something I literally never thought I would say, ever. I’ve never considered myself a spiritual person before but here I am at my first Buddhist monastery, looking forward to worship and thinking about meditating more. Maybe all the hippies and yogis have been on to something all this time. – May 20



I’m so glad I came to this place. The energy really is incredible but whether it’s a product of the place itself and the auspicious event that transpired here or of the reverence and importance imbued into it by the people who visit, I don’t know. But instead of questioning it too much, I think I’ll just let the magic of it all wash over me and bask in the moment. – May 20



I have to remember to hide Nadia’s card tonight so she finds it when she wakes up. She’s got to have something to open on her birthday! Especially because her birthday feast will be dhal bhat times three. Knowing Nadia though, I truly don’t think she’ll mind. – May 20


Happy Birthday Buddha! What a day! After my glowing review of yesterday, I’m ashamed to admit that I made a conscious decision to sleep through this morning’s worship. I would have been more ashamed had I fallen asleep mid-prayer though, so there. – May 21


After worship at 7 this evening, Nadia and I decided to go back into the monastery to meditate. I don’t usually meditate and have never been really successful at it (even when it’s Oprah’s voice leading the mediation… long story) but the energy and ambiance of this place are like none I’ve ever felt before so I figure I’ll give it a try. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call what ensued meditation, but it was the closest I’d ever come to it and for a little while, I felt truly peaceful. I managed to maintain it for about fifteen minutes before I got so excited to finally be meditating that my concentration broke. – May 20


When my concentration breaks and I come outside, I see the entire courtyard of the monastery brilliantly lit up with gorgeous, coloured lanterns.  Now there’s monks strolling through the lanterns. Could this moment be any more cool?! – May 20


I don’t want to dull this moment for myself by recounting all the mundane details of the day so I’ll save that for another time and continue exploring the garden of light. – May 20



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