The Eyes of the Buddha, Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal
Looking ahead I see the tall gates of the temple compound towering above the busy street.
Vendors selling incense and idols tout over the sea of heads as the crowd moves slowly through the gates. Crossing the street I quickly slip through the gates using my usual tout avoidance
tactics. As I enter the complex I see before me the great monument of Boudhanath. A great mandala shaped Stupa with the eyes of the Buddha, the awakened one. On each of the four side the great pairs of eyes watch as the devote Buddhists below as they circumambulate the stupa clockwise. Many prostrate themselves on the ground measuring the length of their bodies as they go around, most just walk and pray, counting their prayers for peace on the beads of their malas.
At once upon entering this place I feel at ease, hundreds of minds simultaneously contemplating the end of human suffering can have an interesting effect on the atmosphere of a place. The air is static, charged with some unknown essence, some energy. I feel as if I am unable to have even a single negative or unhappy thought. My mind slips into an almost dream state, yet I see everything and hear everything in vivid detail.
After circling the Stupa three times I enter into one of the open chambers at its base. In the dark room a table is covered in hundreds of small butter candles. a golden statue of the Buddha sits behind glass, its eyes closed in meditation. Three young monks pass me and continue into the centre of the room where they go around a great ten foot cylinder engraved with sacred mantras. Pressing their hands against it as they walk around it begins to spin around and around. Outside not far away I can here a woman praying, the same prayer engraved on the great prayer wheel, Om mani padme hum, Om mani padme hum, Om mani padme hum. I can here her beads click, one bead for each prayer. Around her mala she counts out her prayers 108 times and than starts again. I contemplate the meaning of the prayer, the entirety of the Buddhist teaching is said to reside within these few syllables. The reality of suffering and the path to its end. The point of reciting it is to contemplate it, contemplate the entire meaning and realize whatever truth it may hold. Being a sceptic and logical person I find this concept very appealing.
Coming out of my thoughts I leave the room and continue to circle the Stupa. Outside the sky grows darker and the sun illuminates the undersides of the low cloud ceiling with oranges and reds as it begins to set. As it gets late the crowd starts to thin and I head back to the guest house. Leaving the Stupa I am deep in my thoughts. Back to reality and the world, hopefully I can take a bit of wisdom with me.