I am currently in a tiny, dusty town called Bodhgaya, and not far from here is the boddhi tree under which the Buddha was enlightened 2,500 years ago. I have seen two other Westerners since being here, and everyone else is black, brown, or of Asian descent. There are monks everywhere, wandering around in orange, crimson, and white robes, denoting various Buddhist sects- Thai, Tibetan, Zen, Burmese. This is a working Buddhist community, and it is surrounded on all sides by endless miles of farmland scattered with tiny villages. This is by far the most rural part of India I have been to, and it is by turns exciting, lonely, beautiful, and uncomfortable.
This afternoon, I will head about 4 kilometers out of town, to the Dhamma Boddhi meditation center. I will spend another ten days in silent retreat, waking at 4 am, and falling asleep by 10. I have a few personal things that I want to work on while I am there, so I hope that this is a focused, positive experience. Wish me luck!
I have a lot more writing that I’d like to share, but the connection in this town isn’t great. I think I’ll wait until I get to Calcutta or Kochin before I try to post any more writing. It just takes too long here. So check back in in two or three weeks, for belated updates on Varanasi, the incredible holy city I just came from, and also from the experiences I am bound to have in the vipassana.
Lots of love to everyone,
(P.S. The picture on top is of some of the kids who hijacked me once I arrived in Bodhgaya. I spent all of last evening with them, being dragged through the Siddhartha Village, led through the rice paddies at sunset, shown the teeny, tiny villages beyond, having my hair braided and rebraided, sharing dinner together at a local dhaba, and generally being harrassed and loved so much I was exhausted. They were adorable, but insanely energetic. Everywhere I go in this small town, they find me. They have accosted me four different times today, following me into internet shops, accompanying me to lunch, guiding me back to my guesthouse… But despite their insane level of enthusiasm and energy, they are my favorite part of Bodhgaya.)