Fly to: Yangon, Burma
Internal Transfer: 4 flights to Thandwe, Heho, Mandalay & Bagan
Visa required: Yes if British
Currency:Myanmar Kyat (MMK)
Time Zone:+6hrs30mins GMT
Day 13, 18/02/11: Burma - The Golden Shadow
The day began with a teaching from Roshi followed by some group meditation practice. The group passed around Roshi's Marla beads and checked-in; basically how were we feeling, what was present and what would we like to share.
What a blessing and absolute gift this turned out to be. It really helped reconnect the group, allowing us to once again focus on each person and their experience along with how that contributed to the group experience and the group dynamic. Emotionally it was deeply moving, on a couple of occasions I felt the tears as they lightly fell off my cheeks.
Sat here, with this Sangha in Burma awakens in me a deep sense of gratitude, of awe; I feel inspired.
I spoke of the beauty of Burma as a country, the beauty of its people but for me, in this moment what was far more prominent was the beauty of this Sangha. How through the simple act of sharing, in an open, respectful and supportive manner it was like the opening of a lotus. As the Marla was passed each flower began, with a tentative breath the process of blossoming; a process cradled by the courage & sincerity embodied in every person who bore witness. On a group scale it felt like some sort of mutual alliance had been formed; the soil had been prepared, the nutrients set and here in this single moment had begun the cultivation of growth.
After lunch we made our way to dry land where we trekked, carrying our offerings to the forest temple situated on the hill overlooking Inle.
Here, we were surrounded by monks, young and old wearing deep burgundy cloth; reciting mantras and performing mudras in a harmonious balance. We listened to the Abbot as he exchanged dialogue with Roshi before we left our gifts.
At the top of the hill was situated a beautiful Pagoda, overlooking with clarity the distant waters of Inle. Whilst the amber sun bowed, taking leave from her scarlet canvas, a deep, hollow mantra was being recited from within the Pagoda walls.
The sound, thick & solid rang out, it resonated each cell. My ribs trembled, my pulse felt laboured under a heightened sense of excitement; just like the vibrating voice of the Mongolian throat singers this too engaged directly; a dialogue without words, a language recognised by only the soul.
Back on the stilted platforms of our hotel; to the hollow sound of drums, the clapping of hands, skin against skin; to a dance of spiritual movement and the deep thud of feet upon wooden stilted platforms, we lit fire lanterns. Each with a message, personal by nature, what did we want to let go of and what were we willing to let in.
With the clash of symbols and a hot flame burning, I had made my choice; my mantra was set, let go of 'fear'... let in 'love'.
The atmosphere was intense, somehow evocative. I felt loved, pure and supported, it was such a special feeling a snapshot in time, mirrored by the luminous reflection of those surrounding me.
After talking extensively with Liz, Rachelle, Paula & Jo, to let go of fear & let in love felt right. It felt relevant and as my lantern drifted up into the distant night sky I felt like something had been released, like through the process of metaphorically letting go I had also let go of something on a spiritual level.
It reminded me of a conversation with Paula regarding acrobatics, she had said, 'you have to let go of one bar before you can be in a position to catch the next and during that transition you're in a free-fall'. On so many levels I resonate with her words, the idea of stepping out from old patterns, of trading my victim eyes for the eyes of clarity.
This process of unfolding wholeheartedly appears to me like Indiana Jones stepping onto the invisible bridge, the bridge of faith. Perhaps like Indie, I have to let go, release my inhibitions and step out wholeheartedly into the chasm...
As I ate this evening I was again captivated by Ken, I love the way things have unfolded between us and as he speaks I experience so many light bulb moments. Our exchanges just bubble with a rich and unimaginable synchronicity.
I hugged Ken goodnight as he unwittingly tramped straight into someone else's room; Paula and I headed into Joanne's room for a cup of tea... well, no offense but our market tea did smell a bit fishy so instead we opted for a cup of hot water. Beautifully brewed and poured though I have to say. Time spent with these two wonderful & insightful women is an absolute joy; the conversation always feels honest and always seems to deliver such depth, such richness, such growth potential... oh and of course a few number 4's