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 16, 21/02/11: Burma - The Golden Shadow
Up for a Dharma talk with Roshi and a group check-in; normally after booking a trip I often doubt myself, ask myself 'why'... 'why am I doing this... Why choose here?' but since arriving in Bangkok and subsequently Burma that question has been answered before I've even had a chance to think it.
Every day here in Burma, every interaction has served as a reminder that experiences run richer and far deeper in the unknown - I mean if I'd planned it all there's no way I would have experienced and felt the things which are currently warming my heart, curving my smile... I just wouldn't have had the imagination for what has unfolded.
Due to my cold, I didn't want to hold the Marla beads as they came around, so instead I balanced them on my folded boarding pass. Halfway through speaking they fell off... shock, horror. I completely stopped what I was talking about concentrating all my efforts on trying to retrieve the Marla beads without actually touching them.
When I resumed my flow I mentioned how my life feels like it's somehow culminated in me being in this place, at this time, with this Sangha, particularly during such a time of transition & transformation for the people of Burma. So today I sat with a sense of appreciation and deep gratitude.
After our check-in's we hopped aboard horse carts and headed in and around the many pagodas of Bagan. I rode with Anne and felt deeply privileged to do so. I have a real love for Anne, each conversation we share has left me both amazed & inspired such is her enamouring beauty and humility.
I'm also captivated by her passion and love for Tibet, the way she speaks reminds me of my own feelings towards Nepal and its people. That familiarity of purpose, the sense of 'coming home' resonates & stirs something deep inside.
As Anne spoke I got a real sense of how important & highly she regards the 'relationships' in her life. Obscurely, up until pretty much now I've completely shied away from the creation or maintenance of relationships in general. I guess my fear of being abandoned, being left cuts too deep so I sabotage myself from ever having to experience such things. The irony is of course through my unconscious sabotage techniques I end up experiencing those feelings anyway.
Drinking in her soft, insightful words as they rolled effortlessly into the space between us, I began to consider my own experience of this trip.
How curious, as a person who doesn't usually engage with the 'relational' aspect I have benefited far more from the interactions with people & growthful relations than I have from Burma itself. Almost like Burma has fallen into second - this far from negates the beauty of Burma, but it has surprised me. Through engaging openly and honestly it would appear that people, across the globe, across the ages share far more similarities than differences. I mean after all aren't we all just trying to find our own way 'home'.
From the pagodas of Bagan, we were soon to find ourselves 'sacred shopping', artefacts from around the country had been collected & displayed. The quality was exquisite. Now normally I'm a bugger for buying paintings but for some reason I haven't really experienced any desire to buy anything whilst out here.
Watching Paula, Jo & Ken negotiate on their items was great, it was like I was experiencing the desire & buzz without actually spending anything. Paula bought an amazing sitting deity, crafted with the finest of detail. Joanne bought a set of golden monks holding out their begging bowls, their height staggered culminating in the biggest piece of the set, the Buddha.
Floating on the Irrawaddy River under the most incredible golden sun set was just divine, laughter filled the air. Ede told another story and we sat drinking Myanmar beer - just blissful.