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 4, 09/02/11: Burma - The Golden Shadow
Up at 5:45am & left the hotel at 6:30am, the flight to Yangon (Rangoon) took approximately 1hr. On arrival I was surprised by the size of the airport for some reason I was expecting it to be more like the airports encountered in Nepal and the more remote parts of Mongolia.
In Yangon we visited the reclining Buddha, a beautiful statue which appeared feminine; it had big eyes, long eyelashes and a soft wrinkle-less expression. As we circumambulated the statue the Buddha before us appeared to take on an altered state, its appearance changing in subtle but curious ways.
Dinner was at the Green Elephant, the conversation focused around jokes & what makes a joke funny, also inappropriate humour was featured - hmm feeling quite deflated as this just so happens to be my forte.
As the afternoon was passing the Sangha made its way to the Sweddagon Pagoda; from the moment my eyes met & traced its golden curves my breath was instantly captured.
Roshi did a talk and mentioned how it saddened her when people take great humour in the misfortunes of others, mentioning specifically the home video shows where people fall over or walk into things.
My heart sank, the heat of shame flushed across my face, my eyes met with their old and all too familiar friend, the floor. This is something I do more frequently than I care to admit or acknowledge, not out of any malicious tendencies but through shear awkwardness and discomfort. I'm not sure why I do or what possible benefit doing so brings, perhaps there's some element of avoidance but of what, I'm not sure. Right now I feel sad... that's sad with a hint of shame tossed in for good measure. Listening to this talk has certainly given me something to think about or at the very least it's given me something to be aware of.
We made our way out to the Great Shwedagon Pagoda just as the sun was preparing to fall. Here we joined hundreds of monks, nuns & local people in their evening circumambulation. The sky was serene, an effervescent glow illuminating the transition between day and night.
People gathered, the atmospheric energy was immense yet obscurely there was no sound, or none that I can recall. This scene played out like a dream, an altered state where consciousness and reality became as impermanent as time itself.
As the sun dropped from the sky all the people who had previously been circumambulating fell to the floor, some on their knees, some prostrating, some simply sat cross legged, as if triggered by a spiritual impulse. Joanne took position next to me and was promptly shat on by a passing bird!
Nothing could detract from the still, serene atmosphere not even inappropriate poo-humour. Under a transforming sky we sat talking, our words once again deep, open and honest our delivery not laboured but instead fluid, like flowing sacred waters.
Sat here, I took a minute to myself, a minute to meditate or maybe to reflect. From my crown to the tips of my fingertips I felt embodied, from the pit of my stomach I felt a deep stirring, blessed by a familiar white light I'm filled with a sensation that moves me to the brink of tears; love; absolute love. My ears ring with Ken's sweet words, the words of a man I was not blessed to meet but through Ken I feel the connection, 'unconditioned, unconditional love'.
On leaving Shwedagon my spirit felt lighter, cleansed somehow; there was an inner stillness, a sense of peace that somehow left me feeling nurtured. I'm warm, safe, comfortable; the inner walls of my chest caressed, my throat soothed but still a tear fills my eye; I know you... damn, I know you...