On the road to Kushinagar

On the road from Lumbini to Kushinagar, from the spot where he was born to the place where he died, we stopped in Nepal near the Indian border. The place can hardly be recognized, but it is called Ramagrama. It contains an overgrown hill with a very old stupa beneath it. This is believed to contain the original relics of the Buddha. After his death the substantial parts where taken from the cremation ashes and split into eight parts. Each part was sent to each of the kingdoms that the Buddha had a relation with. There a stupa was built to hold these relics. And Ragrama was one of them.

We created a simple shrine with the usual offerings, water, food, a candle, incence and flowers. We placed it at the foot of the only tree on the mount.

Then we dedicated our morning prayers to Bernie Glassman, who died just a week before. I got to tell the group what a remarkable man Bernie was. I was with him and 45 other people in a week long retreat in Ausschwitz. Bernie was a giant among bodhisattvas and the founder     of the Zen Peacemakers. Also he was one of the first to practice engaged Buddhism. I loved that man.

During our meditation we were watched by a group of children. They called out for choclate and money when we circumambulated the stupa. But they ran of scared when I tried to take a photo of them.

The place was well looked after by a few keepers. It was a quiet place and our meditation was very peaceful. Somehow these places are imbued with meditative energy. You have to check it out for yourself in order to experience it.

After a gruelling drive we arrived dead tired in Kushinagar. I really admire our drivers, the way they can keep it up for hours on end in chaotic traffic. I wouldn’t dare to drive here. Tomorrow we go to the temple commemorating the parinirvana (death) of the Buddha.