Category: Buddha

The Best Temple in Asia??? The Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon, Burma.

Sometimes When We Travel We Forget Who We Are / Happy New Year!

Morning in Yangon 1/1/2012

A new year in the west and here time and date wise, but the Burmese new year is April. I try to remember years gone by but become creeped out by my ever-growing fingernails, hand extensions like shells. Dancing all night on the streets i am delirious. Another swig of Tiger. When i think about these words i think of her. The woman in ginger who has inspired my ambiguity –   ” Can you try to be less poetic?”  He, the boy in the tall dark and handsome has gone, regressed, never to be thought about again. I concentrate on my love, sitting there asleep. Hard fast remembrance.

New year is nothing special. Not the end of something nor the start of something else. A festive season, a climax a dip. Just another day in this choice of world travel and the feelings of happiness to be here. For you, the monk i am not forty-five, but why should i describe the fluctuation?

New years eve spent in the Shwedagon Pagoda, Buddha’s gold shining the brightest i have ever seen it. Beyond his deity i see deeper the spark that ignites so many across the globe. Visible a song of passionate light sung by this country. Zipped by the military regime. Maybe that’s why the song is so loud, the light is so bright. I pray for change for the county, a voice for the nation….and then there is her……

Her, the lady with the tight top button and waif like frame. Elegant and poised. A mother to this country that i feel like i am sharing to some extent. A woman for whom i have so much respect. Revered as a goddess. Yesterday she was around my neck. I was told i was brave to wear her. ” My government is wrong, bad. They did the explosion”

I have a question!

Does being on the road, countries one after the other make you lose sence of reality and of sentences. Stringing words together where the ones you know think you have lost the plot, spiralled out of control OR is being on the road a choice and a chance to get lost? Experiencing the diverse magnitude of people, of lands, of cultures. The diverse magnitude of emotions and meaning and freedom. A time and space in which to lose so much of what you have become – in that town, in that job, in that society, in those expectations of what is normal?

I may spill  my guts in words but i am the most open i have been in years, and the most happy to be in this place. This current state of flux. A time to explore my place in this world. No come down, no dip, no expectations. A time of inquisitive thoughtfulness. A time to reflect and be inward. A time to breath.

Happy New Year

The Three Noble Treasures of the Heavenly Way – My Initiation into The Tao

The last few days have been lovely, quite calm. Beautiful beaches, driving around the island, dipping into five-star pools and spending time with great people, until yesterday when i met a slighty strange Chinese man who invited me to a party. In his words this “party” was to be himself, his friends, food and conversation. I graciously accepted his kind offer and agreed to meet him back at the vegetarian  restaurant where we had met, at eight pm. After several hours of beach time, swimming to islands and further abusing of five-star hotel pools eight pm arrived. Waiting on a moped was lee, the man who invited us to his party.

We follow his lead in our hire car, winding through traffic towards the unknown destination. Fifteen minutes later we arrive, and are greeted by several middle-aged chinese ladies in white. We knew it was some sort of Buddhist meeting but did not expect the kind we found. We were fed noodles and tofu and told to relax, eat and not be shy. Once finished we were lead upstairs, asked to clean our hands with the wet towels provided and cross the threshold into the sacred space. I was un-knowingly entering the world of Tao and The Three Noble Treasures of the Heavenly Way.

A small white room housing around thirty people, a Buddhist shrine and a table filled with tea and fruit, predominantly oranges awaited us. We were each given a form to compleat. Full name, age, sex and date of birth. We were asked to give a minimal donation to help buy books and provide the offering we were about give to Buddha. We were informed that our names would be presented to the sky to wait for us in death. We were told we would always be welcome to the temple and told to bring our parents, to eat, sleep and pray there whenever we needed. If there was ever a problem in our lives the temple was always a home. All we needed to do was clasp our hands in the special way and chant our secret mantra, that we were to be given during the ceremony. The ceremony starts and the master appears. A short thin man, in grey robes stands forward in front of us, just shy of the altar. He drops his head and it begins.

Incense, chanting, men moving around the space. Women giving ques for the chants to commence. More bowing, chanting and incense. A manuscript containing our names was read to Buddha then lit by the master and left to burn, evaporating into the sky. We were then asked to kneel at the altar to take our vow; ready to receive The Three Treasures.

The Heavenly Portal

The master placed his finger upon my face, between my eyes. The doorway by which our original nature enters and leaves the body. Without it being un-locked the true self is unable to leave when the body dies; instead leaving through one of the side gates – ie the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, navel of vertex. That would have implications when being reincarnated. My portal was now open.

The Divine Mantra

A sacred series of words was whispered to me, which has the power to save my life. It was only to be used in extremely dangerous situations. The mantra is to act as a powerful spiritual distress signal to the divine forces much like an SOS, transmitted by radio waves. It is to be protected silently and mentally with great concentration, whilst at the same time focusing the eyes on the Heavenly Portal and holding the Symbolic Seal with the hands. If sincerely cultivated i would always remain under the refuge of Buddha.

The Symbolic Seal

The joining of hands which unites us with god. Like a contract between myself and the heavenly mother. A signal, a password, a passport. A spiritual instrument of identification as well as a symbol with many ramifications.  A protection from any impending calamities.

Before receiving the Tao from the master two people took an oath at the altar. One as my Introducer and one as my Sponsor. Without these two people the Tao could not be transmitted to me. The sponsor guarantees that the Tao is the true path and that the teachings are genuine, the introducer vouching for my good character and guaranteeing my good conduct.

Question – How can these strangers who don’t have any idea who i am do this?

I was lead to take a vow which stated i would faithfully adhere to the principles of Tao and not reveal the secret teachings of the Three Treasures to anybody.

Question – How could i do this when i know so little about it?

” Pinky Binks, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you for this is your most auspicious day. Today you have received the Tao which is the ultimate aim of existence. All the Buddhas and Saints attained the Tao in the past and, by transcending the limitations of birth and death, you have become immortal. That which you have received today is the same Tao”.

I was informed that the Tao was ineffable, sacred and sublime. That i had just been saved by someone and that i should try my very best to spread the exalted teachings to you, my fellow human beings. To urge my family, friends and acquaintances to receive the Tao. By doing so i would not only be saving someones physical body from disaster, but saving my true self from the sufferings of reincarnation. ( by this i think they meant that i would not come back as a creepy little fish ). Not only would the person be saved if he cultivated himself properly but also his ancestors and nine generations of future offspring by virtue. What are you waiting for?????? Choose Tao today?

Once the majority of people started to descend the staircase for refreshments i was given a membership card stating the date i had been done, two oranges and further advice on how i should practice, from my master. The slightly creepy man who initially invited me to ‘The Party’ told me to visit him anytime in the local duty-free supermarket. I left the building, lit up a cigarette and made my way into the darkness. Two hours had passed so quickly. I left feeling the situation was slightly forced, slightly intriguing but slightly odd. Here i was expecting canapes, cocktails and conversation, but no, it was my chance to be saved; here in paradise.



© PinkyBinks

Budgies, Beans and Buddha…… and a Thank You From My Liver!

Leaving Varanasi was bitter-sweet. Far to hectic for now. We traveled to Sarnath, 7 kilometers out of the city looking for space, and space we found. Parks, temples and a wonderful Jain family to play host. Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his message of the middle way to nirvana after achieving enlightenment in Bodhgaya. The town is dotted with temples representing most buddhist countries in Asia, making it one of the four most important buddhist pilgrimage sights on earth.

The peace and space was exactly what we required after a week-long of indian city’s. Budgies, rabbits and crocodiles. Staying with a Jain family means alcohol and smoking are strictly prohibited. This has proved to be a great thing and my liver and kidneys have thanked me greatly for the break from the hard work. Detox. Dr. Jain, head of the household seems to be greatly respected throughout the town, due to setting up several schools for underprivileged children. Jains don’t belive in harming any animal so the home cooked food was perfect. Some of the best i have eaten in India. Home grown squash subzi, green beans picked from the village, chutney’s made from fruit picked in the morning and served with dinner. Aubergine bhaji, guava jam, roti and a potent mixture of fresh green chili, ginger, garlic and salt  – all ground together on a stone, i think.

I was invited to visit one of the schools where i held six short art classes for groups of children aged four to ten. A lovely experience – thanks to my interpreter, Tripty. I drew animals at the children’s request, did portraits and encouraged the little individuals to draw. We were even treated to some impromptu singing and dancing and an outdoor exercise session with could only be described as military style yoga? Overall Sarnath was calm and insightful.

Next is a train north-west to New Jalpalguri – the step of point to Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Himalaya.

Upon leaving Sarnath i wrote in Mr. Jain’s comment book. I thanked him for his kindness and congratulated  him on doing something so worth while with his life, something one day i hope to do myself.