Ok I messed up on my arrangements and arrived in Kathmandu early and you can tell by my wordy post I am a little bored. I have a extra day and decided to take advantage and go to the city’s many holy places and find enlightenment. I also will ask for blessings for my trip and my family. Nepalese people are 80% Hindu, 10% Buddhist, 5% Muslim, and Christian and other religions make us the rest. So have a lot of work to do to cover all my bases.
It is Sunday an I start out at our Lady of assumption Catholic Church. I wore my St Bernard’s academy sweat shirt, he is the patron saint of Mountaineering and my daughter Jade teaches there. The church has no pews and no shoes worn inside. I attended Easter service here last year and again the mass was magical. Got a blessing from the priest and lit a few candles. The scripture was the one of the prodigal son and the lesson was about forgiveness.
My second trip for enlightenment was at the Buddhist temple Swayambhunath or the Monkey temple on one of the larger hills in the city with 200 stairs to the top. Its origin is Manjushri, Bodhisattva of wisdom and learning while building the hill let his hair grow and got head lice that transformed into Monkeys. Others say before Kathmandu became a city the monkeys were native and thrived and the hilly heavy wooded area is one of the few good habitats. I read a warning that they carried hepatitis and aids, they are cute but I choose to keep my distance. I have been to many Buddhist ceremony’s the Puja ceremony is preformed prior to passing through the ice falls. I have visited the monasteries and observed the monks and Lamas they lead a life of disciple and prayer. They wear red robes and have shaved heads. When I entered the temple I spin the prayer wheels and walk clockwise around the stupas and get a handful of rice wine taste and rub on my head. I was ask why do I participate in the ceremony and their customs. First I am in their country and I want to experience the culture with respect and openness. Second the Lama said he would pray for me every morning until I returned safely I will never turn that away. My lesson from the Lama is discipline and simplicity.
My final visit looking for enlightenment is to the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple to Lord Shiva established 5th century. nepal was the only Hindu nation in the world. Lord Shiva was the lord of yoga and where the practice started. It is also located on the Bagmati river that feed into the Ganges and is where many public cremations happen. It is also famous for the holy men that occupy the temple they go by Baba, Sadhu, Sadies not sure the difference. The main temple is off limits to non Hindu so I hired a guide to help me navigate and translate. I was here 3 years ago and visited the sadhu and got a blessing for long life I made it off the mountain in a bad year so it must have worked. I want to meet them again and continue my day of enlightenment my guide brings me to them they are in the same area and 3 years ago and the same 3 Babas are there. They are again friendly and want to pose for pictures for a small fee. I am told by my guide they are not full Sadhu but half I play along and ask for the blessing anyway. I ask for blessing for a safe journey and grandkids they place a red dot called a Bindi on my forehead and a bracelet on my wrist. I am directed to Ganesh lord of obstructions, Shivas son that has the head of a elephant he is prayed to at the beginning of a undertaking and he will clear the way. The second was Shivas wife (i think) lord of love (hindu have both male and female gods) I was led to a temple adorned with x-rated Kama sutra carvings. I go to a area where elderly are cared for ran buy sister of charity . I am told by visiting the temples will leave free of pain and at peace. I am in a atmosphere of death and I see the devotion and spiritual awareness of the people worshipping and like The Buddhist temple I do not judge. What a complicated and beautiful religion dharma and karma that my vague understanding is be kind to all bad thing will follow you to the next life. My lesson is Kindness and openness.
I returned home more aware of other beliefs and yes enlightened. With red dye smeared across my forehead rubbed in and it remains today.
Lesson to grandkid:
My first lesson was “if you don’t believe in God climb a mountain”. I find Mountains holy and inspiring, but I am not in the mountains yet. the lesson is look for inspiration every day no matter where you are or who your with. My enlightenment today came from:
1 Christian: prodigal son,forgiveness
2 Buddhist: Discipline and simplicity
3 Hindu: Kindness and Openness
Many more lessons to come