Pilgrimage to the Holy Sites of the Buddha
October 1998
Chuck & Claudia Pettis

Some of us are drawn to mountain tops, some to caves, others to forest clearings. For each of us there is a place of alignment. Pilgrimage has no further purpose. Being there is reason enough1.

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This is the Reclining Buddha in the Nirvana Temple at Kusinagara, where we joined the Pilgrimage. Here, Buddha passed away. At each place we lit candles and chanted sacred Tibetan Buddhist texts and mantras: The Aspiration of Samantabhadra, The Heart Sutra, and The Three-Part Sutra: Confession Before the Thirty-Five Buddhas. There were local monks in the temple with us who were quiet until we started our chants. Then, I sensed they accepted us in their space. As sweat dripped from my forehead, the monks to my immediate right chanted "Om Mani Peme Hung, Om Mani Peme Hung…"

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The Dhamekh stupa at Sarnath, where Buddha first taught.

Power places are seats of the Gods, focal points of divine energy. They are the source of spiritual revitalization and renewed psychic energy2.

During the first watch of the night the Buddha was silent, during the second he made a little conversation, and at the third began the teaching. At the spot where at the Buddhas first turned the wheel, 1000 thrones appeared3. He taught the Middle Way that avoids extremes of pleasures and austerity, the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path.

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At dawn, a few of us went back here. It was very quiet and we had a nice chance to meditate alone.

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As you can see, we were very blissful on this trip!

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1Adapted from Frederiic Lehrman, The Sacred Landscape, Celestial Arts, Berkeley, California, 1988, 59.
2Keith Dowman, Power Places of Kathmandu, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1995
3 From Sakya Pilgrimage tour materials.

Copyright 2000, Chuck Pettis and The Geo Group. All Rights Reserved.
Revised February 14, 2000