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We made it! After a wonderful trip through Lumbini and Shravasti, we have returned to Delhi and the group has gone their separate ways. It was a bittersweet good-bye as the bonds that were created were very strong.
In Lumbini, we received wonderful teachings from John Peacock, continuing the 12 links of Dependent Origination. He illuminated each aspect with tremendous clarity and gave profound instructions on how to recognize each link in our experience and include them in our practice. We spent a magical morning on the foot of the eastern gate at the Nepali Kapilavastu, where the Buddha is said to have lived as a young person until the age of 29. This is the most debated location of the pilgrimage route, as the Indian government has identified an area in northern Uttar Pradesh that they claim is the “real” Kapilavastu. Controversy aside, the location in Nepal is especially lovely, containing a large set of partially excavated ruins set in the middle of rice paddies and vegetable fields, well off the beaten path. Multiple participants commented on the fact that the Buddha’s renunciation and fearlessness in going forth is palpable here.
Shravasti was marked by an increase in teaching and formal meditation practice—John finished the links of Dependent Origination and we spent the final day of the program in retreat at the Korean temple. This specific location, where the Buddha is said to have spent 24 rains retreats, is a perfect place to begin to synthesize the brilliant information we received on the program. It highlights the fact that the teachings—and subsequent practice—are the most important influence the Buddha has had on our lives. The commitment shown by participants was tremendous. Our trip back to Delhi began early, with a bus trip to Lucknow and a flight to complete the journey.
Now that the program has finished, the assimilation process begins. It was quite an adventure, one that I will never forget.
Participants will be sending in reactions, photos and more to be posted on the blog, so stay tuned!
– Tour leader Justin Kelley
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