Thursday, January 4, 2007

Part 3: The Arrival

As Christmas day approached, i.e. the day of my flight departure my heart beat with anticipation, but really not sure what to anticipate...hahaha...I will be going there without any friends. Except for Chung Han who is from LDC, the sister center in KL, other than that, noone else from CGC would be going for this Maitreya Retreat. I felt lonely, but for me it's okay...although I would love it if my wife could have gone too. She kept saying she could not take leave because her lousy company allows only 2 persons to take leave at any one day. Later she found out that her boss herself took leave. That means 3 persons. You see, the boss take leave - can. But the staffs want to take -cannot! Not fair, right? Either no karma, or didnot try hard enough. Whatever it was, it's too late now. Next time.

As I checked beyond the airport immigration counter, I kept looking behind to see my wife. Poor fellow, she'll be alone! Kinda miss her already at that time!

Upon arrival at the new Bangkok Suvarnabumi airport, I thought it was big and the signs and directions was superb. But I thought the design of the roof was ugly. I like KLIA roof design- something like palm trees better.
Anyway, the wait there was about an hour and I knew I was at the correct waiting Gate to Bodhgaya when I saw several monks there - several chinese nuns and korean monks. There were also a few Westerners whom I knew were Buddhists because they were fingering malas and/or walking meditating. Later a group of Lamas came. At the waiting gate, I met with a Taiwanese lady who offered me a ride to Bodhgaya town from the Gaya Airport once we arrive at the airport. Wow, I donot know what lucky star I have, there seems to be people helping me all along the way. Blessings from the Guru? That must be it!

Her name is Miss Lin (Lim in hokkien) and she is with a group organising a series of talks by HH Karmapa at the Karmapa temple at Bodhgaya.She said there will be someone holding a card at the airport and i can "tumpang" (board) her taxi if I want. In Bodhgaya they use 4WDs as taxi.She was very friendly.

The Gaya airport turn out to be kind of empty. Controlled more by militants, who also acted as the airport staffs. There were noone at the checkout immigration counter when our group (TG8820 flight) arrived. We had to wait and finally there was someone who had to check and write everything manually. They donot use computers there except for the bag scanners (as I found out on the day of departure).

Bodhgaya seems to me like a dusty land. Mostly lived by farmers whose income I am unsure could meet the day's expenses or not. They were living from hand to mouth on daily basis. As the Malay saying: Kias Pagi Makan Pagi, Kias Petang Makan Petang. They were so backward materially that I thought things didnot change much from the Buddha's era. Even spiritually, I am not sure if they had benefitted much from the stream of Buddhist tourism to that region. There are a lot of lamas there but most of them were foreign/immigrants. Sure, you have the Indian people setting up small hotels and all kinds of traders but generally I donot see much progress materially or spiritually for the indigenous Indian people. It is due to this first hand experience of the life here that I could really understand the Supreme Wisdom and Compassion of the late Lama Yeshe who envisioned the Maitreya Project and set up Root Institute here in Bodhgaya. Lama Zopa Rinpoche said Lama Yeshe is kinder the the Buddhas of the 3 times. Seriously, it is not exaggerating. Some people think that by making donation and contributing this and that aid would help these people. Yes, it would but only in the short term. But even sometimes, short term benefit also may not come. Like what happened top all the food and water when it arrived in the remote parts of Africa. All the water became stale, undrinkable. All the help of the generous public could not help them. Why? Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained that it is due to the people's deep karma. In order to truely help them, you need to enable themselves to generate the merits. Having them involve in building of the Maitreya Buddha and letting them see such huge statue even from a distant, will have the momentum to change their karma for the entire region. I am truely convinced of this now. Ordinary people will not have seen that effect. Only a great Buddha like Lama Yeshe would be able to envision such a project that would truely benefit the people. And also by establishing Root Institute where they have a Dharma programme in Hindi, Lama Yeshe had enabled the Dharma to return back to the original Indian people. Lama Yeshe's contributions are beyond description but often goes under-appreciated!

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