Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Buddhist Monastery in Moslem surroundings

Darcy, a contractor like me working temporarily in Bangladesh had the idea to visit a Buddhist monastery
about 30 km from Cox's Bazar. The rest of us were loathe to get in the SUV again, but we went along. We were rewarded.

We arrived just as the monks were filing back into the monastery, silver bowls in hand, from begging for their breakfast, the one meal they eat during the day. They welcomed us warmly and showed us around. The place began operating in the 6th Century, they said, but was abandoned and eventually lost to the jungle which grew all over it. In 1929, the site was rediscovered and reopened and it's run ever since. The monastery was filled with local women who'd come to play and local boys running through the banyan trees.

A small dark niche was carpeted with bowls of rice and sweets, offerings to the Buddha inside that could barely be seen through the gloom. The monks said sure to picture so I fired a flash into the niche and was rewarded with this bright, rich photo.

The local women all posed for photos, which I then showed them and promised to email to them, and insisted I take some pictures of their "teaching pictures" on the wall.

Too many Americans have taken up Buddhism like a fad lately, using it as justification for basically, selfishness. But here it is practiced in full measure, with humility and charity. We left oddly at peace and very happy to have seen this gorgeous place.

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