Votive candles and obscured hand outside Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura
I’m in Anuradhapura with my extended family. Though I’ve lived most of my life in the west, my family is still very Sri Lankan. Sinhala Buddhist even. So we’re on a family trip to Anuradhapura, once the capital of a proud kingdom, visiting some major Buddhist sites. These places are so beautiful and strong that I think they’re worth a visit by anyone, but as a Buddhist I find them especially compelling. I tried meditating at Sri Mahi Bodhi and found it difficult with all the noise, but then I hear families chanting some beautiful things. It’s lovely at night.
Anuradhapura was once the capital of Sri Lanka, I think at the time Buddhism reached our shores via India. King Asoka sent a sapling from the tree the Buddha reached enlightenment under. That was planted here in 288 BC. Think that makes it the oldest tree with a recorded planting date. That tree is the center of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. It’s actually the small Bo tree, propped up in the back of a bigger one. But it’s there.
I’m a Buddhist and it makes a big difference in my life. I’m not familiar with the chants and rituals so much, but I do try to meditate almost every day, and I do try to think about the precepts in my daily life. In university I was very Buddhist and did meditate daily and abstained from almost everything, with joy. I’ve fallen back into the world a bit, but I still meditate.
I tried to meditate at this temple, but I found it incredibly hard. There were people all around, many simply chatting, which was OK. What got me was the monk chanting on loudspeaker. There were a bunch of people on one side and I guess they needed it, but there was a lot of feedback and jarriness and I found it hard to concentrate. So I moved to another side, a bit further from the original tree, and meditated there.
It’s nice. Not the best place to meditate, but still a beautiful and serene place full of families and nice people. We also went to Ruwan Weliyasaya, a huge dagoba. That is stunningly beautiful and also quite lovely and serene to walk around in your bare feet.
One of my favorite things about Sri Lanka is Sri Lanka, and the ability to travel it. There is such a variety of magnificent things to see. Another one of my favorite things is my family and being close to who and what we are. So that’s nice too.
At Ruwanwelisaya there’s a reclining Buddha between statues of Dutugamenu, Elara and their armies. That being the heroic Sinhala uniter of the island and his Tamil nemesis. While offering lotus flowers my cousin told me to wish for something. I actually wished for the fat fly buzzing around to have a good life, but now, sitting by the Tissa Wewa, I suppose I’d wish for something else.
I wish that every Sri Lankan could travel this island and be whoever they are, in peace. And for that to be safe and OK. We’re still a ways aways, but I think we’re on the way. God willing, inshallah, by the Triple Gem, Vishnu, Shiva, the power of Greyskull, etc.