Sunday, July 25, 2010

Borobudur, My Inspiration

Borobudur, my inspitation

Moments with Candi Borobudur

General introduction

The client- is myself, Praggananda.
Country- Indonesia

Location- Jakarta, capital city
Borobudur and surrounding ancient Buddhist monuments (approximate 50 kilometres from north-west of Yogyakarta), Bali Island

Occasion- Pilgrimage to Borobudur, Buddha Full moon day celebration, meeting friends, new learning experiences, pretty much a holiday trip.

The Dream Came True-

For me visiting Borobudur is like a dream coming true. I knew about Borobudur since I was in school where our history book mentioned that one of our great idols of Bangle is Sri Atish Dipankara who was a Buddhist monk who either studied or was teaching in Borobudur, Java. It is believed that Borobudur is one of the greatest and most significant monuments in this world. As some people believe, this is also one of the wonders of this planet. Yes, the Borobudur, around 8th century onward (probably until 13th century) was the heart of the Buddhist learning centre when the Buddha Dhamma flourished in all of central Asia, until occupied by the Muslims from the Middle-east.

I’m not going to tell the story about Borobudur, nor sermonize about it. What I would say in a word is Borobudur is an inspiration for my spiritual journey. It is now a legend
though still it does exist in Indonesia which the world largest Muslim populated country in the world, and this is the reality. The future of Borobudur no one knows, in present as I said is an inspiration, a light in the dark. Some say the past is history, the future is just a mystery and the present is a gift. So Borobudur is a gift for every human in this world. If you want to know more about Borobudur please visit

My Gratefulness

Firstly, my gratefulness is to me, myself and my good kamma that I have deserved, and as a result I have been there and worshipped, touched his feet, and been blessed by visiting Borobudur. Secondly, I thank Ms Heni who invited me there and took care of every thing, to her family and friends. I was so amazed by their devotion, humility, generosity and braveness. I will never forget their unconditional love and support.

The Days Have Arrived

It was 2:30am, Airasia flight took off from Perth airport for Denpasar, Bali. I fell asleep while meditating with my prayer beads. Suddenly, bright sunshine coming through the window woke me up, and then I looked through the window and found myself in the middle of no where, (a kind of Nirbanic experience). Slowly the flight started going down then I saw many different scattered islands. The flight was on time, soon, again I hopped onto another flight to Jakarta within 45 minutes. The flight landed on time in Jakarta where Heni and her friend were waiting for me. I was so happy to see them there in the airport. Then we introduced ourselves to each other. I told Heni that I was sorry if I disappointed her, and she asked me why? Then I said may be you thought I would be a tall, white, fat, old and wise looking monk, but I’m not……. (We laughed).

It was lunch time, we went straight to the DHARMA KITCHEN VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT as planned where three monks and some others were also waiting us to have lunch together. There I met Ven. Saddha with two other young monks and some devotees. I was famished and the lunch was so good.

I came back to Dhammabhakti temple with the other monks, they were so kind and friendly to me. I took a little rest. On the same day I gave a Dhamma-talk organized by Heni and the temple. The talk was very good, many people gathered together. While in Jakarta I visited some other places, one Japanese temple and one Dhamma centre called Ashin Jinarakkhita museum. Some one asked me if I would like to see Jakarta city. I suggested to them that after office hours or midnight would be the
best time to do so.

On the 26th of May, four of us flew together to Yogjakarta from Jakarta where s Borobudur is located. Heni’s cousin was there to pick us up. We went to her uncle’s house for greeting and refreshment. After an unofficial but special lunch we went to Candi Prambanam and many other places around. Then in the evening we went to hotel Rajasa which is just next to Borobudur.

We woke up early in the morning as planned to see the sun rising and sun shining from the top of Borobudur. It was still was dark, and as we walked toward the stupa it suddenly appeared as a gigantic embracing attitude saying “welcome to Borobudur”. I stopped and just enjoyed the moment of accomplishment that this is the day I was waiting a long time for. For some moments, I just enjoyed the immaculate and glorious beauty and spirit of Borobudur. When the others went to get permission to climb the stupa, I just sat in the path and meditated for a while.

When we were at the summit of the stupa, the sky was beginning to lighten, the sun was just about to rise. I saw some visitors and some journalists. We sat down to one side, then I began morning chanting and protection chanting for our group, then we practiced meditation for while. After that I just felt myself so connected with nature and Borobudur.

The Waisak Full Moon Day at Borobudur

The Waisak full moon day of 2010 took place onthe 28th of May, Friday. I thought this was the best opportunity for me to visit Borobudur, commemorating the Buddha day, and meeting friends, all on one occasion. I saw such a massive arrangement for celebration of the Waisak day around Borobudur, Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana and
many others groups well prepared to rejoice their own ways. Over the night people started gathering from all around. It was raining sometimes, despite the rain, people were just on their way with immaculate faith and devotion. To avoid the noise, and to have a meaningful celebration I was meditating in the shadow of Borobudur for whole morning. According to reports about 10,000 people gathered together in Borobudur to commemorate the Waisak day.

Waisak is an official national holiday in Indonesia. All Buddhists around the world, observe the Waisak day commemorating the birth, death and the time of the attainment of Enlightenment. In Borobudur, the ceremony is centered at the three major Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur.

The Enlightening

This is not only just a stupa or shrine or a tourist spot but a symbol of ultimate wisdom. It represents the entire and ultimate teaching of the Buddha, so called the nature of mind, or the world of being. Borobudur has three divisions, the base-body-summit, These symbolize three stages of mental preparation towards the ultimate goal of Nibbaba according to Buddhist cosmology. They are kamadhatu or kamaloka (the w
orld of sensual desires), rupadhatu or rupaloka (the world of forms), and finally the arupadhatu or arupaloka (the formless world). Kamadhatu is represented by the base, rupadhatu by the five square platforms which is the body, and arupadhatu by three circular platforms and the large topmost stupa or the shrine. The architectural features between the three stages have metaphorical differences. For example, square and detailed decoration in the rupadhatu disappear into plain circular platforms in the arupadhatu to represent how the world of forms- when men are still attached with forms and name (Nama-rupa), changes into the world of the formless. This teaching shows us how humans or beings are formed, and to be free from pain and suffering of life by reaching the formless state of mind, which is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist teaching.

Every single stone, every single structure of this monument represents to you meaningful lessons such as paticcasamuppada (cause and effect), your kamma (action) and its consequences, by your good kamma you are rewarded a happy and celestial life on other hand by your bad kamma you deserve an unhappy, miserable and painful life. Every stone and stone face is carved with The Buddha’s birth and life, the Jataka stories, His disciples and the lotus.

As I said for a good Buddhist who is living a contemplative life, and interested in Abhidhamma, Borobudur is inspirational.

Bali, They Say is the Island of Devas

Day 5, May 28th we flew to Bali. We stayed in a beautiful resort hotel in Lagoon. So far I as know Bali is a tourist place, surfing and lying on the beaches with bikinis and shorts. That was not quite true. This place is something else. They call it the island of Guardian Angels, the god and goddess (in their language called Deva).We travelled all around the island from sea level to sky level to every interesting spot. What surprised me was that I found there are a remarkable number of Buddhist temples in comparison with location and population! I
liked most the Brahma Vihara, truly it looks like a Temple of Brahma. On every stairway of the temple they put pure pali Abhidhamma philosophical words. In the temple we met an elderly monk who was so kind and generous. In the temple, as usual we chanted and I gave an important teaching regarding the Buddha’s knowledge and wisdom, as we noticed the words in the stairways.

Bali is well known to the world for its culture, art, glory and beauty. I was amazed by their old temples and art. Obviously Bali is an historical place, and has a wonderful culture that is still thriving today! The culture is influenced by Indian and Chinese, specially the Indian Hindu cultures. About 93% of the total population is predominated Hindu. When we were somewhere on a mountain, I asked them to stop and have a tea break and to enjoy the celestial beauty of the mother planet. I felt we were a guardian goddess sitting in a white cloudy heaven. Then suddenly something came into my mind and I said I never thought or ever had any plan to build a temple and live in it, but if I ever do, it would be here (on top of the mountain in Bali). Then my friend Nana said,
“You need permission from the Devas to build a temple in here.”

Do Tell My Mother I Was in Indonesia

There is one of my favourite programs on TV Channel NatGeo Adventure called ‘DON’T TELL MY MOTHER’. It is about a foreign correspondent named Diego who travels to the most dangerous places in the world and documents it with his hidden camera
s. He really makes his mother worry so much. Last time he told his mother he went to Australia but when she got the Australian postcard with the kangaroo on it, it was addressed from Afghanistan, I did send a post card to my father from Bali, but it was really Bali! I also travel like him but don’t document with hidden cameras, I do document with my hidden wisdom. So if you have the chance, do tell my mother that I was in Indonesia! (Laughter).

Especially after the Bali bomb tragedy many foreign governments prov
ide travel advice that they should exercise HI CAUTION during their travel in Indonesia. There a number of terrorist groups of Islamic extremists who are active. I do not criticise or comment anything about it, but as a general human I do deserve the right to say, obviously I’m a non-violence practitioner. What exploded in the Bali Night club was not a bomb it was a volcanic eruption of human of anger and hatred. Though this is Bali, people think it is different, but still it is part of a Muslim country. The Islamic extremists didn’t take it well that foreigners come to their territory and lie down on the beaches half naked or sometimes naked, they didn’t like the way tourists buy their wine and women for cheap money in the name of economic development. They don’t like it. This is their country; they have their own religion and way of living. All we can do is just respect their religion and way of living.

What would be your definition of extreme? Belgium and France banne
d Burqa (Veil, the traditional Islamic costume for women) in public for (Muslim) women; wouldn’t you call them extremist or racist? I hear Australia also going to do the same. What is the different between these two extreme attitudes, it’s like right hand and left hand of an ignorant person, as hatred and anger come from a deluded and uneducated mind!

Reports say some Islamic extremists wanted to destroy Borobudur. On 21 January 1985, nine stupas of Borobudur were badly damaged by nine bombs. In 1991, a blind
Muslim preacher Husein Ali Al Habsyi, was sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding a series of bombings in the mid 1980s including the temple. Two other members of a rightwing extremist group that carried out the bombings were each sentenced to 20 years in 1986 and another man received a 13 year person term. And still there are so many incidents like them.

Some Impression-Expression

I would say Buddhist communities in Indonesia are wonderful, compared with many others they are well organized, they have their goals in their ways and they are working on them. Heni said she needed a good teacher, others like her admitted that they need well educated and experienced religious leaders for their progressive society. They are such humble and understanding people. I really admire them, I learned a lot from them as well
as from the entire trip.

Compared with other Muslim countries in the world I know Indonesia is a moderate one, I dare to say it as I have witnessed it. Women are freer there in many aspects, they have had their female president, and they have female leadership. The country is changing. Indonesian terror groups want to establish Islamic Caliphate in their country. They will terrorize the people and the society and earn bad karma but they will not be successful because Indonesians are moderate M

The mosques around the country interested me; they have the shape of a temple. The base is shaped as a Hindu temple, the middle part looks like a Buddhist symbol, and the top part typically shaped as crescent with a star. This is historical as the kings were converted into Hindu, sometimes Buddhist, and finally Muslim. Some say this is symbolic living, a society living in harmony and unity despite religions. People every where addressed me as Bhikshu, which is an honour, and helped me sometimes.

Borobudur is now a part of my body and mind, I m so inspired by this visit and its supportive to my life journey.

From outside the administrative activities look pretty good. Present Borobudur surrounded by a beautiful park, clean with every basic facility. The security issue is also good. One concern of mine was that visitors should be prohibited from wearing shoes or slippers. This is showing respect and another way of protecting people from slipping as they climb the stupa. Once I asked my friends, “You see so many different people coming to visit the temples here, can you tell me what the difference is between us?” “ What can we, as visitors, do to make it different?” Then I told them, “To be wiser and more respectful than others w
ho are wearing shoes and climbing to the top, we are not going to wear shoes in any temples we are going to visit.” Later on, every temple we visited we were m
indful and didn’t wear shoes.

Yes, if you go there, just be mindful, wise and respectful then your visit will be more meaningful. There are many ways we can help ourselves. As I said earlier Borobudur is a legend now, but it does exist. The future no one knows, necessarily no need to know. That’s why the Buddha used to say “sabbe sankhara anicca” all conditioned things are subject to decay and impermanence. What we have now is a gift and we shou
ld enjoy it. To the one who gave this gift, we should appreciate and show our gratefulness. Just live in your present moment.

I say thank you Heni and every one who helped me,
Teri makashi!