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Published: October 28th 2009
I am in Bodh Gaya, the most holy site for any Buddhists. Bodh Gaya is the town where Siddhartha attained enlightenment. I went up to the cave where he meditated for 6 years. It was small, stuffy and hot! Respect to him for being able to concentrate under those conditions. There are 22 different Buddhist temples all over the town including ones from Japan, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Korean, Taiwan, China and many other countries. It was truly a peaceful town where all different sects of Buddhism would have tremendous respect for each other. They were all brought together because they were drawn into the magnificent Mahabodhi Temple. This is the most beautiful Buddhist temple I have ever seen. It gave me the same feeling as when I saw the Taj Mahal. There many beautiful garden all around the temple and nice paths. I felt really free inside the complex because there wasn’t a whole bunch of rules for people. The atmosphere just felt free… like Buddhism. It felt welcoming for every type of Buddhist, even to me, the nonreligious type. Every type of Buddhist monk was there to pay respects, it’s like the Mecca of Buddhism. I walked
It's a monumental temple
for hours in the complex soaking it all in. This temple is the area where Siddhartha attained enlightenment. This is where the famous Bodhi tree is! Lost Buddha
I’m Buddhist by philosophy and not by religion. I feel a little bit uneasy about religion and would turn away from it whenever somebody mentions God. Thus, I don’t feel empowered to worship Buddha as a god but as a man, the way Buddha always wanted it. I read a lot of books on the philosophies of Buddhism and my mind perceives many things differently now. But at the end of the day, I just felt more philosophical and not more spiritual.
I’ve been searching for a long time now of what spirituality means and I’ve essentially become lost trying to discover it. I’ve become more skeptical about what spirituality means since I’ve gotten to India because the more I learn about the stories of Hinduism, the more convinced I became that they were all stories made up by people. But I was missing the point. Regardless of the authenticity of the stories, these people were deeply spiritual. I can sense the glow inside some of them.
So where does this spiritually come from?
I was always looking into books and learning about every major religion to search for an answer to spirituality but none of them have ever made me a believer. I’ve even awkwardly tried praying and looking upward for the answers a few times but the answers don’t ever fall from the sky. I’ve travelled all over the world but still haven’t been empowered by spirituality yet. So I decided to take Buddha’s advice and look for the answers inside of myself. But I didn’t really know how all this ‘look inside yourself for answers’ really worked, I was new to it and just felt clumsy. I would verbally ask myself questions like Is there a soul?
and I would wait for the answer from my inner voice but it never comes. After I become impatient I would just answer the question in my head and say Sure, why not…
but that’s definitely not the answer I really wanted. I was a newbie at this. The more I read up on the philosophy of Buddhism, the more I believed in spirituality. But when I try to practice it, I get lost
trying to find myself. It’s tough because I’m not religious and I have to look for the answers in my inner-being and not in a higher being. Reading could only get me so far, I had to experience it for myself. This is the reason I am in India right now. I’m learning to travel, be alone and meditate in India like Siddartha did before he became enlightened. Throughout this trip, I’ve been searching for any sign of spirituality but can’t seem to find it…
It’s so difficult for me to fully explain what happened and how I felt. I was meditating under the same Bodhi tree that Siddartha was meditating under before he became enlightened at the Mahabodhi temple. I went into a deep meditation. The first thing I started to feel was this strange tingling that was trickling down my sideburns. Then this tingling started to grow stronger and bigger. It started slowly spreading from the back of my brain to the front. Then I felt a force of energy rush through my body. It felt kind of like the goose-bumps I get when I see something inspirational but much stronger. Suddenly, my mind felt
extremely clear and my breath was finally in sync with the rhythm of the world. I felt the invisible spirituality for the very first time and the only way I was able to do that was through my breathing. I felt energy with every inhale and peace with every exhale. I felt the life force that connects me to everything around me. The ‘gaya’ as some would say. I felt life with every breath. I don’t really know what it is but I’m certain there is a life force that connects all of us and for once, I really felt like I was a part of it. I’ve always been a part of the life force but now I’m awake to it and it feels different. I also felt like I was kind of floating outside of my physical body and observing myself. What is going on?
I lost all sense of time so I wasn’t sure how long it lasted but it felt really short. In reality, it was really long because my whole lower half felt incredibly numb.
I was consumed by this weird trance and was flowing with it. I finally opened my eyes when I
heard a bell peacefully ring and I felt like the world was completely new for a minute. It might sound strange but I felt like I could faintly see the force of nature around me. I was feeling the ‘oneness’ that Buddha was talking about. It’s hard to explain. I was overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation for everything and smiling about nothing. I don’t understand it completely but it felt marvelous. I felt like I never really opened my eyes until now. I remember thinking to myself So this is what it feels like to be spiritual…nice
I lasted in this mind state for about 30-40 minutes before it died down. I’ve tried meditating three times after that experience to try and get that feeling back but it hasn’t worked. I’m happy though because I think I just got my first taste of spirituality. I opened up my first of many inner-doors (some call it chakra), that’s why I felt that rush of energy through my body.
I think I’ve crossed the threshold of philosophy into spirituality. I feel that philosophy is a way to use your mind to understand things and spirituality is using your heart and soul
to comprehend things. Machiavelli and Galileo were philosophers but not spiritual. Ghandi, Siddhartha and Socrates were spiritual and were also philosophical. There was a certain spiritual quality to their philosophies that captivated the peoples’ heart and not their minds. I wouldn’t say that I’ve entirely become spiritual but I would say I feel a little bit different now. Not a dramatic difference like being enlightened or anything but something definitely opened up inside of me. This was my quest and I finally found the treasure at the last leg of my pilgrimage in India. I’m leaving India in a few days and I’m just so happy that I was able to discover spirituality at the end of it. I can’t say that this lost Buddha has found his way, but he’s definitely taking the first step towards believing!
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