Thursday, December 3, 2009
We have been in Bodhgaya for 5 days and moving the South Garden project forward has been a series of lessons in patience, trust and flexibility! First there was the buildup to the beginning of the Tip taka Chanting Ceremony and we were privileged to be greeters for several groups of monks as they arrived from Sri Lanka, Lao and Bangladesh. It was a very humbling experience to greet them as they had traveled very far, and for many days to be here for this very special event. Now that the ceremony is happening at the Mahabodhi Temple, under the sacred Bodhi tree, our time will be spent moving the South Garden project forward.
However, building a garden here is nothing like building a garden in California, and we are finding that even simple things, like getting stakes to stake out the terrace, walls, steps and structures can be a challenge in itself! Tim ended up sawing stakes from old tree branches while I worked with Hindu, non-English speaking workers to begin the clean up.
The Light of the Buddhadharma Foundation International has several beautification projects in the works here in Bodhgaya, including a gorgeous long row of Prajnaparamita Sutra cast bronze plaques that have just been installed. LBFI has asked us to create a flowerbed under the plaques, to further beautify the area and we are more than happy to oblige. Finding the plants was a full day journey and it turns out that the dwarf marigolds we envision for this garden must come from nearly 300 kms away. But, it will be beautiful, and our plan is that it will be in full bloom for the visit of the Dalai Lama, which is one month away. It’s this type of ‘tangent’ that makes being flexible very easy, i.e. being able to create a golden flower garden, under golden plaques for His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.
We are simultaneously staking and making minor changes to our bigger project, the South Garden. We have found that a more detailed list of building specifications is required and we are finishing that today in preparation to meet with a contractor in about two days. It has become apparent that a garden like this is developed over time, and that nothing happens quickly or efficiently here in Gaya.
There are so many wonderful elements already present on the site, including a stunning vertical rock garden that was installed by Vietnamese monks several years ago; gorgeous views back to the Mahabodhi Temple sputa; very large existing shade trees; and a varied terrain that enables us to create many levels with areas for quiet meditation and reflection. This is needed here, as there are throngs of pilgrims, tourists and laypersons swarming the grounds around the main temple.
We both feel very blessed to be here, working in one of the most sacred places on Earth.