Features Page - various articles
PaintedWorlds: Pictures by Peter Friedlander
19 May 2010. Peter Friedlander. Only very tangentally related to Bodhgaya
I am afraid, but I recently gave a talk about my painting and sketching
activities over the years which does include mentions of Bodhgaya and
India so I thought I would post a link to it here. The presentation
is here in the form of six YouTube clips.
Overland to India in 1977
From Cambridge to Varanasi
Singapore and beyond
Q&A part 1
Q&A part 2
BUDDH GAYA AND ITS ASSOCIATIONS
[From: J. C. Oman, Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India, London:
T. Fisher Unwin, 1905.] Melbourne, 26 November. A fascinating account
of a visit to Bodhgaya undertaken soon after the restoration of the
temple in the 1880s.
"If it were possible to ascertain, by any means, what particular
spot on earth is the most sacred in the opinion of mankind, there is
reason to think that the majority of votes would be given in favour
of Buddh Gaya, which is held in high veneration by both Buddhists and
Hindus. Such a spot is certainly worth a visit. Leaving the busy town
of Bankipore one afternoon in April, I travelled some fifty-seven miles
to Gaya, by the branch railway, over a level uninteresting looking country,
unredeemed in its drear monotony except by picturesque groups of slender
Buddha Gayá Guide for 1881
Melbourne, 26 November. Read from the guide to Bodhgaya for 1881 by
Edward Eastwick published by John Murray in London in the guide to the
Presidency of Bengal.
Buddha Gayá.—The distance of this place from Gayá is 7 m. For the first
5 m. the road is good, but unshaded by trees. The traveller will
pass, on his right, the prison of Gayá, After 5m. he will turn tothe
left, and go for 2 m. along a country road, where the many ruts and
inequalities oblige carriage-horses to walk. The temple of Buddha Gayá
is built in a hollow, which diminishes its apparent height. It is also
shut in by small houses. more
Buddhism and Mysticism in Indian tradition
(This is a version of a brief presentation I made on a meditation
retreat at Wat Buddha Dhamma near Sydney during early November 2003)
Melbourne, 21 November. First, in Australia we begin by acknowledging
the traditional owners of the land, the Dharug people, who came before
us in this land. I would also like to start by recalling the guru as
is often done in the Indian tradition as the Guru came before us and
showed us the way, as the traditional owners of the land do. Tulsidas,
the author of the Ramcaritmanas, composed a lovely couplet on
Shri guru carana raja saroja, nija man mukheru sudhari,
barnu shri raghuvir bimal jas, jo dayaku phal cari.
Everyday I polish the mirror of my mind,
with the dust of the lotus feet of my teacher.
I reflect on the brilliant deeds of Lord Ram,
The giver of the four fruits of life.
Buddhism is normally said to have died out in India in around the 12th
century. But the spirit of the teachings lived on in medieval India
to be reborn in the present day into a flourishing tradition once again.
Consider for instance the sentiment in this couplet by Gorakhnath, the
12th century yogi who was the organiser of the Nath tradition of Shaivite
Yogis, yet it is clearly in line with spirit of Buddhist teachings.
basti na sunyam sunyam na basti, agam agocar aisa.
gagan-sikhar mahim balak bolai, taka nam dharuge kaisa.
Neither emptiness nor form, neither form nor emptiness,
beyond conception, beyond perception, such is its nature.
Its in the summit of the sky, its in a child's cry,
How could a name be given to it?
Or consider this couplet by the famous medieval mystic Kabir, on the
nature of true pilgrimage and starting right here and now in this body.
man mathura dil dwarka, kaya kashi jane.
dasvam dvar dehura, tame joti pahchane.
Know the body to be Banaras,
the mind to be Mathura and the heart to be Dwarka.
Know the tenth door [the mind] to be the temple,
That is where to recognise the light.
Another favourite couplet of mine by Kabir also talks of the way that
the notion of looking in and out starts right here, in a way that recalls
to me the teachings on meditation of the Buddhist traditition.
bund samane sagar me, jane sab koi.
sagar samane bund me, jane birla koi.
There are countless drops of water in every ocean.
But few are those though who realise,
There are countless oceans in very drop of water.
Kabir's teachings also emphasised that the notion of the oneness of
all religious communities in their essence which seems very in line
with the teachings that the dhamma runs through all things without
regard to community.
hindu kahe ram ram, turk kahe alah alah.
yogi kahe alakh alakh, kabir ka svami rahayo samaye.
Hindus say, Ram! Ram!, Muslims say, Allah! Allah!
Yogis say, Alakh! Alakh!, Kabir's Lord is immanent in all.
The next couplet is the first I ever learned by Kabir, back in the
1970s and despite the way its really just a simple saying, its still
very true and has somehow always stuck in my mind.
tinka kabahu na nindie, jo pav tale hoi.
kabahu ura ankhom pare pir ghaneri hoi.
Never criticise even a blade of grass,
Though its under your foot,
If if ever flew up and got in your eye,
Then the pain would be intense.
[Apologies if I mangled the originals, they were as I recalled them
from memory on retreat.]