Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Have a Nice Day! :)

Too many bad news on my facebook news feed today :(

I hope this post will appear on your facebook news feed & bring some smiles & happiness! Have a nice day! :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Heart of Gold

This is one of my finest day here in Sri Lanka. Meeting some new friends. This is the first time in my life to make  friends with monks. They are all around my age, around 25, some are younger. Spending time with them everyday gives me insight of being a monk. Amazing yet very simple life. Everything make sense when we lead this kind of life. Being not attached to various things in life somehow is a liberation for me.

Why we have to cling to something that is subject to decay and death, if we could understand that ourself is subject to decay and death? Something else must be there. Money and material things are subject to decay and death, wife and children are subject to decay and death, fame and glory are subject to decay and death, even religion & philosophy are subject to decay & death. These are not kind of understanding that everything is vain & empty. Just the opposite, where there is an understanding that everything is impermanence then something great are born from it. Love born from it. Love that is free from attachment. From this understanding then we could love everything deeper. We could appreciate our wealth more and use it wisely, we could love our partner more for we don't know how much time left for us to be together, we could look others as equal for there are no boundaries between 'me' and 'you', and we can pray more sincere for we know that the Ultimate Reality is beyond time --all doctrines, religion & philosophy are bounds by time-- only by surrender and being humble then we can touch the Ultimate Love. With the understanding that everything will not last forever, it is very easy to be in the here & in the now. That's the only reality, here & now. So why clinging to the past and future? Why worries? Just enjoy the moment!

Yesterday one of my good friend, Barmen Simatupang, gave me "Heart of Gold" lyric, a song by Neil Young. The song touched me deeply. I felt that my journey here is kind of like a searching for that heart of gold, even though in reality that heart of gold can be found anywhere, anytime. We don't need to search it again and again until we old like it says in the song. Just be aware of our own self and others, and we will find out that very heart of gold is in front of our own eyes.

Here, I can found those hearts of gold among my monk friends. In my trip to Ambuluwawa, amazing tower in the hill near Gampola town, I found those golden hearts playing and joking around just like youngster of my age. It is very nice to know that leading a monastic life don't have to be so serious & stressful, instead, when there are no attachments there are no worries, just be happy and "enjoy the ride!"

I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner
for a heart of gold.
It's these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

Town of Gampola, Sri Lanka.
People in the town of Gampola.

I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean
for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind,
it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

We must hike for 1 hour from the gate because
the car engine was over-heat.
Lama Nam Gay, Tibetan Buddhist monk from Bhutan
wearing his traditional hat. Dalai Lama also like to wear this kind of hat.
Bhane Wimalajhoti tried to wear Lama Nam Gay's traditional Tibetan Buddhist hat.
While resting Bhante Wimalajhoti showed that in Sri Lanka's ID
there is no mentioning of "religion".
Amazing view from the hiking track.
Playing with the sun.
Eating the sun.
Holding the sun.
Shy faces.
Church, Hindu Temple & Masjid built side by side in the area of Ambuluwawa Tower.
Inside Ambuluwawa Tower.

Bhante Kushala on the top of the tower.
365 feet above the ground.
Happy monks.

Keep me searching
for a heart of gold
You keep me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
I've been a miner
for a heart of gold.

International monks (from left to right): Ven. Soma (Nepal), Ven. Suguna (Mongolia)
Ven. Khavi Daja (Burma), Lama Nam Gay (Bhutan), Ven. Chakma (India),
Ven. Kushala (Nepal), Mahatma Putra (Indonesia, Lho?).

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Sri Lanka has always impressed me. First, I came to this country to learn the basic philosophy of Buddhism, for Sri Lanka is a country that has a root of Theravada Buddhism, often known as "The Ancient Sound", the oldest surviving Buddhist school in the world today.

My arrival here coincided with the end of the Vesak Lantern Festival in Colombo, that held up to one week after Vesak. For me this is a special opportunity to see the national lantern festival that is very popular in Sri Lanka.

My encounter with a monk in SIBA (Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy) --a place where I took a short course of Buddhist Studies-- in Kandy, Sri Lanka's central province, brought some fresh air for my adventure here.

Hemaloka, I called him Bhante Hemaloka - Bhante is a call for a monk. Bhante Hemaloka majored in Buddhist Leadership for his undergraduate concentration in SIBA.

Lucky for me, Bhante Hemaloka's monastery is in Colombo, where the national lantern festival was held. He asked if I was interested to see the lantern festival and stay at his monastery. Of course! Without hesitation I accepted his invitation and get started on this journey.

Bhante Hemaloka sit in the front seat. It is a law in Sri Lanka to give the front seats to monks.

With the intercity bus, it takes approximately three and a half hours to reach Colombo from Kandy. One interesting thing I found on the bus, that in Sri Lanka there is a law that guaranteed monks to have a seat, in the front seat, in any public transportation. So if there is someone sitting in the front seat and there is a monk who happened to be riding the same bus or train, he had to give his seat to the monk. Also, the monks are free to use public transportation within the city.

Bhante Hemaloka carrying offerings for the Buddha.
Venerable Sri Khavi Dhaja, the founder of
Sri Kavi Dhaja Meditation Center, Bhante Hemaloka's monastery.
Bhante Hemaloka eating in his alms bowl.
Friendly animal around the monastery - parrot.
Friendly animal around the Monastery - dog.

Arriving in Colombo I was staying at Bhante Hemaloka's monastery and meeting other monks who live there. Dharma-brothers, as they called each other. There are five young monks who live there, two of them are studying outside Colombo, so there are only three monks that serves there daily. Bhante Hemaloka (fourth from the left) is taking his BA degree in Kandy and Bhanthe Dhamma Kushala (first from the left) is taking his Master degree in Thailand. In their vacation time they like to go back and serve in their monastery.

Sri Khavi Dhaja dhamma-brothers. From left to right: Bhante Dhamma Kushala,
Bhante Dhamma Sena, Bhante Soratha, Bhante Hemaloka, Bhante Sobita.
Bhante Hemaloka in front of his bedroom door.

At night the people of Sri Lanka again impressed me with their enthusiasm for their own traditional festival! Lots of the people from across Sri Lanka came to Colombo only to see this festival. From the way they respect their own culture, I know they all are amazing people.

People watching Toran, a traditional Sri Lankan light ornaments,
Toran usually depicts a life story of the Buddha.
Traditional home-made circuit system for the Torang. 
People watching light festival.
Vesak lantern art, this one depicts the story of Hell. 
Watching lantern-boat. 
Young monks and their devotees.
People in Sri Lanka spending their time
to enjoy night scenes on the street.
Monks in Sri Lanka usually live a monastic life since their childhood. They were sent
to the monastery around age 6 to 8 and become a Samanera (novice monk),
so they don't experienced youth life like most of the people their age.

The next morning, I feel very lucky to see the smiles of children in Sunday dharma-school that held each week by Bhante Hemaloka. I just knew that every weekend, he's traveling round-trip from Kandy-Colombo-Kandy, regularly, only to teach this Sunday-school.

Flock of students in Dhamma-School.
Bhante Hemaloka leading meditation session at the Dhamma-School.
Children meditating before studying Dhamma.

Genuine smile.
Bhante Hemaloka and his sunday-school disciples.
After teaching the dhamma-school he also gives some counseling to devotees. Here he could give marriage counseling, professional counseling, and even advising the children to not too much watching cartoons.

Talking with the parents.
Giving some advice. From couples, business men to
police men seeking advices from monks.

Seems like being a bhikku among Sri Lankan society nowadays, even though someone could call it a sworn life under poverty, is somewhat a prestigious life. Being a bhikku is respected for the people here. In their point of view the bhikkus (and bhikkunis) are sacrificing their life's pleasure for the service of others. It is a customary here to bow and prostate to the monks when you visit a temple. It is not a Buddhist custom but more of a Sri Lankan cultural tradition.

Students prostate before Bhante Hemaloka in the stage before she
receives a certificate as one of the best students.

Sunday afternoon, back to our journey to return to our campus in Kandy. This time we decided to take economic class train, so that I could see a new atmosphere of Sri Lankan public transportation. It cost me about 200 Sri Lankan Rupee, about $1.5 USD for the economic class. The ride was an hour faster than bus.

In Sri Lanka I've never seen Sri Lankan flags, but Buddhist flags are everywhere.
The locals and some hippie tourists at the train station.
Always get his front seat everywhere. I didn't get any seat so I just sat next to the door.
Sri Lankan economic-train scenery.
Conductors collecting tickets.
Taking care of her little sister.
Arriving in Kandy, there is not much time to look around. My dorm gate closes at seven in the evening, so I should be hurry. The next day my dorm gate opened, it may also open the doors of new adventures for me.

Finding a cup of tea in Kandy. Bhante Hemaloka said it says "Restaurant".