Friday, 8 January 2010

I can see that on TV (or, 'What you can't see on TV')

I'm sure that amongst the people who read this blog, many would love to visit Vietnam - just as I had.

We're in Hué, and today we visited one of the city's favourite tourist attractions, a UNESCO site, on the Northern banks of the Perfume River: The Citadel. It is a walled imperial city, currently under restoration. You can see things like this on TV.

entering the Kings reception room at the Imperial Citadel

In the last 4 days, our tour group, hosted by the Vietnamese Buddhists, has visited a number of other sites in Vietnam, mainly temples. I think we've stopped at no less that 25 places!
Everyplace we've seen has a special quality, a history, a story, an environment, or a personal connection that I feel lingering with me - something that you cannot see on TV.

These are examples from today:
- visiting a orphanage, which was run by a nunnery - the children offered a song and a rose to the Sakyadhita Conference delegates who are on this tour. They gave to us so freely, while holding a deep sadness in their eyes.
- meeting some of the eldest and most senior Bhikshuni's of Vietnam. A 94 year old nun composed a poem welcoming us all,
- sitting in a Chinese Zen Temple that was constructed in the 16th Century, then run by Bhikshunis for a long period of time, and was later the temple from which the 1964 movement to safeguard freedom of religion in Vietnam began.

We can be touched in such ways anywhere. I think my previous posts make it clear that it is certainly not only the temples that we are visiting that stir the heart. It is the connections.

As a new found (or re-found) friend from the tour wrote to me in a skype chat this evening:
It really felt nourishing for me too to be among number of nuns and lay women practitioners, I become more determined in my practice....and am really in awe to see the whole community of buddhist nuns (I witness sooooo many parallel worlds of women...that is amazing)....and I'm really inspired to get all of those worlds somehow together.
Also, what was very new to me is the level of compassion and loving kindness around nourished my soul...and opened my heart.
(again, this is another echo of my experience)

the bus (one of four) on which much bonding has happened during the tour

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