The Endpapers

It is officially my last week in India.

I would have blogged last week about my thoughts on finishing up the program and handing in my ISP, but things got to be so bad/busy that I haven’t really had a chance to breathe.

This was my week in bullet points:

*Visit Varanasi on the way back to Jaipur
*Relax in Varanasi with friends, see the ghats, and a body being cremated
*Get explosively sick on the train to Jaipur
*Spend three days in the hospital
*Discover the train killed not only my stomach, but my computer
*Finish my 30 page paper through borrowing other peoples’ computers and using the public computers at my program centre
*Turn in said 30 page paper
*Say goodbye to the amazing people that I’ve met and come to know in India, who have changed me in ways I haven’t even realized yet
*Board a train from Jaipur to Bodh Gaya, the place where Buddha gained enlightenment.

And so I find myself, at this concluding chapter of my stay in India, in Bodh Gaya. I’m staying at the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture, a Tibetan Buddhist centre that does meditation retreats for all sorts of people on all ends of the Buddhist spectrum. I don’t have any pictures of the center, but it’s absolutely beautiful. This is exactly how I would like to spend my last week in India: focusing on meditation, reflection, and letting myself recover from the crazy semester this has been.

I don’t really have any goals for this week, other than to do those things. I would like to see the different temples/monasteries in Bodh Gaya. Because it’s the most important Buddhist pilgrimmage site in the world, there are temples/monasteries from all different branches of Buddhism, and from all different countries that have a major Buddhist population. The Mahabodhi Temple is one of the main temples – it’s built around an ancestor of the tree under which Buddha gained englightenment. The tree as it is now is a transplant from the original tree, and has been planted at the place where they believe the Buddha meditated.

So the Root Institute is one of the many Tibetan Buddhist centers here, but there are also temples built in archetectural styles from Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, and Cambodia.

That also means there’s food from all of these places – so excited!

I feel so lucky to have these opportunities, and to be here now, and to be returning home to family and friends next week. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m leaving, and what that means. I didn’t have any chance to process this week because of my illness and the ISP, and it’s finally starting to hit me that my time here is ending, and what exactly that means. I feel like I’ve put down roots here, that this isn’t a final farewell to India. I look at the person that came to India, and the one that is leaving India, and I’m very glad for the transformation.

It’s not that I’ve found myself, it’s that I’ve got a breath of life again. I feel ready to take on life when I get back home. I’m no longer that sleepwalker, running into walls, but fully awake and geared up on my daily chai.

Bodhgaya is the breath of fresh air that I have so desperately been needing. And I can only hope that MN/WI is just as restful.

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