It’s freezing (and snowy) here in New England! But it’s good to be home from my fruitful pilgrimage to India & Nepal last month. I happily sat beneath the Bodhi Tree every day, and watched it grow while the leaves occasionally fell—and hordes of pilgrims and tourists passed around and through it all—the head monks of Buddhist countries and the homeless and beggars of Bihar, the poorest state in India… on The Champs Elysees of Buddhist pilgrimage places. I was so impressed by the HH the 17th Karmapa in person, in his room at the Tergar Monastery, which Mingyur Tulku built for him in Bodhgaya. He is very powerful and all grown up now. There are metal detectors and outer walls guarding the Bodhi Tree and Stupa now, tho it still feels pretty much the same beneath the Tree and also inside the Mahabodhi Stupa temple. India is a wonderful, mysterious, magical country filled with a plethora of people and customs. I felt honored to be there but even more fortunate to return to my homeland.
There’s so much inequality and poverty in the world, and I just saw a great deal of it in Mumbai, at the Daravi slum, which some call the largest and worst in the world. One sixth of the world still experiences hunger every day, and that is a truly terrible way to live. The need is great everywhere, including in our own country. In this season of giving, we should all take a moment to contribute generously to those less fortunate than us, and be generous in all aspects of life; our time, patience and tolerance of others, simple acts of kindness, share a smile or hold a door, be mindful of others’ needs, and if you can, share monetarily too. No gift is too small.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”