30 March 2005

Borobodur Buddhas

YOGYAKARTA - The majesty of ancient monuments is always awe-inspiring. If Borobodur were still mired in the jungle, it would probably feel like Tikal. (The colours are similar.) But with the clearing and landscaped lawn, it feels almost too sanitized a la Chichen Itza.

Going up the steps of Borobodur is supposed to symbolize the attainment of nirvana from samsara. The exquisite carvings on the lower realms were detailed and full of sensual women in their natural, beautiful nude state. It is hard to decided which I prefer - aspiring to the peaceful zen state at the pinnacle, or remaining in thee samsarically beautiful but also samsarically painful lower realms.


In the end, I climbed straight on. I am not sure if I did so out of curiosity or a desire to be closer to the Buddhas. The pinnacle was surreally beautiful. So many stupas, with so many shy Buddhas, awaiting, hiding.

One could only stand in awe and pray. I prayed to Buddha to watch over this land he oversees, to inspire us all to enlightenment.

Circumabulating the stupa in the rain, the raindrops fell pitter-patter on my 40-cents rented umbrella. "I", the rain, the umbrella - we are all one.

Turning around, I noticed a lightning rod running down the main stupa. Did they not trust the many Buddhas to protect the very abode they resided in? But the many headless Buddhas provided the stark answer. Man is greedy, the world is harsh.

Is Buddha omnipotent? Or at the least omnipotent enough to protect himself? Or maybe he is too compassionate, just yielding to the needs and wishes of man. What is a head anyway if it can bring some warm food to the looter's dinning table?

The rain turned into a torrent. Water gushing, jeans wet.

What a mighty shower of blessing.

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