When I was a small child, we lived close to a very special monastery. In that monastery was a very magical well that always fascinated the dreamy child in me. We were told that the well was always empty but if you prayed and your prayers were accepted then the water flowed and you could have a drink of holy water. I was in utter awe of seeing my suspended bowl attached to a piece of rope sometimes come up full.
In my travels I saw several cultures revere water in different ways. On this riverbank in Myanmar locals considered this water a miracle cure for their ailments, the river Ganga in India is considered the ultimate destination for Hindu worshippers.
There is so much mystery in something as simple as water. We are 70% mystery ourselves!
I remember as a child getting very excited about the occasional long walks we took to our favorite monastery pocketed in the heart of the Lebanese mountain overlooking the valley of the saints. We walked for hours and felt the importance of our pilgrimage with every dusty step. It says so much about pilgrimages and the necessity of removing oneself from a current situation to meet new requirements for personal development. Walking up the mountain dictated a baggage free walk and a sense of lightness and freedom that only comes from surrender to a higher cause.
I look back with so much endearment to those days, the time of innocence and magic.
Day 47 of 365~
Image taken of a young monk Myanmar during my trip there last year.
They raise their hands in unison, they chant all together with passion, they cheer in joy, they cry in despair, they fight disbelievers and they come back again and again, week after week to adore at the stadium of their favorite team.
Day 41 of 365~
Image taken during a football (soccer) game today in Germany
There is a place on the bank of the Ganges River in the holy city of Varanasi, where more than 300 bodies get cremated daily and the ashes thrown into the river with the belief that the soul of the dead will be allowed a chance at a new life through reincarnation. Hindus from all over India and Asia carry their dead to award them that honor. I sat for a long time on a boat watching the burnings and the surreal picture they painted while this regal bird circled around the ghat reminding me of the certain mortality of the physical body. It was eerie in a good way, because life begs us to question death and death urges us to value life.
Is it in the temples of Asia, or the mountain churches of Lebanon, the faraway tribes of Africa, or the monasteries of tibet? Is it in mosques? Is it with soothsayers? Is it with the self proclaimed healers and seers? Is it in the holy cities of our world? Is it in the secret science labs? Do our world leaders possess it?
Or is it inside each one of us waiting to be touched?
going inwards to find it~ Jade Buddha Temple~ Shanghai
We might declare our allegiance to a religion or to a non-religion, but either way, there will be moments in our lives when we just feel the need to close our eyes, turn inwards and try desperately to connect to something bigger, greater and more knowing than we are. No matter how amazing and above it all we feel and think we are, the fragility of our very mortality will at some point in our lives humble us to the greatness of what caused us to be in the first place, regardless of what we may call it.
It is the biggest question of all! Are we here only for this lifetime? Do we go on afterwards? Why can’t we remember where we came from? Does it make any sense for it to end here? What kind of a bad investment would that be?
The questions that haunt us all and the answers that we think we are so sure of, but are we? No one has been there and back yet, have they?
In Yunnan province in China, there are at least 26 ethnic minorities living in small villages up and down the lush green mountains. We drove through these villages and met some of these amazing people who were said to have come from the mountains of Tibet before settling in Yunnan.
The Hani believe that all things on earth have souls They offer sacrifices to mountains, rivers, dragons and heaven, and, as often as every week, to their ancestors. Animals have spirits that are honored in hunting rites.
It was such a gift to walk among them, witness their unique lifestyle and see faces that are still connected to one of the old natural religions of the earth. Their faces told their stories…