Friday, October 19, 2012

Ancient Bagan Temples- Welcome Indiana Jones

I walk from my hotel gates. Not more than 50 yards later, I arrive at the edge of town. I plunge ahead, down a road rarely travelled. The path, uneven, muddy, surrounded by shrubbery on either side, most of it prickly. An electric feeling floods my body as the ancient temples of Bagan rise before me. Welcome Indiana Jones.
temples of Bagan- in the distance
I approach, enchanted by the Buddhist architecture of a millennia past. The sun drops below the horizon, the darkness adding a flavor of adventure as I cautiously navigate between the structures, carefully treading to avoid any scorpion or serpent protectors.
There isn't a another soul around. I stand for ten minutes barely moving a muscle, taking in my surroundings. These temples, built my man's fascination of life beyond himself. I think of the tremendous amount of work that went into their construction. Hauling the stones, the engineering, the pains taking attention to detail, the artwork on the walls within.
Today they sit as monuments, a dulled echo of ancient times pulsating still today.
"Welcome, Indiana Jones."

VIDEO: check out a quick view of my POV amongst the temples in the New Bagan area 
Many many Buddhas
Twelfth century painting inside one of the temples

three buddhas

Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, and pagodas were originally constructed, only 2,200 still survive, extending over forty square miles of the Bagan plains. To see each individually is virtually impossible. 
Some of the temples have been renovated with obviously new materials by the military junta that blend in as seamlessly as a great white shark waddling around the Louvre upright on his tail. 

Others still have an ancient quality that helps quiets the mind, as one contemplates just how long they have stood.

The best view I saw in Myanmar- by far
I climb to the top of one the larger structures. The view is breath taking. I sit there for an hour contemplating life, and its innate simplicity.
Although seeming so obvious in the moment, back home the essence of life, the natural love and joy that exists within us all, is often clouded by the ego which would have us believe we must achieve to be worthy.
The same ego that gave us world wars, the nuclear bomb, and terrorism. The same double edged sword named ego which ordered these temples built, that created the Vatican, the cellphone, and the Internet as we know it today.
I stare out at the magnificent view, the wind howling around me, contemplating all mankind has created, and think to myself that ego might have been a necessary part of our evolution.
Several deep breaths later, I fall into a grateful appreciation of my surroundings. I feel a unification with all life, as the past and the future merge with the Now. For a few minutes, my sense of self melts away into deep peace.
I'm not enlightened, I only see flashes of ultimate reality. In a few minutes my mind will pull me away from this moment.
However, I feel joy that these glimpses of the deep harmony that exists grow longer and more frequent. That's the beauty of travel, it helps both open, and subdue the mind, if you're willing to allow it.

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A look inside an old temple

check out this video of the best view I found in Myanmar- by far

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