Shakyamuni Buddha discovered the truth of overcoming suffering and bringing happiness to the individual, family and society. Before he died, the Buddha suggested that it would be of great benefit to those who are interested in his teachings to make a pilgrimage to the places associated with his life.
We have an opportunity to travel in the company of Shantum Seth, an experienced and renowned guide on the Buddha's path, who has been leading pilgrimages since 1988. A Buddhist scholar and practitioner, he is an ordained Dharma teacher in the Zen tradition of the Vietnamese Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. As we journey, Shantum shares stories and teachings of the Buddha and the practices of daily meditation and mindfulness. In this way the Buddha comes alive not only as a historical person, but in the here and now, someone who is relevant to our lives today.
Together we visit the actual sites where the historical Buddha was born, spent his childhood, attained enlightenment, taught, meditated and where he passed away. We travel along the fertile plains of the Ganges, beautiful with its mustard and lentil fields, to the lush 'terai' that leads to the foothills of the Himalayas. We visit the remains of ancient monasteries and stupas, museums with exquisite art, living temples and villages that have changed little since the time of the Buddha 2,500 years ago. We take a boat ride, stop at mango groves, visit Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, visit schools and meet/mingle with pilgrims from all over the world.
The pilgrimage has all the ingredients of a truly memorable journey, widening our perceptions and consciousness. It is an opportunity not only to deepen our knowledge and practice of the Buddha and his teachings but also to get an insight into an India that few penetrate. On this journey we touch a culture and civilization that are both ancient and contemporary. We take an inner and an outer journey through a fascinating and mysterious India.
India herself is a great teacher. Shantum, who has been an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme on a number of social development and environmental programmes in India, shares the underlying structures and subtleties of Indian society so that the travelers get a real sense of our living and ancient cultures. We visit homes of both villagers and city dwellers, and have an opportunity to share ideas and stories with local people. This journey is not only intellectually stimulating, exposing the mind to challenging ideas and diverse lifestyles, but also spiritually transformative.
Day 1: Begin at 12 Noon. Delhi - Patna by air.
Day 2: Patna - Rajgir.
Day 3: Rajgir.
Day 4: Rajgir - Nalanda - Bodhgaya.
Days 5 & 6: Bodhgaya.
Day 7: Bodhgaya - Varanasi.
Day 8: Varanasi.
Day 9: Varanasi - Kushinagar.
Day 10: Kushinagar.
Day 11: Kushinagar - Lumbini.
Day 12: Lumbini - Kapilavastu.
Day 13: Kapilavastu - Sravasti.
Day 14: Sravasti.
Day 15: Sravasti - Lucknow.
Day 16: Lucknow - Delhi by air.
Note: Normally there are 8-20 people on each journey, which allows for greater individual attention in the context of a supportive sangha and also makes it possible to cater to personal needs and interests.
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