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Ylang-Ylang's pilgrimage in India
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Ylang-Ylang



Joined: 18 Sep 2007
Posts: 384

PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:58 pm    Post subject: Ylang-Ylang's pilgrimage in India Reply with quote

Kerowyn wrote :
Quote:
“I sympathize, Ylang-Ylang.

I'm not sure any of us has, either the time, or the skill, necessary to edit such a report, but send it in and hope for the best. You never know.

Good luck!”

So, here’s my report. I don’t know how to put the pictures on here !!!

Ylang-Ylang’s pilgrimage in India
Decembre 15th, 2010 – January 1st, 2011

In September 2010, I decided to undertake a pilgrimage in India with a group of devotees from the Van-Hanh Pagoda in Nantes. It took me two entire months to get everything I needed, airplane tickets, passport and visas. Remember that your passport must be still valid at least 3 months after leaving le country you are visiting, that’s an international law. I was very happy, I rubbed my hands saying: “It only remains to wait for the day of departure” .
But … (Why are there always “BUT” ?) two weeks before the departure I suddenly had all kind of health problems, and serious ones to top it all ! Should I cancel the trip? “No, I cannot” I thought. I had promised a friend to undertake this trip together with her. A promise is a promise. The Superior Venerable of Van-Hanh pagoda was also aware of my participation. I decided to maintain the trip after having consulted my doctors. They allowed me to undertake the voyage, giving me all sorts of advices (or rather orders)

December 15th, 2010. The day of departure arrived – a little too early for me. My friend’s cousin drove us to Bordeaux airport at 3am. From there we took the plane for New Delhi with a stopover in Amsterdam. At Amsterdam airport we joined the other pilgrim groups: the most numerous were from Nantes, another group came from Denmark, and a single woman from Germany. Together we flew to New Delhi and arrived there at one o’clock in the morning on the 16th of December, 2010. Here two other groups were waiting for us, one from Australia and the other from Viet-Nam. A Vietnamese nun, Sister Tuê-Dàm-Huong, who had made buddhist studies in India, and who was in India at that time, welcomed us and took us to a hotel in New Delhi to spend the rest of the night there.

http://www.avenueviet.com/forums/album_page.php?pic_id=1833

In the group of Nantes there were four French ladies. One Vietnamese lady among the faithful of Nantes, who had a good knowledge of buddhist terms acted as translator for these French ladies.

Our pilgrimage from that day on was organised from A to Z, itinerary, hotels, restaurants, car etc. by Sister Tuê-Dam-Huong for all of us. We were 35 in total, including Venerable Thich-Thiên-Huê from Viêt-Nam, Venerable Thich-Nguyên-Lôc, Superior of Van-Hanh Pagoda, Venerable Thich-Nguyên-Hùng and Sister Tâm-Nghia from Van-Hanh Pagoda, Sister Tuê-Dam-Huong herself, and us, mere mortals from all over the world. I was the most senior in age of the group, I was given some priority, a place in the front rows on the bus to be less shaken for the roads were “infernally” bumpy, according to the young ones who were at the back of the bus.
Sister Tuê-Dam-Huong was very meticulous in her organization, for she had experience. We received each of us an identical canvas hat in order to easily recognise each other and not to get ourselves lost. On the bus we were asked to sit always at the same place and to check if the person next to your seat was there every time we boarded the bus before leaving a place; which was completely superfluous, because our Indian guide “counted” our heads very conscientiously each time (I had the impression that I was a sheep !).

On the bus we had an Indian driver, an assistant-driver and an Indian guide. All three worked for us almost 14 – 16 hours a day.

The itinerary of our pilgrimage was best chosen according to the proximity of the historic sites to the roads taken, and not according to the order of events in history. The four main sites of our pilgrimage were: the place where Buddha Siddharta Shakyamuni was born, the place where he attained the Supreme Enlightenment, the place where he gave his first sermon, and the place where he went to Nirvana.

December 16th, 2010. We took the plane for Varanasi. This first portion of travel in India was the only one made by plane, the other courses would all be done by bus.

At each holy place, the Venerable Thich-Nguyên-Hùng told us what had happened in this place formerly according to the sutras. I’ll try to note down here what I could hear and record in my memory between my coughing fits, for at this time of the year, it’s cold there too, in India. After two days, everyone, without exception, had fallen sick. We all thought the weather would be mild in India and did not bring adequate clothing. We stayed two nights at Varanasi in a hotel.

December 17th, 2010. The gazelles park
We visited the gazelle park where, after having attained the Supreme Enlightenment, Buddha Siddharta Shakyamuni made his first sermon on the Four Nobles Truths (Tứ diệu đế ) to the Kondana brothers who were his former ascetic friends and who had already so much admired the prince for his rigorous observance of the practice of asceticism. This sermon, called The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma, was translated into several languages and engraved on marble plates. How moved I was to see the Vietnamese version among the other versions around the place of the statues of Buddha and the five Kondana brothers!
In the park, young children were selling food for the gazelles, wild fruits, and we were all so delighted to feed the gazelles, to stroke all over their heads and look them in their eyes; their eyes were so soft. But all of a sudden I was struck by a touch of pain to read in their eyes a note of deep sadness! ( the park had a solid wire netting !!!)

http://www.avenueviet.com/forums/album_page.php?pic_id=1837

What are the Four Noble truths? The Venerable Thich-Nguyên-Hùng explained to us. They are:

* The truth of suffering,
* The truth of the causes of suffering,
* The truth of the end of suffering,
* The truth of the path that frees us from suffering.

i/ The Truth of suffering: It’s the most easy to see, the most frequent and the most known among all the states of human being. The life that we know is full of suffering: birth is suffering, old age is suffering, to be sick is suffering, death is suffering, to be bound to someone we don’t like is suffering, to be separated from the ones we love is suffering. This term of suffering is also translated by dissatisfaction for what it means is much more than merely physical pain…

ii/ The causes of suffering : The second Truth concerns the origin of suffering, or more exactly the constituent causes of suffering. It’s the diagnosis of the doctor specifying the germs of the disease and anticipating their actions.

iii/ The end of suffering: In contrast with the first truth on suffering, the third Truth is a soothing picture of the patient’s state when he is definitively cured. It shows somehow the real nature of the patient’s spirit; after he got freed from all the illusion veils that hinder him and make him suffer unnecessarily.

iv/ The path that frees us from suffering : This fourth Truth contains the various means that can wipe out the very causes of suffering before they may appear. It’s the wonderful therapy to cure all the diseases of the body and the soul. It’s the radiant path to Nirvana

The Four Noble Truths are often compared to the process of cares bestowed by a doctor. He observes the symptoms, makes the diagnosis of the disease, finds the ways to cure it and prescribes the remedy.

http://www.avenueviet.com/forums/album_page.php?pic_id=1823
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Last edited by Ylang-Ylang on Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:32 am; edited 7 times in total
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Xuân Phong



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:44 pm    Post subject: No editing needed, methinks Reply with quote

I had a look, Ylang-Ylang, and I don't think it needs editing as to the writing. I did rearrange the text on the page, bolded the title, things like that. But your report stands by itself.

Go on posting it, though, it makes for interesting reading. Very Happy
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inkling7
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:47 pm    Post subject: A question Reply with quote

I have one small question about your mode of transport... If there were 35 of you there must have been several cars or was it a large van or a small bus?
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Ylang-Ylang



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:09 pm    Post subject: Ylang-Ylang's pilgrimage -1 Reply with quote

Hello, Inkling7 !
It was a large (long) bus !
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Ylang-Ylang



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:15 pm    Post subject: Ylang-Ylang's pilgrimage - 2 Reply with quote

Xuân Phong wrote:
“I had a look, Ylang-Ylang, and I don't think it needs editing as to the writing. I did rearrange the text on the page, bolded the title, things like that. But your report stands by itself.

Go on posting it, though, it makes for interesting reading.”

Thank you, Xuân Phong.
You make me feel bold (a little !)
Because I never feel bold with my English !
I’m learning it, alone, with no teachers. More exactly, I’m re-learning it. Since I’ve left the school, I’ve had no occasion using it !
You all, on the Avenue Viet, are my teachers.
So, here’s a second bit of my trip.
How to put pictures on here ?
A report without pictures is a very poor one ! !

-----------------------------------

Ylang-Ylang’s pilgrimage in India –2

Why did Buddha choose to appear in this country ? The Venerable Thich-Nguyên-Hùng explained to us, the evening, after the meal:
* It’s a country where injustice is particularly prevalent because of the division of the society into “castes”. There are four different hierarchical, endogamous, hereditary castes, and a 5th category called “out-caste” where are classified the “untouchables”, considered as dirty, tainted, the lowest, and most despised class of the society. Buddha was the first revolutionary in human history to want to abolish this injustice. He said: “there is no social different classes when our tears are equally salty and our blood equally red”.
* It’s a country where there are so many different religions, more than 90, but none of these religions can answer the question “How to put an end to our suffering”. The teaching of Buddha shows us the path of salvation.
* It’s one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Buddhism, the flower of this civilisation, is a message of love and wisdom, the path to supreme happiness.
* Finally, it’s a poor, very poor country full of misery and suffering, only the compassion of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva could save it.

December 18th, 2010. We visited the Ganga river in Benares.
The Ganga river holds a very important place in the life of the Indians, not only on the geographic, and economic level, but it also holds a sacred character related to religion. The Ganga, a river of 3090 km, born in the Hymalaya, the roof of the world, flows down into the Bay of Bengal through Kanpur, Benares, and Patna…
Indians: Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jainist ... etc. etc. ... believe that the water of the Ganga has the power to purify the soul of the dead, and direct it straight to paradise. Moreover, in India there is also a religion that venerates Water. But in the Buddhist sutras, there is only the mention of "Ganga’s sand" to designate an incommensurable figure that cannot be evaluated, like the sand grains of the Ganga river. Indians also believe that fire has the power to purify the souls of the dead (There is also in India a religion that venerates Fire). Thus the Indian custom since the beginning of time wants the dead to be burned, and their ashes thrown into the Ganga.
The Buddhists represent no more than 10% of the Indian population.
Here we rented a little boat to go off, far from the shore, to lay small hollow floating plates, filled with flowers (carnations) and each carrying a small candle. These gestures are symbolic, accompanied by our prayers, to guide and enlighten wandering souls to find the right path.
Along the bank, people bathed, washed their clothes and utensils. Multicoloured saris were drying, lying on the steps, which made the banks of the Ganga very colourful. Also, along the riverbanks sometimes one could see a cement platform to cremate the death and stocks of firewood. The rich can get a lot of wood, their bodies will be well incinerated, there will remain only ashes. The poor who can just afford some twigs, their bodies sometimes are only half burnt, and would be thrown as they are into the Ganga !!!
After only a few trips, we found that the Indians in these small towns are very poor, given the innumerable huts along the roads (yet if they could be called 'huts'). Everywhere there are beggars, hundreds of them, men, women, children, disabled... especially in holy places where there are tourists on pilgrimage. Everywhere poverty and misery prevail.
India is a country of dust! Roadside leaves are covered with a thick layer of dust, so thick that rain cannot clean them. Cows are wandering freely in the streets, it's up to cars to avoid them. Their excrement is used as fuel for heating, after being compressed by hand in small round cakes, flattened and dried on the grass or glued well aligned to the walls. ( I originally thought it was a kind of bare wall decoration! )

http://www.avenueviet.com/forums/album_page.php?pic_id=1835

The vegetables in the markets had a very tender, fresh green, and all the varieties (or almost) we found in Viet-Nam. Surely they are very “ORGANIC”, grown with natural manure, feces from cows, pigs (and maybe humans too !). We were advised to drink only bottled water, even to brush teeth. “Are the vegetables in our plates washed with bottled water?” I asked myself. The first night, when we arrived at the Viên-Giac pagoda in Bodha Gaya, after a long day’s tiring trip on bus, we were all very hungry. We were so happy to see us being served with the delicious “bun riêu” soupe along with green salad, fresh and tender! We all so enjoyed our dinner after three days of Indian curry in the hotels. The next day everyone had “stomach ache” ! I said to myself “we must wash vegetables with potassium permanganate!”

We arrived at the Viên-Giac pagoda in Bodh Gaya around 7 pm. It was already dark. The Pagoda was less than 10 minutes from the Mahabodhi Park.
The Pagoda has several rooms, enough to accommodate us all, with a minimum of comfort, a large dining room and a spacious prayer hall. Every evening we prayed together, or we listened to the Venerable Thich-Nguyên-Hung explain the sutras.

December 19th, 2010. The Mahabodhi Park at Bodh Gaya.
Every day, at 5 a.m. we walked to Mahabodhi Park to pray near the ficus tree where Buddha Shakyamuni reached the Supreme Enlightenment. Sister Tue-Dam-Huong has given to every one of us a pocket torch.
A quite high wall in concrete surrounded and protected the tree foot. In reality, the original tree at the foot of which Buddha was sitting in meditation until his enlightenment, had been destroyed many times after many religious wars. It was replanted each time from a Sri-Lankan cutting. According to an English archaeologist, the last replacement would have been made nearly 150 years ago.

http://www.avenueviet.com/forums/album_page.php?pic_id=1834

Next to the ficus tree, a pyramid-shaped temple more than 60 meters high was erected around the 3rd century B.C. by Emperor Ashoka. Through centuries, this temple has been restored several times. The base of the temple is a square measuring more than 35 meters each side. Around the temple there is a large path paved with white marble. That is the heart of the meditation park. The temple is in a valley. From the entrance, you have to go down many flights of steps. The faithful and pilgrims come here to pray or meditate while walking. That was why we came here everyday early, at 5 a.m. to be able to find a place for all of us, 35 persons. There were other groups of pilgrims: Thais, Japaneses, Chineses, Tibetans … and Vietnameses too.
In the main hall of the temple, there is a great statue of Buddha sitting. The faithful bumped into each other in the hall which had become too narrow. Some brought in offering pieces of yellow silk. And each time, the monk in charge of the temple changed the draping of the Buddha statue, so he changed it many time a day. Suddenly it came to my mind a small anecdote told by the Venerable: When Buddha came back to his native land after having attained enlightenment, his foster mother, queen Maha Gautami, made him yellow brocade togas, but Buddha refused, saying that he already had his three togas, and that it was sufficient. In the regulations of the Sangha (spiritual community) each monk is entitled to only three togas and one bowl.

http://www.avenueviet.com/forums/album_page.php?pic_id=1825

Our pilgrimage coincided with the visit of His Holiness the Karmapa-Lama. This one is the 17th reincarnation of an old master in the past. That was why the meditation park was full of Tibetan monks in yellow or red togas who occupied all the staggered lawns of the park. The temple and the park were always decorated with flowers, real flowers, particularly yellow and red carnations strung in garlands. The statues of Buddha in side the temple or in the park and on the walls of the temples, all had a garland on their shoulders. (Or maybe, because of the Karmapa-Lama’s visit ?) Everywhere, there were golden leaves stuck on the statues and the walls.

After leaving the palace, and during his wandering in search of the Truth, the prince Siddharta Gautama of the Shakya Clan met a group of ascetics, the Kondana brothers, he followed them. After 6 full years of strict and austere practice, (eating just one sesame seed each day), the prince became skeletal, and had nothing but skin on his bones. One day he went to the river to take his bath, he fainted. A young village girl by the name of Sujata, who happened to be there, offered him a bowl of milk which revived and saved him. The prince then understood that to mortify the body doesn’t lead to enlightenment (or supreme knowledge). He threw the bowl into the river saying to himself “if I do not find the way to salvation, this bowl will follow the current and go to the sea”, but the bowl turned upstream. (That river, the Niranjana, now dried up, is nothing more than a sandbank). The prince decided to leave that place. He gave up his ascetic practices, and lived neither to one extreme, nor to another, conscious of the profound significance of the Middle Path. He went to a dense forest and chose to sit under a ficus tree making a vow not to leave that place before having reached Illumination (Awakeness). The birds and other animals from the forest brought him fruits to feed him. One day, a shepherd going that way, seeing the prince sitting directly on the soil, on rocks, offered him his bales of freshly cut grass to make a soft cushion. That cushion later became a “diamond throne”.
After 49 days of meditation the prince attained the Supreme Enlightenment, and became Buddha Siddharta Shakyamuni.

He was 35 years old.

The ficus tree underneath it Buddha had sat in meditation was then called “bodhi” (bodhi = awakeness) and became a sacred tree (ficus religiosa), the symbol of Buddha’s teaching. In 288 B.C. a branch of this original bodhi tree that had detached itself, was brought to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylan) by the daughter of Emperor Ashoka, Sanghamitta. The King of Sri Lanka planted the cutting with great pomp and ceremony. This tree in Sri Lanka is the oldest plant in the world planted by humans. The present bodhi tree in Mahabodhi Park at Bodh Gaya is therefore a “descendant” of the original bodhi tree.
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:52 pm    Post subject: Ylang Ylang's pilgrimage report Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
I have one small question about your mode of transport... If there were 35 of you there must have been several cars or was it a large van or a small bus?

In French, "un car" is... a bus, usually a tourist bus ("un car de touristes") Very Happy

Ylang-Ylang wrote:
How to put pictures on here ?
A report without pictures is a very poor one ! !

I have emailed you, to your private address, instructions to upload your pictures onto you Personal Gallery in the Album. It really is very easy.

Embedding the pictures in-post is a bit more complex, but that I can do for you once you've uploaded your pictures to the album.
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inkling7
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:03 am    Post subject: Car/bus Reply with quote

I never learnt that un car meant a French tourist bus or indeed a bus at all so I asked via the internet my friend who is French and whose family goes back centuries and centuries why I was never taught that in all the time I was taught French at school and Uni decades ago. I had googled it but couldn’t find any reference about it on it on the internet either....lol Seems my French lessons were sadly lacking... super grin I haven’t heard back from him yet as it is Sunday night and as he celebrated his Birthday very recently he has probably gone to bed now....

Actually I was meaning to suggest that the reference to those reading the report in English that maybe bus could be substituted for car so the English speakers picture the mode of transport around India more clearly in their mind.. Sorry but Ylang Yolanda did ask for editing suggestions and I was offering one and meant no offence.... super grin
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:15 am    Post subject: Re: Car/bus Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
I never learnt that un car meant a French tourist bus or indeed a bus

The word is, in fact, "autocar" - or used to be. Now we just say "un car" (de touristes or not, it can also carry, for example, a football team).

inkling7 wrote:
Actually I was meaning to suggest that the reference to those reading the report in English that maybe bus could be substituted for car so the English speakers picture the mode of transport around India more clearly in their mind.. Sorry but Ylang Yolanda did ask for editing suggestions and I was offering one and meant no offence.... super grin

Good suggestion, Inkling. ten I don't think the author of the report can possibly take offence.

But, ahem, who's "Ylang Yolanda"? wink (I know what happened, don't bother to answer. But you really should proof-read yourself... super grin )

Did you have a look at the photos she posted in her Personal Gallery?
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inkling7
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:36 am    Post subject: "Un car" Reply with quote

Actually Guillerme confirmed that was the case so my teachers obviously never thought that was necesary to teach us that...lol But I did find that image in my head confusing...lol Maybe my French teachers never thought any of us would be tourists in France... super grin
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:46 am    Post subject: Re: "Un car" Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Actually Guillerme confirmed that was the case so my teachers obviously never thought that was necesary to teach us that...lol But I did find that image in my head confusing...lol Maybe my French teachers never thought any of us would be tourists in France... super grin

"Guillerme"? Not "Guillaume"? Strange. Does your friend have Hispanic parents? Then it would be "Guillermo"... Never heard "Guillerme" before...

"Un car" can also transport sports teams, or their fans. Last European Championship, such a car got metaphorically egg on their faces coz they had painted "Champions d'Europe" on their "car", they were so sure France was going to win - but then France lost to Portugal!!! So they drove home in a "car" saying "Champions" when they were not! Embarassed

Quote:
Actually Guillerme confirmed that was the case

'Course it's the case. Do you think Wildflower could possibly make such a mistake in French? wink
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