On the Bus
Feb. 22-Eight plus hours on a bus last night. Impossible to sleep with the bouncing, rolling of the roads. We left Varanasi at 815 pm and arrived at a Tibetan monastery at 430am in Kushnigar. Bus ride was torture, short distances of relative flat, braking hard to bounce through bumps that throw you off the seat, repeated endlessly-near head on collisions with trucks trying to pass too numerous to count-in the states you'd say I can't believe he did that, here just routine. This was a main highway with endless traffic both ways, winding through twisting streets in old villages often with a wedding. The only comparison I can make are the gravel roads in Illinois when I was a kid, but this was at least 100 miles of it. One hour was particularly hair-raising, bouncing along up and down, thrown side to side, with trucks passing 6 inches from us. In one town one road entered, several left. In the center of town the driver started a turn, kept turning, more than a full circle, to turn down one road, then stop and ask directions from two villagers. No one else witnessed this. All were asleep, including the driver's assistant and Rinpoche, which left me to worry about the driver. This was somewhere around 2pm. I was trying to figure out what I would do if the driver fell asleep, and how long I would have to prevent the crash.
This morning awoke around 8am just trashed. This is an incredible physical feat not just the buses, planes, trains, but the walking. The pedometer says over 100,000 steps so far. At times it seems just too much just to get to the sacred sites. And yet if you add it up there are so many teaching with eminent monks, Vulture Peak, the Bodhi tree.
And I still debate, and meditate on how to end suffering-simply watch the movie screen of life without jumping in with both fee. And I struggle with the ego which says: "Aren't there times when jumping in with both feet is the right thing to do. When is enough enough." Crossing into Nepal today.
Feb. 23-Sick yesterday. Very hard drive from Kushnigar to Lumbini, again up and down on terrible roads, hanging onto the handle on the back of the seat in front of me with my head between my legs. Took us over ten hours to go 175 kilometers with an incident at the Nepal/India border. We passed through the gate leaving India where the official took his time like maybe he wasn't going to stamp our passports. He then gave Rinpoche the look, and asked for money. This was a "no-mans land" with two more gates and more money passing hands until the final gate where the Nepal officials would not allow our bus into the country. We had to walk our baggage across the border, hire another bus, which resulted in a heated argument between driver's all wanting a cut, all the while with shady characters lurking around us. I think without Rinpoche this would have been impossible. He has a prescence that you don't challenge, and screwing with a monk (other than bribes) in this area is just not done. Our new drivers threw our luggage on top of the bus, and
refused to tie it down. We drove to the monastery where we could not get in-too late, went on to a hotel, with great amenities including a hot shower. This left me wondering about the honor of men. Today a stop at the gardens where Buddha was born, not sure that is the accurate story. Yesterday just prior to the bus ride, we were at a stupa with a giant statue of Buddha on his side. This is reportedly the location where he died. Not sure I was in my right mind prior to getting sick.