The Buddha inside the stupa
Offering incense at the stupa before leaving Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple
Before leaving a temple it is the custom to offer incense, recite a scripture and say goodbye to the Chief Priest. In this case Rev. Master Phoebe. And then on arrival at the next temple, or home, one offers incense and makes bows in gratitude for having got there safely.
To stand before the stupa and then to see the golden Buddha inside is phenomenal. Quite takes ones breath away. It is almost that one has just met the Buddha. One HAS met the Buddha! So to make the Pilgrimage to the stupa, offer incense and then walking around it three times is to have accomplished something quite remarkable. Really.
The story of how this stupa came to be here is a story of faith/trust. Each person who visits and pays their respects as described above contributes in a way, and at a level, that I find hard to put into words. On the Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple website can be found photographs and text documenting the construction of the stupa. There is also valuable teaching on the meaning of the stupa.
I rarely talk about the devotional aspect of Buddhist practice because devotion is something one expresses, through action. To write about it is to be looking on, observing, and that is NOT what devotion is about. Making a religious journey is an act of devotion. While I write about my travels it is not the nitty-gritty journey itself, it is just a description. Each of us makes our own journey, be it to the local temple or further field. Oh, and sometimes I fancy that traveling over to Jademountains is a religious journey, especially for those who are not able to physically get about. The thing to keep in mind is that it is not reaching a destination or having a goal that is the important thing. It is to realize that Buddha is right now, right here be that on the dusty road or beside tall trees or sitting in traffic. And still one goes on Pilgrimage. In our meditation tradition one would go for retreat, as well as paying ones respects as a pilgrim.
This post has been edited 13th August.