Today has been an unbelievable experience for me, both as a representative for my community, but also for myself spiritually. There is no possible way to share much of what has happened, as it is both intensely personal and often experiential and in the moment. That said, I will share the highlights of today’s wonders:
I began my day at 3:00 AM, preparing for the huge ceremony and ritual that would take place. I went outside and connected with both the spirits of the land, and the Great Mother as I see her.
Following that, went with our hosts to the temple grounds, to feed the thousands of monks who had arrived to help facilitate the ceremony. Each monk has only a couple of possessions, their robes, and a bowl.
I placed food in the bowls of monks from different orders and traditions and shared a direct connection with many of them.
Later, after I too was fed, I returned to the temple and was graciously guided to the “VIP” area facing the entrance into the temple. There were a number of venerable Lamas and monks sitting next to us, and the great granddaughter of the last King of Siam (Anna & the King) sat in front of me.
At that time, the temple grounds were only partially full, and lots of last minute preparations took place.
The sheer magnitude of the event is beyond description. Huge giant urns, that would later blaze with sacred flame, thousands upon thousands of individual oil lanterns (one for each person as far as you could see). Giant golden Buddha’s and prayer flags. Trucks full of ritual tools and supplies moved in and out with clockwork precision, so well orchestrated that their very presence seemed almost holy.
As all of this took place, I could literally feel the force of thousands upon thousands of worshipers stacking up behind me as they arrived in cars and busses, and on foot from all around the world.
Perhaps the most impressive thing for me, was the absolute calmness and quiet order of everyone as they arrived and found their place within the spiraling waves which gradually began radiating farther and farther out from the golden temple in the center.
Before the main ritual began, I had the high honor of being blessed and prepared for my journey, by Lama Gangchein, an action not only representing my place in the ritual tonight, but also a point of departure into a new way of being on my own spiritual path.
Eventually, the pageantry began in earnest, and thousands of saffron robed monks spiraled down the side of the golden sanctuary and began to walk three times around the structure, immediately adjacent to the base of the of the temple. As the light of the sun diminished and the moon began to rise in her fullness … chanting filled the air as the monks raised their voices in perfect unison until I found myself lost in sound. It was like a pulsing heartbeat that vibrated the very earth itself.
Many invocations took place and in the end, the temple radiated with a golden light surrounded by people as far as you could see.
Further into the ceremony, our host escorted me and several of my companions to a raised platform in the center, immediately bordering the monks who had now completed their last rotation.
On the signal, we took a long pole with a flaming end, and placed it on top of a silver urn filled with oil. The urn was connected to about 30 other similar urns, which were joined together by strings of carefully laid fuses and the last urn, was followed by one last fuse which ran on up to a huge 10 foot diameter chalice prepared for ignition. When the first urn was lit, it burst into sacred flame, followed shortly by sparkling fuses igniting in all directions. Urn after urn ignited one after another until the last fuse took light, and the huge chalice ignited with a whoosh.
As I watched in front of me, runners lifted the blazing urns to distribute to the next line behind us, and the fire from the chalice
Served to kindle multiple others.
I turned around shortly after the chalice took flame, and watched mesmerized as wave upon wave of advancing light moved outward like a circular field of waiving grain. The light went on and on until the flames kindled on the furthermost outer edges turned into tiny distant pinpoints from my central perspective.
In the end, the reflecting light illuminated the 1,000,000 gold Buddha’s on the temple’s dome with a nebulous glow and we stood in the middle of that whole
glowing space, dwarfed by the shear power of it’s illumination.
Once things began to settle once more, I was escorted up the steps of the temple entrance and
got to speak with the Wise Abbott and then was whisked away for television interviews.
I finally hit my bed at 2:00 AM, exhilarated and exhausted, to catch 2 hours sleep before getting up to pack for the next mornings travel into the Thai mountain jungles to meditate for four days with the Lamas.