My Soon-to-be-Published Memoir

21 Jun

My memoir Every Day is Magical: a Buddhist Pilgrimage in India and Nepal will be available via Amazon.com within a few weeks.

Hook

EVERY DAY IS MAGICAL: A BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE IN INDIA AND NEPAL is my memoir of traveling in northern India and Lumbini, Nepal, visiting places significant to the historic Buddha’s life. The book combines vivid descriptions of the locales and Indian culture, the Buddha’s life and times, and my spiritual progress, in addition to my reactions to my surroundings and Indian society with all its complexities and contradictions.

 

Pitch

East meets west, modern feminism meets ancient tradition, and a twenty-first century meditator meets the historic Buddha, in EVERY DAY IS MAGICAL. I arrived in India knowing very little about the culture, not even the phenomena of squatting toilets or bucket baths; climbed onto a boat on the Ganges and placed an offering—a banana leaf plate holding a candle and marigolds—into the river; and rode an elephant despite my intense fear of heights. I circumambulated the Bodhi Tree while listening to eight thousand Tibetan monks and nuns chanting; I also sat under the Bodhi Tree and had a rapturous meditation experience not far from where the Buddha gained Enlightenment. During my three weeks on the other side on the world, I gained much insight, compassion, wisdom, and fearlessness while learning about a fascinating culture and about the historic Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. I returned to the United States significantly more equanimous, fearless, mature, and hopeful.

 

EVERY DAY IS MAGICAL includes a brief explanation of how I took up Buddhism, why I was motivated to take the In the Footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage, and how I got to India. Not merely my own personal account, the book is relevant to anyone’s spiritual journey and is sprinkled with a feminist and pacifist perspective on, and comparisons between, American and Indian culture.

 

EVERY DAY IS MAGICAL describes visits to:

  • Delhi, where I met up with Shantum Seth, meditation instructor and travel guide, and with the other members of the pilgrimage. We visited Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, where he lived at the end of his life and where he was assassinated.
  • Patna, where the museum contains a relic of the historic Buddha.
  • Rajgir, where the Buddha meditated and taught on Vulture Peak and started his first sangha.
  • Nalanda, ancient ruins of the first Buddhist university
  • Bodh Gaya, the village where the Buddha reached Enlightenment
  • the holy Hindu city of Varanasi and the Buddhist site of Deer Park in Sarnath
  • the ruins and temple of Kushinagar, where the Buddha died.
  • Lumbini Grove in Nepal, where Mayadevi gave birth to the Buddha.
  • Kapilavastu, the ancient ruins of the kingdom where the historic Buddha grew up as a prince.
  • Shravasti and the Jetta Grove, the final site of the Buddha’s sangha, where the monks and nuns stayed put through the rainy season.
  • Agra, the optional part of the journey, where we visited and explored the Taj Mahal and Akbar’s Tomb, beautiful relics of the Mughal empire.
  • Delhi again, for a final dinner and farewell.

I experienced rapturous meditation experiences in the presence of the Buddha relic, in a cave on Vulture Peak where the Buddha meditated and taught, and in front of the Bodhi Tree. We pilgrims met Buddhists from around the world, including Tibetans, Thais, a Thai abbot, the founder of a school for poor Indian children, and the “pope” of the Buddhist world. We practiced a walking meditation across the sandy river bed that the Buddha crossed twenty-five hundred years ago. We witnessed the World Peace Ceremony, in which eight thousand Tibetan monks and nuns chanted around the Mahabodhi Temple. Meanwhile, we encountered Indians from all walks of life, from beggars and polio victims, to merchants and owners of chai stands, to museum curators, to a maharaja and maharani. We visited the Sujata Stupa, marking where the girl Sujata met the starving Buddha and fed him rice pudding, inspiring him to think up the Middle Way. We walked across fields accompanied by village children, visited a very old and beautiful Hindu temple in the middle of nowhere, and continued walking to a humble farm, where we sat on the roof drinking chai and interviewing the family. In Varanasi, we rode a boat on the Ganges at dawn and explored an alley full of Hindu shrines and shops. At a maharaja’s lodge, I faced my fear of heights by riding an elephant.

EVERY DAY IS MAGICAL will inspire Buddhists and other spiritual seekers in their spiritual journey, whether or not they intend to literally travel to India or Nepal. Not just relevant to Buddhists, EVERY DAY IS MAGICAL is a great read for anyone interested in India, Indian culture, and the religions of India, and to anyone who wishes to travel to India or the Himalayas. It will also inspire and educate anyone interested in the life of the historic Buddha and in their own potential of having a spiritually fulfilling and meaningful life.

 

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