Today I went to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. What I loved about this morning, very early at 5 am, was the peace and serenity in the air. It was before the heat and before the crowds, so I got a glimpse of the magnificent stupa as well as many other shrines, “tazaung” (small pavilions) and other religious statuary.
The crows were flying, swooping and cawing. The night time sky was fading away as the sun rose to shed some light, and here it was, the golden central stupa. The 325 foot “zedi” is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf and thousands of diamonds and other gems.
The people are pouring water on the Buddha that corresponds to the day one was born. This occured around the entire Pagoda whether it was Thursday (my day) or another. I did it too, but alas, I did not get a picture of that.
I believe sweeping the floor around the Pagoda was another type of prayer. The precepts of Buddhism reflect many aspects of yogic tradition, most especially the notion of accepting the moment as it is, without attachment or resistance. The “realness” of the daily prayers, the Burmese Buddhists, monks and nuns who frequent this sacred site frequently, felt calming to me. I spent two hours there, often meditating myself, as well as sitting down and being an observer of this spectacular place.