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Silent Walks in Sri Lanka

May-June, 2016

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”There are millions of sounds but no single sound can hear one of them. Only the Silence can hear all. There are many thought moments but No single thought can see them. Only the stillness can see all these moments ”  Upul Gamage, Nilambe.

The view above is from the “Rock of Invitation” at Mihintale where Mahinda, the son of India’s King Asoka arrived to introduce Buddhism to King Devanampiyatissa in 3rd Century BC.  This is one of so many sacred pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. Starting at the foot of the mountain, 1840 granite steps brings you to this impressive space. You can also drive half-way up the mountain passing ancient caves before continuing on foot to see the former monasteries and bathing pools.

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This is the spot where Mahinda met King Devanampiyatissa.

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The first Buddhist sermon in Sri Lanka was held on top of this rock.

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Climbing to the top is feeling the joy of touching the sky, allowing the wind to
clear the mind and breathing in the view of this beautiful world!

is an approx. 30 minute drive from Anuradhapura which was the royal capital for over 1000 years. While not developed on the grand scale of Bagan in Burma or Angkor in Cambodia, Anuradhapura is filled with archaeological wonders- huge dagobas (stupas), brick towers, ancient temples and pools built during a civilization which created amazing irrigation systems. As the kingdoms shifted due to various invasions, many of the sites have remained alive as places of worship.  The most sacred is the Sri Maha Boddhi Tree, grown from a cutting of the original Boddhi tree in Bodhgaya brought to Sri Lanka by Princess Sanghamitta, the sister of Mahinda.

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This sacred boddhi tree is considered the oldest historically documented tree in the world. The Bodhivamsa is a written detailed narative of all events from bringing the tree from Bodhgaya until its planting. The tree has been tended by an uninterupted succession of guardians for over 2000 years. Throngs of devotees come to make offerings, especially on poya (full moon) days.

During the main festival times, these sacred sites can be very crowded with pilgrims but other times, you can enjoy blissful walks in silence. Sri Lanka is blessed with so many wonderful places off the main roads where you simply connect with nature-  seeing birds, wild peacocks, maybe a wild elephant!
All of these sacred spots hold stories…

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​And here it is…. the peak of Ritigala,  from where Hanoman leapt back to India to inform Rama that he had found Sita, who had been kidnapped by Rawana.
Stories also tell of Hanoman having dropped medicinal plants and herbs on Ritigala during his flight there from the Himalayas. Today you can venture into the Ritigala Nature Reserve and explore the ruins of an extensive monastic complex. You can still see the grinding stones for medicinal herbs and the stone baths where monks ran a monastery hospital.

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Ritigala was established as a place of refuge as early as 4th century BC by a group of reformist monks who were devoted to austerity and dissociation from traditional life.  Pathways lead across stone bridges to rest areas for meditation.

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The only example of ornate carving is found on decorated urinals.  It is thought that the act of urination on decorated stones was a symbolic act of detachment.

Oh, imagine themes of urinal stones that could be created today to detach yourself from!

And some may be asking where the women’s rest rooms are?

It is good to know that Bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka was restored in 1991
so the female sangha is safe and well.

​You can watch some You Tube Links below.​
This trip began for me with a short retreat at Nilambe Meditation Center in the cool hills above Kandy.
A special place for anyone to un-plug and re-charge- and really totally un-plug as there is no electricity- just beautiful candlelight at night.

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​Nilambe carries the spirit of the beloved founder Godwin Samararatne, who passed away in 2000. Godwin was a lay meditation teacher remembered for his gentle and compassionate way of sharing teachings in simple language.

Learn more on:
with more writings and audios on:

Visiting these peaceful places, it is hard to imagine the years of war which ravaged parts of Sri Lanka.
May peace continue to prevail on this beautiful island.

With all the continued political nonsense and senseless violence in the world, it is important to cultivate some silence in the mind during times when it is so easy to become overwhelmed by news and media.
Nilambe teaches that “Silence is a Friend…. a teacher who teaches us about how to listen to ourself- how to understand ourselves and how to communicate with ourselves, so we can in turn listen to benefit others.”

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​Vesak Lights at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

Anuradhapura Guesthouse:  Little Paradise
It is nice to be based here for a few days to explore the area at a relaxing pace.
I stayed at a charming family guesthouse in town called Little Paradise and they arranged a delightful Tuk Tuk driver named Lalith:

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Each evening was indeed paradise sampling a different yummy Sri Lankan curry

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And Roti and Coconut Sambal for breakfast which I could enjoy every day!

Ayubowan!  ( May you have Long Life!)

Here is a beautiful You Tube from Dekanduwala Bhikkhuni Training Center.
No English subtitles, but enjoy the scenery and music ( 9 min. )

Also, an inspiring talk in English by Ven. Bhikkhuni Bodhicitta with Questions and Answers​:

Click:  Back to Cultural Triangle, Elephants and Kandy

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