This might sound like a strange thing to say, but through this book, I am sharing several of my greatest loves: my love of meditation and the spiritual life, my love and gratitude for the Buddha and his transformative teachings, and my love for the physical place of Lord Buddha’s enlightenment.
Bodhgaya, a holy site sacred to Buddhists from all around the world, is situated in Bihar state, northeast India. It is rich with symbolic, historical, and spiritual meaning. It is also rich in spiritual energy, which is of great interest to sincere meditators because energy can be absorbed, refined, and then utilised in the process of mental cultivation—perhaps especially so by those with a daily meditation discipline and who possess deep faith.
This energy is part of my reason for spending so many hours meditating in Bodhgaya.
It’s where the Vajra Asana, or Diamond Throne Seat of Enlightenment, is situated, where the Bodhisattva finally realised the ultimate goal of liberation from all suffering after many aeons of arduous striving. I wholeheartedly believe that some of the purity, unshakeable peace, and unceasing bliss that his mind experienced also infused the very earth element in this place.
To some, it may sound preposterous that something of ‘mind’ could stick to something of ‘earth’ for thousands of years. But if we consider for a moment that the Buddha’s mind was no ordinary mind, having been developed to the furthest extent possible and completely purified of all negative qualities as well, perhaps we can be open to the possibility that ordinary standards and assumptions are no longer an accurate gauge.
After thousands of occasions to check this perception for myself, I can sincerely testify that it does seem to be the case. Herein lies the reason for my deep appreciation of this most holy of holy sites. Perhaps it is one reason why Lord Buddha encouraged all of his followers to make a pilgrimage there if they are able.
So how does this physical place infused with the blessings from the purified minds of several Buddhas (for we are told that three previous Buddhas were also enlightened here) affect faithful devotees?
Most pilgrims feel great joy and gratitude as soon as they arrive and can feel a powerful energy radiating from the Vajra Asana and Bodhi Tree even before meditating.
Once meditating, other interesting effects can often be observed. People with busy minds sometimes find that their thoughts settle down much more quickly. Loud noise is not as disturbing as it would normally be, and it seems easier to be at peace with the physical discomfort that can arise while sitting in meditation.
These effects are not guaranteed and do not always occur but certainly occur frequently for many meditators. This helps practitioners to experience their minds with less pain and hindrances, and greater levels of tranquillity, rapture, and peace, which is naturally very encouraging.
This reflection by Ajahn Achalo is from the book 3000 Hours of Meditation, “Bodhgaya – Opening Words ,” (pdf) pp. 22-23.