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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
37 summer 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly that will take you to the land where the Buddha lived and taught. You’ll be able to see and touch and smell the land where so many of the realized bodhisattvas lived and taught. These days, people go on holiday to Hawaii in search of romance, to Hong Kong for the shopping, or to Rome or London for the culture. You’re traveling to India because you’re inspired by the great and courageous spiritual adventurers who made their homes there—and not just followers of Buddha, but saints and teachers from many of the other great religions. Of course, for most of us the Buddha is our teacher and our inspiration, and while we may be fascinated by descrip- tions of his golden skin and ushnisha, such details have little to do with our faith in him. What really arouses our devotion are his teachings and all the rational, logical methods he has offered us for uncovering the truth. As Buddhists, our aim isn’t merely to follow his advice or become his servants; our ultimate goal is to become exactly like him—an enlightened being. So, ideally, our sole motivation and the driving force behind absolutely everything we do, including going on pilgrimage, is the wish to become enlightened. The backbone of the spiritual method for discovering the truth is mindfulness, and yet the causes of mindfulness are scarce. Followers of the Buddha do everything possible to invoke, maintain, and strengthen their mindfulness, and use all the different gadgets and markers available to remember it—for example, visit- ing temples, hanging a picture of the Buddha in the living room, reciting sutras and mantras, and listening to, contemplating, and meditat- ing on the Buddha’s words. Any method that reminds us to practice mindfulness is welcome, and our motivation for visiting the holy sites is to take advantage of the profusion of signposts for mindfulness they contain. Accumulation and Purification There are many ways of improving our under- standing of dharma practice while on pil- grimage, but, for the sake of simplicity, let’s categorize them into the two-fold method of accumulating wisdom and merit, and the puri- fication of defilements. Whoever we are, the vast majority of us perform two activities almost instinctively: we like to throw out our rubbish and we love collecting goodies. And both activities make us feel as though we’re achieving something. It feels good, for example, to tidy up your bedroom after months of neglect, and to hang a new photo on the wall or fill a vase with fresh flowers; it transforms your mood completely. And this is a uni- versal habitual pattern that can be usefully employed as a for- mat on a spiritual path, where all practices can be presented as being either for purification (throwing out the rubbish) or accumulation (collecting goodies). However, purification and accumulation aren’t two separate things at all; they happen simultaneously, in the same way that when you do your house- work, you’re not only cleaning up the mess, but also making your house more beautiful. Human beings experience mood swings all the time: one minute you’re in a collecting mood, the next all you want to do is clean, and every so often you want to do both. It’s the same when you follow a spiritual path: sometimes you’ll want to stress purification, at other times you’ll want to accumulate marcPolJaKJoanneBethell Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya