I Swear to god, it’s Shwe dagon. I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to witness one of the wonders of the world. I heard this was a special place, but I had no idea. The whole trip was worth it just to see this one temple. It’s actually more than a temple, it’s a city of temples. Words are hard to find to describe it. It’s not just the variety and beauty of the many stupas, shrines and Buddhas, it’s the way the Burmese interact with the place. When the sun goes down and the lights come on, the special magic begins. There is gold, gold, gold everywhere. The effect is stunning. I’ve never seen such a thing before.
The Burmese artisans are highly skilled at fashioning many different Buddha face personalities out of both plaster and metal. Each one is slightly different, so you feel the nuances. They are gorgeous faces, full of deep meditative calm. It takes everybody’s breath away, lots of people just hanging out, meditating and staring back at the Buddhas. Some are life size and some are huge! It’s mesmerizing and you can feel the power of this tradition. The Burmese are very devout. Each of them feels intent on being present in the moment, yet are playful and never overtly serious. You can see it in their faces and their movements. They love to smile and chat.
This is a living, healthy Buddhist culture very much involved with their faith. I found it so inspiring. I am starting to get a feeling of what this culture offers the world. The Tibetans are equally devout, but the Burmese still have their country and they are in love with their temples and stupas. It gave me shivers to feel how deep this tradition is here. It feels a couple of notches above Thailand. I feel like I am being led to an experience how it must have been in India in the earlier days of Buddhism. There is electricity in the air, a feeling of being closer to the source.
I felt myself melting into the place. Some of the Buddhas in the center of the main shrines had a halo of colored lights that rotated and flashed outward. This LED light show was tasteful and not overdone. It gave a focus to these life size Buddhas that were set back into their own golden cave-like niches. There were many other gold metal Buddhas of various sizes as well, a whole pantheon staring back at everyone. It was easy to let go and just feel the power wash over you. I felt that everyone was getting really juiced up by the experience. There were hundreds and hundreds of people milling around everywhere.
The main stupa is immense and very tall! It’s covered in gold plated tile all the way to the top and has perfect symmetry. When the sun hits, it reflects everywhere. Then as dusk arrives, the floodlights come on, streaking in shiny bands, then shining brightly overall as the sky darkens. The effect is stunning and you can watch it evolve, the colors changing as the sky changes, and then the artificial lights creating their own firestorm.
There are many people of all ages circumambulating around the stupa. It takes a long time to make just one circuit! The whole place has lots of room to walk around and there are sub-temples and shrines everywhere. All the floors are covered with tile and everything is clean. Everyone is barefoot. People are praying and meditating all over the place. It is mind boggling and on a scale I’ve never seen before. Everybody is merry. Thank you. Thank you for this holy Dharma sanctuary.