April 01, 2023

It’s me, Alan, again.

Here to bring you a different perspective from our travels.

I’ve always been curious about the mountain Vulture Peak in India, partly because the name sounds so ominous, and also because it’s where so many teachings by the Buddha himself, have been recorded.

As I recovered from my illness and slowly regained my strength, my mind craved an adventure!

Lisa and Alison had regaled to me their own stories of climbing to the lofty heights of Vulture Peak in the mystical times of the 1990’s.

A rough trail with little markings, a strenuous hike breaking into supreme views of the surrounding valleys, and warding off bandits on the hike nearing sunset ... I knew it was going to be an adventure.

It was a hot and sultry day in Rajagriha, and that was before we even started walking up the mountain.

As we stood in the dusty parking lot, in the noon day sun, and looked up to the lofty peaks of Vulture mountain, we realized why our friends had recommended that we arrive early in the day.

There were 10-15 tourist buses already parked and the acre-sized parking was already overflowing with families, kids, monkeys and the occasional chicken.

As I gazed around the scene, I could feel my craving for adventure shrivel in the heat.

Then we found the answer to our prayers! There was a gondola just outside the parking lot that whisked the intrepid explorers right up to the top of Vulture Peak in minutes!

I watched my mind flip from proudly dismissing the need of a gondola ... to rapid relief that we could just ride up the mountain in a heartbeat, and walk down after.

As we queued up for the gondola ride, it felt like a line for a county fair ride, so exciting! As the line crawled along for the next hour in the sun, the amusement began to fade.

At least there were many vendors selling water, candy, snacks, and of course, chewing gum.

Grateful for the water, I smiled at the vender carrying his load of goodies. “But no, I do not need candy ... no really, I don’t want the candy ... Hey, can you just stop with the candy!”

Ah, my mind exhibiting the human mental flip flop from joy to frustration in about 37 seconds.

And then, like a dream I felt a cool, fragrant mist descending on the back of my neck ... Katie spraying me down with Joy Juice!

Finally our turn came and we jostled ourselves into the swinging cage and took off into the air, ascending up the mountain! All too quickly we descended into a crowd of venders accosting everyone disembarking from the gondola.

Not exactly the spiritual atmosphere I’d anticipated as we weaved our way out of the maze of people.

After some confusion, we began our walk to Vulture Peak. We hoped we were actually on the right path — and not going straight back down to the parking lot.

And then — there was a fork in the path.

Monks, nuns and tourists of a different caliber were walking, chanting and praying with their malas ... we knew we were on the right path!

It led us right into a cave just below the Vulture Peak, the cave of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s close friends and disciples.

As we approached, a noisy group exited, and we found ourselves alone in the quiet cave.

The pristine stillness of the wind sounded through the trees. We had arrived home at last, the difficulty of the journey was perfect to open our Sacred Hearts.

We began the Heart Sutra in the cave ...

Sending you cool breezes of relief after your mind flip flops like mine. ; )