March 20, 2023

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to share about our trip to Asia.

I guess because it grabbed my heart so hard and … I needed time to integrate.

I think back to the first time I went to Bodhgaya, India in 2003.

I arrived at the Mahabodhi Stupa and promptly broke down in sobs.

It was the oddest sensation, as if I suddenly understood why I always felt like I never fit in anywhere growing up.

I became acutely aware of the familiarity of this place and how it felt like ‘home’.

I heard myself think: It’s been so long since I’ve been here, coupled with a strange unfamiliar grief at the passing of time.

I stayed in Bodhgaya for one month. I spent two weeks listening to HH the Dalai Lama teach & the other two weeks learning a Death & Dying practice. My life changed radically from that point on.

During that same trip, I made new friends, like Mohammad, a young entrepreneur who ran his own restaurant at age 21. Each year his team would build mud walls around a mud floor, attach a tent around the top and carefully place tables.

He’d hire 30 men from rural areas that otherwise didn’t have work. They served thousands of people from the West and the East with an extensive delicious menu of Indian, Chinese and Tibetan dishes.

Ten years later in 2013, I returned to Bodhgaya, India.

This time, Mohammad had a permanent restaurant with concrete walls! No more mud walls.

His menu had expanded, he owned a water purification system & his kitchen was spotless.

If that weren't enough, we stayed in his recently-constructed, four-story guesthouse! I was inspired to see his growth during a decade. Consequently, he was also married, with children.

Fast forward another decade to my most recent trip.

I returned to India. It was exactly 20 years from that first time I cried on my knees.

The Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya is my favorite place on Earth because the transformative energy is palpable.

Being in a concentrated area where thousands of people are doing prayers, making wishes, meditating & engaging in practices to wake up, improve themselves and make a difference in the world – is electric!

I was again delighted to see my friend Mohammad; his children had grown up & joyfully led us to his now TWO (!) story restaurant with multiple balconies!

We admired the new additions: a juice/smoothie/mocktail bar, an espresso bar, expensive commercial bread ovens and TWO spacious working kitchens.

I was in awe of Mohammad’s business savvy – and so proud of my friend. He had purchased real estate & land with perfect timing. He took care of his entire extended family, plus many other families in the area.

Watching him evolve into such a powerful leader in his community was heartwarming.

In quiet moments, he relayed his own stories of 2020. With no work, he decided to visit remote villages and provide rice & vegetables for people who had no food.

He also built a home for elderly folks who had been abandoned by their children. His stories would rip your heart open.

During this trip I realized –

I was even more in awe of how fiercely the heart can love, regardless of time or space.

There are people we meet in life only a handful of times, and yet – there is a profound sense of family.

There is a magic that brings us together to inspire each other along the way.

During our time in Bodhgaya, I made wishes & a flower offering at the Naga pond behind the Stupa.

We did meditation practices in the wee hours of dawn, under the late morning sunshine and at night nestled by a black sky. We offered purple water lilies, red roses & marigolds. We gave treats to stray dogs.

We even serendipitously got a glimpse of HH the Dalai Lama one morning, as he had just arrived for his teaching. We watched silently, as he was assisted down the stairs to the Stupa. We offered incense & flowers, as a hush came over the hundreds of monks, nuns and lay people present. We sat motionless watching this larger-than-life man.

During the same time, Alan from our team, fell terribly sick ~ more about that in the next note!

But I’ll pause here to ask:

Do you have any dear friends or loved ones that have spanned decades in your life?

What have they taught you?

How do they inspire you? How do you inspire them?

What do they teach you about yourself?

Sometimes a quick moment of reflection offers great insights.

Love & flower petals,

P.S. If you're curious, the Mahabodhi Stupa is where we collected the Bodhi tree essence - more here. Also, is this guy not the most epic photo-bomber?!!!!!!