A Picture Of A Name Of A Sun Flower Myanmar Magical Impressions: Glittering Temples, a Golden Rock and Lotus Flowers Rising From Muck

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Myanmar Magical Impressions: Glittering Temples, a Golden Rock and Lotus Flowers Rising From Muck

I persevered in my quest to conquer the slopes of Mount Kyikteo in southern Myanmar. It was not a mountain to be approached lightly. A bhakti-charged golden rock at its peak was the prize.

Most Burmese people pay homage to this wish-soaked balance stone—a miraculous shrine they must visit before they die. Legend has it that a dragon serpent princess found this rock at the bottom of the sea and carried it to heaven with her supernatural powers. Many believe that touching this gigantic sacred stone can grant wishes. Men climb the mountain to apply more gold leaf to enhance the rock’s already magnificent golden glow. But not everything is fair. Women are free to climb this sacred slope, but none of them can touch this breathtaking, stupa-magnificent wonder once they reach the top. In a gesture of solidarity, I, too, chose not to touch its shiny surface. Who made such rules? I bet the dragon princess is furious. I will find other ways to fulfill my dreams.

Myanmar is full of surprises. Over a thousand magnificent stupas were built in Bagan at the same time as the Renaissance was taking place in Europe. Sunlight reflects brightly from the glittering golden spire of the highly revered Ananda Temple, built in 1090 AD. There are 997 other stupas nearby, but Ananda’s tall, and well-proportioned building heralds the early stylistic end of the Bagan era. While I was there, a rainbow explosion celebrated the stupa’s existence.

Why have so many people never heard of this amazing place?

The The piece of resistanceHowever, Myanmar’s holiest pagoda, Shwedagon Phaya, as it was known in its former existence, looms above Yangon or Rangoon, the country’s commercial capital, surely with golden spiers and shining Buddhas.

Shwedagon can take your breath away.

Buddhists of Myanmar dream of visiting here at least once in their lifetime. No one, not even tourists, forgets such a visit. It is said that Shwedagon has more gold on its surface than the vaults of the Bank of England, and probably more than the megatons stored at Fort Knox. Perhaps such exaggeration is justified in setting the tone. This is an amazing place.

Long ago Rudyard Kipling waxed lyrical about this gilded icon, “A golden mystery rose on the horizon—a beautiful winking wonder glinting in the sunlight…”

Allow me to put this glittering explosion in perspective by describing just the top of the main spire, covered in 13,153 plates of solid gold, each one square foot in size. The topmost vane of the tower is sliver-plated and studded with 1100 diamonds totaling 278 carats along with around 1383 other precious stones. At the very top of the vane is a gold sphere encrusted with 4351 diamonds weighing 1800 carats. And at the very tip of this orb is a 76-carat diamond more than a hundred meters above the worshipers below. There is a telescope on one side for those looking for a close-up view of the jewels.

Shwedagon has existed for two and a half thousand years. Perhaps ancient myth makers visited here for inspiration. Clustered around Shwedagon’s mighty golden stupa are temples and zedis and shrines and pavilions and altars with an incredible array of Buddha images that defy description. One’s imagination may fail in comparison to what exists here. The walls of the temple are adorned with an endless display of reflective glass mosaic tiles laced with azure-tinted grout that left me in awe.

Go there one day and you will understand. This place really exists. Kipling was not lost in a dream.

After Yangon I traveled the country on “The Road to Mandalay”. Mr. Kipling wrote about it in his book of the same name. Today, the city may be a little crisp around the edges but its magic can still be found. The Royal Palace reflects in the shimmering sunset water, and you can climb Mandalay Hill to see the golden Buddha with his outstretched hand.

The lotus is associated with Buddhism because its flower represents the law of “cause and effect” or karma. The lotus has the rare quality of manifesting the umal simultaneously with its seed. More symbolically, the magnificent lotus blooms more when it rises from the muddiest of swamps. When we get stuck in such mud, Buddhism promises that our lives can still blossom.

Despite the harsh military repression of the people, Burmese magic pervades the country.

Fishermen on Inle Lake in eastern Myanmar deftly balance their small canoes on one leg while their other leg is wrapped around the oar and one end tucked under their arm. They pivot and row in a one-legged corkscrew manner, leaving their hands free to manage the net. With permission, I boarded one of these small boats in the middle of the lake for an inside view through the net. I almost capsized in the process. But the nimble boatman perfectly resisted my photograph of his precarious position.

Towards the end of my visit to Burma I found myself at the remote Buddhist pagoda of Yan Aung Nan Aung Hsu Taung Pai. It is a quiet place; I was alone there. The crimson robed monks were not around. It was me and the giant outer Buddha sitting in contemplation for a moment. I lingered for a while, then carefully folded my umbrella and put it away. The rain has finally stopped, maybe it’s time for me to say goodbye to this incredible land. Reluctantly I slipped back into my sandals and turned to leave. Then, on one side I saw a holy lake whose water was not clear.

I approached and saw raindrops dancing on the lotus leaves that had grown out of the mud.

Copyright Glen Allison All Rights Reserved

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