If someone asked me which person I’d like to meet if I had an opportunity to go through the pages of history, I would instantly say Gautama Buddha. What I find most fascinating about this historical figure is his persistence in finding answers to life’s most fundamental questions—why are we born, what is the purpose of life, and how to put an end to suffering. His philosophy has helped millions in their quest to find happiness and inner peace. Although, the Buddha’s teachings are just as alive today, to learn from the man himself would have been an experience of a lifetime.
Today, one who seeks to build a connection with the Buddha takes a journey to Buddhist shrines and monasteries. Countless monks, pilgrims, and devotees visit pagodas where the Buddha’s energy seems to flow through the chiming bells and the resounding chanting of the monks. Built around 2,500 years ago during the time of the Buddha, Shwedagon Pagoda sits at the heart of the Buddhist heritage.
Located on the Singuttara hills in Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda is believed to be the most sacred stupa in Myanmar. Believed to contain the hair relics of the Buddha, many say that the pagoda has preserved the lifeforce of the Buddha for thousands of years. For someone like me, who longs to find a connection with one of the most inspiring individuals in history, Shwedagon Pagoda was the closest I could get.
I boarded a plane to Shwedagon Pagoda during the fall—a time when the leaves turn bright yellow and the pagoda shimmers in a sparkling yellow too. They say yellow stands for enlightenment. To me, it was as if nature was awakened by the Buddha’s touch.
I stepped out of the airport looking for a taxi. Although I didn’t speak Burmese, it wasn’t difficult to convey where I wanted to go. Everyone in Myanmar may not know English, but everyone knows Shwedagon Pagoda. My taxi driver knew little English, but he managed to explain to me the dos and don’ts of the monastery.