Pilgrimage to sacred Buddhist sites of India and Nepal


With Norman Feldman

"Ananda, there are four places the sight of which should arouse emotion in the faithful. Which are they? "Here the Tathagata was born" is the first. "Here the Tathagata attained supreme enlightenment" is the second. "Here the Tathagata set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma" is the third. "Here the Tathagata attained final release without remainder" is the fourth. And, Ananda, the faithful monks and nuns, male and female lay-followers will visit those places."

With these words, the Buddha initiated the practice of pilgrimage in the Buddhist tradition. Since then, people from all over the world have been visiting these sites out of faith and devotion, as well as interest and curiosity.

Every second year, in October - November, Norman Feldman accompanies a small group on a pilgrimage to the most sacred sites of Buddhism. The group visits the four places suggested by the Buddha: his birthplace, Lumbini; Bodh Gaya, where he attained his enlightenment; Sarnath, where he gave his first discourse; and Kushinagar, where he passed away. As well, the group visits Nalanda, Rajgir, and Sravasti, where the Buddha spent considerable time and gave many important discourses. There is also time for exploring Delhi; the ancient, sacred Hindu city of Varanasi; and Agra, site of the Taj Mahal.

At each of the sacred sites Norman gives teachings, leads meditations and describes the Buddha's life. As well, there is time for discussion and opportunity to meet with local people and learn about the local culture. Being a pilgrimage, this trip is very much an inner journey, as well as outer. The pilgrimage sites, and India itself, do arouse the emotions in many ways, and provide opportunity to explore our selves, our beliefs, our relationship to life, and perhaps come to liberating insight. India Tourism has used the theme "Incredible!ndia" in its promotional material, and pilgrimage offers the opportunity to discover the incredible in new places, people and customs, as well as within ourselves.

Norman has been visiting and meditating in India since 1971, and has been accompanying groups to India since the mid 1980's. He has studied and practiced with many teachers in the Theravada, Tibetan and Zen traditions, as well as with teachers of Advaita-Vedanta. Norman is based in Canada, and has been leading Insight Meditation retreats and study classes in Buddhist texts world-wide, since 1986.

If you are interested in experiencing the travel, and in studying and practicing meditation at the very places where the Buddha lived, practiced and taught, contact Norman for more information. You can reach him in Canada by phone at (519) 824-3765, or by e-mail at norman.feldman@sympatico.ca. The pilgrimage is limited to a maximum of eight participants. Because of the small group size spaces usually fill quickly, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.