Westerners head to Asia to feed their souls

March 26, 2011

India, home to all the world’s major religions and a world centre of spiritualism, draws tens of thousands each year hoping to nourish their souls in ashrams and other retreats dotted around the country.

Hundreds gathered earlier this month in the small town of Rishikesh on the banks of the Ganges for an international yoga festival set against the backdrop of the Himalayas.

The town, made famous by British rock group The Beatles who visited for meditation classes in 1968, teemed with Westerners along with long-haired yogis and gurus who led classes and gave advice on the importance of self-reflection.
“I came here to be near the source of spirituality,” Christel Pierron, a French yoga … Read more »

To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron: review

February 9, 2011

There is a telling moment in one of Colin Thubron’s early films. He is travelling with a BBC crew along the Silk Road in China when he professes that he is tired of filming and needs to be alone. He turns aside and enters the desert for a moment of meditation; a moment that is recorded by the film crew, who are presumably still beside him.

The tensions between Thubron’s natural tendency to solitude and the travel writer’s need to communicate and share experience are what give his books their strength. He is never garrulous and when he does reveal something about himself, the reader feels that these are confidences hard won.

Title: To

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Monk’s enlightenment begins with a marathon walk

Anyone who has run a marathon knows that feats of endurance require mental discipline — a way to fuse mind, body and spirit. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, a monk at a Zen Buddhist temple in Japan has walked a great distance — roughly the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference — as a form of physical and spiritual exercise.

On the side of Mount Hiei, overlooking the ancient capital of Kyoto, the wind whistles around a part of the Enryaku-ji temple complex. Inside, a small congregation of Buddhists recites sutras.

Leading the service is 34-year-old Zen monk Endo Mitsunaga, who manages one of the temples in the complex. His hands flow powerfully and precisely as he … Read more »