Category Archives: Buddhism

Samadhi

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The Samadhi Buddha is a statue situated at Mahamevnāwa Park in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The Buddha is depicted in the position of the Dhyana Mudra, the posture of meditation associated with his first Enlightenment, also called Nirvana.  In the Dhyana Mudra the Buddha sits cross – legged with his upturned palms placed one over the other on his lap. This position is universally known throughout the Buddhist world, and this statue is therefore one of the most typical pieces of Buddhist sculpture. This statue is 8 feet in height and carved from granite.

Nelson Mandela kept a well worn photo of the Samadhi Buddha in his prison cell and his meditations on it are credited by some who knew him with tempering the fiery spirit of his early years before imprisonment..

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Novice Monks of Sri Wewekarama

Between 2003 and 2009, I made 6 trips to Sri Lanka. The first was a month long trip to visit the ancient Buddhist sites and included a 1 week meditation retreat. The other 5, beginning a few weeks after December 26, 2004 were to help rebuild a village on the southwest coast that had been leveled by the deluge.
I spent most of my residence living in the Sangapala (monks’ quarters) of the small temple, Sri Wewekarama, in the village of Godagama. If you want to know where that is, Copy and paste these coordinates into the “Search” box of Google Earth.  6°10’52.00″N, 80° 4’45.41″E. You’ll be directly in the center of the temple complex.

If you want to know how I happened to be there and what I was doing, I have posted a few of my “letters home” at https://johnrobertsphotography.me/journal/letters-from-sri-lanka/ on this web site.

(In the photo at top, Nalanda and Nalaka are finishing the laundry by laying all the monks’ robes out to dry on the lawn in front of the preschool)

6 Aug 2010  Nalaka found a wounded bird and was nursing it back to health. He was a little bit more mischievous than this somewhat cherubic photo implies.  Sri Wewekarama, Godagama, Sri Lanka
Nalaka found a wounded bird and was nursing it back to health. He was a little bit more mischievous than this somewhat cherubic photo implies. Sri Wewekarama, Godagama, Sri Lanka
12 Oct 2010 Nalaka was setting by the cook fire that the novices had been using until the new residence was completed. He was eating yogurt when I walked around the corner of the lean-to and surprised him. Twelve at the time, his mother had asked the temple to take him in to protect him from an abusive father.
Nanda was setting by the cook fire that the novices had been using until the new residence was completed. He was eating yogurt when I walked around the corner of the lean-to and surprised him. Twelve at the time, his mother had asked the temple to take him in to protect him from an abusive father.
Novice monks on their way to pirivena Many poor families place their sons with temples so that they can receive an education that they otherwise couldn't afford. Larger temples in an area will maintain a monks' school or pirivena. These 3 young novices walk about one mile each way to school and back each day.
Novice monks on their way to pirivena
Many poor families place their sons with temples so that they can receive an education that they otherwise couldn’t afford. Larger temples in an area will maintain a monks’ school or pirivena.
These 3 young novices walk about one mile each way to school and back each day.
Subodhdhamma Thero and Dickie Dogs wander everywhere in Sri Lanka. Most seem unattached to people but do have a favorite spot on the road to lie in. They aren't abused but they don't have their ears scratched either. Dickie is lucky in that he must be the most loved (and most washed) dog in the country.  Subodhdhamma, a 12 year old novice at Bellanwila in Colombo, and Dickie are constant companions.
Subodhdhamma Thero and Dickie
Dogs wander everywhere in Sri Lanka. Most seem unattached to people but do have a favorite spot on the road to lie in. They aren’t abused but they don’t have their ears scratched either.
Dickie is lucky in that he must be the most loved (and most washed) dog in the country.
Subodhdhamma, a 12 year old novice at Bellanwila in Colombo, and Dickie are constant companions.
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Working to keep the temple compound well maintained.

Another Day Begins

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f3.5, 1/60, ISO220, 0628, 15 Dec 2010

From inside the east gate at Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya, Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was still pretty dark at 0630 but light enough to get this exposure without HDR.

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As the sun continues to rise it bathes the temple complex in warming light. In the left background is the main image hall. The frescoes in this one, painted by Somabandu Vidyapathyare, are extraordinary. To the right is the stupa or chetiya, as they are called in Sri Lanka. The building in the left foreground is part of the monks quarters.

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Across the road from the main entrance the flower stalls have started to open and prepare offerings for devotees to purchase.
WP DSC_5119-Edit The first worshipers begin to arrive and circumambulate the Bodhi tree making offerings of flowers, incense and water before departing for work or school.

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After making an offering of light using coconut oil lamps, some will set beneath the Bodhi tree and mediate, recite puja, and ask for help with a work promotion, better grades, the birth of a child, etc. Many will repeat this every day.

On Sundays, many hundreds of children in their white garments set in neat rows under the Bodhi to listen to teachings and practice meditation. On holy days, grandmothers will remain on the temple grounds all day.

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