Meditation Mastery Secrets

Flow State Training Program

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Flow State Training Program Summary


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Meditation Philosophy

Several organisations offer long-term courses in Buddhist philosophy and meditation. How Near Dharamkot, the Tushita Meditation Centre ( 221866 S registration 9.30-11.30am & 12.30-4pm Mon-Sat) offers eight-day nonresidential courses and 10-day residential retreats in Buddhist philosophy, plus courses for advanced students - see the website for current prices. Behind Tushita is the Vipassana Meditation Centre ( 221309 S registration 4-5pm Mon-Sat), which offers 10-day retreats on vipassana, or mindfulness, meditation from April to November.

Osho Meditation Resort

The Bhagwan Rajneesh's ashram ( 2066019999 17 Koregaon Park) is located in a desirable northern suburb of Pune. Since the Bhagwan's death in 1990, the meditation resort has continued to draw in manifold san-yasins (seekers), many of them Westerners. Facilities include a swimming pool, sauna, 'zennis' (Zen tennis) and basketball courts, a massage and beauty parlour, a bookshop and a boutique guesthouse (p829). The main centre for meditation and the nightly white-robed spiritual dance is the Osho Auditorium (a 'cough-free and sneeze-free zone' ). The Osho Samadhi, where the guru's ashes are kept, is also open for silent or music-accompanied meditation. The commune is big business. Its 'Multiversity' runs a plethora of courses in meditation as well as New Age techniques. If you wish to take part in any of the courses, or even just to visit for the day to meditate you'll have to pay Rs 1280. This covers registration, a mandatory on-the-spot HIV test (sterile needles are...

Meditation Yoga Tai

Buddhist Maha Vihar This Brickfields landmark offers a variety of courses. Meditation and chanting classes plus dharma talks take place most days. Contact the centre for timings classes are run on a donation basis (p91). Chan She Shu Yuen Temple Runs t'ai chi classes at various locations around Chinatown and Brickfields (p77). Contact Mr Eng on 2274 3246 for details. Vivekananda Ashram (Map p90 s 2272 5051 220 Jin Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields) This historic Indian ashram is part of the global Ramakrishna movement. Classes in kundaliniyoga take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday-call for details.

The Enlightenment And The Th Century

The Enlightenment, and particularly the reign of the last king of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, was an important period in the development of Polish literature. The first Polish novel, The Adventures of Mikolaj Doswiadczynski (Mikolaja Doswiadczynskiego przypadki), was written by Bishop Ignacy Krasicki (1735-1801), a moralist and satirical poet.

Buddhist Meditation

Northern Insight Meditation Centre ( o 5327 8620 donation) Offers 10- to 26-day Individual intensive courses in Vipassana with English-speaking interpreters available. Wat Suan Dok ( 053808411, ext 114 www.monk Th Suthep retreats courses free) Wat Suan Dok has a two-night, three-day meditation retreat at the end of each month, as well as an overnight meditation course every Tuesday (2.15pm Tuesday to 1,30pm Wednesday). Informal 'monk chats' are offered 5pm to 7pm Wednesday and Friday.


Many visitors to Sri Lanka participate in Buddhist meditation retreats. Although you'll find monasteries all over the island where meditation is practiced, the Kandy area is the main centre for such pursuits see pi92 for a list of retreats near Kandy. There are also listings of places to practice intensive meditation in Sri Lanka at www resources meditation_in srilanka.php and temples meditation-centers.html.

Meditation Massage

Most Buddhist study centres in Bangkok specialise in vipassana (insight) meditation. Dharma Thai ( has a rundown on several prominent wat and meditation centres, or speak to the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB Mappp118-19 002661 12S4 616 Benjasiri Park, Soi 24, Th Sukhumvit S 8.30am-4,30pm Mon-Fri (8) Phrom Phong), which also hosts occasional meditation classes. International Buddhist Meditation Center (Map p56 0 0 2623 6326 IBMC Vipassana Section Room 106, Mahachula Bldg, Wat Mahathat, Th Pra Chan) Holds regular lectures on Buddhist topics in English, and meditation classes. Wat Mahathat (Map p56 0 0 2222 6011 Section 5, Wat Mahathat, Tha Maharat Ko Ratanakosin) Separate to the IBMC, the monks here practise meditation between 4am and 2pm most days, though call ahead to make sure

The Enlightenment

Russian domination of Estonia was bad news for the peasants. War (and the 1710 plague) left tens of thousands dead. Swedish reforms were rolled back by Peter I, destroying any hope of freedom for the surviving serfs. Conservative attitudes towards Estonia's lower class didn't change until the Enlightenment, in the late 18th century. Among those influenced by the Enlightenment was Catherine the Great (1762-96), who curbed the privileges of the elite while instituting quasi-democratic reforms. It wasn't until 1816, however, that the peasants were finally liberated from serfdom. They also gained surnames, a greater freedom of movement and even limited access

Yoga Meditation

International Yoga Clinic & Meditation Centre (Map p429 2397139 gurujivyas Near Man Mandir Ghat but difficult to find, Yogi Pra-kash Shankar Vyas teaches hatha, pranayama, kriya and spiritual yoga. The cost per hour is Rs 100 for one student, Rs 75 each for two students and Rs 50 each for three students.

Meditation Yoga

Telephone for session timings and, if not stated below, venues. Where there are no fees, donations are appreciated. Ashtaang (Map pp92-3 24101802 E-2 Anand Niketan 1hr Rs 500) Beginner and advanced hatha yoga, including meditation. Dhyan Foundation ( Meditation classes plus one-day workshops introducing participants to sanatan kriya (rotation exercises, yoga and meditation). Check the website for details and various Delhi branch phone numbers. Laughter Yoga ( 27217164) Giggle yourself to well-being with an early-morning laughter yoga session in one of Delhi's parks. Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (Map pp102-3 23730417 68 Ashoka Rd) Includes pranayama and hatha yoga, meditation, stress-management and various diploma courses. Studio Abhyas ( 26962757) Yoga classes (1 hours) combine asanas (fixed body positions), pranayama and meditation. There's Vedic chanting on some evenings and Pilates classes too. Tushita Meditation Centre (...

Wat Phra Phutthabaht Tahk Phah

Regionally famous, this wat belonging to the popular Mahanikai sect is a shrine to one of the north's most renowned monks, Luang Pu Phromma. It's about 9km south of Pasang or 20km south of Lamphun off Rte 106 in the TambolMa-Kok (follow Rte 1133 1km east). It contains a lifelike resin figure of the deceased monk sitting in meditation. One of his disciples, Ajahn Thirawattho, teaches meditation to a large contingent of monks who are housed in a kiitl (a monk's dwelling or meditation hut) of laterite brick. Behind the spacious grounds are a park and a steep hill mounted by a chedi. The wat is named after an unremarkable Buddha footprint (phrd phi'itthdbdat) shrine in the middle of the lower temple grounds and another spot where Buddha supposedly dried his tdak phda (robes).

The Work Of Rosanjin Kitaoji

Not surprisingly, Rosanjin was also a gourmand who was drawn to food in all its forms. As with art, in food he sought the ideal, the beautiful and the perfect. This in turn greatly influenced his pottery, which often seems to be a kind of meditation on the perfect container for the perfect dish.

Warin Chamrap District Temples

The famous monk and meditation master Ajahn Cha was quite a name in these parts. He founded the two well-known forest monasteries detailed below, and students of his have opened a long list of temples across Thailand, and even about a dozen in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Sakon Nakhon Province

Many famous forest temples sit deep in the Phu Pan Mountain range that runs across Sakon Nakhon Province, and among Sakon Nakhon's famous sons are two of the most highly revered monks in Thai history. Both Ajahn Man Bhu-ridatto and his student, Ajahn Fan Ajaro, were ascetic thi'idong monks who were thought to have attained high levels of proficiency in Vi-passana meditation and are widely recognised among Thais as having been arahants (fully enlightened beings). Although born in Ubon Ratchathani, Ajahn Man spent most of his later years at Wat Pa Sutthawat in Sakon Nakhon.

The God Who Came To Stay

The world's largest vipassana (a type of meditation) centre, Vipassana International Academy Ten-day residential courses in this strict form of Theravada Buddhist meditation are held throughout the year. Vipassana was first taught by Gautama Buddha in the 6th century B C, but was reintroduced to India by teacher SN Goenka in the 1960s.

The Armani Of Ashrams

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931-90), or Osho as he preferred to be called, was one of India's most flamboyant 'export gurus' and undoubtedly the most controversial. He followed no particular religion or philosophy and outraged many Indians (and others) with his advocacy of sex as a path to enlightenment, earning him the epithet 'sex guru'. In 1981 Rajneesh took his curious blend of Californian pop psychology and Indian mysticism to the USA, where he set up an agricultural commune and ashram in Oregon. There, his ashram's notoriety as well as its fleet of Rolls Royces (bought to prove that material processions had no meaning ) grew like weeds. Eventually, with rumours and local paranoia about the ashram's activities running amok, the Bhagwan was charged with immigration fraud, fined US 400,000 and deported. An epic journey began during which he and his followers, in their search for a new base, were deported from or denied entry to 21 countries. By 1987 he was back at the Pune ashram,...

Sandcreek RVPark Hostel

Both men and women sleep, bunkhouse style. It offers sleeping space for eight, a TV, a microwave, and a porch with tables and chairs. The walls, high ceilings, and beams are of ponderosa pine, and the bunk beds are made of logs. Hostellers share the bathhouse with campers (see Camping, above), and linens are available. For those who want more privacy, there are two attractive but basic cabins that also share the campground bathhouse. You'll also find an espresso bar, laundry, horseshoe pits, and a natural stone and petrified wood labyrinth (sort of like a maze) that leads to a quiet meditation area. In addition, a gift shop features handmade deer antler jewelry, and you can often see the jeweler (who is also the hostel's owner-manager) at work.

Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University Museum

The number of white-clad people around town is not just a coincidence - they're studying at Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University (www This organisation teaches that all religions lead to God and are equally valid, and that the principles of each should be studied. The university's aim is the establishment of universal peace through 'the impartation of spiritual knowledge and training of easy raja yoga meditation'. For many, the teachings are intensely powerful there are over 4500 branches in 70 countries. For others, it gives off a spooky New Age-sect vibe. You can decide for yourself. An introductory course takes a minimum of three days. There's no

The Secrets Of Taichi

Considerable confusion exists about taichi - is it a martial art, a form of meditation, a qigong C Cifr) style or an exercise In fact, taichi can be each and all of these, depending on what you seek from the art and how deep you dig into its mysteries. As a system of meditation, taichi promotes relaxation and makes practitioners feel both centred and focused. Taichi will also introduce you to the meditation techniques of the Taoists as the art is closely allied to the philosophy of Taoism.

Hotel Pricing Chart

Villa Sumaya, down from the main dock, s 502 617-1209, www., 7 rooms, . This is a small, private villa offering creative workshops and meditation retreats along the shores of Lake Atitlan. Rooms are in palapa-roof bungalows with ceramic tile floors, wooden furniture and crisp linens in coordinated brown and sienna colors. A long veranda has rocking chairs and hammocks where you can enjoy the view. There is also a hot tub, meditation corner and reading room. Meals are made with organic fruits, vegetables and meat, along with freshly baked bread. Kayaks, yoga, massage and Spanish lessons are also available. The hotel will pick you up from Panajachel. No credit cards.

Cheondogyo Temple Map p

The largest Buddhist shrine in Seoul, Dae-ungjeon was built in 1938, but the design followed the late Joseon-dynasty style. Murals of scenes from Buddha's life and the carved floral latticework doors are two of its attractive features. You can follow the tradition of lighting a candle or incense stick and then walking around the seven-tiered pagoda to make a wish. Jogyesa is the headquarters of the Jogye sect, the largest in Korea, which emphasises Zen-style (Seon) meditation and the study of Buddhist scriptures as the best way to achieve enlightenment.

Retreat To The Khangai

Workshops lasting two weeks include wilderness poetry, meditation, yoga and photography, with space for 10 to 12 people at a time. It's a great place to unwind, meet like-minded people and commune with nature. Horses are available and visitors can go on pack trips to nearby Blue Lake. The camp is kid-friendly, with plenty of options for fishing, archery and horse riding. Costs average out to US 150 per day for adults and US 80 per day for kids. For more information see or contact carrolldunham

Phitsanulok To Lom

The Phitsanulok TAT office (p395) distributes a 'Green Route' map of the attractions along this 130km stretch of road. You may want to bypass the first two waterfalls, Nam Tok Sakhunothayan (at the Km 33 marker) and Kaeng Song (at the Km 45 marker), which are on the way to Phu Hin Rong Kla and therefore get overwhelmed with visitors. The third, Kaeng Sopha at the Km 72 marker, is a larger area of small falls and rapids where you can walk from rock formation to rock formation -there are more or fewer rocks depending on the rains. Food vendors provide inexpensive som-tam and kdi ydang. In between the Kaeng Song and Kaeng Sopha waterfalls, turning off at Km 49, is the Dharma Abha Vipassana Meditation Center ( 0 5526 8049 en schedules schabha.htm), which does regular 10-day meditation retreats.

Uttarakhand Uttaranchal

The British, fleeing the oppressive heat of the plains in summer, built enduring hill stations in the Himalayan foothills with Raj-style houses, hotels, churches and boarding schools that still exist. Mussoorie and Nainital have a real holiday atmosphere year-round and distant Himalayan views. Further north, the high Himalaya attracts trekkers, mountaineers and skiers as well as pilgrims on the Char Dham and Hem Kund routes. But it's Rishikesh that draws most foreign tourists for its ashrams, yoga, meditation and all-round spirituality. Whatever your interest, square for square, this is one of India's richest regions for travellers.

Building Sandcastles In The City

The best health clubs in the city for both its stylish design and the diversity of its services. Facilities include a climbing wall, massage rooms, tanning beds and every class you could possibly think of like Pilates, spinning, body combat, body pump, belly dancing, yoga, chi kung and (if it all sounds too much) meditation.

Visiting Tibetan Monasteries

All gompas are decorated with impressive mural paintings and thangkas (paintings on cotton, framed in brocade and hung). The subjects are usually either meditational deities, revered past lamas or ritual mandalas (diagrams that represent the forces of the universe and aid meditation). As you enter a monastery you will commonly see murals of the four guardian protectors and the Wheel of Life, a highly complex symbolic diagram representing the Buddha's insights into the way humans are chained by desire to the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Rigid rules govern these traditional arts, stressing spirituality, order and symmetry over originality, flair and personal expression.

An Excursion To Potsdam

If you take only one excursion outside Berlin, it should be to the beautiful baroque town of Potsdam, 15 miles (24km) southwest of the city. It served as a garrison and residence of Prussia's kings and royal families from the 17th to the 20th century. Its most famous resident was Frederick the Great, who succeeded in uniting Germany under his rule and built himself the delightful rococo palace Schloss Sanssouci ( without care ), which he used as a place for quiet meditation away from the rigors of war and government. His palace still stands, surrounded by a 750-acre (300-hectare) estate, Park Sanssouci, with several other magnificent structures, including the Neues Palais.

Sights Activities

A wooded hill overlooking Phra That Si Son-grak, is a gorgeous (it almost looks like a Bud-dhist-themed resort) meditation wat where most of the buildings are made of unplastered laterite blocks. Famous Thai temple muralist Pramote Sriphrom spent years painting images of jataka tales on the interior walls of the bdt. The wat is dedicated to the memory of the late Ajahn Mahaphan (also known as Khruba Phawana), a much-revered local monk.

The Great Himalayan Circuit

On arrival in Leh (p367), take some time to unwind. Consider a meditation course (p373) and visit the local stupas, gompas and palace (p369). Join a tour over the world's highest road pass to the Nubra Valley (p383) and explore the Indus Valley by bus or rented motorcycle, visiting the monastery towns of Stok (p382), Thiksey(p381) and Hemis (p382).

St Bernards Put Out to Pasture

Bernard dogs used to be bred by Augustinian monks in one of the oldest monasteries in Europe, the Great St. Bernard Hospice, Le Grand-St-Bernard, 1946 Bourg-Saint-Pierre (& 027 787-12-36). Set on the Swiss side of the vertiginous Swiss-Italian border, it was founded in 1050 and was mostly rebuilt of somber-looking gray stone in the 1600s. Year-round, the hospice houses only four or five Franciscan monks, many native to the Valais, as well as monks from other parts of Europe who stay for short-term bouts of meditation and prayer. Visitors can arrive by car only between June 15 and early October the rest of the year, all roads are snowbound and transit is possible only via special skis. (See below for details.)

Where To Stay Expensive

New Age Health Spa & Finds A country-style, intimate destination spa tucked away in the hills at the edge of the Catskills State Forest Preserve, this is the perfect place for a relaxing retreat without the factory feel of some larger, more institutional spas. All kinds of treatments and classes, including tai chi, aqua aerobics, yoga, and meditation, are available classes are included in the price. Guest rooms are located in five lodges and are very comfortable but not overly fancy healthful spa-cuisine meals are served in the rustic dining room, which has a nice deck area for eating outdoors. Beautiful hiking trails wind through the 280-acre property (guided hikes are scheduled), and horses roam down by the stable. Lots of outdoor activities are programmed, as are frequent mind-and-body lectures. Guests are not allowed nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol, and guests caught smoking or drinking will be asked to leave. Check the website for specials. 658 Rte. 55, Neversink, NY 12765. & 800...

Special Arts Center Gallery

Dragon Mama Finds For a dreamy stop in Hilo, head for this haven of all-natural comforters, cushions, futons, meditation pillows, hemp yarns and shirts, antique kimonos and obi, tatami mats sold by the panel, and all manner of comforts in the elegantly spare Japanese esthetic. The bolts of lavish silks and pure, crisp cottons, sold by the yard, can be used for clothing or interior decorating. Dragon Mama also offers custom sewing, and you know she's good She sewed the futon and bedding for the Dalai Lama when he visited the island a few years ago. 266 Kamehameha Ave. & 808 934-9081. Hana Hou Finds Michele Zane-Faridi has done a superlative job of assembling, designing, and collecting objects of beauty that evoke old and new Hawaii. If you are looking for Hawaiian lauhala weaving, this is the place for mats, hats, purses, place mats, slippers, and even tissue box covers. But that's not all Vintage shirts, china, books, women's dresses, jewelry, handbags, accessories, Mundorff prints,...

The Monastery of San Benedetto and the Abbey of Santa Scolastica

IN THE HEART OF THE ANIENE VALLEY, on an isolated hill, Subiaco seems to silently watch over its archaeological and architectural treasures, constantly recalling the intense history and mysticism of the place in which in the 5th century St. Benedict chose to spend a period of prayer and meditation.

Shrine of Divine Mercy

The various places where Sister Faustina lived and ultimately died. Her numerous visions and teachings relating to the Divine Mercy started a small apostolic movement in 1935, which grew quickly after her death. During World War II, and during the communist control by the Soviet Union, many Poles were taken away to Siberia and Kazakhstan. These refugees would spread their devotion to the Divine Mercy all across central Asia. In 1993, Sister Faustina became beautified, and in 2000 she was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II. Devotion to the Divine Mercy is mainly centered at Lagiewniki near Krakow. The Holy Father John Paul II appointed the convent where she died as the capital of the cult, and added For it was here that there originated the message of the Divine Mercy, which Christ Himself wished to pass on to our generation, through the meditation of the Blessed Sister Faustina.

Around Krabi Wat Tham Seua

Ajahn Jamnien, who is well known as a teacher of Vipassana (insight meditation) and Metta (loving kindness), is said to have been apprenticed at an early age to a blind lay priest and astrologer who practised folk medicine, and has been celibate his entire life. On the inside of his outer robe, and on an inner vest, hang scores of talismans presented to him by his followers - altogether they must weigh several kilograms, a weight Ajahn Jamnien bears to take on his followers' karma. Many young women come to Wat Tham Seua to practise as eight-precept nuns.

More Museums Attractions

Humes Japanese Stroll Garden Walking meditation is the goal at this extremely serene Japanese garden, set amid 4 acres of deep woodland. Step through the gate and you'll be awash in yamazato, or the transcendent feeling of a remote mountain hideout. Follow the trail, a symbolic path to enlightenment that takes you past a lake garden, as well as the shrubs and rocks that are essential to imperial garden design. The garden is the dream child of Ambassador Humes, who was inspired by a 1960 visit to Kyoto, Japan. Today, it's a refuge from the world. For a special treat, come to a tea ceremony held just a couple of days per month (no reservations required, but call for schedule). 347 Oyster Bay Rd., Mill Neck. & 516 676-4486. Admission 5 adults, free for children under 12 10 for tour with tea ceremony. Late Apr to Oct Sat-Sun 11 30am-4 30pm. LIE to exit 39 N to Northern Blvd., turn right and go 3 miles to Wolver Hollow Rd., turn left to end, turn right on Chicken Valley Rd. go 13A...

Trashi Yangtse Dzongkhag

The correct name for the site is Gomphu Kora. Gomphu denotes a sacred meditation site of Guru Rinpoche and kora means 'circu-mambulation'. The Guru meditated here and left a body impression on a rock, similar to that in Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang. Behind the goemba is a fantastical large black rock. It is said that Guru Rinpoche was meditating in a small cave near the bottom of the rock when a demon in the shape of a cobra suddenly appeared. The Guru, alarmed, stood up quickly (as you would), most likely swore and left the impression of his pointed hat at the top of the cave. The Guru then made an agreement with the demon to stay away until the end of his meditation. The contract was sealed with thumb prints, which are still visible on the rock. The serpent also left a print, with his hood at the top of the rock.

Postrevolution Buddhism

For several years all Buddhist literature written in Thai was also banned, severely curtailing the teaching of Buddhism in Laos. This ban has since been lifted and Lao monks are even allowed to study at Buddhist universities throughout Thailand. However, the Thammayut ban remains and has resulted in a much weaker emphasis on meditation, considered the spiritual heart of Buddhist practice in most Theravada countries. Overall, monastic discipline in Laos is far more relaxed than it was before 1975.

Giving The Earth A Voice

What made you decide to launch a website on ecotourism Living in Austin, Texas, I had access to innovative and inexpensive technology. I focused on ecotourism as that has always been the focal point of my travels. Could we use the brand-new web to showcase local environmental and cultural conservation I called the site Planeta as part of a meditation - if the world could speak, would we listen

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Buddhism in Korea belongs to the Mahayana school and, since its arrival in AD 370, it has split into numerous schools. About 90 of Korean Buddhists belong to the Jogye sect, which has its headquarters in Jogyesa (p53) - a large temple located near Insadong. The sect claims to have 8000 monks and 5000 nuns, and is an amalgamation of two Korean schools of Buddhism the Seon (better know by its Japanese name, Zen) school, which relies on meditation and the contemplation of paradoxes to achieve sudden enlightenment and the Gyo school, which concentrates on extensive scriptural study.

At river miles long roughly feet deep and an average of miles across its so big that even the breezes seem to draw a

Of sedimentary rock that piled atop the Vishnu Formation tell of landscapes that changed like dreams. They speak of mountains that really did move, eroding into nothingness of oceans that poured forth across the land before receding of deserts, swamps, and rivers the size of the Mississippi all where the canyon now lies. The fossils in these layers illustrate the very evolution of life.

Detour Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre

If you're on a quest for enlightenment, or just seeking some time out, the Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre 952 3448 Owendoon House, Bawnboy dm s d ind meals 32 39 68), in a beautiful country setting, is peace on earth. Jampa Ling, meaning 'Place of Loving Kindness', offers courses (from about 45 per day) in Galupa Buddhism, philosophy and meditation, though you don't have to take part in a course to stay here. All meals, which are included in the day courses and for overnight guests, are vegetarian. Occasional weekend workshops range from yoga to medicinal and culinary herbs, and visitors can stay as long as they like. From Ballyconnell, follow the signs to Bawnboy. In the village, turn left at the petrol station and follow the small road for 3km. Continue past the lake and a series of bends you'll see the centre's stone gates a further 250m ahead on your right.

Top Attractions Special Moments

After deliverance from the dreaded plague and the equally dreaded Turks, Vienna entered into a period of great power and prosperity that reached the zenith of empire under the long reign of Maria Theresa from 1740 to 1780. Many of the sights we describe below can be traced directly to that great empress of the Age of Enlightenment, who welcomed Mozart to her court at Sch nbrunn when he was only 6 years old a child prodigy indeed.

Tourist Information

All countries in Southern Africa have national tourist boards, but their efficiency and benefit range from excellent to little more than a friendly smile. South Africa's tourist information centres are prolific and fabulous. Usually staffed by devoted locals, they are a great source of microscopic information for travellers. In Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia the tourist boards' websites are useful for preplanning, but the offices themselves don't provide very much enlightenment. See Tourist Information in the Directory of individual country chapters for more information.

Four orchestras one Royal Festival Hall

The biggest and most exciting cultural news in London in 2007 was the reopening of the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall, the major concert venue in the South Bank Centre (Tube Waterloo). Royal Festival Hall, which first opened in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain, is now home to four resident orchestras the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The South Bank Centre is also the home of Queen Elizabeth Hall, a smaller venue that offers chamber music concerts and dance programs, and the Purcell Room, an intimate setting used for recitals. You can get tickets and information on all three venues at the box office (Foyer, Queen Elizabeth Hall), open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., or online at prices vary for each event. For credit card bookings, call 0871 663-2500.

Sabil Kuttab of Abdel Rahman Katkhuda

(Map p131) is one of the iconic structures of Islamic Cairo, depicted in scores of paintings and lithographs. Building this fountain-school combo was an atonement for sins, as it provided two things commended by the Prophet water for the thirsty and enlightenment for the ignorant. This one was built in 1744 by an emir notorious for his debauchery. There's nice ceramic work inside, so it's worth trying to find the caretaker with the key. He often sits in Qasr Beshtak (Palace of Amir Beshtak Map p131), down the little alley to the east, then through the archway at the bottom. The palace is a rare example of 14th-century domestic architecture, originally five floors high, now largely ruined but with splendid rooftop views.

Catherine Ii The Great

Daughter of a German prince, Catherine came to Russia at the age of 15 to marry Empress Elizabeth's heir apparent, her nephew Peter III. Intelligent and ambitious, Catherine learned Russian, embraced the Orthodox Church and devoured the writings of European political philosophers. This was the time of the Enlightenment, when talk of human rights, social contracts and the separation of powers abounded.

Birds Do It Chandelas Do It

Rather more convincing is the explanation that these are Tantric images, especially as they're not limited to Khajuraho. According to this cult, gratification of the baser instincts is one way to transcend the evils of the world and achieve enlightenment. Bhoga (physical enjoyment) and yoga (spiritual exercise) are seen as equally valid in this quest for nirvana.

Orienting Yourself in Edinburgh

Central Edinburgh is divided into two historic districts the Old Town and a larger New Town. Old Town, once called Auld Reekie because of its smoky atmosphere, is today chock-a-block with tourist attractions and shops, its sidewalks often full of out-of-town visitors from Easter until autumn. New Town represents a golden age of Edinburgh, displaying mid-to-late-18th-century modernism in town planning, as well as reflecting the age of enlightenment.

The Earliest Herald Of Nationhood

One particularly insightful thinker of the Enlightenment was the German Garlieb Merkel, who in 1796 postulated the idea that serfdom was bad economics. He also referred to the Estonians (and Latvians) not as suppressed peasants, but as distinct nations forced into servitude. Revolutionary for the time, Merkel's thinking became highly influential in the national awakening a century later.

Viewing Pha That Luang

Arched gates again lead to the next level, a 30m by 30m square. The tall central stupa, made of brick and stucco, is supported here by a bowl-shaped base reminiscent of India's first Buddhist stupa at Sanchi. The curvilinear, four-sided spire resembles an elongated lotus bud and is said to symbolise the growth of a lotus from a seed in a muddy lake bottom to a bloom over the lake's surface, a metaphor for human advancement from ignorance to enlightenment in Buddhism.

Buddhism In Bangladesh

It's not mere numbers though that makes Bangladesh important in the Buddhist world, but history. It's not far from Bodhgaya (in present-day India, where the Buddha reached enlightenment) to Bengal, and the region has played a huge part in the development of Buddhism, including the creation of the mystical Tantric Buddhism.

Fragrant Hills Park fdj

The next hall contains statues of Sakya-muni and Bodhisattvas Manjushri, Samanta-bhadra and Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), plus 18 luohdn (Buddhists, especially a monk who has achieved enlightenment and passes to nirvana at death) a marvellous golden carved dragon soars above Sakyamuni. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall behind contains a statue and a glass coffin donated by the USSR on the death of Mr Sun (see p47).

An Enlightened Emperor

Ashoka's reign also represented an undoubted historical high point for Buddhism. He embraced the religion in 262 BC, declaring it the state religion and cutting a radical swathe through the spiritual and social body of Hinduism. The extant highlights of Ashokan Buddhist India are visible in Sarnath (p438) in Uttar Pradesh (on the spot where Buddha delivered his first sermon expounding the Noble Eightfold Path, or Middle Way to Enlightenment see p68) and the stupas that the emperor built at Sanchi (p689) in Madhya Pradesh. Ashoka also sent missions abroad, and he is revered in Sri Lanka because he sent his son and daughter to carry Buddhism to the island.

Mindless Necrophagy or Road to Salvation

Of all the sadhus (ascetics) and holy men you will see in Varanasi, perhaps the hardest to understand without brutal judgment are the Aghori sects and their bizarre rituals. You may spot the occasional aghori at a smashan ghat (cremation ground) in Varanasi, usually with matted hair and no clothing, or just covered in white ash, or at most wearing a funeral shroud. The skull he carries is his cranial eating and drinking bowl. Aghoris roam the cremation grounds, where they may smear themselves with the ash from the pyres and or meditate sitting atop a corpse. It is alleged that as a once-in-a-lifetime act they sometimes also eat a piece of a corpse's flesh. While their rituals are extremely radical and even abhorrent to most, it's interesting to understand what underlies this bizarre behavior. Aghoris believe that acting contrary to the accepted norms and taboos of Brahmin ritual and belief is the necessary path to enlightenment. As a result, they eat meat, drink alcohol, and smoke...

When Was Ajantas Golden

Cave 17, with carved dwarfs supporting the pillars, has Ajanta's best-preserved and most varied paintings. Famous images include a princess applying make-up, a horny prince using the old trick of plying his lover with wine and the Buddha returning home from his enlightenment to beg from his wife and astonished son. A detailed panel tells of Prince Simhala's expedition to Sri Lanka. With his 500 companions he is shipwrecked on an island where ogresses appear as enchanting women, only to seize and devour their victims. Simhala escapes on a flying horse and returns to conquer the island.

The Eastern Capital Is Born

The word Meiji means 'enlightenment' and Japan's new rulers pushed the nation into a crash course in industrialisation and militarisation. In 1872 the first railroad opened, connecting Tokyo with the new port of Yokohama, south along Tokyo Bay, and by 1889 the country had a Western-style constitution.

Exploring Outside The Walls

Ereme delle Carceri and Monte Subasio A signposted lane leads left from Porta Cappuccini onto the oak- and ilex-covered slopes of Mt. Subasio, where nestled among the trees is the peacefully isolated hermitage built on the site where St. Francis often withdrew to meditate and pray with his followers. The monks living here will show you around they live on alms alone, so a nice tip of a few thousand lire is appreciated. You'll see the rocky bed where Francis slept, a few worn frescoes, the site where Francis caused water to gush from the rocks, the crevice where he tossed a pesky demon back down to hell, and the ancient ilex tree, now on iron crutches, where the saint preached his sermons to the birds.

Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

Bahai House of Worship (Lotus Temple) This 1986 Bahai Temple (Map pp92-3 26444029 Kalkaji S 9am-7pm summer, 9.30am-5.30pm winter, closed Mon), stunningly shaped like a white lotus, is especially spectacular at dusk when it's floodlit. It's set among pools and well-tended gardens, and welcomes adherents of all faiths to pray or meditate silently according to their own religion.

Wat Tham Mangkon Thong

The 'Cave Temple of the Golden Dragon' has long been an attraction because of the 'floating nun' - a mde chii (Thai Buddhist nun) who meditated while floating on her back in a pool of water. The original nun passed away, but a disciple continues the tradition -sort of. The current floating nun does not meditate but instead she strikes Buddha-like poses based upon traditional mudra (ritual hand movements). Shows do not have a set schedule but instead are timed for the arrival of tour groups.

Davids Top Beijing

After a morning in Beijing's commercial emporiums, an afternoon spent con templating spiritual matters at one of die capital's surviving temples seems in order. I could carry on heading south to the Tern pie of Heaven Park (p79), but more likely I'll turn around and head back north to the oasis of serenity that is Lama Temple (p91). There I'll join Beijing's Buddhists as they meditate, pray or just sit gazing into space.

Transport The Bund East Nanjing Road To Renmin Square

Range from stonework of the Qin and Han dynasties to Buddhist stucco sculpture, which was influenced by the Central Asian styles that travelled the Silk Road. Note that sculptures displayed were almost all painted, but only scraps of pigment survive. Carvings meditate predominantly on Sakyamuni Buddha, as well as images of his disciples, gentle Bodhisattvas and fierce-looking lokapalas (Buddhist protectors).

Moments Make a Pilgrimage to a Hindu Temple

Hindu pilgrims come from around the globe to study and meditate at the monastery. The public is welcome to the monastery temple, open daily from 9am to noon. There also is a weekly guided tour of the grounds that includes the San Marga Iraivan Temple. The weekly tour time varies depending on the retreat schedule at the monastery. For information, call & 808 822-3012, ext. 198, or go to www.saiva Hawaii. To get there, turn mauka (left, inland) off Kuhio Highway (Hwy. 56) at the lights, just after crossing the bridge, onto Kuamoo Road (between Coco Palms Hotel and the Wailua River). Continue up the hill, for just over 4 miles. A quarter mile past the 4-mile marker, turn left on Kaholalele Road and go 1 block to the end of the road. The Information Center is at 107 Kaholalele. Park on Temple Lane. Enter the open pavilion, where a guide will escort you through the monastery. You can also visit the Sacred Rudraksha Forest at 7345 Kuamo'o Road for meditation, open 6am to 6pm...

Once Around North India

Pass a few days enjoying the atmosphere and food (p506) in Kolkata, home to mighty Victoria Memorial (p492). Then head to Bodhgaya (p557), where Buddha attained enlightenment. Roll across the plains to the sacred city of Varanasi (p425), then to Khajuraho (p673), where temples drip with erotic carvings.

The Story Of Kurjey Lhakhang

One of the king's secretaries thus invited the tantric master Padmasambhava to Bumthang to use his supernatural powers to save the Sindhu Raja. The Guru came to Bumthang and meditated, leaving a jey (imprint) of his kur (body) in the rock, now surrounded by Kurjey Goemba. Guru Rinpoche was to be married to the king's daughter, Tashi Khuedon. He sent her to fetch water in a golden ewer. While she was away the Guru transformed into all eight of his manifestations and, together, they started to dance in the field by the temple. Every local deity appeared to watch this spectacle, except the stony-faced Shelging Kharpo who stayed hidden away in his rocky hideout above the present temple. The upper-floor sanctuary is the holiest in the complex, and has an image of Shelging Kharpo in a shrine just inside the door. There are a thousand small statues of Guru Rinpoche neatly lined up along the same wall, plus statues of Guru Rinpoche, Pema Lingpa and Drolma (Tara). The main statue in this...

Vissarion Messiah Of Siberia

Settled in remote, beautiful but harsh Siberian countryside villages, Vissarionites are mostly vegans growing their own food and espousing an eventual goal of independence from the global energy and financial systems. Nonetheless, the community has its own computers, TV- and recording-studios, and doctors from Western, herbal and oriental traditions. Tobacco and alcohol are considered vices, and a woman's place is seen very traditionally as homemaker and loyal supporter for her husband. Horse carts are preferred over polluting tractors, and low-technology agriculture is encouraged both as a meditation and for its ecological sustainability.

Great Scottish Inventions

Despite its relatively small size and population, Scotland has produced a remarkable number of inventors over the centuries. The late 1700s and 1800s were years of such intense creativity that they became known as the Period of Scottish Enlightenment. Many technological, medicinal and mechanical breakthroughs were made at this Marmalade time, including the invention of the steam engine, the bicycle, antiseptic and the telephone. Out of the country's factories, universities and laboratories came a breed of men who were intrepid and forward-thinking. Their revolutionary ideas and experiments produced inventions that have shaped our modern, progressive society.

The Sacred Cemetery of Ju Panggola

Nani Wartabone

Sacred cemetery of Ju Panggola built in 14th century is located in the sub district of Dembe I, 8 km from the center of Kota Barat in Gorontalo city. People of Gorontalo that live around the cemetery consider this cemetery as a sacred place because it has a unique characteristic, related to the Islam culture. Therefore, it isn't surprising to find out that many of visitors do meditation around the cemetery area.

Stories Of Eve Teasing Of Sikh Women By Muslims In Kashmir

Attained enlightenment Mahayana - the 'greater-vehicle' of Buddhism a later adaptation of the teaching that lays emphasis on the bodhisattva ideal, teaching the renunciation of nirvana (ultimate peace and cessation of rebirth) in order to help other beings along the way to enlightenment Mahayogi - Great Ascetic Shiva Maheshwara - Great Lord Shiva sadhu - ascetic, holy person, one who is trying to achieve enlightenment often addressed as 'swamiji' or 'babaji' safa - turban sagar - lake, reservoir vimana - principal part of Hindu temple vipassana - the insight meditation technique of Theravada Buddhism in which mind and body are closely examined as changing phenomena Vishnu - part of the Trimurti Vishnu is the Preserver and Restorer who so far has nine avatars the fish Matsya the tortoise Kurma the wild boar Nara ha Narasimha Vamana Parasurama Rama Krishna and Buddha

Holistic Spiritual Activities

Not all activities in India involve hauling yourself up mountains. Travellers with an interest in spirituality or alternative therapies will find a host of courses and treatments that focus on healing body and mind - after all, this is the country that gave the world meditation, massage and mantras Meditation, Ayurveda (Indian herbal medicine) and yoga have gained respect even in mainstream circles and there are opportunities to practise and improve your technique all over India. Here are some good places to start.

Exploring Dharamsala the Kangra Valley

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, chose Dharamsala as the capital-in-exile of the Tibetan people after fleeing Chinese oppression in 1959, and whether it's the endless spinning of Buddhist prayer wheels or simply the divine presence of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan enclave at Dharamsala draws seekers of spiritual enlightenment from all over the world. Admittedly, a visit to Everyman's spiritual center of the universe seems like the ultimate New Age clich , but the town and its environs have much more to recommend than the fervent chanting of Om manipadme hum ( Hail to the jewel in the lotus ). The natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and mist-soaked valleys compares favorably with that of any of Himachal's best-loved resort towns, and for those not sin-gle-mindedly wrapped up in a quest for spiritual fine-tuning with Buddhist lectures and meditation courses, this is an ideal base for walks and treks into the Dhauladhar range. It's also a good place to simply experience a...

Blaze The Benedictine Trail

It's a strange but appropriate fact that St Benedict is the patron saint of speleologists. Appropriate because the father of Western monasticism actually spent three years holed up in a cave in Subiaco, a small town 63km east of Rome. Fleeing the vice that had so disgusted him as a student in Rome, he sought the gloom of the grotto to meditate and pray. During this time he attracted a large local following that eventually provoked the ire of his fellow friars and forced him onto the road.

Catherines Return To Classicism

Despite her fondness for Elizabeth, Catherine the Great was not a fan of her predecessor's increasingly elaborate and sumptuous displays of wealth and power. Catherine's major philosophical interest was the Enlightenment, which had brought the neoclassical style to the fore in Western Europe. As a result, she began her long reign by departing from baroque architecture and introducing neoclassicism to Russia.

Great St Bernard Pass An Easy Excursion From Verbier

Bernard dogs are beloved in Switzerland, even though they no longer roam the snowy passes on missions of mercy with brandy in their casks. The dogs are still bred by Augustinian monks in one of the oldest monasteries in Europe, the Great St. Bernard Hospice, Le Grand-St-Bernard, 1946 Bourg-St-Pierre (& 027 787-12-36). Set on the Swiss side of the vertiginous Swiss-Italian border, it was founded in 1050, and was mostly rebuilt of somber-looking gray stone in the 1600s. Year-round, the hospice houses only four or five Franciscan monks, many native to the Valais, as well as monks from other parts of Europe who stay for short-term bouts of meditation and prayer. Visitors can arrive by car only between June 15 and early October the rest of the year, all roads are snowbound and transit is possible only via special skis. (See below for details.)

Khao Laem Reservoir

For those interested in practising forest meditation, the Sunyataram Forest Monastery, 42km south of Sangkhlaburi, also operates a meditation centre on an island in the middle of the lake called Ko Kaew Sunyataram (Sunyataram Jewel Isle). Permission to visit the meditation island must be obtained from Sunyataram Forest Monastery beforehand see Dhamma Thai ( for more information.


If you'll be staying in Thailand for a while, there are some good courses on offer. You can learn to speak Thai or study meditation, learn Thai cooking or Thai massage, or train as a scuba-diver or Thai boxer. For cooking courses, see p51 for dive courses, see p291. Meditation


Staying in a shukubo (temple lodging) is one way to experience another facet of traditional Japan. Sometimes you are allocated a simple room in the temple precincts and left to your own devices. At other times, you may be asked to participate in prayers, services or zazen (seated meditation). Nightiy rates hover at around 4000 per person (most with breakfast


Ancient Romania was inhabited by Thracian tribes. The Greeks called lliem the Getae, the Romans called them Dacians, but they were actually it single Geto-Dacian people. Their principal religion was the cult of .almoxis when people died, they went to him. The Geto-Dacians lommunicated with their god through meditation, ritual sacrifice and .Illuming bodily desires.

Monasteries Temples

Thanks to most countries with a large Buddhist population having a temple or monastery here, Bodhgaya offers visitors a unique opportunity to peek into different Buddhist cultures. Head to the beautiful Indosan Nipponji Temple (Japanese temple) at 6am and 5pm daily for the free one-hour Zazen sessions (Zen meditation). In an intriguing display of architecture, monasteries are designed in a representative style of their homeland. The most impressive is the Thai Monastery, a brightly coloured wat with shimmering gold leaf and manicured gardens. Meditation sessions are held here in the morning. The Tibetan Karma Temple and Namgyal Monastery each contain large prayer wheels, and the massive Indosan Nipponji Temple is donned with a Japanese pagoda roof. Other noteworthy monasteries include the Chinese, Burmese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, Tamang, Daijokyo and Nepali. Monasteries are open sunrise to sunset.

Davenna Yoga Centre

Just look for the giant, towering monkey-god statue. Bereft of yoga and meditation classes, the impressively garish Davenna Yoga Centre is not so much a Hindu spiritual center as an intended tourist site. The only Southern Indian-style temple in the western hemisphere, it's an incredible sight to behold in the middle of a small Trinidadian town. Take the Chase Village exit from the highway and a kilometer down the road you'll see the turnoff for Orange Field Rd the Davenna Yoga Centre is a couple of kilometers down.


Ever since the Beatles rocked up at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late '60s, Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. Today it styles itself as the 'Yoga Capital of the World' - with some justification - as there are masses of ashrams and all kinds of yoga and meditation classes. Most of this action is north of the main town, where the exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to meditation and mind expansion. In the evening, the breeze blows down the valley, setting temple bells ringing as sadhus (spiritual men), pilgrims and tourists prepare for the nightly ganga aarti ceremony. Rishikesh is very New Age you can learn to play the sitar or tabla on your hotel roof try laughing yoga practise humming or gong meditation experience crystal healing and all styles of massage have a go at chanting mantras and listen to spiritually uplifting CDs as you sip Ayurvedic tea with your vegetarian meal.

Haji Alis Mosque

At the end of a causeway snaking into the Arabian Sea is a whitewashed mosque (Map pp62-3) containing the tomb of Muslim saint Haji Ali. According to one story, Haji Ali was a wealthy Mumbai businessman who renounced material possessions and devoted himself to meditation after a pilgrimage to Mecca. In another version, he is said to have died en route to Mecca, his body thrown overboard with a message requesting that it be buried wherever it washed ashore.

Wat Nong Pa Phong

Known for its quiet discipline and daily routine of work and meditation. Dozens of Westerners have lived here over recent decades, and several still do, but if you have an interest in Buddhism you'll be steered to Wat Pa Na-nachat unless you are fluent in Thai. The wat features the chedi where Ajahn Cha's ashes are interred and a large museum (admission free S 8am-4,30pm) displaying an odd assortment of items, from Ajahn Cha's worldly possessions to world currencies to a foetus in a jar. The temple is about 10km past the river - take sawngthaew 14 from the Warin Market.

Si Chang

If you're looking for the archetypes of Thai island life - sweeping sandy beaches, coconut groves - you won't find them on this sliver of green in the big blue Ao Krung Thep (Bight of Bangkok). On Ko Si Chang you'll have to settie for a fishing village atmosphere gentie hills studded with Chinese and Thai temples and beachfront reminders of a stately royal palace. Enrich your mind through meditation in the limestone caves of the Tham Yai Phrik Vipassana Monastery and exercise your body by paddling a kayak to nearby Bat Island, where there's good snorkelling.


The Theravada Ananda Buddha Vihara (Map p939 27733161 Mahendra Hills S 5.30am-12.30pm & 4-8.30pm) will eventually include a museum of Buddhist art and a library. At the time of writing, only the temple - on a hill with incredible views - was complete. Meditation sessions are held at 6am and 6pm, but monks and nuns are available anytime to give instruction or just chat about the tradition. Call to inquire about special programmes.


Forced to make a decision on Iceland's religion. After 24 hours' meditation he declared the country a Christian nation. On his way home to Lj savatn he passed the waterfall near his farm, Dj p , and tossed in his pagan carvings of the Norse gods, thus bestowing the falls' present name.

Maitreya Project

An ambitious project to build a 150m-high bronze Buddha statue and Buddhist complex is on the drawing board for Kushinagar -if and when it finally comes to fruition it will likely turn this sleepy village into a bigger Buddhist pilgrimage centre than Bodhgaya. The US 250 million building project is being planned by the Maitreya Trust, a Tibetan Buddhist foundation, with land already set aside and plans to build an education centre, hospital, temples, meditation halls, a museum and library. The centrepiece will be the world's largest Buddha statue. For information see www Linh Son Buddhist temple (r Rs 100-200) has accommodation with simple, clean rooms with private bathroom and hot water. The Tibetan Temple (r with shared bathroom by donation) offers basic accommodation. Japan-Sri Lanka Buddhist Centre ( 273044 r by donation) has a beautiful meditation centre in the red-brick stupa at the front.


Visitors to the Illawarra will also find Wollongong's Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. With its towering orange-roofed pagoda, the temple offers extensive gardens and short-stay accommodation. Here you can enjoy a variety of classes - on meditation, calligraphy, tea ceremonies and cooking.

Sentosa Singapore

A low-rise, elegantly designed five-star resort with a beautiful cliff-top setting. Contemporary furnishings in the rooms, the pleasant Terrace cafe, the very classy Cliff (p137) seafood restaurant and a garden spa with mud pools, Turkish baths and a curious meditation area make this a splendid choice for its target market. The promotional rate takes the price much ower midweek.


Hotel Fiordi Loto 809-526-1146 www.fiordilotohotel .com Carretera Vieja d USS10-20, tw US 30, apt with kitchen US 40) A little ashram on the Caribbean, this small idiosyncratic place about 500m west of the main intersection in Juan Dolio is for the traveler looking to mellow out in a backpacker-style hotel. That's not to say the rooms aren't comfortable they're the equivalent of any mid-range place nearby and have clean, tile floors and overhead fans. And no other place offers regular meditation and yoga classes - and some of the proceeds from the hotel go to supporting a girls foundation in India. Hang out in the heavily cushioned front dining area draped with tapestries, or lounge on the 2nd-floor patio.

Yevpatoriya GbnATOPM

Most intriguing is the former Dervish Monastery (vul Kareavaya 18 5uah tours 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm & 5pm May-Sep), dating from the Crimean Khanate's 15 th- to 18th-century ties to the Ottoman Empire. Although today's complex is dilapidated, you'll get an insight into Sufi mysticism as you retreat into the arched niches the monks used for days and weeks of isolated meditation. Most people also have fun standing on the spot used to 'channel' energy from the heavens. (The monastery insists women cover their hair and shoulders to enter, so bring a scarf.)

Temple Stays

Sweeping paths, making stone rubbings and hiking in the mountains could also be on the programme, as well as meditation and a tea ceremony. Simple vegetarian meals are provided. Temple stays are an enlightening experience, providing genuine insights into the daily lifestyle and beliefs of Korean monks.


Access to medical care is another pressing concern for the impoverished community, many of whom do not qualify for Thailand's national health-care plan. The foundation offers natural medicines, underwrites some medical procedures and partners with Unite For Sight (, an international medical volunteer organisation. Volunteers are welcome to donate their time to the orphanage or the school and typically reside at the complex following the rules of the foundation's neo-humanist philosophy, an Indian tradition of universal love, daily meditation and a vegetarian lifestyle.


Jains believe that liberation can be attained by achieving complete purity of the soul. Purity means shedding all karman, matter generated by one's actions that binds itself to the soul. By following various austerities (eg fasting and meditation) one can shed karman and purify the soul. Right conduct is essential, and fundamental to this is ahimsa (nonviolence) in thought and deed towards any living thing.

Ashrams Gurus

Choosing an ashram will depend on your spiritual leanings. Every guru has their own unique take on spiritual living, often with a focus on abstinence and meditation. All ashrams have a rigid code of conduct, and visitors are required to adhere to strict rules, which may include a strict dress code, a daily regimen of yoga or meditation, and charitable work at social projects run by the ashram. The diet is almost always vegetarian and you may also be asked to abstain from eggs, tobacco, alcohol, garlic, onions, and 'black drinks' - ie anything containing caffeine, including tea and coke. Sex may be prohibited or positively encouraged - make sure you are comfortable with this before you stay.

On the fjord

Experienced travellers know that impressions only sink in and become a part of you when you slow your pace. The fjords invite you to a welcome pause when you're travelling by car. For the price of a ferry ticket you can enjoy a mini-cruise that some tourists gladly pay a small fortune to experience. Breathe in a whiff of salt, listen to the wind and waves and the screeching gulls. Think back in time to when the Vikings hoisted sails on finely crafted longboats letting the wind carry them up and down the coast and to distant shores. Even on the most popular ferry stretches, you can always find a seat, but make reservations for your car. But perhaps there is no reason to bring the car at all. Fjord Norway has an excellent network of express boats. It's a great way to see the sights. In addition, there are sightseeing boats that really show off the region's highlights. But why not slow the tempo even more Find a cottage or hotel with your chosen view, rent a canoe or rowboat, and explore...


Devout Sunnis pray at prescribed times before sunrise, just after high noon, in the late afternoon, just after sunset and before retiring. Prayers are preceded if possible by washing, at least of the hands, face and feet. For Ismailis the style of prayer is a personal matter (eg there is no prostration), the mosque is replaced by a community shrine or meditation room, and women are less excluded.

Other Sights

Just north of the Payathonzu, the monastery and meditation centre of Sasanayaunggyi Kyaung (a bit of a stop-off point for day-trippers) features a lovely 19th-century glass armoire with Jataka-painted panels and 400-year-old scripture in Pali inside. The monks are chatty and friendly, and will ask for a donation for their onsite school.


Home to 500 stupas, even more monasteries and nunneries, and some 6000 monks and nuns, lovely Sagaing is where Buddhists in Myanmar go when they're stressed. Set on the riverbank across the Ayeyarwady from Inwa, its peaceful pace - led by a lot of local meditation - is welcome to visitors as well.

Upper Level

Culture, but despite much speculation that the sculpture was used for human sacrifices its function, if there was one, remains unknown. Further along the same path is the elephant stone, a huge boulder bearing the likeness of an elephant thought to date from the f6th century. Nearby you can see remains of a stone meditation cella.

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