Journey to the West

“Mom, why do I need a belief?”

“Dear, this is not a belief. It is to become who you are.”

Have you ever pondered some “stupid” question like “why am I a girl”, or “why oranges taste like oranges”? Well, probably not as silly as mine. However, these questions could lead to a further discovery of the truth of life. In this blog, I purpose to assess and to evaluate a selection of my personal experiences to introduce you guys to a distinct world.

The blog will definitely show you different ideologies joined with my traveling stories that illustrate the life of Tibetan Buddhists and my own ongoing study of Buddhism. I will try to stay unbiased by including ideas from different religions and theories to give you guys an overview of certain issues.

I was born in an atheist family and attend schools with religious affiliations. Attending a Christian middle school and a Catholic high school, I gained an immense knowledge of religion. However, I become a Buddhist. Those teachings from the other religions didn’t satisfy my curiosity other than Buddhism. And now the story begins.

It was a late summer; the heat wanted to vaporize all the creations on earth. A decision was made by my family: we are heading towards Wutai Mountain to spend the summer. Wutai Mountain is one of the most famous sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism. A perfect nickname for it would be “Qingliang Shan”, which simply means refreshing. At an elevation of 10,043 feet, the mountain was isolated from the cities and heat. The mountain covers an area of 1095.4 square miles which included five main peaks; positioned east, south, west, north, and in the middle. Standing on the top of the west peaks, the mountains were connected to form a green sea. When a chilling breeze comes, the clouds moved slowly under your feet, you are standing above the clouds and there is nothing that could bother you. All the struggles, difficulties, and worries all fade away from this point. Time slowed down itself to have you enjoy this moment of peace. Now we’ve arrived at my wonderland, welcome.

It is about three hours to drive up to the West Peak. The Xilai Temple on the West Peak was famous for its vegetarian food and of course, that’s the reason I met my Guru. In the dictionary, Guru is defined as a spiritual teacher; however, he is more to me than just a teacher. As an old saying, Guru is the finger that pointed to the light. He, who never gives up on me, has compassion for all, inspires and guides me to liberation. However, my first impression was that he was strict. I had to learn what it truly meant to be a guru.

“Pick up your bowls!” a deep voice scared me and my family from the only decorated table in front of us. My mother and I stared at each other and I made a face to her.

“I will never eat in a Temple again, too many rules.” I murmured.

After lunch, we were invited to have tea with Guru. There were three different families in a small room having tea. I shuffled myself into a corner and passively observed the elders conversing amongst themselves. All of a sudden, I felt like someone was watching me. I raised my head and I saw him; he was looking at me. Even though it’s our first encounter, it felt like I have known him for a while. Then, he asked me where I’m from. I was stunned for a second.

“I am from Yunnan,” I replied.

“Are you a Buddhist?” he kindly asked.


“Do you want to start it now?”

I was confused by the proposition. On one hand, the question pushes me to make a decision I always wanted to. On the other hand, I am not sure what this would do to me. It made me feel like getting my baptized would take my freedom. All of the internal struggles started just after a simple question. What happened to me? Why do I care so much? What does it mean to be a Buddhist? In the next blog, I will follow up with the stories and fun things that happened during my visit.

One Comment

  1. nmm5628

    Overall, I found this blog very interesting. Since I have been Christian since my birth I don’t know a whole lot about Buddhism, but I have great respect for anyone who goes out and pursues joining a religion for nothing other than there own desire. I have always been fascinated with religious places. I also have great interest in the fact that the religious place is a mountain because that is very different from other religious places in Catholicism. I was wondering, who were some of the other people you met? I would assume there were other Buddhists there that were journeying for similar reason. This story was very interesting and I look forward to reading more.

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