Kandy Free Time

It didn’t take long to figure out what the streets of Kandy was like. The people seem to be less haggling like the ones in Turkey, modern, with a touch of pure tradition. It was surreal to see Buddhist monks walking around with the roar of the traffic passing by. Something I want to focus on is the Buddhist museum at the Temple of the Tooth. Having a personalized tour of the museum was eye opening, and seeing all the different forms of Buddha across every nation was inspiring.

I was saddened to see that the Taliban destroyed the largest Buddha in the world in recent history. I was also not aware beforehand that Buddhism actually got as far as Afghanistan. This changes my views of the region since it is actually a bit more diverse than I thought it was.

Another interesting part of the exhibit was China. It is an incredible change from the Indian version where the Buddha has a sweet Chinese mustache and goatee. Where I see this coming from is that Buddhism’s form changes according to its population, so the population can accept and easily conform to its teachings, but still relating to its culture. I feel this applies for any religion, there is a cultural change in the religion as you go from different regions. I believe this is the whole point of the program as well, we are studying how religions change across regions. They are still all connected, but the practices change. That common core between all religions to love one another.

Going to the Pizza Hut in Kandy was also a life changing experience. Seeing a menu from America compared to Sri Lanka is pretty eye opening as you can tell the corporation pays attention to the local customs. Chicken sausages are the thing here, not pork or beef. In fact I can’t even remember when I ate pork on this trip… Even the milkshake has a unique taste here. I thought the meal was more fresh than compared to the meals served in the states. It is a unique thing, that even in a developing country, their quality of products could still beat developed ones in different ways.

I want to end on one other note, the art exhibition, even though it was not officially unstructured time, was still a bit unstructured since it really was just walking around and looking at masterpieces through your own interpretation and with what the artist had in mind. It completely tied together everything I learned in the Buddhist museum, all the symbolism and meaning was intertwined behind every painting, every stroke. It really reinforced what life was about, the weightlessness and with it comes the ability to think with an open mind, so vast that it connects with the universe. This means that you are not only open to those around you, but also the universe within your mind, being able to see yourself from the inside. I also noticed there were some works of art where life is about the other person and with that person you both can achieve a greater understanding. I thought this was a beautifully way to think of this culture.

I am just completely thrilled to see such lovely connections in the culture of Kandy and Sri Lanka.

– Michael Sherburne

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