A 2005 Malaysia Christmas Trip Memory
On the Christmas Trip in Malaysia in December of 2005 with Sri Chinmoy and his students, I enjoyed a day full of adventure with several friends. After a morning of meditation in the function room and lobby of the hotel, we headed off on a daytrip to see a reclining Buddha statue inside a cave and to visit a waterfall. Our first stop took us to the hotel next door so that a friend could gather what was needed for our sightseeing.
As we waited in the taxi outside that hotel, I jumped out of the car and wandered to and fro on rainbow-chasing detail because there was a mixture of sun and rain happening. Since it is the rainy season, it usually rains for a while every day. Generally speaking, I had the sense that the stormy skies were too thick to encourage the sighting of rainbows even if there were spots of clearing. While waiting to leave, I naturally could not resist skyward glances nonetheless. Despite no rainbow appearance, we were in high spirits and the tenor of our adventure quickly encompassed multiple stops along the way to photograph animals near the road.
Once our taxi driver understood our predilections, he pulled over frequently and helped us spot all manner of animals. We took photos of sheep, cows and monkeys, all just from the rolled down window of the car. The driver also pointed out various kinds of fruit trees that do not exist in America - I cannot remember the name of the tree species. Seeing monkeys in the trees, on the guardrail and utility poles by the road was great fun! We were definitely taking the local stop approach to our two sightseeing attractions but the leisurely pace invited a very contented serene atmosphere.
When we finally arrived at the outcropping of rock that contained the cave, before us stood a seemingly endless ascent of steep stairs up the cliff. We were hardly prepared for what awaited us. For the non-athletic ones among our group like me, it was our own version of Mt. Everest. Up, up, up! At one point, we guessed that we climbed more stairs than what we encountered once on the Great Wall in China last year.
Finally, we arrived at the cave. With our taxi driver as a guide, we walked through a very dark and dripping cave with the noise of bats off in the shadows. After a rather long walk through the cave itself, at last we encountered the sleeping Buddha statue. It is located in a spot that receives a spotlight of sunlight from an opening very high up at certain times of the day. The statue itself was built in the 1950's. It also contains several other smaller shrines and statues, including a Shiva lingam. Since what goes up must come down, this stage of our adventure was not over until we retraced our steps back down from the cave to the entrance of this Buddhist temple. Making this journey in the tropical heat was rather trying. Some of us had never been in such a large cave ever before so it was a fascinating experience all the same.
Driving away back through a palm oil fruit plantation, we marveled at the view of a veritable forest of palm trees. Shortly later, we arrived at the waterfall. This location includes several spots for swimming and even camping. First you walk along a river and make your way through the woods along the river. You pass a rope bridge and then come to a small pool with the waterfall spilling into it. It's absolutely stunning and the sound of the rushing water is electrifying. Only one of us had come prepared to swim but as we watched people frolicking in the waterfall it was irresistible. Off came the shoes, and fully clothed we dived in. We leaned back against the waterfall's descent against the rocks and shrieked with delight. It felt like receiving a massage or taking a Jacuzzi times 100.
With my glasses off, I exclaimed that the waterfall just seemed to get even stronger but in fact it had started to rain fairly heavily. Our driver and the others took shelter under a little overhang and drenched to the skin I joined them. We patiently waited with others for the rain to let up since we had our cameras and other odds and ends that we didn't want to get wet. Once again the sun came out even though it was raining. One person had an umbrella and with that sheltering my camera I was back in rainbow-chasing mode. We stood on the bridge that swayed to and fro as one walks on it and looked for rainbows. No luck!
With the rain stopped completely, it was at last time to depart. Our driver brings many people to the waterfalls so he was prepared with plastic to put on the car seats to protect from our wetness. For the first time since arriving, the thought of air conditioning was abhorrent. We made our way home with it off and the windows rolled down. Almost immediately after pulling out from the waterfall, the driver found a rainbow off to the right. In the blink of an eye, I leapt from the car to photograph it. Both he and one of our friends from nearby Singapore emphasized that a rainbow sighting is a rather rare occurrence in these parts. It seemed that my determined hunt was rewarded - ask and you shall receive! Having absolutely adored swimming in the waterfall, we truly felt that this had been a most perfect day.
On our way home, we stopped to visit a Taoist temple that our driver belongs to. He explained a great deal to us about the statues and their religious beliefs. Our day drew to a close with great reluctance, as we had to get back in time for a dinner counting shift at the hotel. This perfect and happy day seemed full to overflowing - adventurous climbing into a cave, the playfulness of the waterfall cascade, the whisper of a rainbow, the spirit of the Taoist temple, and the nature panorama.
Which moment shines forth as the crowning experience? the healing flow of the waterfall? the opportunity to finally take pictures of all the animals that we had been seeing when in the car? the rainbow since I dearly love them? No. The shining moment in this perfect day resided inside the revolution of a motorized bike's wheel as Sri Chinmoy silently rode it through the hotel lobby that morning before we started our sightseeing. During this spontaneous meditation which began as we were in the middle of a play practice in the hotel lobby, my heart was overpowered with an explosion of inner sweetness as I imagined a vision of the dust of the dust of the dust of God's Feet scattering in the path of this bike's wheel.
For me, God's Feet symbolize the place where Heaven and Earth meet. I believe that they embody the very essence of forgiveness and unconditional love. The contemplation of even the dust of God's Feet was indeed the supernal moment of this most perfect day.
This day representatively portrays the union of spiritual striving, cultural education and communing with nature found in great measure while travelling across the globe with the Sri Chinmoy Centres. What a wonderful opportunity this day brought while vacationing in Malaysia with its remembrance of God as the core undercurrent flowing through each and every happy moment of our adventures.