Joy in the Stillness at Borobudur
Posted on : 29 November 2012
Categories : Culture and Heritage
It seemed that around every corner in Indonesia was something new to discover. We had long bus rides and frequent plane rides between islands that allowed me to ponder the newness of every experience. Every time I really did, I felt I might need to pinch myself. There are all kinds of love in this world and in the absence of the kind of romantic love that fuels so many lives, my great affair is learning and collecting new experiences. Borobudur was a moment in which I was able to be still and not just learn but actually apply, in the moment, the lesson of peace and stillness; which brought about joy. It must be no coincidence that the t-shirt I put on to wear the morning we rose before the sun, was from the #FindYours campaign I did with Expedia. It says, "Find Your Joy." And in the moment that this photo was taken, that -- and more -- is what I had found.
I'm a person who rarely pauses to have still moments, to relax, to slow down enough that I can discover inner peace. It seems the great affair with wanderlust drives me at a pace that leaves no room for stillness.
Yet, at Borobudur, sitting in wait for the sunrise to blind me and thrill me, having nothing else to do but wait, amongst a place of physical beauty (a characteristic that always excites me) -- peace, stillness and joy are exactly what filled all the rooms I had for rent.
Borobudur Temple, located near Magelang in Central Java, is purported to be the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It is both a shrine and a place of pilgrimage. It didn't feel that large to me. However, it is impressive and because of its location within a very verdant valley it draws both those seeking the beautiful in nature and the beautiful in man's creation. The primary source of its physical draw is the intricacy and sheer magnitude of its 2,672 relief panels. A pilgrim could easily believe that the temple's layers are a sort of stairway towards heaven. There is a constant feeling of reaching ever higher. At the top one finds a main dome and 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas which are in addition to the 504 Buddhas that already dot the lower layers of the temple.
Borobudur was built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty and the temple's design which is crafted in the Gupta style reflects India's influence on Java while still managing to be distinctly Indonesian.
Though the temple was constructed in the 9th century, it may have been abandoned in the 14th after a decline in Buddhist and Hindu tradition once Islam began to take hold in Java. British ruler of Java in 1814, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, was alerted to its existence which then led to it being officially preserved, and provided for restorations to begin. It was in the early 1980's that Borobudur was then listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a status it still retains today. It is Indonesia's most visited tourist attraction. To visit for yourself, check out Indonesia's resources page here.