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  • The bare, narrow, way up the pagoda of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, George Town, Penang stood clear and open. After the adytos (Greek, not to be entered) of the room under the Buddha, it was positively inviting. Dyein! Enter.

    So I entered the pagoda. Bareness. A sense of spareness. I looked into the room at each level. They looked identical. Empty.

    I looked down from the parapet at the fourth floor. I had gone far enough.

    At 15, yes. But later on in life, the man that I would marry introduced me to vegetarianism and I took to it like a duck to water, skipping the Veal Parmigiana, and the Roast Beef, and the cold cuts.

    As a married woman, I meditated, did yoga. As a contributing writer of a 200-year-old newspaper, I queried the editor over an article about a bestselling author who wrote books on Buddhist meditation. He had written a book with his wife and I wanted to write them up. She gave the go-ahead and said the paper would take care of the mileage.

    I drove to the outskirts of Boston and did the interview. The man said he preferred the tape-recorder; note-taking was too distracting. Husband and wife spoke freely. It was a pleasant hour.

    The editor read the resulting article and said, "I'll give you a kill-fee for it." I did not take it. Labor of love.

    A Day is set aside to commemorate the birth, enlightenment (nirvana) and death (parinirvana) of Lord Buddha.

    “Buddha is in fact a supreme being and not to be mistaken for God. When he attained enlightenment (nirvana), the beams of light were said to be seen by the blind and also those in hell,” said Mahindrama Buddhist temple management committee chairman Kung Kok Chye, speaking to The Star, May 6, 2012. Wesak Day is a public holiday here.

    From the ascent of the Pagoda at 15, I have ventured in some degree into the world of the Buddha. But I had no inkling how deeply until one morning a sibling greeted me, "It's your day."

    It was Wesak Day.

    Photo of The Temple of The Reclining Buddha on Burma Road, George Town, Penang courtesy of margoc
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