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Lions Roar : January 2019
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM in New Delhi doesn’t usually welcome visitors until 10 a.m., but on the first morning of the 2018 International Buddhist Conclave, they open their doors early for us. This, the sixth edition of the conclave, is attended by nearly three hundred people from twenty-nine countries. We are journalists and monastics, travel agents and scholars. We are Buddhists from many traditions and non-Buddhists. Our purpose is to connect with each other and explore the potential of Buddhist pilgrimage in India. As I’m filing through security, I have no idea what treasures the National Museum houses. So as far as I know, this museum visit doesn’t have a direct connection to the conclave’s mission. It’s just a nice add-on for those of us who are interested. And I am interested—in everything. This is my first time in India, a place I have always longed to visit. I marvel at an elegant bronze figurine of a dancer from the Indus Valley, circa 2500 BCE. I laugh when Shantum Seth, an Indian dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition, quips that the ancient dinnerware on display looks as if it could have come from Ikea. (He’s right!) But most memorable of all, I feel a quiet thrill when I come to the Buddhist artifacts and, though I’m being hurried along, I pause for as long as I can in front Left: The colossal Great Buddha statue in Bodhgaya, India, took seven years to build. The Dalai Lama placed the foundation stone. Lion’s Roar’s Andrea Miller attended the 2018 International Buddhist Conclave in India. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 33