Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend and that you all will have new energy for a new week full of the beauty of the ancient Silk Road. This month we are on a journey "Along The Silk Road" and especially we are following the Northern and Southern Route. That means we especially are following the "Silk Road" through China and "around" the Taklamakan Desert. While we are on this journey we are reading a wonderful "esoteric" novel written by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, in which we are following a young Brahman son who is on a journey to find himself, his inner peace, to become enlightened. Why are we reading this novel? Well Buddhism entered China along the "Silk Road", so Siddhartha is a nice novel to read while on our journey.
|Samanas in the forests|
The Father touched Siddhartha's shoulder. "You will," he spoke, "go into the forest and be a Samana. When you'll have found blissfulness in the forest, then come back and teach me to be blissful. If you'll find disappointment, then return and let us once again make offerings to the gods together. Go now and kiss your mother, tell her where you are going to. But for me it is time to go to the river and to perform the first ablution."
He took his hand from the shoulder of his son and went outside. Siddhartha wavered to the side, as he tried to walk. He put his limbs back under control, bowed to his father, and went to his mother to do as his father had said." [...] (Source: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)
And so started Siddhartha's journey ... his first step was going to his father to ask his permission to leave his home to become a Samana.
For us there is no need to ask permission to leave the home for our journey along the Silk Road, but we are on our way. Today we arrive at Gansu. Let me tell you a little bit about Gansu in the time of the Silk Road.
|Panorama shot Daxia River Valley|
By the Qingshui treaty, concluded in 823 between the Tibetan Empire and the Tang dynasty, China lost much of western Gansu province for a significant period.
After the fall of the Uyghur Empire, an Uyghur state was established in parts of Gansu that lasted from 848 to 1036 AD. During that time, many of Gansu's residents were converted to Islam.
Along the Silk Road, Gansu was an economically important province, as well as a cultural transmission path. Temples and Buddhist grottoes such as those at Mogao Caves ('Caves of the Thousand Buddhas') and Maijishan Caves contain artistically and historically revealing murals.
|Magoa Caves (Caves of the Thousand Buddhas)|
Did Samanas live along the Silk Road? Maybe at the places were traders stopped, the caravanserais, but I don't know that for sure. Could it be that Siddhartha was along the Silk Road while he was with the Samanas. Personally I think that wasn't possible, but in Siddhartha's later journey we will see a connection with the Silk Road.
above the valley
hidden in his cave
without listening to the traders
beneath his feet