Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Escape to Karandulena

Escape to Karandulena

C Gadiewasam /Pix by Nalaka Priyadharshana



What do you find relaxing and healing to the soul? Some young people try chatting, gaming, watching television or even getting wasted, but to one young accountant, Nalaka Priyadharshana, who works at a busy local non profit organization, a truly healing escape is losing himself in the wilderness, at least once in two or three months and disappearing deep into the rainforests of Sri Lanka for a couple of days.


"These are places you won't hear any of the sounds of civilization, you can get away from the crowds, horns, arguments  and selfishness of human beings,  this is truly another world' he says about his recent escape to Suriyawewa, Ambilipitya  in the Hambantota District . " Here, its just you and the universe."



Nalaka and a group of friends and colleagues found a different way to  recharge their spiritual batteries.  They spent two weeks, last month in a secluded rock temple hermitage called Karandulena, a team of more than a dozen young urban professionals, truly living close to nature and working for a good cause, which was to build a small meditation room for the jungle dwelling hermit monks. After being trapped in spreadsheets and deadlines this is Nalaka's idea of a true green escape.


"This was a complete and amazing change from our usual day-to-day grind,' he says "We carried rocks, bricks and bags of sand and cement to the top of a hill, working like actual slaves. After a few days we were in some serious pain from the unaccustomed work. Accountants, lawyers, doctors etc, who usually hardly even walk for exercise and live their lives in electronic cubicles, shed all the artificial differences of class or profession and came together as a team of well wishers who united for a cause and also reconnected with their humanity.  

"At the same time, the change, the being close to nature, the beauty of our surroundings leading to the soothing of our minds can hardly be described. We ate simple food we cooked on wood(dara)  fires, you know, you take some parrippu and some karapincha, and a salmon tin and some onions - its like those days when we were kids with sellum bath( pretend cooking) and the fare after all the hard work had an incredible taste, when you are truly tired and hungry


"This experience brought out the beauty in the mundane. After trekking up and down this hill thirsty and suffering, you drink a little crystal clean water from a hillside stream it is like the most wonderful beverage ever," he says, recounting the incredible experience with nature and with the monks who live a much more disciplined and quiet life, than their city counterparts. True  Buddhism is a gentle, quiet philosophy of selflessness, which gives a great deal of respect to nature, and does not harm animals or trees, or seek material possessions, therefore showing the ideal path to counteract an increasingly consumerist world.

" Compared to the city monks who are more about preaching Buddhism and promoting it, the forest monks are more about practicing and living  true  and pure Buddhism, themselves.  Every night we were attended  a meditation class which taught us the true essence of the doctrine and also proper ways of relaxation that no modern technology can ever give us."


Finally at the end of the day, on top of the hill, in an out door camp, you should try to lie on the surface of a large flat rock,  still gently warm, under the cool stars. It is then that you understand how small you are and how small your worries are in contrast with the infinite universe which you see twinkling down at you, suffusing you with an incredible sense of peace.



Email and tell us about any recent green escapes youd like to share.