This is a narrative of a pilgrimage around the Buddhist holy places of India and Nepal made in the winter 1990–91. We made the pilgrimage on foot over six months, but writing the account took more than ten years. While our journey took us to all the main pilgrimage sites, it was also a pilgrimage through the sacred and profane of two very different men’s lives and the lessons learned from making this pilgrimage together. We wrote this account to honour the people —many of them humble Indian and Nepali villagers—who supported us in the pilgrimage. We also wished to communicate some of the grittier realities of practising the Buddhist spiritual life on the road —with the understanding that this is where, in the time of the Buddha, it all began. Thus, this pilgrimage is also a down-to-earth analogy for spiritual practise as we understand it. The living thing is both tougher and more wonderful. Early in the writing we realised that both our voices needed to be heard. Alternating authors fit better the Buddhist understanding that realities depend on perspective. It also freed us to be really honest with our thoughts about each other. The completed account we called Where Are You Going? something we were asked over and again as we walked through India. The first half was initially published by Wisdom Publications in 2006, and titled Rude Awakenings, and then in 2010 reprinted for free distribution at the monasteries of the Ajahn Cha Forest tradition along with the second half, titled Great Patient One. Both were reprinted again in 2019 and are also available for free download (links on podcast main page).
Sources and references for works quoted in the book are contained in the chapter notes, which are attached to each audio chapter along with the map relevant to that chapter. The narrative’s Indian locale and Buddhist context required the use of some foreign and technical terms. To make this easier for the reader the books included a glossary, not included on the podcast site as we suspect most people will now use the internet for such information. Modern place names follow the use by the Survey of India, and Buddhist terms use the Pali language version from the Theravadan texts, unless the Sanskrit version is well known. We hope you enjoy this audio book, but more than that we hope that by listening to it you may share in the insights our journey gave us into ourselves.