Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Yesterday, I mentioned the 84,000 categories of the Buddha's teachings. These are contained in the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana vehicles. There is also a fourth category of vehicle that deserves mention and that is...

We are in the early, early, early planning stages of a land, air, and sea expedition to visit Central Asian archaeological sites of cultural significance (read: Buddhist hot spots). Let me explain that although I am doing some of the planning, it is likely that others will be doing the expeditioning. This is one of the ways I deal with deteriorating health: I learn to live vicariously. Be this as it may, the project is an exciting one, and gives a handy excuse to spend time pouring over maps, satellite photos, and informant reports (oops!) which is something I am still able to do.

The plan is to start out in the Mojave, just to shake out the equipment. Then, the vehicles will go to Long Beach and load on the proverbial slow boat to China. When the vehicles are dockside in China, the personnel will fly in and begin the drive to the Gobi. There is some thought that after Mongolia, the expedition may move on to the eastern Tibetan Autonomous Region, to assess remote medical service delivery issues (read: monks need dental care). In point of fact, we may skip Mongolia altogether and just concentrate on T.A.R.---going there in a fraternal attempt to openly repudiate the failed doctrine of separatism---but we are still working with that.

While it is more likely than not that the expedition will travel in specially kitted-out but otherwise standard 4x4 vehicles, the expedition "chase" truck will be rather a different matter:

This is not a Land Rover; rather, this is a Unimog outfitted for the Gobi. I like the colour. Maybe we could paint the Medicine Buddha on the sides.

I'm partial to Pinzgauers myself---6x6 is better than 4x4---but they don't necessarily lend themselves to large superstructures. The only Land Rover I ever saw that looks like it could past muster is this monster, built for a Canadian dentist who delivers rural care. This might well be a model for the T.A.R:

American firms are also getting into the act. This is an expedition vehicle built for the Baja 1000:

I can already hear the screeching and howling from the e-monkey tree: "It isn't Buddhist!" "We want to see credentials!" "Who authorized this?" "What on earth are trucks doing on a Buddhist blog?"


If I had the energy, I would sponsor a Nyingmapa team for NASCAR, with the Vajra Guru Mantra painted on the sides of the car, an image of Dorje Drollo on the hood, Jetsunma's dance mix of the Seven Line Prayer blasting out of loudspeakers on the roof, and Junior Rinpoche behind the wheel. Every weekend, eleventy million rednecks would see the "Liberator," and instead of checkered flags we'd have prayer flags.

Ask not what Buddhism can do for you.

Ask instead what you can do for all sentient beings.

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