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Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion


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    [post_content] => On Wednesday at 3:00, the Dragons group met Doña Feliciana at the Dragons Program house. We were all seated in the outdoors classroom on bamboo and wood stools when in walked Doña Feliciana herself. She was dressed in the traditional dress of San Juan, and carried one of the recycled bags common to bring groceries around town. We all said our 'hola's and 'buenas tardes' while she set up a couple candles in the center and some incense. Doña Feliciana introduced herself as a Mayan spiritual guide. We all went around and said our names, then, using our lovely instructor Irene as translator, she began.

First, Doña Feliciana explained the origin story of the Mayas. She said that originally, there was just water as far as the eye could see. Then, with a gust of air, the creator force entered, the force that guides everything in this world. The various parts of this force conversed and eventually decided to try to create humans. First, they tried to mold the humans out of mud, and these people did all the motions of humans but couldn't actually feel. Then, they tried wood, and it was the same. Finally, they tried corn. These people could walk and talk, but most importantly feel and give thanks. Then, Doña Feliciana explained the sun calendar of the Mayas. 20 days, called nahuals, that represent the first 20 days of human existence that have been cycling ever since. Each one of us is born on a nahual that gives us our path or mission in life. Following your nahual leads to a balanced life, while avoiding it leads to imbalance like depression, sickness, and no joy in life.

Then, Doña Feliciana told us about Mayan cosmology during the past 100s of years. When the Spanish came, they misinterpreted the Mayan religion as polytheistic, because of there belief that every natural thing has spirit and therefore must be respected-- but really, these spirits are part of the bigger 'Díos'. The Spanish forced Christianity on the Mayas in a very forceful, inhumane, and non-Christian way. Since then, Mayan cosmology has been largely not very practiced until a couple of years ago, when Feliciana and some of her friends organized a Mayan ceremony that had a surprisingly large turnout, and ever since has been strengthening a little.

After more questions and answers, it was 6:00, and all of us needed to get back to our homestays. We thanked Doña Feliciana and then headed back. We really enjoyed the lesson and learned so much about the Mayas--how everything is a symbol and has meaning, that everything is a cycle, and the resilience of the Mayas.
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SUMMER: Guatemala - Group A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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Mayan Cosmology

Margaret Needham,SUMMER: Guatemala - Group A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

On Wednesday at 3:00, the Dragons group met Doña Feliciana at the Dragons Program house. We were all seated in the outdoors classroom on bamboo and wood stools when in walked Doña Feliciana herself. She was dressed in the traditional dress of San Juan, and carried one of the recycled bags common to bring groceries […]

Posted On

07/7/17

Author

Margaret Needham

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    [post_content] => Quico Chico is a small town part of a small community called Qeros. In our small houses, with small doors, we had the grandest of experiences. I arrived there with one expectation. There would be people. I had no idea how many, what language they would speak, if they were nice or not, or what we would be doing for 3 days. I simply arrived. It was a 3 hour truck ride from Ocongate to Quico Grande and then a 1 hour walk to Quico Chico. I was nervous, would they like me? Would they know Spanish? What would we eat? All of these thoughts and more were racing through my head throughout the walk, but as soon as we got there, my worries vanished. I was welcomed into a loving house with open arms. It was especially nice to feel so comfortable while feeling under the weather. I spent most of the second day sleeping and observing, but the third day was completely different. We were to do a ceremony. With each person helping we gathered the necessary supplies (including two live sheep), and after a small (what I can guess to be a) prayer, the sheep were dead. With a few swift motions, sharp knives, and careful hands, the sheep were cut open at the neck and died almost instantly. Their blood was drained into containers, and then the skinning began. With great precision, I watched (and helped) the excited locals skin the sheep and cut up the meat to get ready to be cooked. After that we went a bit further with our guide Favian who talked about his upbringing and the constant pressure from mining companies. We returned an hour later to eat the sheep along with the whole village who waited eagerly. After a small break, we went into the same cave in which the sheep was cooked, only this time for a deep spiritual ceremony. All sitting around a fire in the cave, we were given 3 coca leaves in our hands. We were to blow on them, say our name, and then Patricia would say (once again what I can guess to be) a small prayer. Thanking the Apus (Spirits of the mountains) and all the realms in which we live. I returned to my house after a small snack and group discussion. Once again welcomed with warm open arms and fed an extraordinairy amount of food, I was eager to practice my Spanish and thus had a lovely conversation with the host father who called me the baby of the group (I am the youngest) and Henry the grandfather. We laughed, ate, slept, and in the morning said thank you for everything.

It was an interesting, emotional, spiritual, and impactful homestay which I think will stay with me for the rest of my life.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Homestay

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Pachamanka in Qeros

Tim Koen,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Homestay

Description

Quico Chico is a small town part of a small community called Qeros. In our small houses, with small doors, we had the grandest of experiences. I arrived there with one expectation. There would be people. I had no idea how many, what language they would speak, if they were nice or not, or what […]

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    [post_content] => La pachamama is what the people of Nacion Queros call mother earth. Only a few days of learning about Andean cosmology, and I already believe that their profound respect for the natural world is not easily comparable. They believe that each mountain is a living being or an Apu, and that in order to visit one you must pay your respects and acknowledge that they are much much more powerful than you. I think that this is just one example of how they don't differentiate between the human world and the natural world. By placing yourself in only one or the other you lose a certain connection to both. I think that is something that I can learn a great deal from. Beside a mountain I understand these concepts much more than in a big bustling city. Apu Ausangate makes me feel tiny, but in the best way possible. I think that the more time I spent beside Apu Ausangate, the more I understand it all. I even believe that if I focus hard enough I can feel it breathing too.
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SUMMER: Peru 4-Week, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration

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Tent Thoughts

Ananda Sahihi,SUMMER: Peru 4-Week, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration

Description

La pachamama is what the people of Nacion Queros call mother earth. Only a few days of learning about Andean cosmology, and I already believe that their profound respect for the natural world is not easily comparable. They believe that each mountain is a living being or an Apu, and that in order to visit one […]

Posted On

07/13/16

Author

Ananda Sahihi

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    [post_content] => It's chilly in Ocangate, an abrupt shift from the hot and muggy Amazon, albiet not an unwelcome one. My fingers are a little bit numb as I type this, sitting in an internet cafe next to the town square, and my stomach is on the outs (as is to be expected during travel), but that's all part of the adventure.

Today, we start our five day trek. Yesterday, we did a starter trek up the mountain. Oh man, I'll tell you, living at sea level all my life did not serve me well during that initial climb. It was pretty tough, making my way up that mountain. My lungs couldn't get enough air and I lagged far behind at first. However, I was very proud of myself when I finally made it to the top. We were at 12000 feet, and before this trip, I don't believe I've ever been above 4000. The rest of the trek along the ridge wasn't too bad, with the hardest part of the climb behind us.

We descended back into the valley and went to Fabian's house. There, we purchased some beautiful textiles (I got a scarf and a bag), and participated in an intricate ceremony meant to bring us luck and safe travels on today's adventure. They laid out an altar on Christmas wrapping paper, consisting of objects that represented the local land. Flowers, grains, herbs, seashells, starfish, and coca leaves. We blessed the leaves by blowing on them, then we washed our hands with an alcohol mixture (similar to smudging), and Fabian's wife sang a traditional song that sounded like a mixture of potlatch, pow-wow, and throat singing, followed by Fabian on the flute. It was eerie and beautiful.

They wrapped the blessed objects in the paper and took it outside to the fire. We blessed the package with our hands, then we burned it. We stood around the fire as it burned, holding hands with the people next to us. When it was burned, we hugged everyone. I loved that part. People don't hug enough.

We walked home from Fabian's in the dark. I had my new scarf around my neck. It was a cool and clear night. Something in the air felt mystical.

We start our five day trek today. We'll journey around the base of Mount Osangate, passing through hot springs and ending in the tiny town of Qeros. I'm a little bit nervous, but not too much. It's such an adventure, I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it. I worked hard to get here, and I intend to enjoy as much as I can. Even the less than enjoyable parts will either teach me an important lesson or make a good story, or both.

Either way, I'll have a story to tell.
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SUMMER: Peru 4-Week, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration, Rugged Travel, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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Mystical Air

Angelica Kero,SUMMER: Peru 4-Week, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration, Rugged Travel, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

It’s chilly in Ocangate, an abrupt shift from the hot and muggy Amazon, albiet not an unwelcome one. My fingers are a little bit numb as I type this, sitting in an internet cafe next to the town square, and my stomach is on the outs (as is to be expected during travel), but that’s […]

Posted On

07/7/16

Author

Angelica Kero

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    [post_content] => The mountains breathe. Green velvet moss blankets the slopes with patches of rock and shrunken cliffs embedded within. Sheer, craggy peaks, towering over the labyrinthine valley, pulsate with the infinite knowledge that time is cyclical and this moment will come again; there is nothing to be rushed. The first lake we pass is the location of our ceremony but from that point on they only grow in size and frequency, their strata of colors shifting with the position of the sky. Nothing here is stagnant. Everpresent clouds, misty and indefinite, shift at the slightest request of the wind and smirk at their dominance. I rise and fall with every heave of the earth and it's apparent, low and deep in my core, that this pocket of unearthly paradise exists to be sacred. The people of Nacion Q'eros know this. They've known it for years and their profound gratitude and pride born from potato roots themselves have allowed them to cling tightly to their traditions as "the last true Incas."

The sacredness of this place is both ubiquitous and unique, solemn and light-hearted, temporary and ancient. After the sheep have been slaughtered with a slit to the throat for the Pachamanca, a traditional ceremony performed due to our presence but for which the entire community gathers, we are entreated to dance in a timid circle around the still-warm bodies. There is laughter throughout the butchering and some of it is certainly for show. But the pig-tailed toddler grabbing the skinned hind leg when I slack in my helping duties and the women sliding the intestines into sausage-ready segments are undeniably real. The stacked-stone oven covered with wet jackets and plastic is a testament to the power of adaptation and integration. Pachamama absorbs the blood and the age-old connection is there, cemented in red grass and obedient steps to notes on a wooden flute. Filling the corners of the communal house with its citizens lining the opposite side, chopped chunks of meat drop into plastic buckets and potatoes of varying colors hailing from nearly every family roll out from unwrapped squares of cloth into piles on the floor. One clear voice begins the thanksgiving as we close our eyes and a slow, deep wave of unintelligible prayer rises, undulating beneath my eyelids with each individual contribution and I'm swept up in a melding of senses until the vibrations dim as subtly as they began. I can taste the earth in my meat.

My own spirituality often finds harmony with the Andean Cosmovision of Nacion Q'eros. Blessings grow when watered and mountains give birth to gratitude where the sun envelops the moon and kisses the earth. The coca leaves of the Andes, at once abundant and endlessly sacred, are my breaths of sunrise on a precarious and chilly summit. The cheerful dances and tune of the Tinkuy atop a mountain pass are my laughs with my sister and snuggles with my mom. Nestled in straw on the floow of a stone hut with my host sister and a traveling companion turned close friend, distinctions of sacredness fade. We breathe together and the source is all the same: there's enough special in this world to go around.
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SPRING: Andes & Amazon, Rugged Travel, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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Breaths

Barae Hirsch,SPRING: Andes & Amazon, Rugged Travel, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

The mountains breathe. Green velvet moss blankets the slopes with patches of rock and shrunken cliffs embedded within. Sheer, craggy peaks, towering over the labyrinthine valley, pulsate with the infinite knowledge that time is cyclical and this moment will come again; there is nothing to be rushed. The first lake we pass is the location […]

Posted On

03/25/16

Author

Barae Hirsch

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    [post_content] => Nacion Qeros was one of the most unique experiences of my life. To be completely removed from the developed world, eating potatoes for breakfast lunch and dinner while living with people who are so proud and so true to their heritage and not to mention the breathtakingly beautiful Andes mountain range as a backdrop-- it was truly an amazing week. The one defining moment for me was on our fourth day we hiked to a laguna where Siwarkentee and his wife Patricia preformed a purification ceremony in respect of Pachamama, or mother earth. I waded out into the icy cold , perfectly still laguna, surrounded by cloud breaking Andes Mountains where Siwarkentee and his wife were waiting for me. Using mountain flowers they dribbled water over my head and heart-- to cleanse my soul of bad vibes and heighten my intelligence, all while reciting a prayer in quechua -- thanking the earth, sky, water, sun and moon for all that they are, all that they have given and all that we will continue to receive from them. The faith, and devotion these qeros people have for their environment is truly humbling. To attest everything you are and will be to the mountains and the lakes, to walk through the world with such love, peace and respect towards your environment is truly inspiring. Our time in qeros for me was defined by meeting people whose culture is untainted by globalization just as their environment is undisturbed by the developing world.
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SPRING: Andes & Amazon, Rugged Travel, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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nacion qeros

Meghan Buonanno,SPRING: Andes & Amazon, Rugged Travel, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

Nacion Qeros was one of the most unique experiences of my life. To be completely removed from the developed world, eating potatoes for breakfast lunch and dinner while living with people who are so proud and so true to their heritage and not to mention the breathtakingly beautiful Andes mountain range as a backdrop– it […]

Posted On

03/25/16

Author

Meghan Buonanno

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    [post_date] => 2015-11-23 06:36:02
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image image image In the middle of our trekking journey through Nacion Q'eros, we had a rest day in Cochamarka. We did a Panchamanca ("Earth pot" in Quechua) ceremony in the morning - we killed two sheep and ate them for lunch, all while giving thanks to Pachamama- Mother Earth. Prior to consumption, the meat sat for four hours in a hole in the earth covered by a a small tower of stones and, over that, straw and then a tarp. Later that day, we took part in a different ceremony to celebrate Padre Sol - Taita Inti in Quechua. We went up to the top of a nearby ridge, sat in a circle, and were thus quickly completely enveloped by clouds. Fabian lay out a cloth and placed coca, assorted flowers and foods, and two liquids on it. The ceremony was for the Apus - the mountain gods. We took a quintu (three leaves) of coca, representing the snake, puma, and condor (underworld, our world, and upperworld respectively), held it to the sky and thanked Taita Inti - the Incan Sun God. Lorenzo came around and anointed us in Agua Florida- we rubbed the pleasant smelling liquid over our faces and then bodies to clean ourselves from all harm. Up until this point, I was excited but ultimately confused. It was memorable to look upon Fabian and his older brother Lorenzo, with their colorful ear-flap hats against the backdrop of the uniformly gray clouds, as they partook in thanking the mountains and the Sun God in ways they knew how. As different and interesting this was for me, I struggled with what to do with what I was seeing. After all, the process is so different from what I'm used to, and I have experienced nothing else similar with which to compare it, that I felt the knowledge was at risk of slowly floating away along with the abundant clouds. Yet this changed in a two step process. First, as Fabian began thanking nearby mountains: Salkantay, Ausangate, Maccu Pichu, he then asked us to choose a formidable mountain in the U.S. Dave chose Denali, and, after Fabian double-checked his pronunciation, he added this new, unknown, and far off mountain to his list of Apus. To continue in thanks for the Apus, Padre Sol, and Madre Tierra, Fabian later played a tune with his quena. After, he requested we choose a song from our culture that gives thanks to Mother Earth. After a couple minutes, I came up with This Land is Your Land. Several people weren't familiar with it, so we only got through one verse. However, after this awesome ceremony filled with, from my perspective, so many unknown things, it felt powerful to hear a song so known to me. The effect these two instances had on my overall experience during the ceremony was twofold. First, it put some of the strange components into perspective. As I sit in Peru and listen to an Incan descendent loyally give his thanks to nearby Apus via prayer and to Madre Tierra via song, it is hard to relate these to my life in the U.S. In every sense, it all felt so far away. Yet when I hear a mountain that I'm familiar with, and when I hear a song that I remember my older brother and I singing aloud to our extended family over dinner one summer night several years ago, everything is brought within my reach. In comparing and including symbols close to my life, the whole ceremony seemed easier to comprehend. Second, I felt Fabian's inclusion of these United States symbols in his ceremony represented a strong cross-cultural connection. This is something I've been looking for often during my duration in South America as I ramble about in an unknown country, an unknown continent, an unknown hemisphere. This has often taken the form of random and informal conversations with strangers. I've sought these out because I like sharing cultures through questions and answers, but also because I like practicing my Spanish, and in general I like meeting new faces. However, the connection I felt as ex-president of Nacion Q'eros and present Yatiri, a boy who had lived alone in mountain caves and a man who is now a proud father, while kneeling with his stunning hat behind a colourful cloth on top of a mountain ridge completely surrounded by clouds, was an altogether different experience from day to day conversations. In this way, the ceremony went from something very aesthetically interesting to something I will cling to and remember for years to come. The pictures include a selfie with June and Anton atop a mountain adjacent to Paso Yanacocha (Black Lake Pass), as well as various shots from our trek through Nacion Q'eros, Peru. We are spending the next two nights in Cusco, Peru. After, we are doing the five-night Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Finally, we finish with transference in an ecolodge near Copacabana, Bolivia near Lake Titicaca! Hasta Luego! 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Nacion Q’eros, Peru

Charlie Gerard,Andes & Amazon A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

In the middle of our trekking journey through Nacion Q’eros, we had a rest day in Cochamarka. We did a Panchamanca (“Earth pot” in Quechua) ceremony in the morning – we killed two sheep and ate them for lunch, all while giving thanks to Pachamama- Mother Earth. Prior to consumption, the meat sat for four […]

Posted On

11/23/15

Author

Charlie Gerard

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  A conch is sounded, it echoes across the walls of endless thangka murals. Now, the rapidly increasing rhythm of the drum matches the beating of your heart. Then, the chime of symbols ripples through the air, the clarinet commands the symphony of instruments, and the chanting begins. Minutes pass and I sit, now in silence, I sit amongst monks. Sitting quietly atop the foothills rests the Namo Buddha Tibetan Monastery, where we, for the past four days, have been in – our best version of – silence. Prior to these four days, the only times I had ever heard the terms “silence” and “meditation” were in movies I watched or books I read, maybe in the odd conversation. All of this prior knowledge had me thinking four days would be a walk in the park. Let me tell you, it was not. It was a walk through the park, at night, when none of the streetlights are on and all of the nocturnal animals have come out in their familiarity of the dark, making unfamiliar noises that have you tip-toeing around. It was a walk into my own thoughts, my own mind and there is nothing more unknown than this. There are a number of different meditations one can practice, our teacher taught us four, I settled on one. The only of the four that I could meditate on for any length of time, while sitting in a still, lotus position and once the gong is struck three times, feel as if I had wandered into that park of my own thoughts and mind confidently. The meditation I settled on was that of inhaling all of the bad karma from others and exhaling all of the good karma to others. A practice of compassion, a practice of placing others before yourself. As well as learning about meditation, we also learned about the Buddhist religion. One concept which, my mind has been grappling with over the past four days is that of emptiness and non-attachment. I was shocked – as has been a regular occurrence in this country – to learn the enormity of presence this concept has in the Buddhist religion. For myself, it is like trying a foreign food for the first time, I love it but I don't have the first idea what it is. Slowly, as I chew it, I familiarize myself with the new taste and develop an understanding of what it is. Each lesson, each meditation, each silent reflection, I developed my understanding of emptiness and non-attachment. Long prior to these four days, I was introduced to the word “aparigraha”. A term used to describe the non-grasping concept. I decided that from today onwards this will be my word, as I took a vow, atop the foothills draped with prayer flags, on my mala beads, to live every day with presence and compassion and develop my understanding of aparigraha. Now, what really leaves one in silence, speechless in fact, are the Pujas held in the monastery every morning and every afternoon. They begin with the offering of incense, a monk releases the sweet smelling smoke and it rises slowly before vanishing into thin air, as if it was inhaled my Buddha himself. Then the symphony of musical instruments commences, so powerful that all of the breathe in the room is paused on the inhale. The sound of the conch, the drum, the symbols, the clarinets, the chanting – nothing and then everything, all at once – and then it ends. Silence fills the room once more, exhale. [post_title] => Aparigraha [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => aparigraha [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-20 23:15:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-20 23:15:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://dragons.site.moxiesozo.net/blog/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 118 [name] => Himalaya A [slug] => himalaya-a-fall-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 118 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 236 [count] => 100 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4.1 [cat_ID] => 118 [category_count] => 100 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalaya A [category_nicename] => himalaya-a-fall-2015 [category_parent] => 236 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2015/himalaya-a-fall-2015/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 48 [name] => Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion [slug] => introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 48 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 64 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 48 [category_count] => 64 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion [category_nicename] => introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion [category_parent] => 488 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion )

Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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Aparigraha

aaron,Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

  A conch is sounded, it echoes across the walls of endless thangka murals. Now, the rapidly increasing rhythm of the drum matches the beating of your heart. Then, the chime of symbols ripples through the air, the clarinet commands the symphony of instruments, and the chanting begins. Minutes pass and I sit, now in […]

Posted On

10/19/15

Author

aaron

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    [post_content] => Shakti // noun // the female principle of divine energy, especially when personified as the supreme deity.

Or what I simply like to call female energy. I always catch myself studying the Nepali women every day. The way they compose themselves, the strength in which they exude, and the playfulness they find in every situation. Twice a day I am squeezed in tight spaces in my favorite magic bus, that happens to resemble a giant, rolling pickle. I come more in contact with complete strangers  than my closest friends (s/o to Moki!). If I am lucky I am jammed right in the middle of a gaggle of didi's (older sisters). No matter the age they all find humor in the uncomfortable bus and always keep an eye out for fellow didi's and bahini's (younger sister's) because here, everyone is truly pariwaar (family). In other foreign countries I would keep a tight grasp on my backpack, but here  they swoop up your load and hold on tight to allow you to better yourself from flying across the long aisle. At home, my aamaa considers everything. She wipes down each dish with a fresh napkin to further my chances of contracting some horrible illness. She walks me down the four flights of stairs to ensure I depart with well wishes and luck for the day. She installs new batteries for the lamp in my room so I can read my many books during the nightly power outages.  Shopkeepers that sell me fruit in the morning ensure I get the ripest bananas and never overprice anything. The more I observe the more I come to realize that everyone here is looking out for everyone else. Above all, I have come to admire the bountiful energy each Nepali woman has. As my close friends and family know, I often have a paucity of energy and have trouble sustaining it . In Nepal, I strive to imitate my fellow Nepali sisters and with the rhythm of the day, it surprisingly isn't hard. From rising to collapsing back in bed, each day is a whirlwind of experiences. I am honored to learn and shape myself after the Nepali women and happily, I find myself starting to change for the better.

-Hira

 

 

 
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Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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Shakti

Helen Seddelmeyer,Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

Shakti // noun // the female principle of divine energy, especially when personified as the supreme deity. Or what I simply like to call female energy. I always catch myself studying the Nepali women every day. The way they compose themselves, the strength in which they exude, and the playfulness they find in every situation. […]

Posted On

10/9/15

Author

Helen Seddelmeyer

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    [post_content] => How many people can say they talked about the Vampire Diaries and Tom Cruise with a Tibetan monk at a monastery in Kathmandu? Yesterday morning my answer would have been a solid "No," but after last night, just saying "Yes" doesn't cover it. Needless to say, Genevieve and I had a pretty cool evening.

It started when we were looking for answers to some questions on Buddhism that the instructors had suggested and we came across a Tibetan monastery. We started talking to a young monk who answered our questions and then invited us back later to watch a debate. An hour later we were sitting behind a huge group of monks from 10 different monasteries and in front of a number of tourists who had amassed to watch the spectacle. There was a loud yelling and rhythmic clapping from the debaters, nothing like the structured, tight composition of debates in America. Out of all the people watching, our monk friend found us, took us inside the office, served us mango juice, and answered all of our questions. It was really good mango juice.

This particular debate was special because it takes place only once a year and lasts for 15 days. Yesterday was day 6. The students from 2 monasteries study one text endlessly and memorize questions to ask each other. Everyday a group of students from 1 monastery question and argue with the top 2 students from the other monastery, and they alternate roles every day. If the 2 monks being questioned can't answer a question it reflects badly on them and the teachers who are judging will record it. Our friend tried to explain in English the types of concepts they were debating and they were seriously deep. The example topic he gave us was human mortality and possible immortality.

Genevieve and I ended up watching the entire debate and talking to our friend throughout. He told us about leaving his family in Tibet when he was 7 years old, what it was like to study as a monk, and showed off how in touch with pop culture he was. He totally shocked us when he started casually chatting about which American tv dramas he watched (like the Vampire Diaries) and his favorite sports teams. He told us to tell our friends back home about "the monk with glasses we met in Nepal."

At the end of the debate we only had 20 minutes until we had to meet the group again, but the monk convinced us to stay for dinner. At this point, Genevieve and I were the only non-monks still at the monastery. We enjoyed a nice dinner of daalbhaat in a room full of monks, both students and teachers. Sitting in that room, I was in awe of the experience I was having. I couldn't believe that I was there.
At 6:30, the monk with the glasses showed us out and we rejoined the group, bubbling with excitement and feeling very thankful. Our friend had so many ambitions and loved to travel, but for various reasons was unable to leave his monastery. He reminded us how lucky we were to be here and have the freedom and opportunities that we do.
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Himalaya B, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

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Dinner with a monk

Mira Lerner,Himalaya B, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

How many people can say they talked about the Vampire Diaries and Tom Cruise with a Tibetan monk at a monastery in Kathmandu? Yesterday morning my answer would have been a solid “No,” but after last night, just saying “Yes” doesn’t cover it. Needless to say, Genevieve and I had a pretty cool evening. It […]

Posted On

10/1/15

Author

Mira Lerner

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