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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010


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Dear Friends & Parents,

Our group of 11 wonderful Dragons have wrapped up their Nepal program successfully!

We had a great evening hanging out at our program house courtyard for our final daal bhaat meal together over tons of laughter, hugs, flowers, garlands and khatas (tibetan scarves). The group now is getting prepared to board their home bound plane (except for Suzanna who leaves for Thailand tomorrow afternoon).

They are sent off with loads of warm wishes and love. We are excited for their reunion with you soon!

We do already miss their presence, warmth and smell at the program house....

I-Team

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Bye Bye Nepal!

I-Team,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Dear Friends & Parents, Our group of 11 wonderful Dragons have wrapped up their Nepal program successfully! We had a great evening hanging out at our program house courtyard for our final daal bhaat meal together over tons of laughter, hugs, flowers, garlands and khatas (tibetan scarves). The group now is getting prepared to board […]

Posted On

05/12/10

Author

I-Team

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Three months ago, I would tell you that I hadn't had a truly good spill in years. The most recent injuries I'd sustained involved high heels and cobblestone paving in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on New Year's Eve, which, relatively speaking and considering all the sequins involved, would look somewhat glamorous to me now. But aside from that mishap, the last time I skinned my knee or took a truly, point-and-laugh kind of fall was probably back in grade school. Since the clumsy days of dodgeball and flag football in PE class, I've stayed careful and in one piece, with few tumbles, cuts, or bruises to my name. Nepal, however, changed all that.

The first month or so in Kathmandu, my eyes were constantly glued to the uneven pavement, scanning for ankle-twisters, toe-stubbers, and possible ACL dangers. The ground here is a mixture of bricks, dirt, broken pieces of cement, and rocks. It has no classification, as I wouldn't quite call it asphalt but it's definitely not an unpaved road. It's more like the more sophisticated cousin of the rural dirt road speckled with potholes that winds through farming areas worldwide. What's more, as well as being aware of potential injury sites, one has to constantly be aware of an entire animal world at shin-level: the street dogs who see no better place to nap than the middle of the sidewalk, the stray chickens that will tonight be on someone's plate, the goat population (living and dead), and of course, the occasional lounging cow that draws far less attention than any Westerner walking down the street.

Needless to say, with all these obstacles, those of us who are, kindly put, coordination-challenged, find life below the knees very tricky in Kathmandu. Add sandals to the mix and it takes some serious effort, which I quickly acquired, to keep from faceplanting every ten feet or so in the city streets. I spent my first month with healthy, undamaged feet, toes, and legs. I was proud that I sustained no bruises, no skinned calves, no twisted ankles, and poop-free shoes. It was one day, while I was exiting a microbus, that I heard a telltale splash and my heart nearly sunk as I plunged my entire foot, ankle, and half of my calf into something warm, wet, and smelly. When I looked up, the boy taking my money was laughing, with his head thrown back in a way that let me know, no, he was not laughing with me, he was laughing at me. That was when I started to laugh too, and as I squished my way home and tried hard not to think about what the street concoction might have contained, realized it was about time I stepped in some crap. I'd been looking down for too long.

As time went on in Nepal, my clumsiness on the streets or in the backcountry began to amount, but so did everything I saw. Yes, I fell down the stairs in my village homestay, and yes, I fell down some more stairs in the village, and tripped over countless rocks in the mountains on trek, and slipped on some rocks in the river we were bathing in, and tripped over tent stakes, and tripped on city curbs, but all of the sudden I was seeing about 50% more of this country than I had been seeing before.

As my guard came down, my confidence in my feet went up. After all, it's hard to look at the mountains in the most beautiful mountain range in the world when you're so focused on not twisting your ankle. My legs may have a few (or a lot) more scars than they did when I came to Nepal, but they've been worth it. I just needed to trust that they'd get me where I needed to go, and the bumps and bruises along the way were all a part of the journey.

I ended up falling more than I have in years, but it wasn't the same as falling down. I fell all the time because I started looking this country in the eyes, instead of keeping my gaze down, always anxious about what lurked on the ground below. That day I stepped in who-knows-what, and we all know it was bound to happen, I started falling up. And that's what I'll continue to do, to look the world straight on, even when I'm not sure where (or in what) I'm about to place my feet.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Falling Up

Alex Kryzanowski,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Three months ago, I would tell you that I hadn’t had a truly good spill in years. The most recent injuries I’d sustained involved high heels and cobblestone paving in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on New Year’s Eve, which, relatively speaking and considering all the sequins involved, would look somewhat glamorous to me now. But aside […]

Posted On

05/12/10

Author

Alex Kryzanowski

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Living with a Nepali family is overwhemling, delicious, and wonderful. Kind of like thanksgiving. There are always people around, coming in and out of the house, or staying there for a few days whose name and relationship to the family you are unsure of, but you assume that they are simply an older brother or sister, dai or didi, and somehow they know everything about you. It is like when I go to thanksgiving and my parents tell me to call everyone cousin, because they are all related to me somehow and the specifics are not important. They also know whats going on in my life even though i don't remember the last time i talked to them or even if i have ever met them before.

There is always delicious food cooking in Nepali homes, lots of it. Once a meal is finished the preparations for the next one begin. it is like an endless cycle of dhal andbhat, lentils and rice.When food is served, you can never take enough, and i have had friends on this trip who have thrown up from eating too much, no joke. They always want you to take more and more food, and will ask you if you didn't like it no matter how many plates you finish. Often after eating a meal here i fall into what i call a food coma, and have to go lie down for a bit. This is also like thanksgiving, whenafter all the food is eaten a few hours later people start digging into thedishes again, or have just one more small slice of pie. Its a wonderful thing.

Lastly, living with Nepalis is like thanksgivng because there is just so much to be thankful for every day. It is truly incredible how each of us wasso comfortably incor porated intoour various Nepali families as a true daughter or son, chora or chori, and how much care our moms and dads, aamas and baas, sisters and brothers gave to us. The food, the questions, making sure we were as comfortable as possible, sometimes giving up rooms or beds or blankets for us in the process.It is so humbling to be a part ofa Nepali family mostly because of how much they appreciate whatever it is they have, and how readily they will offer it to you, a complete stranger who has done nothing for them.

Living with families in this culture has taught me a great deal about appreciation, and howgrateful I am for all the things I have at home, but how much more grateful I am for the many people who support and love me there. I amso amazed at how I was able to find that same support in Nepal from strangers turned family with whom when I first met them i could say little more than my name, my age, and my favorite color. I hope to carrythisgratefulness with me back home, and continue to live everyday like it is thanksgiving.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Living with Nepalis is like having Thanksgiving every day!

Sarah McKenzie,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Living with a Nepali family is overwhemling, delicious, and wonderful. Kind of like thanksgiving. There are always people around, coming in and out of the house, or staying there for a few days whose name and relationship to the family you are unsure of, but you assume that they are simply an older brother or […]

Posted On

05/12/10

Author

Sarah McKenzie

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Tired, sick, grumpy and somewhat subdued, driving over muddy roads after two weeks trekking in Rowaling, our group learned two important lessons about traveling.

1- High spirits and enthusiasm can move mountains; or more specifically it can move one bus over a lot of little mountains.

2- Never judge a bus by it's color.

At 6 am on Saturday morning, our group of stinky travelers boarded the bright pink tourist bus that had come to drive us 8 hours from the ending point of our trek back to Bhaktapur Guest House. The obstacles were numerous: The sky threatened to rain, which would turn already precarious, dirt roads into muddy, rutted, bus-wheel eating tracks; Saturday was the first day after the nation-wide banda or strike and nobody knew if traffic was passing; and finally our bus- packed, playing loud pop music and very very pink.

I say that the 14 of us were subdued and were certainly were: reading, sleeping against our neighbors shoulder, staring out the window with glum looks on our faces. However, our staff- 20 cooks and porters ranging from our own age to mid 50's, representing a handful of different ethnic groups- was anything but subdued. They got on the bus hooting and laughing, making jokes and singing and they did this for one hour. And then another hour. And another. When in the third hour, our bus's wheel did get stuck in the mud, their good spirits only seemed to increase as they piled off to push, running and slipping in the mud wearing their flowered, button-down shirts that they had saved for just this occasion.

It was as if they were saying to themselves "Maybe if we yell loud enough, laugh hard enough and generally show the world that we own our own happiness, maybe just maybe this bus will move over this hill." And this is pretty much what happened.

Our pink bus encountered several other muddy patches but each time to the spinning, fishtailing wheels, the shouts or encouragement from within propelled the "Off-road Barbie Bus" out of trouble and onto dry roads. And each occasion of course, only added to the high level of energy within. As each hour passed, with us watching to see when they would fade, it soon became apparent that we were in for the whole ride. And as we finally pulled into the Bhaktapur Guest House with chants of the pop song "Om shanti Om" ringing in our ears, there was a humbling aspect to the experience. Here were men and boys our own age who had just carried heavy loads for 2 weeks over steep hills and valleys so that we could be comfortable and happy. And these same men and boys, after we were exhausted and grumbly, rallied their spirits and energy to bring us home.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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OM Shanti OM

Deva Steketee,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Tired, sick, grumpy and somewhat subdued, driving over muddy roads after two weeks trekking in Rowaling, our group learned two important lessons about traveling. 1- High spirits and enthusiasm can move mountains; or more specifically it can move one bus over a lot of little mountains. 2- Never judge a bus by it’s color. At […]

Posted On

05/11/10

Author

Deva Steketee

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    [post_title] => Pictures of Rolwaling Trek
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Pictures of Rolwaling Trek

Instructor Team,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Posted On

05/11/10

Author

Instructor Team

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Whew! Who knew three months could fly by this fast. We are back in Bhaktapur at the very same Bhaktapur Guest House we started our adventure at in February for our two days of transference. It really feels like yesterday when we were here last. I'm trying to find the words to explain to you all what I experienced while being here, and what I can tell you are some facts....

In the last three months I:

lived with my Nepali family in Kathmandu for 6 weeks, I spent 70 hours sitting in Nepali class with the two most patient and kind Nepali teachers in the city. I've eaten at least 100 plates of dahl baht, 200 cups of tea and probably about 20 liters of curd (very thick and creamy, delicious Nepali yogurt). I've spent 10 days feeling ill with stomach problems, and gone to the international clinic 6 times. I've thrown 30 water-filled "lolas" on Holi, have waved down 150 micro-buses, ridden in only 5 taxis, and have had five sets of Kurta Surwal made to fit me. I have down 65 twelve-round sets of sun salutations, have spent 10 days in a Buddhist monastery, and 2 days keeping noble silence. I have lived 8 days in a one-room house in the rural village of Chaukati. I have built one smokeless stove for a family that did not have the means to have one. I learned 4 very catchy (maybe a little bit too catchy) Nepali songs, and of course have learned how to dance to them too. I've hikes 14 days straight carrying everything I needed on my back. I went those same 14 days without showering! I've have one incident with stinging nettles, 2 leech bites, and 1,000,000,000,000 bed bug and mosquito bites.

Most importantly in the last three months I have acquired two new families that include 12 new loving family members, 11 new nest friends, and 3 amazing mentors/role-models (our instructors). I've filled one whole memory chip with beautiful photos, and have filled one whole journal with thoughts, reflections, and realizations. I have formed countless memories of my most cherished time spent here in Nepal.

So like I said, here are some facts about what I have been doing the last three months. However I realize that there is no way I could explain what I really experiences while I was here, how I have changes, how I have grown. This is somethings I can only demonstrate through my behaviors, through my interactions with different people in my life, and through my reactions in certain situations. These kinds of things cannot be expressed in words.

This is what has become my focus for when I leave Nepal and see my friends and family. I wish to express my experience through action rather than through picture and story-telling time. I feel like this is a much more effective way to bring my Nepal experience forward with me in life.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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No words to express

Susanna McMillan,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Whew! Who knew three months could fly by this fast. We are back in Bhaktapur at the very same Bhaktapur Guest House we started our adventure at in February for our two days of transference. It really feels like yesterday when we were here last. I’m trying to find the words to explain to you […]

Posted On

05/11/10

Author

Susanna McMillan

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After having the opportunity to dive into Buddhism over the past few weeks, I feel a real connection to it. It is both simple and approachable, and applicable to daily life, yet still offers goals to strive for and subjects that are a bit out of reach. What remains most attractive about it is its emphasis on not just believing what is written in the dharma, but to understand the concepts through the application of reason. There is no point in practicing and diving deeper into the religion until one takes time to understand and relate the basic principles to one’s own life.

There were a few principles that I felt resonated with me. The first was the idea of impermanence. The prospect of finding a way to accept and deal with change is a hard one; it is easy to become comfortable in an environment, as well as attached to people, but inevitably your relationship to the environment and people will change. It is extremely beneficial to examine the impermanence of everything in life, including life itself, and once one accepts this, change beces easier and less painful. By recognizing that this moment, this object, this person, this place will never be the same, we understand the true nature of things and become more comfortable with reality and can move a bit more peacefully through life.

Another subject I was particularly fond of was the application of compassion in our lives, versus the presence of anger, judgment and ignorance. It is often understated how powerful the act of compassion is, and that it can be shown towards every single being on the planet. We often resort to other feelings and when someone does something that hurts us, we act and feel negatively towards them. This negativity becomes a cycle, and we begin to hurt others and add to the suffering in the world. With compassion, however, we not only benefit those we act positively towards, but become a role model for others around us once they see its positive effects. This creates a cycle of love, and eventually eliminates the negativity in our lives and others.

With Buddhism, there were also a few concepts that were a bit harder to grasp. Theidea that everyone is reincarnated into either a higher or lower realm based on their karmic imprints. For me, the reality of life is that it is unchangeable and unpredictable, and that the hardships and luxuries we acquire are simply the luck of the draw. I believe we are able to acrue positive things by positive thinking and positive behavior, but blaming our experiences today on actions in our past life does not resonate or seem to make sense.

Overall, Buddhism was presented as a fascinating religion, especially because it offers more than just rituals and scripture, but an actual guide to life. While living with love, compassion and understanding seems like an almost impossible task, I now realize that just a small bit goes a long way. Also, the dharma emphasizes not only learning about oneself, but to be able to understand more about others in the process. Buddhism is a challenging yet rewarding approach to life, and allows one to focus on cultivating what is most important and beneficial to us humans: awareness and understanding. I’m thankful to have had such a unique opportunity to explore this religion and look forward to exploring it more and applying it to my life from here on out.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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“Buddhaverse”

Katey Parker,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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After having the opportunity to dive into Buddhism over the past few weeks, I feel a real connection to it. It is both simple and approachable, and applicable to daily life, yet still offers goals to strive for and subjects that are a bit out of reach. What remains most attractive about it is its […]

Posted On

04/15/10

Author

Katey Parker

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NamasteFamily and Friends,

Tonight we take a breather in familiar Kathmandu before we head off to Chaukati, home to our village stay for 8 nights and 9 days, and from there directly to our trek for 16 days.

We will finish full circle by returning to the site of our orientation, Bhaktapur Guest House, where students will reflect on their experiences andtake stockof our learning over the past three months. Alreadywe hear how students appreciate how muchthey've grown.

While leaders will be in touch periodically with the office during this time, students will be out of touch and will not be posting yaks until wereturn. We arrive at Bhaktapur May 10 but this day will be filled with ritual and activity, whereas students will have much more free time on May 11 when we come back to Kathmandu to write and call.

As we start our transference piece, where we examine how we wish to re-enter our home communities, evaluatewhat we'd like to leave behind and what we'd like to keep, we will feel gratitude to our strong connections at home who have supported us and made this trip a possibility in our lives. Sending you our love and appreciation,

Nate, Shannon and Sweta

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Village and Trekking: Out of Touch until May 11

Instructor Team,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

NamasteFamily and Friends, Tonight we take a breather in familiar Kathmandu before we head off to Chaukati, home to our village stay for 8 nights and 9 days, and from there directly to our trek for 16 days. We will finish full circle by returning to the site of our orientation, Bhaktapur Guest House, where […]

Posted On

04/15/10

Author

Instructor Team

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Spending a week at the Kopan monastery learing about Buddhism and meditating was not as relaxing as I thought it would be. It was almost like a meditation and Buddhist philosophy boot camp, but with a kind nun teaching us instead of a harsh yelling drill sergent, but she did have a shaved head. Our days were very scheduled and we were pushed to our intellectual and conceptual limits, falling exhausted into bed at night from the mental calisthenics we had been through all day. We kept a strict silence until lunch, when the dams of conversation would open and we would discuss in small groups which were more like group therapy, in which people would cry and get angry and discuss the meaning of life and what happens after death. It was incredible to be with people who on the first day were strangers, but by the end of the week had told you the most intimate details of their life and were more vulnerable with me than some of my closest friends and family. What about this environment leads to this kind of trust and authenticity? How can I transfer this openness to my everyday life? These are two questions that I am trying to tackle, and with our trek I think I will plenty of time to contemplate, because as I have experienced first hand here in Nepal, life is far to short to live on the surface. From all the things I took away from Kopan, I think the most applicable is that there is no time but now to live, so sieze the moment and be your true self, because no one knows what will happen tomorrow.

[post_title] => Awakening To The Here And Now [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => awakening-to-the-here-and-now [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2010-04-15 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=48769 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 397 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 397 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 257 [count] => 117 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 22.1 [cat_ID] => 397 [category_count] => 117 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [category_parent] => 257 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2010/himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Awakening To The Here And Now

Sarah McKenzie,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Spending a week at the Kopan monastery learing about Buddhism and meditating was not as relaxing as I thought it would be. It was almost like a meditation and Buddhist philosophy boot camp, but with a kind nun teaching us instead of a harsh yelling drill sergent, but she did have a shaved head. Our […]

Posted On

04/15/10

Author

Sarah McKenzie

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So I have to admit - I went into our ten day retreat at Kopan Monastery with a bit of a naive view of Buddhism. I had this vague idea of nirvana, personal spiritual growth, "OHM", meditation, among other things. And here I am on the flipside, with a head crammed to the brim with knowledge of the dharma, meditation practices, Buddha visualizations, and lots of new ideas and perspectives on one of the world's major religions.

I think the thing that struck me most through our time with the monks was that yes, in fact - Buddhism is actually a religion, complete with prayers, rituals, relics, and some (to me, over-the-top) temples and shrines. As I walked through the monastery garden multiple times a day, I couldn't help but marvel at the bright, Disney-esque colors of the stupa and the beauty and peace of the grounds - a huge contrast with the noise, trash, and pollution of Kathmandu.

Yet the "rangichangi"-ness and gilded and elaborately painted insides of the gompas andthe giant golden Buddha statues actually bothered me a bit through the course of the ten days. I suppose I had thought of Buddhism as quite simplistic, with little value for material grandeur and so on. But there it was: Tibetan Buddhism in all its glory. And despite my misgivings, I did learn a lot. Our meditation sessions and group discussion made me think, hard, about things I found I don't often think about. In fact, all that thinking manifested for me in the form of splitting headaches about midway through the course - and when I talked with Nate and Ani Karin (our course leader, a Swedish nun who's been living at Kopan for the past 30 or so years), they said that things like headaches and physical symptons could be quite normal, especially for someone who's never done a retreat like this before.

There are still loads of things that I don't quite grasp or agree with, at least in this form of Buddhism. Reincarnation, though I like the idea, seems quite farfetched at times. I'm back and forth on the topic of karma; I agree with the basic concept, but sometimes it seems a little too "blame-y" and judgemental. The prostrations and prayer recitation just reminded me way too much of a church service, and while it took me a bit to get used to the idea, I did go ahead and give them a go (and decided it's not really my thing).

But the ideas of universal love and compassion, just the basic concept that everyone should accept and even feel compassion for every other sentient being, well - that's something that I think the whole world could benefit from knowing more about. After doing a meditation session and having a discussion on anger, I've started immediately identifying when something irritates me, and I evaluate where that irritation comes from and how I can look at the situation from another angle, so that I'm not putting those negative thoughts and/or actions out there.

While Kopan showed me that Tibetan Buddhism isn't for me, it did spark an interest in the Japanese style of Zen Buddhism, and I'm looking forward to traveling to Japan and possibly doing another retreat there. I'm also glad to have had an oppurtunity to be totally immersed in a religion and tradition where the practitioners are so heartfult and fully devoted to their beliefs. And mostly, I'm thankful for those ten days in a strange pocket of calm in the midst of Kathmandu, where idle chitchat wasn't necessary and where I could fully wind down and reflect on the past two months, while looking forward to and preparing for the res tof our time here.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Monk-y Business

Amy Franquet,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

So I have to admit – I went into our ten day retreat at Kopan Monastery with a bit of a naive view of Buddhism. I had this vague idea of nirvana, personal spiritual growth, "OHM", meditation, among other things. And here I am on the flipside, with a head crammed to the brim with […]

Posted On

04/15/10

Author

Amy Franquet

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