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Sometimes I forget that I just spent the last three months of my life living across the world from where I am today. And other days I can't stay present where I am because I am lost in the thoughts of my travels.

To be honest, lately I have been checking the yak board from our trip quite frequently, to see if anyone has posted, and sadly theres been nothing.. so I have decided to yak it up.

...India feels like an illusion, like all of those intense, emotional, real, beautiful places and people didn't actually happen. I can't help feeling like I am losing my grasp on eveything I learned and absorbed.

When I first got back I was so thrilled to talk about my trip all the time, and now I feel like I am losing my connection to it, my power to articulate what I went through, and I am scared that I won't get it back.

However, I am trying to remind myself of one of the greatest things I learned from Sharma ji in Banaras, which was to take every experience as it is, and ride with it, with no judgement, so that when it is over you can reflect and learn for your own future actions. So I am trying not to label what I am going through, because words cannot even begin to describe...

Even re-reading this I don't think I am articulating exactly what I want to.. but I hope you guys get something from it.

I love and miss you all very much!!

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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There still aren’t words

Ruthie Praskins,Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Sometimes I forget that I just spent the last three months of my life living across the world from where I am today. And other days I can’t stay present where I am because I am lost in the thoughts of my travels. To be honest, lately I have been checking the yak board from […]

Posted On

08/3/11

Author

Ruthie Praskins

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Dear Visions of India Parents and Friends,

The student group has taken flight to return home! Thank you for sharing them with us. It's been another amazing semester at Dragons, all around the world.

Reed

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Departed

Reed Harwood,Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Dear Visions of India Parents and Friends, The student group has taken flight to return home! Thank you for sharing them with us. It’s been another amazing semester at Dragons, all around the world. Reed

Posted On

05/11/11

Author

Reed Harwood

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Our time at Deer Park, an exquisite classical Indian studies center nestled in the Himalayas, allowed all of us to develop a deeper and more personal understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. We had several amazing classes, discussions, and meditations, read our own selected books (I chose The World of Tibetan Buddhism by the 13th Dalia Lama), visited schools for Tibetan youth in exile and a center for Tibetan nuns, and toured a gorgeous Tibetan artist’s colony. I’ve learned so much and am so grateful for it all.

Now my task is to reflect upon the relationship between personal transformation and global transformation and to describe how I might apply these ideas to my life. Here goes.

(Note: I actually wrote most of this the night before the trek, but am finishing it up now).

In Tibetan Buddhism, meditation is the key to not only finding inner peace, but also to demonstrating compassion, selflessness, and love to the world. Listening to our breath allows us to let go of illusions, which block us from radiating these essential qualities. By transforming ourselves, we come to see how the world can be transformed. Personal transformation can only occur when we gather the courage to go deep within and destroy the cause of our suffering – desire and attachment. When we recognize that it is possible to love the world without attaching ourselves to anything or anyone within it, we realize that peace can be a global reality. The courage to heal ourselves gives us faith that the world has the potential to recover from the pain that has been thrust upon it since the beginnings of time. To heal and change, we must recognize a higher reality and trust it.

The work of Buddhism, particularly in the Mahayana Path, is to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all humanity. The Bodhisattavas purposefully come back to this world of samsara, after having attained enlightenment in order to guide all others to the same state of being. Buddhists work on themselves for the world, not for personal gain. They abandon their cravings so the world will cease to struggle for what is actually unattainable. They realize that it is useless can indeed destructive to pursue desires, which Buddhists believe are formed in the mind. Our best qualities come from a different place, one that flourishes when our chaotic, spinning minds slow down into silence. They come when we reach a state of emptiness. Then, we realize our global interdependence and find our more selfish ambitions dissolve into nothingness. As Nagarjuna, whose teachings developed from 200BC to 200AD, states, “in a system where emptiness is not possible, nothing is possible. In a system where emptiness is possible, everything is possible.” We must empty ourselves to fulfill our highest missions as human beings.

Personal transformation and global transformation are inextricably connected. One can’t happen without the other. I feel more aware than ever that growing as an individual and being the best person that I can be will help the world. If we all strive to transform ourselves, the world will respond. In this interdependent world, we need to cultivate our best qualities. We need to understand and be constantly aware of the source of our suffering – which on a global level creates and sustains war, violence, and conflict – in order to let it go.

How can I personally become a global citizen? Well, I feel that I have grasped some of the main concepts of Buddhism, but have not yet found a way to really apply them to my work in the world. I am finding myself opening up to huge questions. This journey has led me back into my own past, questioning where I really come from, and where I really need to go. My cultural roots differ from my fellow dragons in a way that has honestly shocked me. I am from America, but have lived extremely differently, secluded from nearly all modern media and culture. How can I belong to the 21st Century when I have basically lived by both the ancient values of earth-based spirituality and the classical values of the 19th Century throughout my life? It’s very, very challenging to bridge these huge gaps, but I know that I must carve out my own path and do this. I must grow out from my roots, into the atmosphere of the modern world, yet still connected to the grounds from which I come. I want to become a global citizen by accepting the past and embracing the present, personally and universally.


My favorite element of modern culture is the freedom we have to express ourselves and to think freely and independently. I will find my place in the world by listening to my heart and trusting it, enjoying the freedom to think and work in the way that feels right to me, the freedom to live, the freedom to breathe.
We can bring happiness to the world by taking the principles of Buddhism to heart and keeping them close to us. We can empty ourselves yet still follow our hearts. We can release attachments, yet still love others deeply.


As global citizens, we have a responsibility to look to the past for wisdom, to absorb and remember what our ancestors learned and taught. Yet, at the same time, we have to live in the present. My biggest challenge is to let go of the past enough, but not too much. I need to allow myself to be who I am NOW, expressing myself within the context of the modern world, and yet always remember where I come from.


This is what I told myself last night as I stepped outside my tent in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, fell into the grass, and looked up at the stars. I remembered the many times I did this as a child and realized how essential it still is for all of us. Oh the simplicity of life, which connects us all to something beyond ourselves.

Practically speaking, I want to work for the environment, I want to work for children, I want to work for peace. Visiting the Eco Village in Varanasi made me realize that saving the earth is essential in saving humanity and culture. Spending time at Guria opened me to children with tragic family backgrounds and inspired me to find more ways to help them rise above their circumstances and live happier lives. Reading Arundathi Roy’s (a powerful Indian activist) book The Algebra of Infinte Justice forced me to look at the dangers of nuclear weapons and the importance of changing society’s consciousness in order to promote world peace (among maybe other social, environmental, and poltical issues). During my college years, I want to learn as much as I can about our present challenges and conflicts and find concrete ways to work with them. I want to continue to open myself to reality, be a part of this world, and love life while making a difference.

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Buddhism, Life, and Global Citizenship

Chloe Rissenberg,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

Our time at Deer Park, an exquisite classical Indian studies center nestled in the Himalayas, allowed all of us to develop a deeper and more personal understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. We had several amazing classes, discussions, and meditations, read our own selected books (I chose The World of Tibetan Buddhism by the 13th Dalia Lama), […]

Posted On

05/5/11

Author

Chloe Rissenberg

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We are starting our trek today through the mystical Himalayas! We will be back in 8 days and look forward to sharing tales of our journey.

- I-team

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Starting our trek!

I-team,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

We are starting our trek today through the mystical Himalayas! We will be back in 8 days and look forward to sharing tales of our journey. – I-team

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

I-team

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Being a global citizen is both simple and difficult. It requires courage, insight, compassion, perseverence. I have the compassion and insight part down, but sometimes I wonder how courageous I am. I suppose I have become more courageous in the course of this journey, i.e. facing my fear of bees and other insects, using a "torpedo"(suppository) all by myself, living with a rat and a huge hairy spider underneath my bed for two months without complaint.

Yet still, in my view, it is perseverence that I lack. Perhaps I persevere in other areas, I mean besides work, school, etc. Maybe I persevere with friendships that are failing, with unhealthy relationships. I persevere trying to "fix" those who need "fixing", even when they don't want to be "fixed", even when they drag me down with them. But that isn't the point. The point is, I need to stop persevering in the fantasy world where everyone is happy and loves me to the moon and back, exactly the way I love them. In the real world, you can't help people who don't want to be helped. I realize this now more than ever.

I've made a lot of decisions in the past few months. One is that I want to work with refugees. The Tibetan kids I talked to had a profound impact on me; Ifelta connection with them that nearly moved me to tears.I plan to research organizations that work with Tibetan refugees and look into volunteer opportunities. Portland State has a summer class on Refugee Studies forwhich I plan to sign up. Sometime soon after I get home, I will apply for a job with the Democratic Party of Oregon, reaching out to people who want their voices heard. I want to extend a hand of compassion to everyone I meet. I want to share my newfound awareness with my friends and family, and maybe if I get around to it, the world. That's probably the easiest method of being a "global citizen", but it might just be the most effective.

I know it's impossible for me to help everyone, have perfect relationships, free Tibet, and turn everyone into a Democrat, but just doing my fair share of what must be done for the world to transform into a better place is, well,global citizen-yenough for me.

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Global Citizenship or something like that

Katie Gregg,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

Being a global citizen is both simple and difficult. It requires courage, insight, compassion, perseverence. I have the compassion and insight part down, but sometimes I wonder how courageous I am. I suppose I have become more courageous in the course of this journey, i.e. facing my fear of bees and other insects, using a […]

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

Katie Gregg

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Today our instructors gave us the "mission" to find the magical mystical forest in Manali. Once there, each and everyone one of us found a comfy spot, leaning on a rock or a tree and took some time to reflect onthe past few weeks and especially on the Buddhist retreat in Bir.

Like many of my other fellow dragons, I found this trip extraordinary. However I do not feel like my life has changed or that I have been transformed into a completely different person. But there were definitely some changes, small realizations that came to me.

The most important thing that I have realized is how my mind worked, how my every single actions were guided by the same intention. And therefore, I realized how my life was directed to a single, shallow goal. I understood that you can beconstantly busy, always doing something and having projects and yet at the end of the day, not accomplish anything. Andat the same time, one can life at the chill-slow pace of Benares, a more human pace and still achieve many more personal achievements thatcame be simple and benign butyet arenot insignificant. I learnedhow to be content with not understanding, not knowing,not finding answers. Becausenot every action that is unsuccessful is a failure. Not allhave to leadto a Diploma, a medal or a grade. We have to do things that make us enjoy the present and notdo things in order to quencha thrive.

Knowing this, and knowing myself is definitely going to helpme with the process of becoming a global citizen. A global citizen has to be tolerant, understanding and cultured. Those are the tools that help us preserve cultural uniqueness while still trading, exchanging, and being in a globalized world. This process is surely lenghthy, and accepting that things make take time is very helpful. This is something that I can share to others on a daily basis.

As a concrete "call to action", I'm willing to study more about Buddhist philosophy and Refugee's studies but also take some time, every day, to reflect on what I do, my intentions, and that, if my life has to be influenced by a vice, it would be passion.

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Reflection in the mystical forest

Leila Veerasamy,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

Today our instructors gave us the "mission" to find the magical mystical forest in Manali. Once there, each and everyone one of us found a comfy spot, leaning on a rock or a tree and took some time to reflect onthe past few weeks and especially on the Buddhist retreat in Bir. Like many of […]

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

Leila Veerasamy

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After spending the past five days nestled in a Buddhist retreat in idyllic Bir, our group was asked during today’s morning check-in to share what had surfaced over this intensive period of self-reflection. The resulting conversation turned out to be emotional and intimate. There was crying, there was laughter, there was laughing and crying together (which Yoli, our adopted third leader, claims to be the best combination out there)—essentially, our entire group agreed that, after the at times abrasive chaos that characterized our life in Benares, these introspective days spent in the peaceful ambiance at the retreat center brought to light many thoughts and feeling that had laid dormant in our subconscious and remained latent due to the sheer number of sensory distractions at the time. Now don’t get me wrong—Benares was definitely not lacking in self realizations and personal growth—it’s just the quiet (that deep sort of quiet that settles into your bones) that permeated the atmosphere of Deer Park allowed these steps in personal growth to manifest in a more elemental and profound way. With that being said, our leaders asked us to spend some time today reflecting on how we can take these personal transformations and apply that on a more global level. They also wanted us to create a “call to action” that lays out a plan in which we can proactively pursue this intention of global citizenship. Then, they asked us to share some of these ponderings in a yak-yak. So here I am. I honestly can’t say that I have such a broad question fully answered, but I did make some strides in understanding on how I will be able to apply the personal growth I have experienced in a way that benefits the world. I was once told in a religion class that the definition of “vocation” is “where my greatest strengths meet the world’s greatest needs.” I think this is the perfect description of how I can harness my own unique strengths in a way that truly makes a difference. While this concept seems simple enough, ideas like vocations or destinies (basically any concept that implies that there is a path that you are “meant” to take) used to always overwhelm me with this desperate sense of anxiety. How do I know what “path” to take? What if I make the wrong choice? Then am I doomed to be plagued with a lack of spiritual fulfillment all of my life?! On and on I would go, working myself up into a downright frenzy, utterly paralyzed in fear of the infinite possibilities of existence. If you look at a tree, that tree always knows its purpose, its role in the universe. The tree grows—its branches up into the sky and its root down into the ground. They never get confused about which way to go, the tree’s chlorophyll never goes into an existential crisis about whether or not to use the power of the sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. It just happens. Sometimes I wish that our sense of destiny worked in a similar way-- programmed deep down somewhere in our spiritual genetics. Heck, maybe it already is somewhere inside of me, it’s just that I’ve been born in the so-called “land of opportunity” where one is overwhelmed with a ridiculous number of choices and options since day one. It’s easy to lose touch with our essential nature when our eyes are glazed over from endless distractions and options. To further the problem, the goal of global citizenship is not always a tangible, clear-cut one. You can’t get a college degree on “how to make the world a better place” in any direct sense. You have to improvise and explore and search and make do with what you can find. So to make a long story short, I’m not entirely sure what my vocational niche in this world is. But I do know that I have freshmen year of college ahead of me, I have a whole lifetime ahead of me to find the exact way I will have my unique greatest strengths meet the world’s greatest needs. Until then, I make an intention to be open to the infinity of possibilities that this life has to offer. In fact, in embracing this, I believe I am very much embracing the ‘sunyata’ (spelling?) or “void” that is at the very crux of Buddhist philosophy. I make an intention to continue to question relentlessly everything I encounter, to never accept at face value any cookie-cutter definition of truth. I make an intention to also be at peace in this search—to slow down and not take myself too seriously as I try to figure this whole deal out, to never lose that child-like sense of amazement at this strange parade of events we call life. I make an intention to be good to myself, because we all know that we cannot help others, much less the world, unless we take care of our own needs. I make an intention to be aware, of myself, my relationships to those around me, to humanity, to the Earth, to the universe, etc. I make an intention of determination, endurance, perseverance—to never give up that search in spite of all the distractions and discouragement that awaits. Lastly, I make an intention to be ever-grateful, in particular for the string of events that lead me to this computer in Manali, to this amazing group of students and leaders, to the host of experiences that have led me to even be thinking about this all in the first place.

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Vocations, destiny, and a global citizenship

Christine Ryan,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

After spending the past five days nestled in a Buddhist retreat in idyllic Bir, our group was asked during today’s morning check-in to share what had surfaced over this intensive period of self-reflection. The resulting conversation turned out to be emotional and intimate. There was crying, there was laughter, there was laughing and crying together […]

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

Christine Ryan

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    [post_content] => 

My time in India is almost over. But, what I take from this experience will always be there. It is difficult to put into words, how this experience has made me think and feel differently about so many things. If I can choose a couple words about my time here (chronological order) they would be....

Wide-eyed, amazed, scared, happy, sad, excited, exsposed, rickshaw, bargains, nahi, acha, super, best friends forever, killer, death, life, renewal, love.

Callie

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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In a Nutshell

Callie Smith,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

My time in India is almost over. But, what I take from this experience will always be there. It is difficult to put into words, how this experience has made me think and feel differently about so many things. If I can choose a couple words about my time here (chronological order) they would be…. […]

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

Callie Smith

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In my eyes, being a global citizen means recognizing the elementary fact that we live in a world composed of many different people, cultures, beliefs, etc. Global citizenship is about sharing mother earth and learning to accept that we all spend our allotted time here differently. We may live in different cultures, pursue different jobs, eat different foods, or worship different gods but at the end of the day "we" are still "us" and we're still together on this planet that we like to call home. It sounds so simple and basic but then we look at the world around us and see tragedy laced side by side with beauty and... I just lost my train of thought because I'm currently surrounded by trees and boulders that are taller than my house.

Being a global citizen is a messy committment because by declaring citizenship to the entire world we become part of that world and all that takes place within it. Genocides, revolutions, wars, revolts, etc begin to mean more than just a morning newscast or a "COEXIST" bumper sticker pasted on the back of your car because suddenly it's not taking place across the ocean but sleeping next to you in your bed at night. Global issues and events become real and overwhelming and impossibly tangible. Suddenly we can make a difference and we're a part of that change that's taking place. ...I can't concentrate on this because the mountains are looming over my shoulders with waterfalls and snowcaps.

After having spent 5 days at a Buddhist retreat, I have begun to understand the importance of taking the time to listen. Not to every thing and everyone around me but solely to myself. I generally stay so busy running around doing this and that that I lose track of myself and where I am, what I'm doing, how I'm feeling. But in the last 5 days I've taken the time to come back to myself, find myself, listen to myself, and I'll tell you what, I'm hearing some pretty fantastic things. Confusing, overwhelming, exhilirating, awesome things. ...I'm sure that this stopped making sense by the third word of it all but somehow it's completely logical in my mind. But maybe that's just because I'm finally able to breathe fresh air into my lungs that doesn't coat my teeth in dust with each inhalation.

I don't know what I'm trying to say and I'm certainly not sure about what I'm thinking or where I'm headed but for some reason I am completely okay with that.

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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Word Vomit Regarding Global Citizenship

Hannah Palmateer,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

In my eyes, being a global citizen means recognizing the elementary fact that we live in a world composed of many different people, cultures, beliefs, etc. Global citizenship is about sharing mother earth and learning to accept that we all spend our allotted time here differently. We may live in different cultures, pursue different jobs, […]

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

Hannah Palmateer

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    [post_date] => 2011-04-27 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

How do you define a global citizen?

I feel that a global citizen is someone who sees the true value of this world and life.

A global citzen strives to help others see this life for what it is.

so what is this life?

Everyone has their own definition for the meaning of their life.

I feel that we are all given this life to help others see the importance of the human existence.

The world is becomming"over populated" becausethere are so manyenergies thatwant this human life.

We are all extremely lucky to have this human life because there are so many great things it has to offer.

A global citizen understandsthisand attempts toconvey this message to othersthrough every action he/she makes.

We all have a chance to be a global citizen. Everyone.

There is not one person who is exempt from this chance.

How do i become a global citizen?

Act from your heart.

Do this through your daily actions and do not give up.

It may not be easy to do this and you may forget but i guarentee it gets easier as most things do.

A globalcitizen should see that patience is a virtue because change does not happen instantly.

Youmust realize thatthe actions you take todaymay not be appreciatedimmediatlybut know that in time your actions will be remembered in one way or another.

It is not easy to convey this message in todays world because most people are caught in the actions of the daily wants and needs.

They cannot clearly see the true importance of this life but instead the importance of a fast car or the best coffee machine.

Its not always bad to want nice things but when they mask who you are as a person then people will only see you as what you possess rather than who you are inside.

IfI told some of myfriends thestories of what i learned during the buddhist retreatthey wouldcompletely reject most of the ideas.

All i can do is act as a global citizen and realize that my actions will play some part in their life.

Travis Watkins

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Visions of India, Spring 2011

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a global citizen is…

travis watkins,Visions of India, Spring 2011

Description

How do you define a global citizen? I feel that a global citizen is someone who sees the true value of this world and life. A global citzen strives to help others see this life for what it is. so what is this life? Everyone has their own definition for the meaning of their life. […]

Posted On

04/27/11

Author

travis watkins

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