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Showing posts from March, 2018

RYI: A Place Understood Only Through Direct Experience

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RYI: A Place Understood Only Through Direct Experience There is nothing ordinary about studying at Rangjung Yeshe Institute compared to a typical university anywhere in the world. Even here in Nepal, it’s difficult to explain to other Nepalis that I go to a school connected to a monastery, but am not a monk, and many of the students are not necessarily Buddhist. Needless to say, it is impossible for my friends and family back home to imagine how a fully accredited university can operate within a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Since most Americans are geographically challenged, it’s even harder to explain that this “Tibetan” monastery is founded by Tibetan lamas, but not actually in Tibet, though still near the Himalayas. When asked what language they speak, it adds even more confusion to tell them that, while Tibetan is used in classes at the monastery, the local language, Nepali, has virtually nothing to do with Tibetan. Finally, when I’m asked what language my classes are conducted in, …

A Fulfilling Experience

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A Fulfilling Experience
It is said that the Stupa at Boudhanath, Kathmandu, has the power of fulfilling all the wishes and aspirations one makes in front of it. However, for me the mere fact of living here, next to the stupa, somehow represents already an accomplishment of my wishes of having a meaningful life. Here, the environment is pervaded by the spiritual life of the people, with their gestures and expressions. For instance, every single day there are hundreds of people circumambulating the stupa. People from all over the world join together in venerating this holy place. Some of them come from foreign countries excited about seeing this monument for the first time; some others arrive walking from the Himalayas, after a long pilgrimage, just to see the Stupa once in their lives; others spend the whole day doing prostrations in front or around the Stupa; and even others just want to live nearby to be blessed every day. Not only that, but also the whole area has plenty of activitie…

A local girl moves out of her family home to learn a lot more

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A local girl moves out of her family home  to learn a lot more
It was not easy. Not at all, for her to go through that phase when she was breaking a traditional value, social appearance, going against decisions of her family, going against what is “normal” but going for what she wanted, what she needed, what was exactly conducive for her and her studies at that time. To be glared at to be going against their decisions, to be looked down for listening to her heart, to be not listened to, to not be allowed to change the traditional values, to be stopped using reasonings that were nothing but guilt-trips, to need to close oneself inside the cocoon because everything was becoming a little too much. Yes, beginning of this academic year was a tough one. She was breaking a tradition - she decided to move out from her family home for a year due to various reasons. In the society where families are mostly joint families with almost every family member living under one roof, for the youngest daug…

Field Trip to Swayambhunath Temple

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On a Saturday morning, the ten or so of us who were able to brave the February cold got on the bus and reached Swayambhunath promptly. Just after entering we encircled Father Greg who was our gracious guide and listened to him talk about the history of Swayambhunath Temple and its importance in Newari Buddhism. Swayambhupuraṇa is the Sanskrit text in which is written the story of the origin of Swayambhunath Temple. Swayambhupuraṇa is unique; it is the only puraṇa text associated with Buddhism. The rest of the puraṇa texts concern Hindu gods. The story goes: Where the Kathmandu valley is today, there used to be a lake filled with Nagas (snakes). In this lake, a Buddha called Bipaswi Tathāgata planted a lotus with one thousand petals. This lotus flower emanated a bright light signifying the Buddha nature. According to legend, Mañjuśri who was called by a Buddha cut a gorge and drained the lake, leading to the creation of the valley. Then, at the location of the lotus, the stup…