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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Learning is Experiencing

There are certain things we know without having to actually witness: the moon changes its shape and position every night, monks wear robes, Nescafe has a tendency to make people hyper. There are things we can’t know without witnessing: the lilac and crimson flower color of the sky at 6pm, the amount of love you can have for 15 people you met 2 weeks ago, that taking a vow of silence is impossibly difficult (for some people). Then there are the things we think we know without having to witness, but, in reality, we can’t even begin to grasp. In this category, I place Buddhism.
I came into our week long retreat at Namo Buddha thinking I had a basic understanding of Buddhism. I knew who Buddha was, that there exists such as a thing as Enlightenment and the importance of meditation in helping you get there. I knew how Westerners had skewed the meaning of Buddhism to mean free-spirited yogis who enjoy a good bonfire from time to time. Buddhism, however, is so much more. As our Khenpo wisely unfolded for us like a delicate and beautiful origami flower during our first lesson, Buddhism is a way to control our mind. At first, this simple definition boggled me. It seemed too easy, too accessible. Flash forward to our first meditation lesson and I am quickly able to appreciate the complexity within Khenpo’s simple explanation.