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Rumtek Monastery

I never before have even imagined that I could learn so much about both myself and lessons on life in just over two days, but that’s what happened on our two-day retreat to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. During our time there, we had four lessons with the khempo in the institute that is attached to the monastery. The khempo  is one of the highest monastery positions, and we were extremely fortunate to be able to meet and learn from him.

He taught us a lot about compassion and the unnecessary anger that people possess. He taught us that Buddha said that first comes judgement and then anger. This is ignorance, and the ignorance is that when we are suffering we are only thinking about ourselves. The biggest lesson I learned from him is that compassion and love to others is your best friend. And should be carried with you always.

At the end of each lesson, we meditated for some time, in which the khempo  would sing a Tibetan mantra, and his voice was nearly hypomotizing. The entire experience left me very calm and with a feeling of peace that I’ve never entirely possess before. Aside from the khempo, our second day in the monastery was one that I will never forget. The previous night, we had a lesson from Llama U.D., who is one of the teachers in the monastery.  He talked a lot about the Buddhist belief in reincarnation and particularly the reincarnation of the karmapa who is the second most important Buddhist religious figure, under the Dalai Lama.

On the second day, we were given the incredible opportunity to go inside the Golden Stupa at the institute which is a room that was filled with things that are considered to be very precious by the monks. Not only that, but we actually got to go inside the room in which the heart of the 16th Karmapa is preserved. Many of the monk at the institute haven’t even been allowed to enter. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was extremely powerful. Following that, we got to eat lunch with all of the monks and listen to them pray, and then we were with them again later to observe their rituals and prayers for puja.

I don’t know how many other people can say they’ve watched monks chant for puja for an hour and fifteen minutes. It was so cool and such a memorable day altogether. The other things about the monks we interacted with is that they were both such joyful people, who really, deeply care about others. We had dinner on tha last night with Llama U.D., and he really, genuinely was just as interested in our lives as we are in his.

Likewise my favorite part of our sessions with the Karmapa was the end of the first day when we all stood in a circle and he told us that we had to laugh, and then proceeded to throw his hands in the air and burst out laughing. His laugh was so funny and adorable for a man of his stature and position to have, and it made us all laugh so hard, almost to the point of tears.  Overall I had an amazing time at the monastery and will never forget it.

Sophie.

P.S. I am very concerned I will have a serious chai addiction when I go home.