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A sadu sitting along the ghats of the Ganges River. Photo by Jen Goings, India Semester.

Thacher in Bir

Hello!

I’m here with some updates/summary of our stay at Deer Park in Bir. We arrived at Bir on the 25th, settled into our rooms, and met Ashish, the leader of our Rural Immersion course. Our course consisted of three different activities; meditation, simulations, and volunteer work. The purpose of the course was for our group to experience different methods of meditation, and gain a deeper understanding of villages and rural communities of India and how they have changed over time.

During each beginning of our sessions, we practiced meditation and learned about three different methods. The first was focusing on our breath and clearing our mind, the second was being aware of our own thoughts, and identifying what we were thinking of, and the third was focusing our mind on our body sensations. We learned about how meditation can help us focus, relieve stress mentally and physically, and stop thinking unnecessarily to save energy. Meditation was a very interesting and new experience for us all.

We also had long sessions of simulations, which were scenarios that Ashish would give to our group that we had to solve as a collective group. From our simulations, we learned a lot about how man made creations are the cause of most of the problems in our world, and how greed is what runs some of the most powerful forces that control the global economy. We also learned about self-reliance and how it is different to today’s world in which many of us depend on the government and markets. While learning from our simulations, we also got to walk around a village near Deer Park and survey the people living there about their childhood and how their community has changed from then till now. It was an eye opening experience for everyone to hear the life stories of people living in the village.

We also got to visit a private school near Deer Park, in which we learned about the vision of the school and got to interact with the students. They took us in groups of 2 on tours around the school and talked to us about their classes and how excited they were to show us around. It was so humbling to see how enthusiastic they were about school, and how even though their English wasn’t fluent, they were able to communicate so much with us. They invited us back if we ever visited India again, and wished us a great rest of our trip. It was such a fun experience.

On our last night, we got to visit the Tsering Jong Monastery which was such a beautiful sight. There were elaborate, detailed wall paintings, hanging decorations, long wide mats to pray, and a giant statue of the Buda. There was gold everywhere and the room was filled with so much color.It was so mesmerizing and it made me realize how important Buddhism is to so many people.

Our experience at Bir was so eventful, yet relaxing. It was a great way to wrap up our journey in India, and we all can’t wait to share our experiences with you all. See you soon!

Sincerely,

Victoria Gutierrez