Hello FEA! The past couple days have been a whirlwind of events and I am just now reflecting and catching up. Through the first couple days of the week, I attended my meditation in the morning at 7 am, breakfast promptly at 8 am, then class (Mind, Medicine & Healing) at 10:30 am until 12:30, lunch, then my final class of the day at 4 pm (Culture of Tibet & Buddhism).
These classes have been extremely engaging, and all the content is very new to me. From learning about the effectiveness of mindfulness and how it was integrated into Western healthcare practice and research as well as it’s origins from Buddhist culture and religious values have all been very enticing.
This Friday however, my peers and I were in for a different type of lesson. We got up early in the morning and put on the single nice outfit we were told to pack and headed to His Holiness’ residence temple in Dharamsala. We all nervously waited outside along with other people, not knowing if we were simply going to get a photo-op or actually have a chance to meet His Holiness.
Fortunately, we had the chance to sit around him and listen to him speak to us and urge us as the next generation to engage in social change, use logic and reasoning to assert that change & to not blindly believe concepts simply for the sake of religiosity.
When he was talking to us, I appreciated the fact that he urged us to do better and take action into combatting climate change. I didn’t think he would pinpoint specific contemporary challenges in his message, so I’m glad that he did and I felt a sense of urgency to want to continue engaging in social change and activism.
After our audience, we took a tour of Dolma Ling, which was a nunnery also in Dharamshala. It was truly inspiring to see as the whole community was essentially sustained and nurtured by women. For the younger nuns, I think growing up in such an environment shows them that they are not limited in their potential because they are constantly surrounded by intelligent and independent women.
Additionally, it was nice to see another non-profit initiative managed so sustainably, and truly making strides towards providing the necessary resources for nuns to accelerate their degrees and become Geshes. The impact of His Holiness’ words and how it manifests into such initiatives is inspiring to see because it demonstrates how the people that follow him truly heed his words.
After our tour, we went to the Norbulingka Art Institute for lunch and another tour. The Norbulingka Institute was also nothing like what I expected, with the amount of detail put into the architecture of the institute itself to mimic the body of a Buddha. The guide also described how the artists follow measurements from scriptures for their paintings and art pieces of various sacred religious figures, which further emphasized the amount of detail that went into the art pieces.
Additionally, learning that the artists there are trained for free for three years and have the option to continue working for the Institute or starting their own private, freelancing business demonstrated the amount of value placed on art within the Tibetan community, which was nice to see as I feel that art isn’t as valued in the institutions that I have been around.