“Whether one believes in religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.” – H.H. Dalai Lama
The joke goes that Nepal is the land of three religions: Hinduism, Buddhism and Tourism. Of the three, I know the least of the former, but we headed anyway to the Kopan monastery for a 10 day course on meditation and Tibetan Buddhism. We had exemplary teachers who were very compassionate and funny. I love the humor of monks and nuns. One meditation on trying to see past the “self-grasping I,” our teacher had a hard time composing himself as he was explaining we are the only one who sees ourselves as “I.” To everyone else we are just “another other.” I’m not sure why this became so funny but it did as he kept choking down his chuckle. We were fortunate to have 21 year old Cherok Lama visiting from India and he gave us a few dharma (Law of the Universe) talks. Similarly his humor was flawless. He started by thanking us for all being his mother (according to reincarnation we have been in the cycle of rebirth for 3 eons, so we’ve all been each others’ mother at one point or another). Ezra decided it would be funny to make a t-shirt with the front saying “another other” and the back “another mother.” I guarantee it would get a monastic stamp of approval. When talking about depression Cherok Lama said you may become “emo” and paint your house black. I wasn’t sure where he was getting his intel but any Tibetan monk who uses the word “emo” in a dharma talk is okay by me. Cherok Lama was wonderful and what I will always remember is his laugh. He was young and so incredibly wise.
We spent the next couple weeks on the Annapurna circuit with sweeping views of the Himalayas. There is something about being next to these great giants that help you grasp how small you really are. The trek itself was not difficult, save getting used to the altitude and lugging around a backpack for weeks. The Thorong La pass over the mountains was the challenging part. Take off a few thousand feet of elevation, the wind and snow and it would have been a breeze. I had a few symptoms of altitude sickness but Ezra and our new friend Al were great encouraging me up those last 3000 feet and at the top with a bird’s eye view of the Himalayas I thought I might cry, partly in relief that we now got to go down 5000 feet. We hung some prayer flags, snapped a few pics and said goodbye to my friend the Annapurnas. We had a few more days of trekking to go but this was the highlight. It may not have been summiting Everest but it made me feel as close to heaven and the ether as I may get in this life.
Just some funny stuff… I apologize for the obnoxious number of pictures. I just couldn’t help myself.