Friday, December 02, 2016
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
After our village home stay, the team finally flew (after our luck with another delayed flight) from Delhi to Amritsar
During our stay, we visited a memorial remembering the Amritsar massacre and the many lives lost. Some of our group members volunteered in the "cafeteria" of the Golden Temple, washing dishes or helping prepare the endless meals that are constantly served there.
When it was time to leave, the team took three buses to reach the beautiful and peaceful foothills of Dharamsala.
Here, the majority of the team participated in a 10-day meditation and Buddhist philosophy course.
The remaining few, myself included, have been living with Tibetan host families, and have regularly been conversing with monks to help them better their English, and have also been watching documentaries and listening to lectures at the Tibet Museum
We also took classes to learn how to cook authentic Tibetan (and Indian) food, and practiced the incredibly detailed Batik painting.
We have also encountered a mild financial dilemma; the 500 and 1000 rupee notes are no longer accepted and new bills have been printed (hopefully) and will be making their way into the system. But not to worry! We have mastered the art of what I call "the ATM pose", where you firmly plant yourself in a designated spot (near the machine, if you're lucky) and thus hope the words "no more money" do not pop up.
As our final days in India come to a close, we will reflect on our experiences here before enjoying the infinite train rides and beaches of Thailand.
We arrived at Tushita Meditation Center after a steep 30 minute walk with our packs
After a quick briefing and round of introductions it was time to enter total silence. This was something our team had some apprehension about. However, we took to the silence surprisingly well.
We were each assigned a "karma yoga" job designed to help the center run more smoothly. Oriana and Jordan got to ring the gong in the morning and evening while Kippy, Emma, Maddie and Juliet washed dishes after the delicious meals (for which we are eternally grateful). Matt was in charge of keeping the gompa lit.
The gompa is the room where we received our Buddhist teachings from the American Buddhist nun venerable Drolma, and where we practiced various meditations, led by our Australian instructor Kieran.
Overall, this experience was great and the silence helped us reflect on our lives before heading to the beaches of Thailand.
We are sad that our trip is coming close to an end, but this will give us a chance to practice "non-attachment" (a part of Buddhist philosophy).