Sunday, March 23, 2014

The monastery

Here is the monastery as seen from the street.  I took this photo right before a hail storm started when some of the volunteers and I were trying to hail a cab.  When I first drove through the gates, I was feeling very nervous.  I wasn't sure what classes or what ages my students would be.  I had no expectations.
The bright colors were very inviting.  I arrived just in time for tea, and was treated to tea before receiving my room key.  I was told to come back in the morning for my assignment.
Here is part of the dorm, the volunteers and other guests are on one side and the older monks live on the other side.  When I first recieved my assignment I was shocked that I would be allowed to stay on the grounds, that was just one of the unique things about this place.

Hanging over each one of the doors is "the endless knot."  During my stay I was told there were many meanings for this knot, including good luck, endless compassion and how everything is always joined in cause and effect.  We had a Buddhist philosphy class one morning that was all about cause and effect.
A photograph of the stupa with a bonus monkey.  The monkey is drinking from the faucet, they are able to turn the faucet on.  I never saw one of them turn it off though.   There were plenty of monkeys during my stay there, sometimes they even ended up in the guests' or volunteers' rooms.  I was fortunate to have never suffered a monkey invasion.  I only had one morning that one of the little ones was making a racket outside my window, and banging on it.    However before I arrived one of the volunteers had their passport and other belongings thrown out the window.  (Hence my passport was on me at all times.)
A photo of the courtyard and the younger monks rooms.  I spent a lot of time in the courtyard.  Most of the time the weather was really nice, and my room was pretty dark without power.  Plus I enjoyed being about to hear afternoon services (puja) from time to time.  Sometimes I didn't feel like actually going into the temple.  
I spent a lot of time underneath the butter lamp offering building pictured above, until the monkeys scared me away one day.  It provided excellent shade on the days it was a little bit warmer.  I also loved listening to the prayer flags in the breeze and the trickling of the stream nearby.  
I took this photo as the sun rose and I waited for the morning puja to start.  I really enjoyed being able to attend the services in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoons.  I had absolutely no idea what was going on, there was some thing soothing being in the temple.   

Question to consider: Do you enjoy attending religious services that are in a language you don't understand?  I remember when I was little, I actually enjoyed going to Mass in Spanish.  It would be nice to go to a Latin Mass one day.  

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