Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who Am I??

Happy birthday sister!!

After exercising our bodies on an eleven day trek it was time to exercise our minds.  So we and the Martens signed ourselves up for a three day Intro to Buddhism course at the Pokhara Buddhist Meditation Center.
 And wow, was it life changing!!  Here is a before-and-after photo of Dave.
Nepali Dave
Buddhist Dave
OK, not quite.  But after three days of meditation, yoga and discussion we had learned a lot about Buddhism and maybe even came away with a few ways to incorporate some of the philosophies into our own lives.
Sarah contemplates whether she can incorporate a giant prayer wheel into her new Boulder home furnishings.
The sessions with Venerable Losang Yeshe - an American monk who has been living in Nepal on and off for years - were interesting and illuminating.  Extremely well-read and knowledgeable about all religions, the monk taught us the rudiments of Buddhism and persuasively answered our many skeptical questions.  At first we thought it was odd that we wouldn't have a Nepali monk, but it quickly became clear that our Western minds could learn best from a Western teacher.
Look at the gunner!
Dave, always the teachers pet, would stick around during breaks to ask a million boring questions.
But I had a much harder time with the yoga and meditation portions of the program.  The yoga was "gentle" and I kept falling asleep while trying to do things like breathe into different parts of my ribcage, or squeeze the muscles in my ankles.  Do we even have muscles there?
The gompa was our multi-purpose yoga, meditation and learning room.
The other students always ceded the seats against the wall (for back support) to the four of us elderly folk.
Note that Dave has found himself a little stool.  He hates sitting on the floor.

And the meditation - that was the toughest part.  We were instructed to sit up straight, cross-legged, with our hands cupped in our laps, and to remain perfectly still and unmoving with our eyes closed (or nearly closed) for the next thirty minutes.  When thoughts arose we were to acknowledge and then dismiss them.  During the first session I thought I was going insane.  I kept losing my balance (while seated!) and tipping over.  (Maybe I was falling asleep).  I could concentrate for about five breaths and then beyond that I wouldn't know if it had been 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 15 minutes.  I was convinced bugs were crawling all over me (they probably were).  And whenever we were instructed to ask ourselves, "Who am I?" my brain would respond, "I'm Jean Valjean!!!" or "Two Four Six Oh Oooooone!" or I would pretend I was Zoolander looking into the puddle and answer myself, "I guess I have a lot of things to ponder" and then go off replaying that scene where he's in the coal mine.  MerMAN, pop, merMAN!
This is how the inside of my mind was supposed to look during meditation.
And this is what was actually going on in my mind:

I'm glad we did the Buddhism course.  It's not often that, in our real lives, we would have the chance to devote three days to a program like this.  We learned a lot and we have a lot to think about.  I'm not so sure I'll be making meditation a part of my daily life, though it does sound nice in theory. And finally, to the Buddhist Meditation Center, I apologize for breaking your no-murder rules, but I still maintain that those mosquitoes deserved to die.  I just hope that my karma does not come in the form of malaria.

In conclusion:

A Buddhist walks up to a hotdog stand.
"Make me one with everything," he says.
He takes the hotdog and gives his money. When the vendor accepts his money without saying anything, the Buddhist asks about his change.
"Change comes from within," says the vendor.

The crew

1 comment:

  1. How did the meditation compare to Meeting for Worship at GS?


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