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Finding a Fresh Start (Aaron B.)

Kathmandu sure is an interesting place to be learning your way in the world.

 

Its a Friday afternoon and I’m awfully glad to have just gotten through a long week of school. I’m now about half way through my first semester at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, an international center for Buddhist studies located in the Tibetan suburb of Boudha, Nepal. I’m here to get my “Masters in Translation, Textual Interpretation and Philology” which in all should take about four years, given that I will need a couple years of classical Tibetan and Sanskrit before I can actually start the program. Most of my friends and family gave me crazy looks when I told them how long I would be studying here. Then again, what difference would that make when you’re pursuing something you love?

 

Boudhanath under repair

Boudhanath under repair after the big earthquake

Sacred & Profane

Where sacred meets profane daily, hourly.

 

 

I’m often quite busy with school work, whether its writing papers for my Buddhist history class, memorizing classical Tibetan grammar or practicing my speaking skills in colloquial Tibetan. Its no surprise that its pretty easy to get absorbed into my school life. Granted, Rangjung Yeshe is the most unique atmosphere I have ever studied in. My classmates and teachers hail from Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Canada, Holland, Norway…sometimes I gaze around the classroom in amazement. To think that we have all come here to pursue our interests in the Buddhadharma is simply amazing.

 

Rangjung Yeshe Institute

Rangjung Yeshe Institute

But once in a while I able to see the shear magic of my situation. With school it can be easy to believe that my life hasn’t changed much since coming to Nepal. Indeed, Boudha, the neighborhood where I live, must be the most comfortable, modern and quiet (relatively speaking) place in the whole city. I could go to school in the morning, have pizza for lunch and find a movie to watch on Youtube with friends in my apartment. Sounds pretty straightforward.

But the truth is my life has totally changed. And if I hold to this truth then maybe I can make it a change for the better.

This revelation seems most clear when I hang around the Great Boudhanath Stupa, a mere five minutes from my place. Here I listen to languages I could never place; learn village customs; watch people laugh and struggle their way through life. I’ve seen urban monks and awfully poor mentally disabled individuals. I’ve shared benches with a grandpa and his grandkids. I’ve seen young Nepalis with Nirvana (the band) shirts and old friends holding hands. All these things remind me that the world is indeed bigger than the one I brought with me from the States.

 

Annapurna

Annapurna

Pokhara

Pokhara

This is my chance to look very closely at all the things I carried with me. I can look directly at my habits. I can discern what is really worth carrying around and what should now be left behind.

 

This of course is no easy task. I can moan about my apartment’s lousy Internet and I can worry that I’m not being social enough with my classmates. I have plenty of materials to craft a mundane life. But the truth is I came to Nepal to pursue the Buddhadharma; I came to pursue a change.

 

[This is what we know about Aaron B: Aaron is currently living in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he pursuing a Masters of Arts in “Translation, Textual Interpretation, and Philology” at Rangjung Yeshe Institute. He loves learning languages, drinking good tea and listening to or playing music. Aaron aspires to become a teacher and a translator and a decent human being.]

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