Friday, November 27, 2009

What this blog isn't

Sometimes I wonder if I should post moving Dharma teachings, or photos of great masters, or discuss Buddhism related events in the media... or even (gag, choke, choke) talk about my practice, but that just isn't what this blog is about.  I am writing this blog as a reflection of my thoughts and my life, as a record for myself, my friends, and my family, and as a (rather tinted) window into nun life in general.  There are lots of blogs and websites out there where monastic and non-monastic bloggers post beautiful and insightful articles.  There are also a lot of people who post inspiring quotes and photos on Facebook.  That really is great.  And meaningful.
Me, I'm just a narcissistic sophist who happens to be ordained as a nun and happens to live in a Buddhist monastery in India.  All I can reflect is my own experience, which is limited, and samsaric. Thanks, for those of you who visit my blog.  Sorry your visit hasn't been more meaningful. If this is your first taste of Buddhism, please don't stop here - there is a lot more out there.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How I get through exams, in 18 steps

1. attend class, try to pay attention, possibly even take notes in class
2. for oh lets say the first month of the school year - study after class, debate about what was taught that same day
3. then yarne starts - spend the time out of class spazing about debating exams
4. after yarne - the fear starts - exams are coming, churn out some possible exam answers
5. reading month - realize that i could have prepared a lot more during the year
6. panic, consider not writing exams
7. realize that would delay graduation
8. consider not graduating at all, imagine moving back to Canada
9. the day comes when we have to formally sign up to write the exams - sign up
10. realize what I just did
11. resign myself to actually writing the exams
12. panic
13. blog about it, apparently
14. study
15. give up hope of being the highest scoring student in the class
16. attempt to abandon fear of failing completely
17.having abandoned hope and fear - rest in the thought 'just passing is enough'
18. attempt to do so

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why my class shouldn't be trusted with butter lamps

When we complete the study of a text we make offerings to the three jewels and to our teacher.  Yesterday we lit 108 butter lamps in our classroom. These lamps were special because half of them were filled not from the semi-solid butter substitute we usually use, but with regular cooking oil.  From the moment they were lit they started smoking.  By the end of the day our once white classroom was stained grey with soot.

This reminded me of the time we almost burned down our altar when I was in second year. The altar cloth covering the wooden altar caught fire from a butter lamp.  The wood itself didn't catch, thank the Buddha!

Again last year we lit butter lamps below some tormas.  This caused the butter decorations on them to melt, staining our shelves with melted butter.

I hope my class can come up with a better legacy than destruction.  Luckily we have three more years to work on this, and all our buildings are solid concrete.

Friday, November 06, 2009

We are nearing the end of another year of studies here at Namdroling.  My last class will be next Monday morning, which is the Buddhist holy day Lhabab Duchen and thus a very auspicious day to complete our endeavors.  There will then be eleven days of break and perhaps pujas for His Holiness' swift rebirth.   The next week will usher in that time which is my most favorite as well as most stressful - Reading Month aka. rangjong - the independent study period before exams.
For a few days this week I was the one and only foreign student residing at this monastery.  My good friend D. has left, at least temporarily, and M.L. is also off site.  Yesterday, however, I noticed a Chinese nun has arrived, so I'm no longer the only international student, not that it matters much, really.  I rarely think of my self as being 'other' while living here amongst the nuns.  I asked my classmates once, "Do you see me as your classmate or as a foreigner?" They replied, "When we see you from far away, we see a foreigner.  When we see you up close we see our classmate."