Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, or, I could’ve been a nun
Kopan monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, situated on a high hill in the Boudhanath neighborhood, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
The monastery is open to visitors, and it even offers multi days meditation retreats and daily classes for Westerners.
It was established by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
My guide Ganga, pointed to a photo of a Spanish boy, and told me that Lama Yeshe, was re-incarnated after his death, as a little boy in Spain.
This little boy, born to Christian Spanish parents, started speaking Tibetan at a very young age, and wrote in Tibetan the names of his closest disciples and the details of the Kopan monastery.
He is now a recognized reincarnation of Lama Yeshe and he comes to the monastery and sits on the honorary chair, on high holidays.
The grounds of the monastery, are beautifully manicured by a group of women who cut the grass with hand held scissors and pull out the weeds with small knives.
They work slowly in groups while they chat and laugh.
There is a main meditation hall which is beautifully painted with murals on the walls and ceiling, depicting states of consciousness, the Buddha, guardians and enlightened beings.
About five hundred young boys are being trained to be monks here, and about 300 girls will become nuns.
Before being ordained as a monk or a nun, one must study for 25 years.
Until then, they are monks and nuns in training.
Many Nepalese families send one son to become a monk, as a way of thanking the gods for the many blessings in their lives. (being able to buy a house, or getting over an illness)
The child is sent to the monastery at the age of five.
He will become a monk by the age of thirty, if he does not quit this way of life.
Girls come if they feel an inner calling, they are rarely sent away by their families.
The nunnery is located further down the hill in a separate gated grounds.
Two bright eyed and shaved head nuns, came to chat with us.
Our guide Ganga, translated for us.
One of the girls said that the last time she saw her family, was five years ago.
They do not go home often if at all…
They usually have no contact with their families.
They meditate only once a day, from 5:30am -7am
During the day, they have classes in philosophy, study different languages and those who feel inclined to, can study art.
They sleep two girls per room, or more, if the room is larger.
She said she loves the life here and plans to be a nun for the rest of her life.
She absolutely loves it!
Her energy was sweet, calm, friendly, kind and youthful.
I sat there on the steps of the nunnery, feeling hot from a long day of hiking in villages, and I’ve noticed that I felt exhausted…
Traveling the world, and taking in different sites daily…..
Going through adventures and meeting people, can be tiring… Take it from me…. It is not for the faint of hearts…
I sat there, taking it all in…. And thought to myself that with ALL HONESTY……. I could live here…
I could be happy here, studying in a group of other shaved haired nuns….
Being totally disconnected from all illusions of the world…
Living a simple life…
Away from all anxieties and insanities of the “modern world….”
Away from all ideas that twists the minds of bored people into beliefs in lacks, limitations, envy and pursuing meaningless goals…..
I could keep the peace that I am feeling here now….
Never worry about my looks again…
Never worry about my weight, or my art career goals….
I would love it here too…….
We thanked the sweet nun and went into the library, which sells Buddhist books and books about spiritual studies and an assortments of souvenirs.
We bought some books as a form of donation to the monastery and to support the great work in promoting awareness and truth, that they do here.
Later in the evening, in our luxury hotel, also located in the Boudhanath neighborhood, I found myself marching to the front desk, and upgrading our room to the club level.
On the club level, you get pre dinner cocktails and gourmet nibbles, as well as afternoon tea, and the free use of the relaxing Spa….with sauna, steam room and a hot tub.
While sitting with a glass of a good red wine in my hand, spreading my limbs on the comfortable sofas at the club level……and tasting some roasted tomatoes filled with yak cheese and herbs, I heard an inner voice mocking me gently……
“Indeed….. Some fine nun you would be……….Have you seen the glistening spark in your eyes, when you tried the delicate lemon meringue or dag into the orange-lime mousse?……”
I recognized the core of truth in what the voice whispered……, and I sighed with the realization……
“I do not have to be a nun to feel calm and enjoy inner peace….. Accepting who I AM… IS THE secret…”
But….. who am I?
In this life’s illusion, I am an artist, who loves art and poetry, who was born Jewish, but adores the wisdom and teaching of Jesus, who embraces the truth in the Buddhist concepts of the vast emptiness, and the Hindu and Buddhist concepts of the cycle of life and death, of Maya, (illusions,) of reincarnation and of birth and rebirth in a dream……, Who believes in the pursuit of Universal Love and Enlightenment…
I am a person who loves to travel and to explore…….who loves adventures, luxury, comfort, aesthetics, cleanliness and innovative design.
I love fast technology, and cherish the joy and laughter of living…
I COULD be happy with nothing… Living as a nun on the Kopan hill….
But I could also be happy doing what I do now…
Living the life I’ve created, if I only let go of my obsessions with listening to my dissatisfied mind….
And instead, consistently cultivate the joy of loving who I AM in this dream I am dreaming now…. And moving into the consciousness of oneness and ultimate reality.
Because I know and believe, that in REALITY…………..I AM Spirit… ONE with EVERYONE and ALL….
The small body which I currently identify as “myself…”
The one I call “Tali” and through which I experience the relative world, is only a small portion of my bigger higher God-Self, which is interconnected and is part of a collective with all YOUR Higher Selves.
Together, we are the Perfect creation of God…
and of Love…..
Which is ALL there is.