Kopan Monastery

Since I last wrote, another volunteer from Melbourne has arrived – Taryn. Missed my best friend Tarin dearly, and my wish for her to come over and visit almost came true. This “new” Taryn seems like plenty of fun so should be a good couple of months.

We headed off to Kopan Monastery for two days. Kopan Monastery – near Boudhanath on the outskirts of Kathmandu – has become especially famous for teaching Buddhism to visiting Western foreigners.

Kopan Monastery
By Irina Gelbukh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It is the home of 360 monks, lamas, teachers and workers. The monks come from all areas of Nepal and Tibet with ages ranging from seven to sixty years old. They have devoted their lives to the study and practice of the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, with special emphasis on the teachings of Lama Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Gelug Lineage.

Courses for foreigners generally combine traditional Lam Rim teachings with informal discussion, several periods of guided meditation, and a vegetarian diet.

The quote from my diary says: “The Monastery is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places I have ever been to. The views of the hills were breathtaking, and the gompa and stupa were so beautiful, especially during the evening”.

We spent a lot of time in the library, which had an extensive collection of Buddhist related books and also some videos of higher level Buddhist Monks teaching courses. I was lucky enough to experience a puja (religious offering) in the gompa (main monastery) where the lower level monks complete Buddhist tantric chanting (with “gongs, symbols and strange wind instruments that sounded like badly played clarinets”) and offer rice and tea to the gods.

I’m not Buddhist and unlikely to become so but the tantric chanting and peaceful scenery had a calming influence and I would happily return.