This is my attempt to begin to chronicle our trip to Nepal. On September 23rd we interviewed and accepted a volunteer position at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling Monastery, teaching english to young nuns. We had been thinking about this possibility for a couple years when we first met Tsoknyi in Steamboat and got a presentation of their work there in Nepal. We are “scheduled” to begin our work there in September 2017 and will finish at the end of January 2018. While we have about 10 months to prepare, there is much to do, learn and familiarize ourselves with before that time. We are traveling to a new culture, with sometimes difficult living conditions. We want to do our best in providing the girls with effective instruction in English. We want to take time to enjoy the people and the area around Chobar and the rest of Nepal. We need to schedule flights, understand visas, get the required immunizations, understand money, bring appropriate clothes. On top of preparations for being in Nepal, we need to make preparations for our home here in Glenwood Springs. At some point, we would like to rent the house. We would like to use this opportunity to clear out (declutter) our house so that we have less to pack away and less to be concerned about.
This series of blog posts will help me to clarify what is happening and what is left to do. It is both an outlet and and inlet for ideas, emotions and insight into the trip. The journey has already begun. Perhaps my process will be of benefit to other people with similar dreams.
This trip combines many aspirations. First, it provides a way for me to work in the service of these girls and my Teacher. I feel very dedicated to support the projects of Tsoknyi. It is clear from his discussion of the school and his presentations in the promotional videos that he is dedicated to the needs of these children; helping support their basic needs and become educated and empowered. It is rather subtle but he is also aiming to provide a community of learning that is kind and nurturing while being enriching, structured and constructive for the students. Kind and nurturing is foremost in his mind it appears. He repeats this often in his description of the school. It is consistent with the principals he describes in his teachings of Dharma and mediation. He truly believes that we are overly harsh in our push for results – that we need to listen to our resistances – our monsters. Beginning with understanding and kindness in our practice and in our relationships will help us to heal our sensitivities and bring about better results in our practice. If we are to make peace with our monsters, resistances, fears and such, we can begin by having more compassion for ourselves as things come up. While this might vary somewhat on the personality/temperament of the person, most of us can benefit from a gentler approach to our demons. Rimpoche describes the hand shake practice that helps us address issues as they pop up in our lives.
My personal experience with this approach has been most helpful. I have been able to apply my mediation practice; resting with what comes up, sitting WITH it rather than pushing my fears, attractions, resistances, images, etc. away. The ideas of bringing this kind approach to students and adults in a school also makes sense. A community of people who take this approach to their personal demons, may bring compassion and kindness to each other. When a community speaks the language of kindness, they can help one another promote inner and outer kindness.
My aspiration to work at TGL has developed slowly and surely as I have become familiar with Tsoknyi Rimpoche’s teachings and his person. While I realize that going to Nepal will not miraculously take away my fears, cravings, biases, and other baggage that I carry, I know that I am entering a community where growth is encouraged. I intend to make the best of this opportunity for polishing my rough edges and developing a more open heart.