Today would have to have been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.
We met with our guide and driver in the morning and made our way to Kopan Monastery and as we drove up the winding roads towards it, I could already feel the calm and peaceful energy that surrounded us, and as we arrived at the gates, we could hear the most amazing sound of the monks and nuns chanting their mantras.
We were visiting the monastery on a very significant day in the Tibetan calendar; 'Marme Monlam' and many monks and nuns had travelled from afar to be there. We certainly felt blessed to be allowed to visit on such an important occasion.
We wandered around the monastery, in awe of the beauty that surrounded us, and took lots of photos of the magnificent views. It wasn't long after we got there, that the young boys (students) came outside for lunch and it was so refreshing to watch them just being boys! Some were rolling down the grassy hills, some were playing on their iPhones (yes, iPhones), and it was very cute to see a few older boys getting all embarrassed around a young female tourist. Two of the boys pushed the other one forward, as if to say "you talk to her!" Another sight that made me laugh was seeing some of the older boys smashing back cans of Red Bull like they were going out of fashion! All of the boys just seemed so happy and relaxed. They were polite and respectful, but also at the same time, typical boys!
While the boys were on their break and everyone was roaming around the monastery, we were blessed to sit down and meet with one of the senior monks, Lop Sang. We chatted with him for quite a while, had lunch together, and discussed many, many things about Buddhism, rebirth, reincarnation, our purpose in life, spirituality, and humanity as a whole. We also shared stories of our own lives, beliefs and values, and I can't even find the words to describe the feelings that I had as I realised that we shared many of the same beliefs. Here we were, chatting away to such a man of significance, sharing laughs, nodding to each other while we agreed on topics, all the while feeling such a wave of love and understanding washing over me from just being in his presence. Enlightening is not even enough of a word to describe it! I will share another post later on about our discussion, as it is just too much to fit in here, but all I can say right now is WOW.
After over an hour of discussion, Lop Sang took us for a walk inside the monastery, and showed us everything, explaining meanings behind it all along the way. It was quite overwhelming being inside, and I think I will let the photos I took explain this, as my words could not do it justice. He pointed out the image of the Dalai Lama, and started to explain who he was, and we just giggled and said, "Yes, we know who he is". We made a donation and walked outside as the boys were about to begin a ceremony. Before this began however, Lop Sang walked away for a moment, and came back to us with a parting gift. He gave us each a piece of fruit from one of the trees in the monastery which he said were blessed, and he draped a Khata around each of our necks. The Khata symbolises purity and compassion, and the pure heart of the giver. He thanked us and said he was presenting us with these as his way of expressing gratitude to us for helping others, and to encourage us to continue our good work. I will be forever grateful for this moment, and it will remain ingrained in my memory for life.
It was then time for the boys to perform the 'Ritual Fire Offering'. They were dressed in headgear in the shape of a bird (although it kind of looked like ancient Roman headgear to me- I was corrected very quickly lol), and carried their offering for hundreds of metres down the road in a procession type manner. The purpose of the ritual was to please the deities who help them to gain accomplishments on their path. It also removes any negative energy, faults or obstacles. Again, this was incredible to watch.
On the way home, our guide even thanked us for booking the tour today as he felt very emotional and grateful for having met Lop Sang, and he couldn't take the smile off his face (much like us).
A day I will definitely never forget.
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