Last week, we got to experience life from a Buddhist perspective. Our group stayed at Chenrezig Institute, a center for Buddhist learning. We were hosted by a wonderful nun who oozed kindness and happiness at all times. Her name that she was given when she got ordained was Venerable Tsultrim, which means ethical rule. She aspired to live up to her name – and from the little that we saw of her, she did. We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend her course ‘How to be Happy’ for free – normally it cost over $100! The course was discussion based, so we had the opportunity to discuss humility, patience, contentment, kindness, delight, generosity, honesty, and right speech in depth, which you don’t get the chance to do often in everyday life. All of these things tied into what Carpe Diem has been trying to teach us these past two months, but also gave us a different and fresh perspective regarding these themes. One of the things that really stuck with the group was the fact that you should not wait for kindness to come to you; instead, you should practice kindness whenever you can, even towards those who may have hurt you. Another quote that we’ve been reciting from the course was about humility: “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself, it means you think of yourself less.” Overall, the course taught us to take a step back and realize that you control your own happiness, and that there are endless things to be grateful for.
Another huge learning experience for the group was our day of silence. We kicked off the day with—of course—a few questions, followed by a meditation to get us into the right headspace. The meditation was a visual exercise all about compassion. Afterwards, we were set free to experience the day in total and complete silence. Tsultrim told us to try “hardcore” silence where we are completely left to our own devices; that meant no reading, no writing, and no communication of any sorts unless it’s an emergency. For the most part, the whole group took the day of silence very seriously, as hard as it was given the fact that we are a very chatty group.
Our last couple of days at Chenrezig were spent giving back in the small way that we could. We split up and took on various projects, all of which related to taking care of the beautiful land that Chenrezig occupies. Whether it was weeding, clearing brush, or preparing the Well-Being Center to be painted, we were able to accomplish a fair amount and leave behind something for the amazing people that hosted and taught us. We were so thankful for the lessons that we learned and the people we met.
By Cammie Davie and Scott Penfield