By Greg Pipher and Wynn Simmons

So we left Fiji and as we got onto the plane we came across something most of us have never seen before. They made us empty our water bottles and all the drinks we bought after going through security! Then we got on the plane and when it was time to get off we did and went off into Brisbane too our hostel at Chill Backpackers where we stayed for two nights.

During the first day we did nothing but go to the library to email home and work on presentations, and then bought food for dinner which we ate along with ordering sushi for dinner. Everyone was sick and just watched movies for the first night. The second day we did the same thing as the day before visiting the library and then going out for food. Meanwhile, on day two, Greg went off on his own adventure and went to the Lone Pine Sanctuary where he saw tons of koala’s and got to hold one for a legendary picture.

Greg also got to see bats, parrots, dingoes, snakes, two Tasmanian devils, a wombat, some platypus, and tons of kangaroos and wallabies. The kangaroos and wallabies were in an area where he was able to touch and feed all of the kangaroos and wallabies which was awesome and the tails of the kangaroos are surprisingly heavy, along with the weight of the koala’s. The kangaroos and wallabies were very excited to be fed pulling down Greg’s hand to get to the food faster. After that, Greg went off and came back to Chill Backpackers to watch another movie with the group and to get ready for the next day of traveling to Chenrezig.

On Thursday the 9th, we were welcomed at the train platform by a Buddhist nun named Venerable Tsultrim, and two students named Pete and Andreas, who drove us up to the retreat. One of our first experiences at the the institute was a novice-oriented yoga class which was taught by Andreas. We got into the rhythm of things over the next couple days with a guided group meditation every morning and service work during the day.

We painted stupas, which are sculptures that symbolize the enlightened mind. We rolled up paper slips called mantras, (tibetan prayers) that we fit inside the stupas being made at the art workshop. The group cooked and cleaned throughout the week. All our food was vegan and was very well prepared. It was apparent that there was an overwhelming sense of strength and love in the community and a very supportive attitude towards all things that exist in life. We took part in three-hour sessions that are taught by Venerable Tsultrim herself. We discussed concepts like how to be happy, and what happens when you use compassion more often. As we continue to go in-depth about honesty, expectations, and contentment, we bring our knowledge to our daily lives more and more.