Blog from Nelyn Phillip

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek” -Dalai Lama XIV

Namaskar Family and friends!

It has been an exciting week spent on the organic farm of Dharmalaya. We are up on the Himalayan mountains where we are learning about earth building, agriculture and rain water harvesting, covering the basics of how important it is to live in a healthy environment and to have compassion for all that share this planet. When working outdoors we try our best to be mindful not to step on any small insects, same goes for the big spiders in the bathrooms. We gently pick them up with a bowl and put them outside. It has definitely been a week full of surprises and challenges.

The group has been awesome at engaging in group activities/discussion. Our first three days, we helped “pug” mud for a mud house, working together with a larger group of people from all over the world. With this diversity we are able to work together harmoniously as a group and with nature. After that we had to make bricks out of the mud and learned the traditional way of brick-making in the villages up above Dharmalaya.

We’ve not only learned how to make mud houses but we’ve also learned how to plant fruits such as eggplants, cucumbers, and tomatoes. With these types of fruits and a wide variety of vegetables we are able to make delicious food. Yesterday, everyone in the group got the chance to help out with a traditional Indian dish for lunch. For dinner, we as a group suggested some international food that we would like to make. We then started to make them and as soon as the clock stuck 7 we all lined up with our plates and started getting food. With such a delicious meal everyone left to their room/tent full and ready for bed.

This past week I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to make chapati (flat round Indian bread) with the local ladies who work in the kitchen. Diane and I have taken the job of chapati making for our “karma yoga,” where we spent hours laughing and trying to communicating in hindi with the these two amazing local ladies while making lunch for everyone.

One day, we had an architect student join us for chapati rolling and she was translating to us the questions the ladies would ask us. One of them asked Diane, who is from New York, about the percentage of arranged marriages that happen in New York. We looked at each other and started laughing and both said zero. That night we wrote in our journals something that we are grateful for and we both wrote we are grateful for not having arranged marriage in the US.

These past 2 months and a half, the Shanti group has been exposed to a beautiful culture and we truly appreciate our time here. Before I came to India my older sister wrote me a letter saying ” you may encounter people on your trip who may not have all that the western culture declares as wealth, but always remember that what you will learn and experience is worth far more that any other types of wealth” and this has been true for me coming into a beautiful place. The hospitality and care that the people here have is amazing.

Love from Dharmalaya,
Nelyn Phillip