Friday, May 16, 2014

Becoming an Anāgārika (Last Post)

Hello friends,

It's been a while since my last post, over 5 months. I apologize. I've been meaning to write something, but I wasn't sure what to write. Perhaps it was procrastination. In any case, here I am. It's good to be back writing. ;-)

That said, this will be my last blog post. Why? Tomorrow (Saturday) night, I will be donning the white robes of an Anāgārika at the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in northern California. The Anāgārika role is the first year of formal training in becoming a Buddhist monastic in this tradition. In addition, part of that training includes abandoning many activities and devices I have been using, including social networking, blogging, cell phones, frequent computer access, etc. It's not that these things are bad, but that this training is intended to simplify my life and solidify my commitment towards the goal ahead of me.

A walking mediation path

So, tomorrow evening, we will first get together like we usually do and partaking in the evening chanting and mediation. After that, myself along with 2 others will be participating in an ordination ceremony. One other long term guest, Doug, here will be also taking the white robes and becoming an Anāgārika. The other, Anāgārika Anthony, will be taking the "going forth" or becoming a Sāmaṇera, otherwise known as a novice. (In this tradition, a Sāmaṇera is the second year of the postulation training before becoming a Buddhist monk. It's not necessarily done this way in other traditions.)

So, in an nutshell, there will be three of us taking deeper commitements to the holy life.

A "kuti" (cabin) at the monastery

To me, this step feels significant. You may remember I recently did the temporary Anāgārika role for 2 months while in Boston, but now it feels like the "real deal." It's not so much about shaving my head and eyebrows (yes, we shave our eyebrows in this tradition) or wearing funny looking white clothes. It's more of a public acknowledgement and gesture of my commitment towards dedicating my life to following the Buddha's teachings to the best of my abilities.

It's also not easy being willing to abandon a lot of things that I enjoy (I must admit I'm going to miss my cell phone) but I would like to in effort to give rise to a higher happiness. Ajahn Geoff wrote about this principal in his essay entitled Trading Candy for Gold. (You can read the essay by clicking on the link.) Of course, whether or not this will pan out will remain to be experienced. But this is the risk I'm willing to make right now.

Anyways, thank you for reading the posts over the last couple years. I hope you've enjoyed them.

Taken 2 hours before I wrote this last post...

With kindness,

P.S. Also, if you are ever in the Ukiah area of northern California, feel free to visit me at the monastery. It's open every day and it's quite a beautiful and quiet place to spend the afternoon. Feel free to just stop by unannounced. If you insist, you can contact me ahead of time by email at Please note though, my computer access is infrequent so it may take up to 2 weeks to respond to you.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Returning to "Normal" Life and?

Two weeks ago I left the condo-turned-temporary-Vihara in Allston along with the two monks. The Anagarika role was now over and the "normal" John returned accompanied by dark clothing, dinners and high and luxurious sleeping arrangements. Ajahn Jayanto headed back to Amaravati in the United Kingdom and Tan Caganando left for the Pacific Hermitage located in Washington State. I stayed on for few days (along with Ajahn Jayanto's generous and dutiful mother) helping out returning the loaned items as well as doing lots of clean-up.

The tear-down of the Vihara
There were many friends and family in the area and, with some free time at hand, I visited and stayed with some of them. I also spent a few days with Bruce and Barbara, owners of a property in Temple, New Hampshire, the property that the the monks were interested in pursuing as a monastery.

The 4-month monastery investigation turned out much better than expected. Originally Ajahn Jayanto was just going to come to Boston just to explore the idea, to see what kind of support there was, and, perhaps, look at a few candidate properties. There was the expectation that he would have to return the following year for additional investigation.

What actually happened, though, was that there was an overwhelming amount of interest and support from the surrounding lay community, as well as an excellent property with owners who were very interested in selling it to the monastics. The "lay stewards" for the monastics were also able to collect enough funds to have the Ajahn Jayanato and 1-2 other monks return next year. It was quite extraordinary from my vantage point seeing the enthusiasm and how fast things moved.

My plans are to head off to Abhayagiri in late December, first serving on the Winter retreat followed by ordaining as an Anagarika sometime thereafter. Of course, these are "plans," and it's extremely vivid that anything can change. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, I have a health complication that may make the Anagarika'ship not possible. But there's no way of knowing other than moving on. I very much am interested in going down this road, now more than ever. That much I know. But the future feels very uncertain. Who knows where I will be one year from now?

As of this writing, I am in Roanoke, Virginia, headed off for a short visit with Ajahn Dick Sīlaratano and his new monastery, the Forest Dhamma Monastery in Lexington, Virginia.

Ajahn Dick receiving alms during Kathina 2012
Ajahn Dick spent many decades as a monk, including spending over 15 years with Ajahn Maha Bua. He recently came back to the United States in 2011 to start a new monastery, feeling that "the time was right."

And so, the time is right for me to finish this blog post. Until later this month, I will be "off-the-grid." May I bid you wellness and happiness.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Anagariking (temporarily...)

A couple months ago, two forest monks arrived in Boston looking into the possibility of starting a forest monastery somewhere in the New England area. They are staying in a temporary residence called the Boston Vihara for the four-month period between July and October. When it being planned earlier in the year, it was decided that it would be a good idea have a lay person to live with them and help with things like money, food and other tasks that needed to be done at the Vihara.

Earlier in the year I was contacted to see if I would be interested in being that helper. I was very interested, but do to a prior commitment, I could only do it for half the time. Fortunately Jeff, a friend who I had met at Abhayagiri last year, also signed up and so he did the first half. Last week, being half way through the period between July and October, Jeff passed the baton to me as we passed each other in Boston's Logan Airport.

Part of being this new helper was also adopting the role of an Anagarika. This would be somewhat different than being an Anagarika in the normal monastic setting. First, it would just be short-term and temporary; just two months. Second, the commitments/responsibilities would be simpler, e.g., living in a temporary city residence with two easy-going monks. That said, the core elements would be the same: taking the 8 precepts, wearing white and taking dependence with the senior monk. So, last Wednesday, I ordained as a temporary Anagarika.

This involved some formalities. I had my head and eyebrows shaved ("nooo...not my eyebrows!). I also had to properly request the Anagarikaship, 8-precepts and dependence which entailed reciting a number of lines in Pali (the doctrinal language of the early Buddhist scriptures). Oh yeah, there was lots of bowing. As one of the monks pointed out, "when in doubt, bow."

Since it was a moon-night evening, a number of people showed up to watch the whole event. A number of them really seemed to enjoy it. I, on other hand, was pretty darn nervous. I noticed by the end, sweat had dripped down on the notes laying on the ground below me. Although I had been on the eight precepts for quite a while now, and been working in various roles and jobs in different monasteries, suddenly being an Anagarika brought a new, unexpected dimension to the equation. It was a deep, bowel-wrenching anxiety, where something woke up and understood, "ohhhh-nooo...I can't be a slob anymore!"

As Ajahn Jayanto (the senior monk at the Vihara) would explain to me, these precepts and formalities, while intended to simplify things, are also designed to kick things up a notch. So things start to arise that you didn't expect. And sometimes these things can illuminate things that are often there, but not in a way that can be clearly seen. Anyways, being a non-slob is not so bad. It's actually kind of nice -- more food ends up in my mouth and perhaps stray animals won't pester me as much.

Anyways, If you're in the Boston area, and you're interested in dropping by, I'll be here until the end of October. We have meditation and chanting most mornings and evenings, a dharma talk (roughly) once a week, and a meditation workshop on Sundays (hosted at another location). Feel free to go to the Boston Vihara website to find out location and times. It would be great to see you!

I'll also be around the area for a week or two in the beginning of November. Feel free to send me an email if you'd like to get together while I'm here.

Friday, August 30, 2013

August Update

Six weeks ago, I returned for a second stay at the Abhayagiri monastery in northern California. I just left today.

A young deer outside my kuti

I had previously visited this monastery last year when I first started looking into monasteries. In early July, although my health condition was not great, I decided to go ahead with my earlier plans for an extended stay at Abhayagiri.

When I got there, I was nervous about a sudden relapse of the allergic condition I had experienced earlier in the year. I just left today and I am happy to report I did not have any serious allergic reactions while I was there. Further, the blisters I had earlier in the year have mostly cleared up. I do have some new more minor reactions and so I am not exactly sure what it all means yet...

Earlier this week, I made a request to be an Anagarika at Abhayagiri. Currently this request is dependent on how my allergy/health situation unfolds over the next couple months.

In other news, tomorrow I will be traveling to Boston to spend 2 months as an attendant for two monks at at the Boston Vihara. I'll write more about all this when I get there.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Conversation with Randall

In this blog post, I decided to do an experiment and record a video with my friend Randall. Watch it below and let me know what you think...

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Conversation with Lindsay

Several weeks have passed since my last blog post. The reason I haven't written another one is because, well, I didn't want to! So, in order to work on this writer's block, I decided to ask my friend Lindsay to see if he could help me by holding an online conversation. Here is the transcript of our first conversation, edited for readability…

Lindsay: Hello, I'm Lindsay. I work in Berkeley. I've known John for many years. He's recently encountered writer's block. I'm here to interview him, in hopes of unblocking his inner writer.

Lindsay in Prague

John: Thank you Lindsay.

Lindsay: You're welcome, John. So what should we call this ... trip? A venture? An undertaking? And what, in hindsight, was its purpose?

John: The trip to Australia and New Zealand, or the general undertaking of quitting my job and going to monasteries?

Lindsay: Let's go with the second.

A new venture

John: Sure. I would say there were three things that were bubbling in my life that led to this new venture.

The first was my father passing away in early 2012. I think that was something that made the fragility of life extremely obvious, for me at least.

The second was, in the past couple years, a real joy and energy I started to emerge from meditation and practicing Buddhism. I have been doing this for many years, since 2004'ish, and it's becoming more and more magnetic. It's something that I feel a deep affinity towards.

The third was, and was in large ways connected with practicing Buddhism, a deeper appreciation for how fleeting and ephemeral the happiness and joy that come from the conventional life "highs"…you know, work success, relationships, sex, experiences, etc. All of the conventional draws of life were feeling increasingly unattractive.

Lindsay: Hmm. That's interesting. So, let's say we know someone who dies. We come face to face with our own mortality, some might think: "fuck, life is short. I'm going to go out drinking and having sex and living it up." But you think, "I'm going to sell all my stuff and sit quietly for a couple of months." What's the connection between death and that?

John: Sitting quietly is better than drinking and sex and "living it up".

Lindsay: Good answer.

John: I mean, if you asked me that question earlier in life, I probably would have said something like that.

A nice place to sit quietly

Lindsay: You visited SEVERAL monasteries. Why? Were you worried that one might not suit your needs? Were you curious? Did you think there was a chance of you becoming a full monk?

John: Back in October 2012, when I quit my job and started all this, I was actually ready to commit to a single monastery. I was that gung-ho about it.

During the time my father passed away, in early 2012, I was getting some guidance about becoming a monk from a former monk named Joseph Kappel. He spent 20 years as a monk including many years in Thailand. After talking to him for a while, I found one monastery in England that seemed good, at least as what you can find out from the Internet. So between Joseph's recommendations and what I could discern, I wrote a letter to the abbot of that monastery. Joseph delivered it to him personally and spoke to him on my behalf because he was making a visit to England anyways. This occurred during the summer of 2012.

When Joseph came back from England, he relayed to me the Abbot was happy about me coming to monastery. That said, there were some complications. Namely, 1) it was a community decision to accept somebody (or not) and 2) I would need to go through the visa process and that probably would not be easy. There was also another complication in that, after talking with my mother about my plans, she was quite unhappy with the whole idea. So, after talking with Joseph about all these complications, it seemed like the best thing was for me to go a monastery in California which was closer to my mom and I didn't need to get a visa.

So, the first monastery I visited back in October 2012 was Abhayagiri in northern California. I stayed there for 2 weeks and had a good time there and wanted to stay longer. Unfortunately they were completely booked until April 2013.

Lindsay: No more reservations. Yup, that's California for you.

John: So when I left, it was November 2012, and all my plans to go down the monk-road were pretty much foiled.

Dead end?

Lindsay: But you got to spend time with your mother, who needed you around ostensibly.

John: Yeah, I decided to spend some time with my mom and help her out with things at home. While I was this her, I decided to plan a trip to Australia for 3 months. I also spent a couple afternoons at a monastery in Southern California, and took a road trip up to Abhayagiri with my mother which I documented on my blog. At the end of December, I left for Australia.

Lindsay: Yes. To see the Ajahn Brahm.

John: Yes. I ended up spending 2 months at his monastery, and then about another month at a monastery in New Zealand based on a recommendation from Joseph.

Lindsay: Is he as funny as he is in his Youtube Videos? Ajahn Brahm?

John: He very much likes to crack jokes. One time when I was sitting with some other Anagrikas in the dining sala his monastery and we were discussing Buddhism and something to do with patience. Ajahn Brahm walks by and I ask him..."Ajahn, how would define patience?" He stops walking, pauses for a moment, replies, "let me back to you on that," and then walks on.

It took me a few minutes before I got it and then I started laughing.

Lindsay: Hmm. There's something to that.

John: He doesn't crack jokes just to crack jokes though. He's very much trying to keep the mood light and warm hearted. He teaches that you can't get into deep meditation without having a happy mind.

A reservoir at Bodhinyana

Lindsay: Now. Can you simultaneously explain Thai Forest Buddhism while also explaining its virtues as opposed to other "flavors" of Buddhism. What attracted you to this particular flavor of Buddhism?

John: There are several reasons. Probably the most obvious is because of some prominent monks that have come out of that tradition.

Ajahn Brahm, obviously, but I first started to learn about the Thai Forest tradition through Ajahn Thanissaro who is an extremely prolific Buddhist scholar and writer. If you look up a Buddhist sutta on the Internet, there's a good chance you'll come across his translations. And of course, Ajahn Chah, because he taught and influenced so many westerners. When I've read some of his teachings, I was blown away by the simplicity and profundity.

So it just came about very naturally, through reading and poking around on the Internet over the years looking for material to inspire me or help my practice. The forest monk teachings seem to have this incredibly simplicity that resonates with me. It inspires me and gives me a lot of confidence. I also like the fact the forest monks place a heavy emphasis on virtue. This also really resonates with me.

A walking path outside my cuti in New Zealand

Lindsay: Ethical virtue.

John: Yes. In the monks case, it's also the monastic discipline, which is ethical virtue combined with good conduct for social harmony.

Lindsay: Where does the whole "forest" part come into it?

John: These were monks that were primarily practicing in the forests (jungles) of Thailand, as opposed to being in the cities.

Lindsay: Did you find it hard to keep the eight precepts? Did it start hard and get easier? Are there any that were specifically challenging?

John: Actually it wasn't much of a problem. Which ones were challenging dependent on the context. At the monasteries, I would probably say the most difficult one was refraining from wrong speech. Most of the other precepts you were (almost) automatically a given if you just followed along with everybody else. I'm usually pretty good about just following along with everybody else.

But refraining from wrong speech, which includes not lying, not using divisive speech (e.g. gossip), not using abusive speech, and not going "blah blah blah," that I found very easy to slip. There's just so may ways things can creep into your speech. Being slightly deceptive, or talking about somebody else when they're not there, or just "blah blah blah" and then you go, "hmm, do I really need to say that?"

Lindsay: Yes, you said you made no "egregious" errors. You also said you were practicing a modified version of the eight precepts. Modified how?

John: When I was not at the monastery, e.g., with my Mom, I modified the one to not eat after midday to instead be to not eat after 2pm. Basically, this made it much easier to eat lunch with other people as most people don't have lunch before 12pm. Most restaurants aren't even open before then!

Lindsay: Yes. And you were waking up EARLY.

John: I didn't feel it was too bad. I mean, some mornings I was little tired, but you could always take a nap in the afternoon if you were really exhausted.

Another morning in Bodhinyana

John: BTW, since I got back from Australia, I'm now on the regular 5 precepts for Buddhist lay people.

Lindsay: Okay, so you and I used to live in the co-ops in Berkeley together ... I couldn't help but get the feeling that the communal living resembled co-op living in certain ways. Do you see any connection there?

John: Very much so. If you've lived in the co-ops, you'd feel right at home in most any monastic kitchen/dining room.

Lindsay: Yes. Explain for those who've never lived in the co-ops.

John: I would say that community kitchens are lovably chaotic. You just have a bunch of people doing things, whether it's chopping vegetables or cooking some pasta or washing dishes. Nobody is really calling the shots, and it all works out.

It somehow always works out...

Lindsay: Let's go down a different direction. Your visa was going to run out in April. If it hadn't run out in April, would you have stayed longer?

John: No, I think it was time for me to come back in April. I wanted to come see how my mother was doing and I wanted to spend some more time at Abhayagiri.

Lindsay: That gets back to the reason you wrote the blog. You wanted to stay connected with your loved ones.

John: Yes.

Lindsay: Do you think this attachment to the people you love in your life will keep you from becoming a full-time monk?

John: No.

Lindsay: Explain.

John: I would say, if anything, it's actually is propelling me forward. There were many times during my stay in Australia and New Zealand where I thought of my mom and dad, my sisters, my family, my friends, and kept thinking how important it was for me to do this, not just for me, but for them too.

Lindsay: Why for them?

John: You ask good questions.

Lindsay: I try.

A small stream

John: I think there's a connection with something much deeper and more profound than what we typically experience with mundane life. I don't know what all this means, or how it will play out, but if I can help be a catalyst or a connection to things, then that is important. Buddhism is not a conversion religion, it's a kindness and wisdom religion. It's hard to predict what affect being kind and wise will have on others.

Lindsay: Keep going. Don't edit yourself.

John: This is hard to say.

Lindsay: Let me ask a question then. Has this experience affected the way you interact with other people? Would I notice a difference in the John from 2 years ago and the John now?

John: I would say I'm less on autopilot.

Lindsay: Ooh, explain that. Also, how did your experience help you be less on "autopilot"?

John: When we're on autopilot, we're sort of just doing or saying we we're used to doing or saying. It's also how we're habitually looking at or perceiving the experience that we're in. I think the recent experiences have lessened that autopilot-ness just because there's a greater sense of importance to not do things that create pain and distress and to do things that create ease and happiness.

Basically, I'm not as interested in winning or proving something or accomplishing something as I am in just going "hmm, how do I make peace with this?"

Lindsay: I noticed that you said that in your blog. Then, afterwards, there were only like 2 more posts. Has this sense of decreased urgency ... made it difficult to get things done in a timely manner?

John: I don't think so. I haven't had too many time sensitive things going on though.

Lindsay: What has been going on recently in the last month?

John: Well, I was staying at my mother's place but she wasn't there most of the time, so it was quite nice to be alone by myself. Other than my taxes, I had nothing that really needed to get done. Initially I relaxed my schedule and discipline, e.g., spending lots of time on the Internet, etc., and found myself looking at too many unhelpful things. I was getting quite unhappy. So I pulled back my Internet usage and meditated more.

Lindsay: Yes. I've found myself in the same dilemma.

A sunny day in New Zealand

Lindsay: I've got MANY more questions. But only two are really pressing. Had you been kind of planning this trip for a while? Even before your father died? Maybe just as a wish in the back of your head?

John: I haven't been planning what I have been doing lately, but the idea of becoming a monk has been in the back of my mind for maybe 2-3 years. There were thoughts earlier than that, but they felt more like escapist fantasies.

Lindsay: Yes. escapist fantasies. for many of us, the desire to do what you've been doing the last 4-5 months constitute just a desire to escape from the problems and worries of our hectic lives. how was this different?

John: Oh, because there was a much better understanding through experience that if you try to undertake something like what I'm doing, you will most definitely not escape your problems.

Lindsay: Explain.

John: The very first passage in the Dhammapada is amazing… here is the quote:
"All experience is preceded by the mind,
Led by the mind,
Made by the mind.
Speak or act with a corrupted mind,
And suffering follows
As that wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

All experience is preceded by the mind,
Led by the mind,
Made by the mind,
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never-departing shadow."
John: Over the years, I've found this be truer and truer. There's just this sense even if you change your surroundings, you'll still be carrying on these habits of mind that will recreate the same kinds of suffering or happiness.

Lindsay: So, it's not just something you have to accept on faith, you can actually try this out?

John: Oh very much so. I mean, you have to have some provisional faith in Buddhism, to spend the time to listen to what somebody says and to take it seriously. But Buddhism is not about believing in things, it's about taking these things with sincerity and conviction and seeing if they're true or not.

Lindsay: So, final question. What's the next step on your Buddhist path? Are you going right back out there to the monasteries? Are you going back to work for a while? Do you have a plan at this point?

John: Yes. My next step is go spend 3 months at Abhayagiri (the northern California monastery) starting in July. After that, I will be doing a year as an Anagarika somewhere, to be decided. After that, not sure. But there's a very strong internal commitment to at least do a year as an Anagarika.

Thanks Lindsay!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Daily Life at Bodhinyana (Fixed)

The earlier post didn't have images. This one should be fixed. This first post will describe a visit I made to Bodhinyana monastery during the months of January and February.

Bodhinyana monastery is located about an hour from Perth in Western Australia in a small town called Serpentine. The bush (their term for the forest) and climate reminded me a lot of the forests in southern California. The temperatures got as high as 110 (fahrenheit) some days, and some of the evenings got as a cool 55 degrees. There were even some days with rain.

Morning by one of the reservoirs

The monastery is fairly simple. There is a main hall for group meetings and dharma talks. There is a kitchen, dining hall and outside eating area for the meals. The rest of the buildings on the property are bathrooms or brick huts/house to give homes the monks or guests. The monks brick huts were scattered about into the monastery property, some as close as 5 minutes walking distance and others as far as 20-25. The paths were almost all concrete, a nice addition due to the plentiful donations the monastery has received over the years.

Walking monk

This was done in large part to help contain bush fires which can be quite common, especially during the summer. There was one that I saw nearby during my stay. It should be noted that bush fires can be quite dangerous as they can spread quite quickly over large areas.

Reminds of Los Angeles

I stayed in a simple, three-person guest house not too far away from the kitchen and main hall. An ablution block was about 5 minutes away which had showers, toilets and washing machines for clothes.

My home for 2 months

The days at Bodhinyana were broken up into the work week, Tuesday-Friday, and the weekend, Saturday-Monday. During the work week, I would usually get up around 4-6am and do some meditation before breakfast (optional) which was at 6:30am. After breakfast there would be cleanup and then we would attend the work meeting at 7:15am. The work meetings were really short, maybe 10 minutes tops, where we would get assigned work for the day.

The work would last until about 9:30am where we would then head down to the kitchen for meal preparation. Because each day varied quite a bit in terms of the number of people who would bring food (weekends were typically heavy, where certain week days were really light), there would be different amount that was prepared each day. On most days there were at least a few dishes prepared in the kitchen, but most of the meal was brought in from the visitors.

Working in the kitchen
Organizing the offering tables

When the meal preparation was finished, usually around 10:30am, somebody would bring a tray of drinks upstairs to the monks which would signify that the meal was ready to be offered. The monks would come down and the visitors would do a ceremonial rice offering (pindabat) with the monks.


After that, the monks would go inside and help them selves to the offered food, buffet-style. Guests and other people working at the monastery or nearby properties (8-precept holders) would also get a plate of food after the monks. Everybody would head upstairs to the dining hall during this time. Late arriving guests (sometime intentionally so it seems) would offer their plate(s) of food here to the monks. Additional long-term offerings, if they were available, would also be offered, for example, things like toilet paper, cheese, cleaning liquid, bananas, etc. The senior monk would often be giving a short talk while all this going on.

After all the offerings were done, the monks would chant a blessing. I would often use this time to think about the work that had been done or other good things done during the day to help remind myself of the positive qualities within. One beautiful aspect about Buddhism is the encouragement to reflect on one's positive deeds and qualities, as much as possible.

The joy of making toasties

After the blessing, people would head downstairs to help themselves to a plate of food. Most of the monks usually ate silently upstairs in the dining hall, others would take the food back to their huts in the bush to eat in solitude. The guests and visitors would eat all around the monastery property, often in the outdoor courtyard.

Before the meal

After the meal there would be the meal cleanup which would usually last until about 1pm. I was typically exhausted by this time so I would often make myself a drink and hang outside the dining hall while I rested. Sometimes I would chat with the visitors or the other monastery guests, other times I would just relax in silence.

Exhausted by the heat

After the meal time the rest of the day was free. Outside of doing personal chores (bathing, washing clothes, sleep, etc.) I would usually spend most of this time meditating. There were also a couple classes that I was taking part in, one to learn the old language of the teachings (Pali), and the other to learn about the contextual history of origins of Buddhism (the Upanishads and Jainism were covered during my time there). There was also an optional tea time at 6pm that I would usually take part in. I would usually get to sleep at around 9:30-10:30pm.

Probably the morning but imagine it's the evening

In the next post, I'll talk a little more about some of the work I did there as well as the wildlife and anything else that comes to mind.