Earlier this year whilst I was in Dharamsala in northern India, I spent some time in Tushita, an FPMT centre for Buddhist teachings. At the time it was off-season and no retreats or courses were on offer, although I was free to use th the library and meditation hall. More recently, on the Annapurna trek, one of my trekking companions, Ryan, informed me he'd signed up for an introductory Buddhism course at Kopan Monastery near Kathmandu, so I decide to give it a try myself.
We spend 10 days at the monastery, beautifully located atop Kopan hill, surrounded by peaceful gardens, chanting monks and a few too many western students. The teachings, imparted by a Swedish nun and a Tibetan lama, cover the basic principles of Tibetan Buddhism and the Mahayana Tradition: The story of Shakyamuni Buddha, the Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, Reincarnation, The Wheel of Life, and lots of Karma. We also have daily mindfulness, visualization and analytical meditation sessions, and observe half a day of silence each day. By the end of the course, although I still have plenty of doubts on the teachings, I decide to continue studying and to bring the practice of Dharma into my daily life.