Kathmandu: Kopan Monastery Calling

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How do you define a calling? You never did.

Studying at a Catholic school for eleven bloody years. Growing up in a country where the Moslem population is the biggest in the world. Ending up in the high peaks of sacred ancient temples of the Hindu or Buddhist from another civilization. Finding yourself in some shamanistic journey of different tribes in forgotten interiors. You would start question what do you seek in this world?

You feel you are not all that religious being brought up in one of most mixed up family in one of the most mixed up environment, a so called Indonesian, but always puzzled with your own background when they asked you where do you really come from? Those background already at least take 15 to 30 minutes explanation, let alone when they ask you what you believe in?

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For me all of this issues are personal. In this age of confusion, religious or not, spiritualist or not, atheist or theistic or agnostic, whatever, I most feel that our sickness is the sickness of the heart. Often we don’t know what to do with our own heart. To build our walls around it or to keep it open to the world.

I personally don’t know how I ended up hanging out with the Tibetan Buddhist monks. Back in Indonesia or in Tibet or in Kathmandu. Stumbling and finding myself in the many Tibetan quarters. In New Delhi, Dharamsala, inside China, in Tibet and now in Nepal. Some people say I look like one. I don’t know. I stop defining how I look ages ago. As long as a person is not making a racist comment, I go along just fine. It is maybe the nomadic nature of the Tibetan that somehow have some personal connection to my soul. In short maybe I was Tibetan in my previous life.

Though, in May 2014, thinking that I would spend the Vesak day somewhere in Borobudur temple in Central Java or in one of the biggest Buddhist temple in Trowulan, where the old Hindu kingdom was, I ended up flying to Nepal and apply to a 10 days of meditation retreat in the Kopan Monastery. On Vesak day, where they celebrated the Buddha’s birthday, I saw the Boudanath stupa from the high hill of Kopan Monastery, seeing the lights and festive from quiet a far. I remember that night was silent and I seek for the stars and one of the biggest super moon of this year shine from above. The same fullmoon where 2600 years(?) ago that Siddharta Gautama become Buddha under a bodhi tree.

IMG_0864Sunrise at Kopan Hill

IMG_0894Kopan Monastery main hall

I was sitting in the Kopan Monastery hall with around 80 other people from all over the world. Each with their own purpose, questions and process as a seeker in life. Some are so young in age, some are in the mid-life, some are easy going, some are serious. The background was so diverse, it is so interesting how this groups actually made off. We spend days hearing Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, spending half days in silence and full silence on the last two days, doing meditation and walking meditation, doing discussion on the some major questions in life and share each other experiences, and in some other times just having good time sharing food or travel stories. One Morrocon friend spend his days with his roomies, one a Jew, one an Indian Hindu, one a Christian and they all somehow met in the Tibetan Buddhist monastery. I end up hugging a stranger in one afternoon and she turn to be the only other Indonesian of the whole group. She was crying in that point and ended up laughing out loud with this universal joke. The whole experience has enrich part of my heart and I can feel the beat has somehow calm down than its usually are.

IMG_0442Spending 10 days here :) Sharing the space with 3 other girls

IMG_0912Sharing lunch with the girls

IMG_0467Voluntary yoga sessions on the hill

There are some of major questions in my life that had been answer without me asking my own questions. I found myself doing yoga in the morning because we agreed to have some short class in one the hill of the monastery. I was so thankful with the shared experience. I found a lot of talk session with myself. Looking at the moon at the top of the building late at night and be grateful with all the things in life that had brought me there. It is somehow like counting my blessing and being thankful for all the people who had somehow guided me here.

IMG_0911Initiation session on final day

My major lesson in Kopan was about wisdom and compassion, how it has to go together in order to work. How it is supporting each other. My Morrocon friend, who later become my somehow sangha brother, at the end of our journey decided to get the same tatto reminder in one of the studio in Freak Street. Three weeks ago he managed to message me and said that our two names means the same, Reda and Reza, which means “he/she who prays”. I end up laughing hard in the many coincidences in life that is actually making patterns in my daily life.

IMG_0672Wisdom reminder on the making

IMG_0693Reda, me and our Nepali tatto artist, Sanjay

Post Kopan session, it was not only a calling anymore, it was a real test in going back to the real wild world outside the monastery gate. Finding peace in the middle of a chaotic world and meditate your mind in the ongoing fast pace changing world is a challenge. I realized that this path is the way of going to the deepest mystery of the human heart. May peace be upon us all.

Om Mune Mune Maha Munaye Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

The Himalayan Effect

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The sunshine above prayers flags – Jergu, Tibet, 2013

It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves ~ Sir Edmund Hillary

Everybody who goes climbing the Everest or read about going to Everest would always have the above quote ringing through their lives. For me the Himalayan regions experience offers you just that. The mountain view outside, our own ego in the inside. It is a personal journey, indeed it is the journey of the heart. It is a journey to find ourselves, especially within.

My second trip to Nepal become a beginning to start answering everything myself. Where somehow my life  start synchronising and that the random things that I’ve been doing the last 16 bloody years has finally make sense. I saw that I was not actually randomly doing things, I actually gain knowledge and skills for other greater purpose. One of them is to know my own self. My love of travelling has brought me to completely accept my nomadic nature. I decided to completely embracing it and not making excuse when I know it is the time for me to go somewhere and answer that deep calling from within. And yes, I love travelling solo. I feel naturally being myself when I travel alone.

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The journey to the unknown – Jergu, Tibet 2013

Last year journey to the regions of my dream was one of the heaviest point in my life where I completely went to a blank state for the 3 – 4 months post journey. I need major space in my life to just literally space out. To really understand what I really looking for in my life and keep on doing things that I’m good at. I am now literally all over the place, finding myself all around the major cities in Java and going back and forward back to Bali. And soon come, going back to Kathmandu. I found myself getting lost and not getting so lost in Tibetan monastery, the guerrilla track of West Nepal regions and the dusty alleys of Kathmandu. A city I began to called as another home in my heart. IMG_0595

Kopan Monastery initiation – Kathmandu 2014

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The first view of Rukum landscape – Rukum, West Nepal

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Getting lost in the Rukum forest – Rukum, West Nepal

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A Nepali lady on the side of Sanamberi River (aka Uttar Gangges) – Rukum, West Nepal

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The always all seeing Buddha eyes of Boudanath – Kathmandu 2014

If this is another start, it is a blessed one. With the many gratitudes on this journey and my life until today. This journey of wisdom and compassion has just open a new chapter. Om Ah Hum.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from all sufferings.

Om Mane Padme Hum 

A Personal Journey to the Edge

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Tibetan summer, Jergu – Tibet

Imagine yourself suddenly moving out from your comfort zone. Your house, the life you have been the last 4 years, your very dear friends, your yoga classes, your students, your work, even your blog and everything you think before was important. Imagine yourself suddenly moving to the place you thought you are scared off after your marriage failed, thought people say it is the island of the gods where magic still happens. Gods forgive your grudges after all. Things work out not the way you want, but in some ways the way you needed. And trust me it’s not all magical.

You finally let your only son to see his father after four years, because he ask you too. You believe in choices and chances. So you giving them a chance. You took that break, even you know you would not like it. It is part of your biggest fear. You give yourself some time alone. Maybe not perfectly alone because you met someone along the way. You decided to have it a go.

Then you decided to realise one dream. Going to one edge of the world. Places you only see in dreams and magazines, in pictures and films. One things lead to the other. You’re finally there. Like just being there.

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A Nepali guy said this to me, “After you climb the tallest mountain in the world, what do you want to do next? What’s obvious is that you have to go down in the end. I don’t get it why we as human do it like that,” while we are looking at the snowy mountain capes from afar.

I didn’t climb any mountain yet in this journey, but I was up in the Himalayas. A Nepali shaman, Mina, even decided to give me a new name, Himali, as her god-daughter. It means the range of mountain.

I didn’t feel to do some climbing or hiking in this trip, but I feel I’m climbing my own personal mountain along the journey. But it is back to the Nepali guy questions, what do you want to do next? We are all back in this realities. We are back home now. Did something change then? Did ourselves change along the way?

I just realised it took me nearly a month to even continue a paragraph of this post. It took me to take some distance with myself to digest everything after this journey. It is one of those kind of moments. It  does took me time to write it all and I could say most of it is still in digestion.

I feel I’ve been through my own darkness along the way, seeing the glimpse of myself here and there. It’s funny how travelling with someone could make you reflect every single thing about yourself and your life. And in the end still being thankful of the intense journey that both of you go through.

It is hard to write about the places I’ve been through the last intense two months. It is hard for anybody I guess. It is hard to write it wisely somehow. I’m on my way of finding my own wisdom in writing it. Although I found the whole experience had a very personal impact on me. You could called it  spiritual, you could also call it the way to get deeper into yourself. I think it’s what this journey all about. At the end of this day, I think I’m so grateful for making it, for passing it through this regions and also my own regional hearts. It was vast and simple at the same time.

Om Mane Padme Hum

IMG_6902In the middle of Lhasa, Tibet

P1020883The misty mountain view from the cosiest place in Bandipur, Nepal

After All the Miles

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Announcing that taleaboutnomad.com is back! I’m currently just arriving after a two months trip from China-Tibet-Nepal. It was a dream come true kind of trip, sometimes on the road I feel like I had to shake myself from what I’m seeing and feeling. Those kinda of moment that said, you’re here, finally here.

In the next couple of days I would start sharing and get my ass back on this blog. It’s been a five months of being away from the life before and a travel of a lifetime. It has been an extraordinary experience, moments and meeting a lot of extraordinary people along the way.

So, yes, by this post I’m getting my ground back. Hola world, it has been a long dream indeed. Thank you universe for everything, like usual it has been a journey and a big slap.

Om Mane Padme Hum

Photo: Prayer flags among the hills in Jergu, Tibet.

dharamsala #5: tsuglag khang monastery and dalai lama’s house

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view of dharamsala from tsuglag khang monastery

i felt this silence peace the first time i enter the premise. it grows the longer you stay here. i did my kora. offered my khata. did my prayer in front of the green tara statue. spending the last minutes of dharamsala talking to this amazing place. it is a beautiful place that i could visit everyday. somehow i can imagine myself taking my boy to this place and do our daily kora.

it was at this place that i felt i can let go all this burden of all the years. that this is the end cycle of my karma. that everything is okay and i owe this place my utmost gratitude in life. it was with this very light feeling that i left dharamsala, asking permission to stay longer next time.

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IMG01693-20120211-1407candles at the tsuglang khang monastery | buddha statue inside | abmi doing her kora | me in front of the his holiness residence | two pilgrims in front of his holiness residence | HH dalai lama’s letterbox

dharamsala #3: the feel of home

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our room window at ladies venture, mcleod ganj

it was six days that feel to be forever. we extented our stay in dharamsala, longer than it supposed to be. me and abmi agreed that we can see agra and the rest at another chance. we don’t want anything else in the world accept to stay there. dharamsala feels homey at the first sight and at our last. i missed the place terribly now while i’m making this post.

we stayed at ladies venture the first two days where we basically just need to open our window to see the mountain. we moved to akash hotel on our third morning and every morning i wake up, folded my blanket and went outside the porch to see moon peak around an hour or two. then enjoy either chai or kahwa (the kashmiri tea: with a tint of saffron, cardamom and cinnamon) before i had a hot shower.

never in my life i take my time and doing the little simple things. eagles flew above us among the small town of mcleod ganj and to the forest area. the sound of birds and that particularly fresh cold air. we don’t really plan on what we do or what to see. we were just taking our time with our surrounding. i feel at peace somehow. i felt like i’m talking to this place and its mountain, asking it’s permission to stay.

the only reason i had to leave is that i have to take my son here. i even starting to feel that we can live here somehow. we went to tibetan children village, passing the pine forest, to take some package for jean-pascal tibetan son. the minutes we arrived at tcv i can imagine my son running around the place. i can imagine myself spending my time in dharamsala just to do my writings. i can imagine myself walking every morning just to do the kora at the monastery.

i don’t want to imagine it anymore. somehow i’m starting to believe i’ll be there again soon enough.

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our comfy room @ ladies venture | akash hotel living room | tibetan flag above the hotel | abmi enjoying the sun | the way through pine forest | tibetan children village of dharamsala | me doing the kora at tsuglag khang monastery

kaliandra: teaching of dagpo lama rinpoche

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it was my first tibetan teaching ever. it was a lot of coincidence. i heard and had the invitation to join the event from jean-pascal. ending up taking the bus with jean-pascal and mbak yani to leduk pasuruan with a lot of buddhist student, sort off in the middle of nowhere. having the weirdest conversation with mbak yani about life and ending up in this trip. i haven’t seen her for years.

arriving at night at a huge resort ground name kaliandra. it’s like suddenly being in the woods sort of feel. up in the mountain area where everything had the freshest feel. the smell of rain was still there.

we slept with the buddhist student in a wooden villa (it remind me of japanese design), we were divided with the girls students. jean-pascal had to walk a little bit up further of the villa area. had the best dinner with all the organic vegetables, i got introduce by jean-pascal with the monks, a couple of them are from tibet and most of them are from their center in bandung, west java.

the next morning, everything was all green. me and mbak yani visit jean-pascal villa which are very nice and we truly feel walking among the green woods. some of the architecture in the area looks to be adapting the majapahit era with all the red bricks and stone statues. and amazing beautiful italian palladeo. for the first time, finding them in indonesia that look wow (not just imitating the design and look cheap). the food was the most freshest.

we went in for the teaching. i can feel i was a little nervous somehow. i didn’t even realize that i was sitting next to rio helmi, an indonesian senior photographer. dagpo lama rinpoche enter the room, everyone bow down. his very first word were “it is not a coincidence that we are all gather here. the accumulation of your good karma has bring you back here. and this is not the first time that all of us could gather like this. this has already happen before and i’m glad to see all of you again.” that first five minutes that i felt that i suddenly wanted to burst to tears. those words just hit me deep.

tibetan chant made me lost to another world with a such familiar feeling. rio was next to me sharing the text of the tibetan mantra and the chant. funny to find that he was before the translator of the lama. the first day we had the teaching of bodhicitta translated from tibetan to english and indonesian. a mandala offering was done and a white tara blessing done the next day. everyone wore a traditional javanese clothing. and i had my first white tara blessing in my white kebaya and my son’s batik cloth that i carry everywhere when i travel.

no matter absurd i felt being in pasuruan. being in an italian paledeo of tropical garden and javanese mountain landscape. wearing javanese attire for a tibetan teaching. i am thankful for this chance. o, dagpo lama rinpoche. dharmakirti. atisha dipankara.

om mane padme hum. may all the blessing felt by every single being.

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lama dagpo rinpoche | tibetan monk making an offering | walking for the teaching | the tibetan prayer flag | me and jean pascal | the mandala offering