Monday, January 19, 2009

More pics!

Hope these keep you busy while we catch up with Mike and Pat!
Love K and C

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Student Profiles!

We thought you might want to get up close and personal with our former students to see what their lives are really like! Here are a few profiles that you can view from interviews we did with the students! Enjoy!
Love K and C

Good Bye Bodhgaya

After seven amazing weeks in Bodhgaya we are leaving to board the train to Delhi to meet the folks!!!!!! We have loved our home away from home and hoped you have liked learning about Maitreya School. Thanks to everyone who made our stay so enjoyable!
We will write again soon from the Big City.
Love K and C
For those of you following at home: Bodhgaya --> Varanasi --> Sarnath --> Bodhgaya

Lessons from India

Throughout our travels in India we have learned many things and wanted to share them with all of you, in case you shall ever travel here.

  1. If you ask somone a question and they answer by nodding their head side to side, it can mean yes, no, maybe or I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.
  2. Road Rules = There are none
  3. If it is faster it is perfectly okay to drive against traffic in the wrong lane on the highway (or any other road for that matter).
  4. Just becuase the Lonely Planet says there is a bank machine in a town does not mean they are right.
  5. If in fact Lonely Planet is right and there is a bank machine, always remember in order for it to work you need electricity. If for some reason the whole three days you are staying in a town and there is no electircy for that time it does not matter if there is a bank machine. This will result in you walking up and down the main road looking for some guy name Pappa who owns a shoe store who will convert your american dollars to Indian Ruppees for a small commission.
  6. If it burns going in, it is going to burn coming out.
  7. If there are 5 seats in a car you multiply that by 5 and that's how many should be in the car at all times.
  8. It's rude not to stare.
  9. You don't need to ask where the public toilet is, it's everywhere.
  10. Horns are a genre of music.
  11. If the job can be done by hiring one person, hire ten.
  12. There is always a boy who will do it.
  13. Buy a car with no rear view mirrors (this will avoid the hassle of them getting ripped off - and yes they do make them).
  14. Bicycles rule pedestrians, autorickshaws rule bicycles, cars rule autorickshaws, trucks rule cars, buses rules trucks, and cows rule all.
  15. Looking is Free!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An even littler man...

What do you get when you throw together 10,000 people from various Asian countries, 1100 Westerners, 10,000 Tibetan nuns and monks, a 5 acre area of dirt laid over with plastic tarps, 100 loudspeakers from 1965 shouting things in Tibetan, no instructions about registration or teaching times, 200 Indian beggars all crowding for a Rupee, fog so thick you can't see more than a bus length in front of you, no pre-warning of needing passport-sized photos and photocopies of your documents, three 1.5km long lines side-by-side leading to 1 door half the size of your average Canadian, 2 metal detectors operated by 4 security guards, no rules of engagement for locals selling food, sweets, mats, jewelery, and fm radios, every rickshaw in a 4 million person city trying to make a buck, 9 homemade port-a-potty's, and no talking.............
NOTHING! You get absolute and total cooperation because you're dealing with 21,000 Buddhists who's only concern is listening to an amazing leader half their size and twice as happy!!!
That's about as vivid a description we can give for listening to the Dalai Lama in Sarnath, India (a tiny Buddhist holy site beside Varanasi). The setup was quite incredible and the tent that was erected to cover 5 acres... my goodness, Indians should definitely get into the events business back home! Sitting cross-legged amongst 20,000 others in silence while tuning into your amazing English translator on your tiny FM Radio is something to experience. After the morning chanting ends, which is some of the most unbelievable vocal music you'll ever hear (the best description I can give is it sounds very close to a didgeridoo), the 100-monk-troupe of appointed butter tea and Tibetan bread givers literally take off (yes, full-on sprinting), and manage to serve tea and bread to 21,000 people in 24 minutes flat! Kristin and I walked back one day to the tea hut (or factory if you will) to get a behind the scenes glimpse; the one tea "pot" we could see was laying on its side with 2 monks INSIDE on their hands and knees washing it out! And there were 3 of those suckers!!! And on top of all of that, there he sits, the happiest little monk in the world, simply content with just being, teaching adults about how to be happy and how to make others happy! And even though he's projected over the speakers in Tibetan and you can't understand a word, when he laughs, so do 21,000 others!!!

Namaste friends!
Love K and C

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Computers anyone????

We thought we'd ask you all since that's as good a place to start as any, if any of you know of any company (maybe the one you work for:-) that may have around 16 computers that they are getting rid of because they are old (but still work) or even better would like to buy 16 new computers and donate them to the school we are working at in Bodhgaya, India. Currently there is only 5 very, very old computers that hardly work and our Principle (and us) were thinking how amazing it would be if there could be one computer in each class for the kids to use. If anyone may have any ideas about getting computers donated please let us know!!!

Thanks so much and miss you all lots!!

love k and c

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

S-c-h-o-o-l'-s out for winter!

That's right ladies and gentlemen! After one day back from the holiday break, the government has closed all schools in the state of Bihar for another week due to cold and fog! Very sadly, one of the evening school students at our school passed away over the holidays due to an extended fever (due to the constant dampness and cold it is presumed - he was 15 years old); the government is unaware of this situation, so it is unlikely that this caused the closure, but assumingly it is to prevent such horrible tragedies from happening.

Nevertheless, the students are back to the break, and we are off to Varanassi today with our principal and Kabir-Sir (the other monk/teacher that lives with us), along with probably every other westerner and monk in Bodhgaya to hear FREE teachings from... you guessed it: His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself!!! The opportunity was just to good to pass up!!! And Doug just informed me that there is streaming video of the teachings on, starting on Thursday! (I know, he's so nouveau!)
Miss you all and hope you have a wonderful week! We've posted some school photos just to keep you busy until we get back! ;-)
Love K and C

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We're like, so Zen!

Well, if we learned one thing from our retreat, it's that we'll sure as hell never be true Buddhists because we both have too big an attachment to peanut butter!!! (And chocolate, samosas, nice clothes, Christmukka, each other, the Internet, cable TV, being unemployed, nachos, and peanut m&m's)!! Other than that though, we're both diggin' the Dalai (Lama)!

The 6 day retreat (which turned into 8 - hence the mysterious disappearance on New Year's Eve) was much more than we bargained for. A typical day started with a wake-up gong at 6:00am, morning meditation at 6:45am, breakfast at 7:30am (they made their own peanut butter, which I now have a nice little bodily store of in case I don't eat for 12 days), morning teachings from 9-11:00am, yoga at 11:15am, lunch at 12:00pm, discussion group at 2:00pm (the wonderous hour of the day when retreaters were allowed to talk!), tea break at 3:00pm, afternoon meditation at 3:30pm, stories from Buddha's time at 4:15pm, afternoon teachings at 5:15pm, dinner at 6:15pm, evening meditation at 7:15pm, and then the glorious hours of sleep anytime after 8:00pm!!! 6 days which started to feel like ground hog day at the end, but ended up giving real meaning and purpose to our lives!

Now don't get us wrong, we're not going to go all Buddhist on all of you and never have a bad thought again (in fact, I'm having a few right now), but we will never forget the experience neither. What we learned in 6 days we've been trying to figure out our whole lives; the secret to happiness. Honestly, we know it now, and will be happy to share it with you for a small donation to our travel fund of a mere $5,000,000 Rupees (don't worry; that's like 80 cents or something); but we will definitely try to live by the principles of the Buddhist philosophy. Here's the deal:
  1. Everyone in the world wants to be happy.
  2. You can't control external circumstances, so you should work to try to control yourself.
  3. One's own happiness can be achieved my working to make others happy.
  4. Attachment and aversion to others and objects do not provide lasting happiness.
  5. Creating good Karma has positive effects, creating bad Karma has negative effects.
That's it! That's the secret to a fulfilling existence that we learned in 6 days and have been trying to learn the past 29 years!!! Holy shit is right! Ok, so there's a little more to it than that, but that's really all you need to know (though get us going after a few beers and I'm sure we'll talk your ears off)!

One day before New Year's Eve, the course instructor, Venerable Damshar (a realistic and witty former New York Times economic journalist who ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist Sect. 9 years ago and today lives in Dharmasala, India - currently where His Holiness is also in exile) told us that for those of us that were interested, there was an opportunity to extend our stay with a 2-day meditation retreat at the end. After a long glance at each other and a convincing nod from both of us (using our non-verbal powers), we agreed and took our teacher up on the offer along with 6 others. The next 2 days held more silence and 7 meditations daily let by an Israeli monk (!), Venerable Tamir ... this included 2 walking meditations as well (I only ran into 2 trees which I was pretty pumped about). It was intense, but amazing, and our best meditations of the lot came in the last 3 sessions when we were "in the zone", as our guru liked to say. ;-)

On the last night, Lama Zopa Rinponche (the 3rd highest Lama in Tibetan Buddhism) came to Bodhgaya and stayed at the root institute where our course was being held. He arrived at 1:30am, at which time everyone lit butter lamps and lined the walkways with Katas (prayer shawls). Kristin thought it was absolutely amazing. Me and one of my roomies, Moshe (from Israel), also thought it was pretty cool... but were waiting around a while when people started to hit the sack and butter lamps started going out with no sign of Lama Zopa. We started to feel kinda' bad for the guy as his reception slowly dwindled, until a friend kindly informed us that he had already arrived! Good times. Lama Zopa's still in town, so we'll let you know about future encounters.

All in all, it might end up being the most rewarding 8 days of our trip! Mike, from Edmonton, who was also in the course, shared our sentiments and thought about a great way to let his mom back home know. He was heading into town last we say him to buy monk's clothing for 1200 Rupees (about $30); then, we he arrived back in Edmonton, he was gonna' shave his head, dawn the apparel, and give his mom a big ol' welcome home!

We missed you all New Year's eve and hope it was an auspicious one, no matter where you were!

With loving kindness and compassion,
K and C

P.S. For those of you following at home: --> still in Bodhgaya!!! ;-)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!! Hope you all had a great night and we were thinking about you all!!!