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Published: April 30th 2006
M & M
Me & Monks: Contrary to what books say, it's ok for women to interact with monks
New to my travel companions, Sera was already familiar to me. In 2005 I visited the monastery and even found a couple of monks who spoke English. It was great chatting with them at that time, and great being back to see and talk to them again at the debating courtyard.
Sera is one the the 2 great Gelupga order monasteries and dates of 1419. At one point it had 5000 resident monks but now there are only about 600. The Chinese still cruelly controls much of the Buddhist religion, culture, etc.
At the 3 colleges which remain from the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, "student monks" will study for quite long periods of time. One of my friends has been studying for 21 years already, Thus, let's say he is doing his "phD or post-doc" already!
The debating courtyard, where the monks quiz each other about the subjects they studied that day, is a fascinating place. Monks clapping enthusiastically as they make their points across. I can watch them for a long time, almost as if I understood what they are so passionately debating about. There are two 2-hour sessions of debate per day, one of which
is open to the public visiting the Sera monastery.
At one of the chapels, kids are brought in by their parents to get a black ash mark on their noses, which "will" protect them from illnesses, evil, etc. (see picture).
It was a great feeling wandering around the courtyard searching for the monks I knew. I had photographs I'd like to give them, and it was amazing finding their familiar faces.
These time, I was introduced to 2 Lamas, one of which is only 10 years old. Unfortunately they did not speak English, nor Portugues or Spanish, of course, so I heard about them thru the others.
I met this incredibly smart 20yo monk with great English. He invited me to get to know Sera a little more after the debate. My 2 Alaskan friends came along. It was a great afternoon full of surprises. Unfortunately, much can't be shared for safety reasons, but I'm certain that the 3 of us will treasure the moments we experienced and will pass them along to people who can be trusted and will appreciate their stories.
PORTUGUES: Voltei ao Sera Monasterio pra rever "amigos" monges com quem
conversei na minha primeira visita ao Tibet. Uns 600 monges estudam nas 3 "universidades" dentro do monasterio. Duas vezes por dia eles se reunem nesta area, embaixo de arvores, pra debaterem e questionarem entusiasmadamente o que estudaram nas 6 horas anteriores. Eles batem as maos e pes de forma interessante quando "acertam" a pergunta questionada ou debatida. Eh dificil de narrar, mas eh super interessante observa-los. Soh mesmo estando la pra sentir a energia tansmitida.
Terminei sendo convidada aos aposentos de uns monges, onde junto a 2 amigos meus, passamos horas conversando. A maior surpresa foi encontrar fotos de jogadores brasileiros na parede do quarto!!!!! Imaginem a minha surpresa! Ronaldinho, nao muito distante da foto de Budas!!! Mostrarei fotos quando for ao Brasil assitir a copa, ok? Nao posso comprometer os monges, ne?
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