Men-Tsee-Khang Conference & Pilgrimage Week

by Brianne Cody

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Bri POI’ing at Triund

What an eventful past week we had! It began with attending the second annual Mind, Body, Life conference, which provided many different perspectives on mental afflictions and healing. The variety of perspectives included modern psychology, buddhist psychology, ayurveda, unani, siddha, and chinese medicine. Despite there being so many different perspectives, it was nice that there didn’t seem to be any competition amongst them, but rather openness and curiosity. The views meshed together nicely. I have been predominantly exposed to the modern psychology perspective, so it was very interesting to learn about more holistic methods of healing. Unani’s perspective is that they heal the patient, not the disease. Many of the systems encompass this idea by proposing lifestyle changes rather than prescribing one medicine for one symptom/disease and ignoring the whole picture.

Student playing games with the Junior monks of Sherab Ling, at Bir

We left the conference a couple hours early on Friday so that we could embark on a 5 day pilgrimage, starting with Bir. The first day in Bir was my favorite day on the trip. We went to a monastery in the morning and happened to get there when there was a purification ceremony happening that occurs at the end of each monsoon season. We were lucky enough to be able to sit in on this ceremony and soak in all the energy from the monks in their traditional yellow hats, deep drums, loud horns, and incredibly ornate decorations. It felt so surreal- it’s nice to see that these ancient ceremonies haven’t been lost in the past.

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Passang giving us a tour around the premises of Padmasambhava’s meditation cave, at Rewalsar

I have been pondering this whole semester about how much of the west is severely lacking in any sort of meaningful or devotional rituals. I don’t even necessarily mean devotion to a deity, but rather taking time to acknowledge a greater force or even the great mystery of our existence. So, it’s nice to see these sort of ancient spiritual rituals taking place. The next few days consisted of many temple and monastery visits, all of which provided new perspectives on Buddhist Philosophy and Tibetan culture and history. Thus far our adventures have struck such a nice balance of being exciting as well as informational and educational. I am so excited for all that lies ahead.

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