The Buddhist Monastery
Kathmandu Valley, 2017

Equal with my experience in the Himalayas, this Buddhist monastery made me promise myself to return to Nepal again. Situated on a hill overlooking dusty and chaotic Kathmandu, my stay at Kopan monastery resulted in calmness and a reinforced interest in Mahayana Buddhism. 

There were monks of all ages strolling around the monastery in their red robes; reading, chanting, playing with the dog or walking their 108 rounds around the Stupa’s in the garden.

Every morning I attended a class taught by an ex-monk from Australia. He spoke about compassion, death, the Four Noble Truths, and many other subjects, always encouraging to stay critical.


Drawings from my diary.

After being in Kopan for a week, I noticed that I got to see more than just the public parts of the monastery.

One day I had an appointment with the recently found incarnation of the Monastery’s Abbot, Khensur Geshe Lama Lhundrup. The meeting was not exactly what I expected; the Abbot was a small and energetic 4 year-old boy. He greeted me by putting a Khata (white silk scarf) around my neck. Then he offered me some of his chocolates and together we played with his toys for a few hours, until an older monk came in to collect him for dinner.

I also started waking up at 5, to help a nun, Tenzin, with her water bowl offering. In soft morning light I walked through the garden, to the main Gompa temple. Instead of entering the Gompa’s meditation hall, I had to go up three small stairs to a room decorated with flowers, small statues depicting Buddha and lights in fluorescent colours. We emptied, cleaned and filled rows and rows of crystal bowls with saffron-water, wearing mouth caps to keep the process as hygienic as possible. With each pour we thought or whispered the words ‘Om Ah Hum’, a mantra used to fan one’s awareness. Like most kinds of offering, this ritual served as an antidote to greed and attachement, the water symbolizing Buddha’s purity. After the water bowl offering we read a prayer and had tea, just in time for breakfast.

An overview of the names of the prayers and mantras we read after the offering.

The roof of the Gompa, where we emptied the buckets filled with saffron-water from the day before (the bowls stay filled until the next morning). 

One of the mouth caps.

Soap I bought in Boudhanath, Kathmandu Valley.

Evening prayer. For the young monks this was the first day back in school after their holidays. Some visited family during their 2 week long break, but most of them didn’t. Either because there wasn’t any family left to visit, or because their relatives simply lived too far away (some in Tibet). The boys that stayed in the monastery filled their time with football and a card game that involved stacks of what looked like real(?) rupees.

Monks playing football.

Monks with Mountain Dew.

The garden at night.

Curious to see what has come of these new buildings when I return to Kathmandu. Hopefully I’ll visit again soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All photographs taken on my Fujica GA.

CLICK HERE to see the pictures I took in the Himalayas.