The day started off a bit different from the last because, rather than prepare for a speaker, we prepared for a hike up to the Tango University of Buddhist Studies located at Tango Monastery. This hike, although set in the most picturesque location in the world, was incredibly difficult due to the steep inclines and the thin air. Although the hike was troublesome, according to the Bhutanese, the harder the trek, the greater the reward. Words cannot begin to describe how true that was for all of us.
Upon reaching the monastery we were given a brief tour of the temple area. Some of the students even paid their respects in the traditional Bhutanese manner. We were also given the opportunity to speak with some of the student monks and ask them questions. From this interaction we learnt that they have to away from their families until the completion of the required eight years of studies. While all of this was enriching, nothing could compare to the best part of the day when all of us had tea with the Monastery’s abbot, Khenpo Sangay, also the Principal of Tango. Having an opportunity to meet at length with with Abbot Sangay was something very few people get; we were very privileged to have had this chance. Throughout the Q&A he shared with us the basic ideals of Buddhism that, I believe, were less about religion and more about being a good and moral person. He shared with us the ideal of keeping oneself as an example. He also told us that the idea that he really wanted us to take back home was to always examine our actions, “to always examine your actions between good and bad; what’s going to cause harm, what’s going to cause others pain and what’s going to cause them happiness.” He hoped that we would always be conscious of this. What the Chief Abbot said today about awareness and about keeping ourselves as an example would be something we would always carry with us. The experience overall was humbling, enlightening, moving, emotional and so much more but you must know that no amount of words used can ever adequately explain the wisdom that filled the room and the impact it had on all of us.