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Published October 18th 2017
Mind too busy? This is just the right relaxed retreat space
Want to explore your mind or just curious to look around a traditional Tibetan Monastery that caters for westerners with a clean café and convenience store overlooking the Kathmandu Valley? Kopan Monastery was founded in the seventies by two exiled Tibetan Lamas and their foreign hippie students.
medical centre on the left, school centre and view across the valley
It was specifically established to provide a Buddhist education for westerners and a monastic education for Nepalese boys from the Solo Kumbu region. You might spot a very young reincarnated Lama or visit their Tantric College to view the relics from two highly realised yogis who taught here – watch the video "Unmistaken Child" to learn more.
Watch the joyful group of hard workers rebuilding due to earthquake damage. They boast three temples or gompas in Tibetan - the main traditional one, the tantric college gompa and a specific one for westerners. This allows for courses and rituals to be performed simultaneously by the various groups.
Visit the website to read more about the various courses and retreats, the prices are cheap and include meals, accommodation and free laundry. Book the date and length of a course that suits you. Or if trekking, touring or volunteering locally, you can stay a minimum three nights and are welcome to attend their ninety-minute public talks with questions and answers between courses at 10 am weekdays.
Or wander around their Sacred Garden with two large Stupas [monuments] built to house holy objects from those two great yogis. This is a real wonderland at night lit up by artificial trees and blinking fairy lights on the fir tree. And during the day their circular bonsai garden is worth a close look as it sets out the history of Buddha's life in miniature. Be wary of local guides who give misinformation, it is better to ask an actual resident.
Rice fields and greenhouses dot the Himalayan valley and ranges on one side, while rapid population growth is clearly evident from the other side that overlooks the historic Boudhanarth Stupa and busy Kathmandu airport.
With 350 monks studying and running this hilltop complex, their sister nunnery is a few kilometres downhill with 350 nuns undertaking serious study and well known for their debating prowess. The nunnery guesthouse is nearing completion, so there will be a broader choice of accommodation on offer. There is plenty of opportunity to watch or participate in their ceremonies and those who speak English are happy to answer our questions.
The monks and locals benefit from free health clinics run from the medical centre and a large team of Australian volunteer dentists recently visited. And nothing beats a good browse in a real library with so much choice - it is located just upstairs from their colourful bookshop which is stocked to please all interests.
Prayer Wheels and Stupas with Accommodation in the background
Being the 'head' monastery of the large FPMT organisation they boast more than 170 centres worldwide. The local Sunshine Coast one is Chenrezig Institute at Eudlo, but they include city study centres, rural retreats, schools, hospice services, save the animals farm, prison liberation program, medical treatment for the poor and so much more. Why not see if there is one located near you or plan a trip to Nepal?