My time spent with Tibetan monks
Preclinical student Dinny Burge shares her extraordinary experiences at a Tibetan monastery
Inspired by a friend who had spent her medical elective in an Indian monastery 20 years ago, I offered my services as an amateur English teacher to Gaden Monastery in the Tibetan colony of Mundgod in southern India. Of the 8000 Tibetans living there, 2500 are monks living in two separate monasteries.
I was met at Goa airport by three monks who placed white scarves around my neck in a Tibetan welcome and drove me to the monastery. I arrived at nightfall and as I stood nervously in my room I could hear shouting, stamping, clapping, and laughter. This seemed strange--not the peaceful monastery atmosphere that I had expected. Dorje took me outside to the courtyard, where several hundred monks were standing in groups under the mango trees, debating. It is part of their education, Dorje explained, where they learn to question each other and their teachings. As each question