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Once again I would like to rededicate this blog to Adam Zilinskas and thank Adam’s wife and friends for allowing me to share moments of his trip with you.

Later that night some of the group attended chöd prayers down at Shugseb. I didn’t go. I was too tired… and too… thoughtful. I suppose I just wanted some space. I’d had a pleasant talk with Maggie and also Adam in the afternoon. It’s so refreshing to have made new connections. Adam is so wise, in such a quiet way. Sometimes we just sit, on the wall, watching the spider monkeys or the golden eagles, in silence. Each contemplating our own thoughts. It’s… nice.

It didn’t take the group long to get back, and Adam had taken some footage on his little camera. It was really interesting to see–and so thoughtful of him to take a little clip so that we all could see it.

Here is the clip:

Day eight part one–Kashmir Cottage, Old Shugseb

We arrived at Kashmir cottage early today and had a little while to settle into our rooms. It is different here, but still peaceful. As the former residence of Dekyi Tsering, the mother of the Dalai Lama, it certainly has a distinctive air. Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project, also spends a lot of time here. I’m rooming with Debi again–after her last roommate didn’t work out. I don’t mind–I like her a lot and we seem to get on well. I think a change will be good for all of us. Many emotions surfaced at Dolma Ling, and perhaps a different space will help us to breathe again.

After a wonderful lunch we headed over to the old Shugseb site. It was an amazing walk, with Pündrun-la our guide. A small trail led to the buildings which immediately just broke my heart. A cluster of small delapitated houses huddled together as if afraid they might fall apart at any moment. The walls showed outward signs of the ravages of the monsoon. It… was depressing. Yet, the nuns, once again, were full of life and welcoming. To think those at Dolma Ling also used to live like this…

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Day Seven — New Shugseb and a Goodbye

Today we visited the new site of the Shugseb nunnery. Currently the nuns are staying up in Dharamsala near Kashmir Cottage, but their housing is substandard and during the monsoon practically uninhabitable. The drive from Dolma Ling was the first time I’d been north since I’d been here. Some of the others had gone to a TIPA performance during the week when a few of us had gone to a tara puja instead.

Today is the day we’re set to leave Dolma Ling. It is really sad, but I think I’ll be glad to move. There have been petty lines of demarcation drawn between members of the group–and it will be nice to move to somewhere new, away from the emotions I want so much to leave behind. Yet, leaving the nuns and the quiet solitude of the nunnery will be a big change. I did not go to the last three prayers for several reasons. Mainly because I felt I would rather pray quietly in the intimacy of my own space. Sometimes I feel as though people use the term “buddhist” as a status symbol. I don’t know. My thoughts are confused and hurt by words and actions of others here–and I never expected to experience these things on such a trip.

Nestled at the foot of the mountains stands the new construction of Shugseb nunnery. The current ‘nunnery’ near Dharamsala is substandard and almost completely uninhabitable during the monsoon. I think 60 or so nuns live there currently. All have been political prisoners under the Chinese and later released. I think that there are many still held in Chinese prisons–but since they stopped releasing prisoners and information, it’s hard to know. The original Shugseb was destroyed along with many others I believe. I just can’t believe that even today it’s still  happening, and no one from the international community has done anything…

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