Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Nepali Karmic Circle of Generosity

It is the year 2072 in Nepal, one week after a devastating earthquake and aftershocks. Nestled among India, China, and Tibet, Nepal abounds with rich dichotomies and unparalleled altitudes. 8 of the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world are found in Nepal (a country barely larger than the state of North Carolina), crowned by Sagarmatha, “Mother of the Earth”, better known as Mt. Everest.

As many of my readers know, it was two years ago that I was able to visit and work with Govinda Panthy and his SAV School, as well as Chan Shrestha at a  Buddhist monastery, and with the Volunteer Society Nepal.

Despite life steeped in tradition, new and forward thinking abounds, and from mythical Yetis to tiger preserves, it is a land of contrasts. It is home to 92 languages and dialects. It is a land where Hinduism and Buddhism coexist, a land where there are “as many Gods as people”--incredible and tangible evidence of spiritual harmony. There are nearly 300 temples, 1200 monasteries, and altars on even the remotest ledges--it is about the puja, the honor with which they thank their Gods for what they have. They are people who are deeply spiritual and culturally proud, and astounding in their awareness.

Govinda Panthy is one Nepalese man whose entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. With 500 species of butterflies in his home country, it’s not surprising that he understands and embraces change so deeply.

His journey began decades ago with a vision. He envisioned a school that would motivate all kinds of learners and he began his work amidst crowds of naysayers. His determination led him to begin teaching in a single room schoolhouse and rebuilding 2 more times. Please read his story in depth here.  
SAV School
Just this year, he has nearly completed his latest school in another village where he feels he can be of even more service--he is a man who never quits. He seeks and finds opportunity in the most unlikely of places, and with the events of this past week, his new school has become a refuge for those in need. His newest school has larger classrooms and each room can hold about 30 students; one more classroom was scheduled to be built in June. The new school year just began in mid-April; his goal is to have more than 80 students this year. Knowing what I do about him, he will find a way to meet that goal, then exceed it, in spite of the latest odds.  

Right now, though, his school has another purpose. A haven and refuge built through generosity and courage, now provides the same for others.  
Govinda's newest school. 
Tripur Kinder Academy
One of the new classrooms--carpet and lots of space!
Govinda’s persistence makes me think of the Greek poem ‘Ithaka’, and about Odysseus’ journey home from Troy.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
So you’re old by the time you reach the island,
Wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way.

Govinda’s personal experiences, and those of his family are not yet done. His journey has taken him places he had never imagined, and just like a sherpa, he’s braved challenges that many cannot fathom. But yet, he carries others through sheer optimism, buoyed by the knowledge that helping others is what truly matters.

Although Govinda is Hindu, one of my favorite rituals to witness in Nepal was the spinning of the Buddhist prayer wheels. Generally, the wheels are spun clockwise to mimic the movement of the sun across the sky. As the wheels are spun, prayers are sent out to manifest wisdom and good karma, while destroying the bad karma. After spinning the wheels, if you have any “extra” good karma, please, do as the Tibetan Buddhists do, and dedicate it to others who may need it.

I am trying my first fundraiser--and although it makes me nervous to ask others for money, this is for such an important reason, and for people who will appreciate it. Please visit my GoFundMe site to donate.

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