Road trip to NSW for an “Introduction to Buddhism” at Nan Tien Institute.

I have plenty of theological studies, mostly practical or commonly knows as pastoral studies. I am a westerner who has not travelled to Buddhist countries and certainly never been on retreats or experienced monasteries.

I have jumped in the deep end, considering minimul cultural studies and no Buddhist friends. This is a completely new discipline at a postgraduate level.

What was I thinking some may wonder? Well, I have no clue but I just decided from basic self-taught meditations and reading about Buddhism it would be fascinating to learn more. Typical for a westerner, knowledge is our first stop and let’s be honest, it’s a respected approach that most of us take. Some cultures, as I have learnt about Buddhism, they value experience highly and possibly more than knowledge.  Knowlege of Buddhism is not much use without practising it in terms of meditations and lifestyle choice.

When I arrive on the first day after my first night in my little campervan, that I hired and drove nines hours in order to participate. I was surprised at the modern facility and the huge temple across the road. IMG_0633The course is face to face learning. I had forty hours of lectures to get through before I made my long drive home. I split the drive in half and stayed overnight at a caravan park. There were twenty students and all from diverse backgrounds.  However, mostly Australian with a couple of Asian overseas students. Some had professional jobs and other retired.

The lecturer was a fascinating guy, with a New Zealand up bringing. His story is long, but in brief it spans over forty years in Asian countries, often living with monastics and learning the cultural differences and studying and speaking languages. His speciality was understading “Sanskrit is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism; a philosophical language of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism; and a literary language and lingua franca for the educated of ancient and medieval India and Nepal.”

Here I am with a bunch of people I have never met in a different state listening to a lecturer talk and teach all day about a religion I have no understanding. Not just any lecturer this guy is a specialist on the Buddhist traditions. His knowledge is profound and his experiences span over four decades. What made his lectures awesome, he liked some humour and accepted questions ninety percent of the time. He had a schedule and had only a week but the amount of engagement was incredible considering what we achieved in course material.

I am thankful I made the trip and will be doing a minimum of two units a year. However, three would be great and four even better. It’s a long way to travel and not cheap. Its a matter of saving up and doing it when I can. It does not matter when because I am doing it for pleasure and have six years to complete the Masters or I have options to drop out at graduate diploma and graduate certificate.

I have added a timeline of Buddhism for over 2500 years.

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Hiking, sleeping in the bush and mental health.

Great Ocean Walk was much harder than I anticipated. Mostly due to being a novice and carrying to much weigh biologically and in my pack. I started off on the six-day hike weighing 100.4 kgs. I am sure my packdbJDKie8QAeVEG5bNbwmPQ was 23kgs and I was carrying 3ltrs of water on my belt.  That two poles, just plan simply extendable aluminium ten poles taken in case we wanted to set up a ten fly in bad weather. After the second day, my knees going down inclines where getting painful and this basic pole not designed like hiking save me. They had no handles like the real ones so use physio tape to stop the friction and sore hands.

My knees and whole body were in pain by the second day. The sun and the heat were wearing me down and I actually collapsed gracefully onto a staircase and closed my eyes thinking I might pass out from low blood pressure and I am sure low blood sugar too.

The second day was still the same as the first day easy to medium. However, we did a double on the first two day so we covered 21 kilometers each day. Our total trip would cover 100 kilometres. I decided to collaborate with the other three and make a suggestion. I suggested we get before sunrise and leave just on daylight. The next 60 kilometres would be medium to hard and take on average 5 hours to walk. IMG_0594Beating the heat of the sun made a huge difference to a 49-year-old who was carrying far to much weight. I was thankful for this change and the difference it made was tremendous. We also drank a 1 ltr of water before we left in the morning. We got very organised with packing down tents and eating our cooked oats quick.

If you google the walk you will see Rynes Den to Joanna beach then onto Devils Kitchen is rated medium to hard, it was gruelling for me. However, the campsite at these destinations was spectacular and something I have never seen in my life. This landscape and sunrises and sunsets are imprinted in my mind. q1dXpUyLS3qVPPChoF8uhAAbsolutely magnificent. I suffered from physical fatigue and exhaustion. To add to the struggle my pack was not holding. The straps kept losing and because it was gradual I experienced shoulder pain. Packs are meant to sit on your hips not take all the weight on shoulders. Mine was faulty and I received a refund from the retailer. However, even with the faulty pack and to much weight. I love every minute of the hike.

 

I lost 5 kilograms from 100.4 – 95.4 in six days. I was shocked and did not think it was possible to lose so much weigh in a week. My doctor who has been on my case to lose at least 10 kgs was astounded and now wants me to lose another 10 kgs. She wants me at 85 kilograms.

 

In summary, my mental health and well being was at its best. I sleep rock solid and felt fantastic emotionally. I am not sure whether sleeping in the bush or total exhaustion helped my Bipolar stabilise. However, I know I will be doing more multiday hikes but with more wisdom and better equipped. I will also be much lighter because I have continued to train each day now walking and running. I am determined to get to 85 kilograms and enjoy good health.lrYve%XdSPqsgNKdvuQ