Lama Karma was quite ok with his life at school. Even as a child, before college. Although, sometimes, he was home-sick. 

n 2015, before his graduation, he was called back to SunCave Monastery for his year of service. He was fifteen. He was appointed statues-keeper. His work consisted of shrine cleaning, preparing the butter lamps, the water offerings, and so on.

After his year of service, he went back to India to join the Sakya College of Philosophy Studies.

There, Lama Karma was going to receive full training in the Sakyapa tradition. The Eighteen Texts of Great Renown. 

He loved to stay at the college.

He says it had been the happiest period of his life.

Everything was amazing. The beautiful environment, the profound teachings, the kind and learned teachers, good friends. the sports and good food.

Nothing was less than great. Lama Karma loved it all! 

At the Sakya college, all the classes are in Tibetan. Students are sitting on carpets with a small table in front of them, like the one for the pujas. The teacher seats on a throne, because he is imparting Dharma teachings.

The whole life in Sakya college is soaked in Dharma, Lama Karma says.

It is not only about what they study. It’s a whole Dharma experience. You "live" the Dharma. You share it with your friends. You enjoy it!

Lama Karma was happy. 

If you are curious about how the college course of study is... The boys have two teachers per year. One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The teachings are about the fundamental “root” texts of the Sakyapa tradition.

Root text means the original text, not the commentaries.

The morning teacher explains a part of one “root text”. The afternoon teacher explains it for the second time. Each teacher spends one and half hours with each class.

Then the students go through the day’s subject on various commentaries. Without the teachers. Commentaries themselves are great texts, written by the accomplished, great masters. In this way, they acquire a wider and deeper understanding of the subjects. 

Every day the teachers pick the name of a student. That monk has to answer questions on the lesson of the previous day. 

Before dinner, they have the Debate. 

Debate is a famous particularity of the Tibetan Buddhist schools.

You can see how Lama Karma loved it in the way he warms up when we discuss a Dharma topic. His eyes sparkle. His attention focuses!

Debate is a powerful tool for deepening student understanding. Their mind-sharpness. And the capacity of investigating any topic thoroughly.

It is also a real confrontation, where the tools are the mind and the knowledge.

Debate is engaging, and it can become quite hot.

Usually, it lasts for 45 minutes. But sometimes, on a particularly interesting topic, the monks go on and on. Even after dinner, until bedtime!

Lama Karma said: “they stop only because otherwise they would disturb other people's sleep”.

More often than not, the debate is about that day's subject of studies. But it is not a rule, it can be about any subject. Anybody can start the discussion. Anybody can answer.

The beginning can come from a doubt a monk has. Or something that is intriguing him.

To give you a rough idea, it goes like this: the two monks face each other. The one who has a doubt (or a special topic in mind) asks the question. The other one answers. For example,

the first monk says: What is that? (a pen)

Monk 2: it’s a pen

Monk 1: why do you say it’s a pen?

Monk 2: because…. and the debate goes on until one of the monks has no answer, no sound answer. At that moment he has lost the debate.

There is the group debate as well. The monks find a subject that is intriguing them, and then they debate on it. The studies on the various commentaries are very helpful for debate.

Commentaries give different views and explanations. One can be sharp and direct. The other one, quite indirect. One can start from the core of the topic, the other one from far away. Students can choose the way they like. The one most in tune with their mindset.

Lama Karma says: “In the debate, you confront your understanding and knowledge”.

All the students are present at the debate, with one of the teachers. 

Weekends are free at Sakya College and the monks can spend them how they like.

They practice sports too. 

It’s a good life for someone who loves the Dharma. With a good mix of profound studies, leisure, and good friends. Lama Karma loved all of it in the Sakya college! 

Lama Karma graduated in 2019. 

For one year, after graduation, he worked as a nurse at Sakya College. 

After that he came back to Mustang. And a couple of months ago he moved to Pokhara, to improve his English. He has to train as a translator for our Khenpo-la.

He is a great cook, even if he never had any training. He says: "just a bit of studying the cooks at work". Then he tried and succeeded. Everybody likes the way he cooks! So right now, here in Pokhara, he is stuck in the kitchen for our happiness.

Of course, he has English classes too.

And he performs pujas.

He plays all the traditional monastic instruments during pujas. And he likes it.

He also makes tormas and mandalas.