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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Picking Up Nirvana, Not Coffee

<nder Lee ’17 traveled to Vimutti Buddhist Monastery in New Zealand over winter break as a part of Carleton’s increased externship opportunities.

In New Zealand he learned different Buddhist life philosophies and teachings. “I wanted to go to a Buddhist Monastery because I had a rough period in Minnesota. I lost a lot of self-confidence,” Lee said. “I wasn’t very kind to myself.”

Externships are intended to help students learn new skills, such as doing research in different health facilities, shadowing alumni on the specifics of industrial design, or volunteering their services as a tutor. They’re also intended to help students think about their future careers.

In winter and spring there are 101 externships offered, giving more students than ever before the opportunity to explore career options.

“I just wanted to figure out how I could get over that and how to get better than that,” Lee said.

“I started meditating and that really helped me be a lot happier.” In a search to find know more about genuine happiness and contentment, he decided to participate in the externship to the Buddhist Monastery. “It seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn from someone who really does know the ins and outs of meditation.

”While meeting Ajahn Chandako (James Reynolds ’84) who leads the externship, Alexander discovered that there was more to Buddhism and teachings then just mediating.

“The point of Buddhism is the path to relieve yourself of all suffering,” he said.

“For me, I guess the best part was the Buddhism teaching,” he said. “The Buddhist have a saying: Dukkha meaning craving, which is the cause of all suffering.

“A lot of times in our culture and the society we have today we try and relieve sadness by all these external things but happiness will never come because everything is impermanent.”

“The Buddhist find that happiness comes from a still and peaceful mind. I hope that I’ve learned to stop looking for things outside myself to be happy.”

Unlike Carleton’s rigorous academic environment, finding time to do nothing in the monastery is considered productive.

“There’s a lot of insight that you can learn about yourself when you meditate. When you sit there with yourself and you’re quiet. I learned how to be happy.”

For Lee, instead of acquiring knowledge about his future career goals, he learned the most important skill. “This experience is for anything I’ll do. For anything anyone does, it’s better if you happy while you do it.

“All psychology tests have shown the happier you are, the more productive you are.”

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