A few days ago I visited the Kopan Monastery a few miles outside of Kathmandu and up into the hills. It is one of the well known Tibetan Buddhist monasteries here in the valley.
There are a number of similarities between Tibetan Buddhism and Orthodoxy; more than I will mention here (and of course, there are great differences!). It’s interesting to note that their shrines are built on the relics of their saints, similar to how we consecrate our temple altars on the relics of our saints.
Like the Orthodox, the Buddhists, both laity and monastic, use prayer ropes. I was recently asked why I was using a Buddhist prayer rope. Showing them the Cross on my prayer rope, I then had the opportunity to share something about our practice of the Jesus Prayer.
Like our Orthodox ascetical practice, Buddhist asceticism includes fasting and prostrations. I often see Buddhists and Hindus touching their heads and then their chests when they pass by one of their temples. It reminds me of our Orthodox practice of crossing ourselves when we pass by an Orthodox Church.
I sent some pictures of the monastery to family members and also to our Bishop George. Writing to him I commented that I really longed for an Orthodox Church. The most difficult part of being a missionary here is being alone and without a parish. Presbytera Marilyn spent 4 1/2 months here and we were able to serve liturgies together. What a blessing. However, she has departed for America for the remainder of the year and so there can be no more liturgies. But even when we served together, I missed a vibrant parish. In response to my email, His Grace was kind enough then to send me these pictures:
Glory to God. Here in Nepal, today is the Feast Day of our Holy Hierarch John, who is also the Patron of the Mission to Nepal. O Holy Hierarch, Father John, speedy helper amid misfortunes, pray to God for us! – Fr. S.