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Year 9 Visit to Chithurst Buddhist Monastery

On the 26 November 2015, Year 9 visited the Chithurst Buddhist Monastery for the day. When we arrived, we were invited to come in and observe the Buddhist monks eating their only meal of the day at 10:30. This was an interesting experience as we got to see how they blessed the food before eating and learn how the monks rely on the local people for food donations.

Later, were were invited to take a guided tour of the monastery which was conducted by one of the monks who had been living at the monastery for seventeen years!  He explained how they have to walk for twenty minutes to reach their huts in the woods in which they live. These are very basic, with no electricity as the monks are not allowed any luxuries.

Following the tour we attended a meditation session led by one of the monks where we learnt how to stay calm in stressful situations.  The monk then showed us some photographs of him and fellow monks in India.  They were exploring sites such as the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha was enlightened.  These were very interesting to look at as we could see some of the real Buddhist architecture and the monks outside of the monastery.

Lauren K - Year 9

On the 26 November 2015, Year 9 visited the Chithurst Buddhist Monastery for the day. When we arrived, we were invited to come in and observe the Buddhist monks eating their only meal of the day at 10:30. This was an interesting experience as we got to see how they blessed the food before eating and learn how the monks rely on the local people for food donations. A couple of my fellow pupils were allowed to offer some food to the monks and put in their large steel bowls from which they eat. Another student said that ‘it was great to see, close up, how the monks spend their mornings’.

Afterwards, we had to have an early lunch at 11:00, as the monks eat early and do not eat after noon. At around 11:30, we were invited to take a guided tour of the monastery which was conducted by one of the monks who had been living at the monastery for seventeen years! He showed us many of their sacred statues on the site, many of which were smaller versions of major ones in India. The monk also explained how they have to walk for twenty minutes to reach their huts in the woods in which they live. These are very basic, with no electricity as the monks are not allowed any luxuries.

When we had finished our tour of the monastery, we were invited to attend a meditation session, led by one of the monks. This was very interesting and relaxing, as we learnt how to stay calm in stressful situations. We also learnt about different types of meditation, such as walking meditation – this is where you walk a certain number of steps between two pillars for about half an hour, in attempt to clear your mind and become more aware of everything. After the peaceful meditation session, we were allowed to participate in a Q&A session with the monk, where we asked him many questions about the monastery and his life as a monk. He gave some interesting answers to all of the questions, and it was a pleasure to talk to him.

Just before it was time to leave, the monk showed us some photographs of him and fellow monks in India. They were exploring sites such as the Bodhi Tree, where the Buddha was Enlightened. These were interesting to look at, as we could see some real Buddhist architecture and the monks outside of the monastery (they were still dressed in their robes, though). At about 2:15, Year 9 left the Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, after having a fun, relaxing and interesting day.

Lauren K - Year 9

Visitors to St Gabriel's quickly recognise that this is no ordinary school. Parents are always impressed by the sense of purpose and enthusiasm of the talented, committed staff and the confidence of the extremely happy pupils. We offer girls the opportunity for a seamless journey from Nursery through to Sixth Form, with our boys leaving us at the age of 11 for their senior schools.

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