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[The Oxford Project]
I'm a Buddhist. Every morning I do my prayers. I've just finished one hundred thousand prostrations, which is a requirement for ngondro. I'm about to do mandala, where I'll do another one hundred thousand offerings.
I live with my folks in Oxford. They're Buddhists, too. We have three horses and a pony. I'm not a party person. If I want to see the stars at night, I go to the forest behind our house. I can sing there.
I'm a senior at the University of Iowa, majoring in International Studies. Sometimes when I tell people I'm a Buddhist, they'll say, "Oh cool!" They think it's a fad or a fashion, not a religion.
In Buddhism, once you pass on, you're in limbo, or bardo, for forty-nine days. Depending on your karma, that's when you'd have a rebirth. You could turn into a dog, a bird, a human. There are six realms: hell, ghosts, animal, human, demigod, and god. The best way to get to nirvana is to accumulate merit, take vows from a qualified Lama, and study hard.
There's not a second in my life when I don't live as a Buddhist.
From The Oxford Project. Welcome Books. Photographs © 2008 Peter Feldstein.
Text © 2008 Stephen G. Bloom. www.theoxfordproject.com