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$57.00 pledged of $1,200 goal
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About this project

"What Is a Monk?" 

"What Is a Monk?" is a research project for a non-fiction manuscript exploring the changing role of monastics in Tibetan Buddhist culture.

Tibetan culture has been changing rapidly over the past half a century.  Perhaps the single most affected part of that cultural change is within the framework of the monastic institutions.

In 1965, the first western dharma students began studying with Lama Yeshe on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. Since then Tibetan Buddhism has increased in popularity and spread worldwide, with monasteries and retreat centers opening in almost every country. 

My project delves into the changing role of those who teach and study in these institutions. I will interview monastics, both male and female, from various levels within the institutions, from "child" up to respected teachers. I will look at how their exposure to western society has changed them personally, record their views on how it has changed the institution of Buddhism, and speak to western dharma teachers as well.

I will live in monastery guesthouses and become as involved as possible in the local community while completing the research.
In addition, I will resume teaching conversational English, computer skills, and doing other needed volunteer work in the communities where I stay.

The requested project funds will:

1) help defray the cost of transportation to, from and within the settlements. 

2) be used for a translator in cases where the interviewees speak little or limited English

3) wireless internet access (although wifi is available in many cafes, it is unreliable and limits the hours when work can be done)

4) cover communications expenses incurred in arranging interviews

5) cover publication and distribution of both ebook and print versions

Risks and challenges

Potential setbacks include the unstable political climate surrounding the exile communities. Some areas require government permission to enter or stay, which may cause delays or changes of itinerary if not granted. Other potential challenges include frequent power and internet outages in the settlements.

My project is flexible, and allows sufficient time and alternate possibilities so that if one plan fails, another can be implemented.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A 5 x 7" postcard of my original photography from the Tibetan exile settlements in India and Nepal where I work and volunteer, plus listing as sponsor on my facebook pages and in book credits

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    An 8 x 10" print of my original photography from the Tibetan exile settlements in India and Nepal where I work and volunteer, plus listing as sponsor on my facebook pages and in book credits

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    A handmade embroidered "monk bag" Each bag measures 14x14" with a 20" long shoulder strap and contains one zippered pocket/pouch on the exterior measuring 8.5 x 11",
    They interior lining is a red linen.
    Plus, listing as sponsor on my facebook pages and in book credits, plus a free copy of the ebook version in the format of your choice.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Sponsor package including three postcards and one 8 x 10" print of my original photography from the Tibetan settlements, plus a free copy of both the ebook and print version of the final product. This package will include one or more special surprise gifts which may include amulets or other items common in Tibetan culture,
    Also special thank you listing as sponsor on my facebook pages and in book credits.

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Funding period

- (58 days)