Finding Contentment

By Tenzin Dadon  /  December 7, 2016;

Students are flocking to Lha’s English classes as word gets around of the excellent teacher there. Dadon is teaching while taking a break from her medical career and we asked her to share her story with us.

Tenzin Dadon Photo: Contact/Michelle Hepburn

Tenzin Dadon
Photo: Contact/Michelle Hepburn

I was born and raised in a very loving environment. A caring mother, an understanding father, lovely sisters and trustworthy friends. I feel very fortunate that I am a Buddhist and thoroughly blessed for having had the opportunity to study. I hope my story will relate to some people.

My parents, especially my mother, worked really hard to educate me and my siblings. Even though she is illiterate my mother has always encouraged us to do higher studies and most importantly to be able to serve the Tibetan community and fulfil His Holiness’s wish. When I graduated from high school at 17 years old my father guided me into nursing. In the Tibetan community nursing is regarded as a very safe course, but no nursing graduate came to advise us that doing nursing is not just a safe harbour: there is so much more to this field. This I learned later when I was studying. Not only can one do an MSc in nursing but also do MSc physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, molecular biology etc. And the entrance is much easier for nursing graduates as they are already well versed in physiology and human anatomy learned during their nursing years. Generally, in the Tibetan community most nursing students stop after completing their BSc to start work and this is probably this why we don’t have many highly qualified nurses.

Because of the limited knowledge about the nursing field, I thought that nursing is not a hard-core science, but more like just learning how to make beds for patients, or just a safe future. I respect and love science too much, so I decided to do a degree. So off I went to do a BSc in biotechnology, biochemistry and genetics. I studied very hard and later was selected for one of the special reserved seats for Tibetan students at the All India Institute for Biomedical science, available by the grace of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

I couldn’t have been happier! All my class mates were top university students, the competition was stiff and at first I enjoyed it. But soon it started becoming stressful and the only thing on my mind was study, study and study. The library became my second home and books my best companion.

However, I graduated first class with distinction! I then decided study medical lab technology, not knowing that it would be the most tormenting year of my life. Even though I joined a well known institute and the course was affiliated to one of the most reputed medical institutes in south India, I had to learn everything on my own. The course demanded more practical exposure and hands on experience. I can’t just learn the techniques of phlebotomy, histopathology and blood banking from text books, or for that matter just by seeing some tutorials. I needed proper guidance from real experienced medical technologists to be well versed with the tools and techniques. So one day I took my certificates and went randomly to search for a clinic where I could volunteer. A small Christian hospital took me in and I would go every day after class until 8pm. I learnt clinical pathology and phlebotomy there. Then I went to a well known diagnostic centre and did observational training in their histopathology lab every Sunday. I also volunteered at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital to learn techniques in blood banking and transfusion.

Only then could I actually visualise the practical and it was easy to keep it in mind. It seems very easy to pen it down but it was very difficult to live those moments. I had to rush here and there, wait for hours to meet people at the faculties, it wasn’t at all easy. In Chennai, mostly girls would go covering their face with a scarf to protect them from the hot, bright sun and so it was easy for me to shed tears as I went about on the bus and local train, as my face was hidden under the scarf. In the end, my hard work paid. I was the only student who cleared the university exam, that too first class with distinction.

But after these very stressful years I lost all hope in these institutions with big names and my zeal to study as well. I had lost so much weight and the stress and constant pressure made me easily irritable and damaged my digestion. By the end of my course instead of making my parents proud I had them worried and sad. Now I realise for them my health and happiness were more important than getting a high percentage. I hadn’t realised how my passion for science, which always made me happy, had become a constant source of pain and stress.

So I decided to stop for a while and went to Mungod where I attended the Lamrim teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We all desire happiness. If scoring high was supposed to be happiness for me then why wasn’t I the happiest person? And so I realised this is not what I’m searching for. Each day of teaching made me calmer, less agitated and my mind became clearer. I visited Pondicherry and felt a spiritual connection with the place. It gave me time to stop and reflect and somehow I felt free, liberated and light. I realised I am happiest when living science, and not competing in it. I’m happiest when I am learning Buddhist philosophy because it makes so much sense. Those few months of listening to His Holiness teaching, knowing Geshe las and debating with them, gave me an insight, but I guess more important were those six stressful years because living through those years actually gave me this insight. Back then, when I graduated high school I was just a happy girl, carefree and naïve. Now at the age of 24, I am not only happy but wiser and more content.

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