was something very different about Donald Pham. Even as a
child, he seemed strangely wise. His parents came to believe
that he was a monk in his previous life and should study in
India. We follow his arduous path as a Tibetan Buddhist monk
in a four-part series.
by ANH DO and TERI SFORZA
Photos by CINDY YAMANAKA
one: The decision
A few years ago, his name was Donald
Pham, and he lived in his family's airy Laguna Niguel home with
soaring ceilings, thick carpet and vistas of rolling hills.
Today, he is Konchog "Kusho" Osel youngest student
at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, run by the Tibetan
Government in Exile.
two: The separation
Don becomes the first foreigner ever
accepted at the esteemed Gaden Shartse monastery in India in
its 600-year history. It is a path he must take, says his mother.
If he doesn't like it, he could come home.
It has been more than three years since
his family gave him to Tibetan Buddhism. Since India replaced
Orange County as his home. Since he said goodbye to his parents
on his 13th birthday and entered the confines of the monastery,
a rigid and utterly alien world.
Part four: Resolve
In the Himalayan foothills of northern
India is the little town of Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan
Government in Exile. It is also the home of the Institute of
Buddhist Dialectics. After two years in the confines of the
monastery, Kusho is sent to the institute for a while. Perhaps
he will be happier there.
* The Orange County Register
© 2003: http://www.ocregister.com/features/monk/