Vas Meets Himself and the Buddha Within

In 2009, Vas' wrestling match with himself over the direction of his life had led him to an intensive reading of philosophy and religion. He announced one day, before his 18th birthday, out of the blue, that he was going to become a Buddhist monk. Liza was beside herself with fear and grief, since she assumed this meant that Vas would be 'lost' to the family. She reluctantly went on a 'campus visit' with Vas to a monastery in Ulan Uday, Russia.

The experience in Ulan Uday proved enlightening for Liza as well as for Vas. It might be called an epiphany, of sorts. For the first time, Liza found 'something' very interesting for her in Buddhism. She offered that Vas may be 'on to something' afterall. I returned to Russia about the end of May for a few weeks and enjoyed the reparte between them as they described the experience. I could see that both were very excited. I asked about possible choices for study in America.

Vas had done some Internet searches on Buddhist monasteries and universities in America. I agreed to help him select a few that we might tour together on an upcoming, though not scheduled yet, 'first time in America' trip. He found several: most in California with one each in New Mexico and Colorado that intrigued him.

I studied their websites and did some research on the bona fides of each of the universities. After discussion with Vas, he decided that the 'best' option for him was the Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU) in Ukiah California. We agreed to make an extended three to four week trip sometime in August and September from Wisconsin to California and end in Las Vegas. We would visit the DRBU and it's related monastery near the end of the trip.

Vas then said he had just found a ten-day retreat for people to learn about Buddhism at the Mount Shasta Abbey in northern California. Liza agreed to look over the information on the Abbey's website and see if it might interest her as well. She got very excited about it, especially after seeing the photos of Mount Shasta... I too became interested in knowing more about the retreat and the Abbey.

We all decided it would be great to experience a Buddhist Abbey and the retreat. We reset our plans and booked tickets. I went back to Utah to get the car and drove to Wisconsin and then to Chicago to get Vas and Liza at O'Hare. We spent a weekend in Sparta Wisconsin with my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Then we departed for California and the retreat.

We went by way of the usual American tourist stops at 'Badlands', Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Big Horn Mountains, Cody, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Craters of the Moon and across the deserts to the Redwoods on the coast of California at Crescent City. We went south along the coast to Eureka and then east to Redding and north to Mount Shasta. We stayed two nights in Weed and spent Saturday driving around Mount Shasta city and the area north of Weed to Yreka. We had a great time.

We spent ten days in the retreat. Vas announced his intentions to become a monk during one of the 'introduction' sessions. This led to discussions with the head of the Abbey. From that meeting, we got the immediate impression that Vas was making some internal decisions, but was not ready to announce them. We left the Abbey the following Sunday. Liza had developed a strong case of 'Shasta Love' and as we left the Abbey she commented, "Wouldn't it be great to live in this area?" I said, "Yeah". We drove to Ukiah and toured the DRBU. We ended the day in Bodega Bay with dinner and camped in the beachside park.

Vas and Liza went back to Russia from Las Vegas. A few weeks passed and Vas finally announced that he had changed his mind about being a monk. There were too many restrictions on age, 'maturity' and 'foods'. He wanted to do something else.

Liza and I had been 'bitten' hard by the experience at the Mount Shasta Abbey. We felt 'at home' there and in the area generally. We talked a lot of the experience. I returned to Russia for several months and the talking became an obsession; and then a passion; and then a new direction, for us both. I did some preliminary Internet searches on real estate in the Weed and Yreka areas. We began talking more earnestly of relocating there. Read the rest of the story under the section titled 'Our Land'.


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