Nepal is a country that captivates you, especially if you love nature. Being able to walk amongst the highest mountains in the planet is an extremely humbling experience. Despite this experience, what left a mark in me, was a small orphanage called Siphal, in the city of Kathmandu.

Siphal is a children home that takes in orphan children, as well as children whose parents are in prison. We worked there as volunteers for one month, and we visited the place during our 5 months stay in the country. The work that we carried out was not important for me, for me the important thing is the actual life experience that I took with me.

The impact that such experience creates in you, is not the actual conditions of children that live in the orphanage. Fortunately, every child has a bed to sleep and food to eat. It is true that things could be better from a hygienic point of view, but what impacted me the most was looking into those children’s eyes. Looking into their eyes was like looking into their souls. Without knowing their past, and just by looking into their eyes, you could feel the heavy load that each of them carries. When you experience something like this, it is inevitable to think about your own life. Every single child in Siphal had dreamed about a childhood like the one I had. And there I was with my existential crisis, having left behind all the things that those children craved for. It was a very painful irony… My time in Siphal not only taught me about the irony that life represents, but it also uncovered a part within me that I did not know about. Simple things like playing with Sujan a child with Down Syndrome, provided me an immense sense of peace and purpose; something that I had never felt before. It was as if spending time with these children healed a part of me that was hurting.

I know that Siphal awoke a part of me that was asleep, and after such awakening it is impossible to ignore this feeling. After this experience it is impossible for me to see what happens across the world, and not do anything about it. I had to go to the other end of the world to learn this invaluable lesson.

Two other unforgettable experiences occurred in Nepal.

The first one occurred when I visited the Buddhist stupa of Bouddanath. When I entered the stupa, I felt something I had never felt before. I ignore the reason behind such feeling. Maybe it was due to seeing all the Buddhist monks with their saffron colored robes, or the sound of the mantras they repeated at the same time the whirled around the stupa. I really do not know what caused the feeling, but such feeling has never left me, and I can still feel its trace. When I entered the stupa and walked along these monks, I felt an energy or force calling me. It was like a calling, that cannot be heard with the ears. Words cannot describe the sensation; it can only be felt. That was the first time in my life that I became conscious about ‘THAT’ which lies beyond us.

The other experience occurred when I first visited the temple of Pashupatinath. For hindus, Pashupathinath is one of the most important Shiva temples. In the west, it is known for the place where the bodies of those who have left this world are cremated. Situated in the banks of river Bagmati, Pahupatinath is the main crematorium of the city of Kathmandu. At any given day, one can be witness to a series of situations that would be unthinkable of in western countries. On one side of the river you can fin the cremation ghats, where the lifeless bodies are consumed by the raging fire. On the other side of the river different sadhus or holy men wander looking for some rupees that can sustain them. When I first visited Pashupatinath, it was at dusk. The sun was leaving its last rays amongst the city, and the atmosphere started to change. At first, what impacted me the most was the amount of bodies that where being cremated. The absence of light and the intensity of the fire created a scene worthy of running away immediately; for some reason there was something about that place that captivated me.

I sat down at the opposite side of the river, where I could perfectly see the burning ghats. Suddenly the Aarti ceremony was starting. While the priests paid their respects to the holy river, the sounds of the bells and chants filled the air. At the back, the burning bodies where being consumed by the intense fire. All of the sudden I became conscious of one reality, that although I already knew about, I had never properly meditated on. At that exact moment, I became fully conscious about the fact that I will some day meet the same fate as those bodies being consumed; there was nothing I could do about it. That was something I could not run away from; no matter what I tried to do it will always end up the same way: dead. That moment of truth was an inflection point in my life. Being fully conscious that I was going to die someday, I asked myself a question that started my journey to find who I really am. What is the meaning of all this, if at the end of the day we all end up being reduced to a pile of ashes?

And at that single moment, without being aware of it, I started a ceaseless quest to understand the meaning of my own existence.