From Model to Monk, a Spiritual Journey into Tibetan Buddhism

New York, N.Y. Residing in New York while maintaining an opulent lifestyle is a dream many can only hope for, however, for this young woman it became a reality. Aria Das, New York fashion model and icon, although clearly thriving in the city, quickly realized there was life beyond the glitz and glamours of NYC.

Aria was capable of seeing through the smoke and mirrors of the industry, how everyone wanted to look like a magazine cover when in actuality it was a feat impossible to achieve because engineers photoshopped images to a certain standard of beauty they think will sell. She speaks up about her thoughts on the digital era noting that we spend more time engaging with machines than with one another.

There was a seed planted in her early in life enabling her to think and act more spiritually than those around her. Her belief is that deep down everyone already knows the problems that come from being too materialistic but only few can muster the courage to travel down a different path.

This is a story of how a woman, despite seemingly having it all in NYC, chose to go down a spiritual lane and this has made all the difference.

 Aria-Das-2-240x300Aria Das, New York Fashion Model & Tibetan Monk.

At a young age she read chapters out of the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible and was brought up in India with her father leaving to be a sadhu which is the Indian equivalent of a sage or holy man. Her upbringing was strict. When her biological father left the family for his own spiritual righteousness, she was left miserable and confused. When her mother died suddenly at the age of 53, she fell into depression. The melancholy of life after paved a way for her, however. They say the fruits of hard work bring about glorious rewards and she worked hard, fiercely questioning her morality and views of life on a day to day basis.

Her thoughts would eventually bring her to a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center in New York in 2008. This was around the time she stopped caring so much about external desires and her career in the fashion industry and met with the guru Lama Norlha Rinpoche. She would go on to learn about her innate wisdom. Volunteering by cooking and helping out in the monasteries and regularly attending meditation courses gave her immense joy and she was finally able to taste the good life and the best part was it was within her the whole time she had been searching for it.

Changing into Buddhist robes from nice linens and smooth silks, and completing a three year three month retreat is something that Aria had gone through to initiate her into this new lifestyle. She has received empowerments (abhiseka) for the retreat and hasn’t looked back.

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Shuvashis Sharma is a Bengali, American residing in Queens, New York. He is studying computer science at Queens College and loves to play basketball and soccer. Growing up in Queens, he has learned to accept and admire people from all different cultures and people coming from all walks of life.