What can a young Mission Viejo man learn from a trip to India?
David Rockman of Mission Viejo is an energetic, thoughtful 25-year-old with a head of wild blonde hair—a rare sight on the subcontinent of India. He's traveling through India to study Eastern philosophy and religion.
After completing two years at , Rockman studied at Virginia Commonwealth University. Through VCU's study abroad program based in Hyderabad, India, Rockman decided to explore his lifelong fascination with Eastern thought and culture.
"I have a few reasons for studying here in India," he said. "One is to find a kind of spirituality that I can bring back to the United States… [one that] doesn’t offend people’s logical reasoning."
Rockman suspects India might be a place where science and religion are less culturally opposed to one another, and where, at the very least, various religious traditions seem to coexist with relatively low conflict.
"There seems to be a great degree of religious pluralism and acceptance here," he said.
Rockman arrived in Hyderabad in June, and so far has intensively studied Jainism, one of two Shramanic traditions in the region. (The other is Buddhism). He then studied Tibetan philosophy at Kopan Monastery in the hills of Kathmandu, Nepal, under the guidance of Tibetan lamas in the same order as the Dalai Lama.
When he returns to Hyderabad, he plans to delve deeper into vedanta and yoga philosophy, and work toward yoga teacher certification. He takes the study and practice of yoga as seriously as his other spiritual studies, saying that a lot of their use in the West "diminishes the profound nature, logical import, and psychologically medicinal potential of a lot of these philosophies and practices."
Rockman plans to return to the U.S. in the fall, when he will complete his undergraduate degree in psychology and religion, then plans to earn a PhD.