An Open Mind for the Dharma [A mere reflection]

They say: 

‘Mind is like a parachute that works or functions [the best] only when it is fully open.’

I started with studying early Buddhist soteriology, but it is my great respect for Buddhist Abhidharma and desire for learning about the function of mind that later directed my study interests towards Abhidharma (pali. Abhidhamma). 

However, I discovered that Master Nagarjuna had something to say which sounded very interesting and profound, and it was this Madhyamaka doctrine, which sounded both interesting and weird at the same time that brought me to Kathmandu. Well, they say we never know how Karma works, and I too think this is my karma to be here in Boudha among many convincing Buddhist practitioners and Masters. If there were no karmic connection at all, I wouldn’t have probably ended up here, as my original plan was to go to Hong Kong University.

I am not one to claim non-sectarianism, but like many non-Mahayanists, at the beginning, I was a bit skeptic about Mahayana Buddhism. However, I feel fortunate that I have the Karma to take one more step and see beyond the tradition in which I was ordained and thankful for the opportunity I got to fly here and explore the rich and profound Mahayana philosophy, which most people miss. I am very grateful to venerable Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche for all his inspiring moral words with a very kind and gentle smile and members of the RYI who always lend me their helping hands in one way or other.

As students of Buddhism we will find many Buddhist schools, and even different sects within a single system as well as multiplicity of views which is a consequence of the development of Buddhist philosophy over time, based on the understanding of the different masters and their own ways of interpretation. And this almost always makes it impossible to answer the question “What do Buddhists think about X?” uni-vocally. However, it is very important and worth keeping in mind that all these disparate traditions are united by a common problem that emerges from the need to articulate a coherent conception of an impermanent (anityata), selfless (anatman), empty reality (sunyata) within the rubric of the two truths. In the absence of any argument from a live opponent we might find their philosophy as very cheap and feel that it takes nothing to refute them, but as Shantideva and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche point out: it would be like a crow finding a dead snack and dancing like Garuda, the king of birds.

As Buddhist practitioners we must even give away, at some point, our liking and clinging to any so called Buddhist schools and views. But we have to start somewhere, and of course it would be wrong to expect someone to be able to give up clinging to their tradition right from the start. Wherever we might start, we must have a broader mind hoping to see more, learn more, reflect more and put them to practice. All Buddhist traditions have something rich and profound, despite whatever minor shortcomings they may have. While encouraging to keep a more open mind to examine and to discern the proper Dharma, one must know that he or she gets no benefit and can learn nothing from another just by going for someone’s weaknesses. We take what is good, proper and conducive for the path. And leave behind what is not needed.

We all have only one Buddha, the Shakyamuni Buddha who had a single goal that’s to show us the path that leads beyond this samsaric existence. And I am just a Buddhist monk trying to walk the path He has shown. I am slow but hopefully I will be there one day.

~Anonymous Student

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