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|Lopon Tokpa Tulku and Translator during Philosophy class at RYI|
Once upon a time I was listening to an extraordinary human being, an embodiment of wisdom, the master Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who gave a lecture to Khenpos, Lopons and venerable monks of his monastic university Dzongsar Shedra, in India. Rinpoche started his talk by sharing that the purpose of undergoing such a training in the Buddhist view was not just to transform oneself (as that would be to much selfish) but to help others, to share the Dharma and skills we have learned and trained ourselves in, with the world we live in. He said to the monks that even though they are supposed to have renounced the world they couldn’t escape from the “reality” surrounding them. A monastery does not survive without a certain kind of economy; financial means do not come without good relationships and positive exchanges with society (in other words he said the positive and true purpose of politics).
Also, not taking care of the environment is to be ignorant about one of the main indispensible supports for our life and spiritual practice. “We do not survive independently, by ourselves,” said Khyentse Rinpoche. In order to survive and progress in our spiritual practice we cannot discard reality but need to incorporate the reality we live in, into our spiritual path through understanding it. Without understanding the reality in which other cultures and human beings live we will not be able to help them, even though we do our daily prayers, wishing to be of some benefit to sentient beings.
Here, at Rangjung Yeshe Institute we are learning not just about Buddhism and Himalayan languages but we are having the opportunity to deepen our understanding regarding our own western way of thinking towards the inner sciences of eastern spirituality. In our first philosophy class on Chandrakirti’s ‘Introduction of the Middle Way’ this year, our teacher, Lopon Tokpa Tulku, introduced us to the idea of being able to access distinct “universes of reality”. In order to dialogue and learn with these different kinds of ‘universes’, for example, the ‘western universe’, the ‘eastern universe’, the ‘Buddhist universe’, ‘Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti’s universe’, we have to first learn their language and the point of views from which they are looking into reality.
In those spheres of reality we are going to find not just different perspectives about our own experience but a specific way of expressing that point of views through language and concepts as well. In order to be able to understand those ‘universes’ we have to access them and look with the eyes of an ‘insider’, said Tokpa Tulku. By accessing those ‘universes’ we start an inner journey towards a whole world inside of us. In the words of a classmate: “each one of us is an island full of treasures waiting to be discovered”. This extraordinary trip is exactly a journey of self-discovery that RYI Shedra teachers, staff and students are sharing with me each and every day.
~Tenphel from Brazil (left)