MA Thesis Nagi Gompa Writing

Writing the MA thesis at Nagi Gompa

This semester is my last in the MA program, so I decided to spend most of my time at Nagi, our nunnery, so that I could write in a relaxed way and hopefully digest the information more thoroughly from having few distractions.  Although I miss our shedra sangha and especially the opportunity to talk about the dharma with such kind and learned students and teachers, it has been extremely helpful to have more mental space for contemplation and less activity to take my mind away from the material I’m writing about.  

Since I haven’t enjoyed writing until now, much of what I have learned so far this spring is how this can be a creative and artistic project, something both fun and meaningful which hopefully will clarify my many doubts, partial understandings, and misunderstandings regarding “the path” and how all the different levels of teachings fit together for the individuals who travel it.  
In my past years of study writing papers was always something I did on the side, usually not leaving enough time for adequate research and contemplation beforehand, and so writing was stressful and almost torturous!  
But somehow, slowly, by being relaxed and really loving the material that I am reading and writing about, research and writing can actually happen in the way it is supposed to.  

First listening to teachings (and also reading a lot of related material), then contemplating about it and even finally having time to do a bit of meditation.  I wish that I could have studied for all my classes in this manner—it would have been much more beneficial than stressing over exams and always feeling like there is too much to do and too little time to accomplish it in!
But I can start to see now that overall shedra has been extremely helpful, and, above all, a very humbling experience since I know so very little compared to how vast and profound the dharma actually is.  I’m sure that over the next few months of writing and reflecting that feeling of gratitude and benefit will only increase.  Although I will graduate soon, I hope that for the rest of my life I can continue to learn and apply the dharma and have it soften my mind and mental afflictions…that way this life will become truly meaningful and precious.
Thinking about what we learned in the Uttaratantraśastra last semester these verses of Jamgon Kongtrul come to mind as an aspiration:
“Although my mind is the Buddha I don’t recognize it.
Although my thinking is dharmakaya, I don’t realize it.
Although nonfabrication is innate, I fail to sustain it.
Although naturalness is the basic state, I am not convinced.
Guru think of me, regard me with compassion.
Bless me that natural awareness is liberated into itself.
Although death is sure to come, I am unable to take it to heart.
Although applying the genuine dharma is sure to help, I am unable to practice it.
Although the law of karma is certainly true, I don’t discriminate correctly.
Although mindfulness is surely needed, I don’t apply it and am carried away by distraction.
Guru think of me, regard me with compassion.
Bless me that I maintain undistracted mindfulness.”

(Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang)

~Ani Sangye from the US