HEART OF NEOPHYTE IN PAGES
Dilemma: Life, the living mischievous paradox, one way always imposes upon us the tiring and tear bringing shocks of despondency experienced after departure of futile lifeless excitement, and pain preceded by the unfulfilled strong – misleading desires. While on the other, it rouses a hope, cautious indulgence in which could bestow upon us the mastery over suffering, and lead us to the pinnacle of everlasting bliss, which in turn ends all our sufferings and wanderings. Life, when this paradox is understood, the journey ends, and the search completes. But how to understand it? How to untangle it? Whom to ask? And where to go? It seems to be an unsurmountable mystery, endless search and unanswerable question, and for me and many others, RYI is the junction where mystery starts revealing itself, and thirst starts quenching through the nectar of wisdom poured upon us through living ideals usually revered as Lopon, Khenpo, Rinpoche and many others.
Vipassana to RYI: After I completed my first Vipassana retreat in India, and after obscuring cross currents of the mind were settled to some extent by the aid of the technique we were being trained in, I was vividly mesmerized by soothing torrent of calmness flowing from the deep of my being. Perception advanced, surrounding became pleasant, heart opened, and sense of contentment was felt. All these were attained, but without any outer achievement. Wow!! .
As usually happens, stretched rubber of mind started reassuming its shape. After all, so is its habit, and habit is hardest thing to alter. With every ticking of clock, calmness was dying weaker, and time came when I could, no more, feel it’s soothing. Then I remembered, everything is anicca (impermanent). How could only 12 days of training could end those seemingly eternal waves of unsatisfactories? Nevertheless, hope was kindled, honey of soothing calmness was tasted, and search has begun. I started practicing at home, though irregularly. I started looking for spiritual inspirations, and came up along few reviving experiences. I was looking for institution, where I could study dharma, and eventually, one day, I found RYI in the flat bright screen of one of my friend’s laptop. And after someday, when I was in Kathmandu, I found myself within sanctuary of RYI. Its naturally spiritual surrounding, classroom, interests from different parts of world, and humble reception at RYI office readily impressed me. I came here, not being sure that it could serve my purpose, and ended up being its part, discovering its promise and potential to give many more than I could have really imagined.
AT RYI: My experience with RYI started flourishing with free evening lectures often rendered by guest lecturers. One day, I found myself meditating cross-legged in big classroom amongst other striving souls in the midst of the lecture, being rendered by venerable Khenpo Tokpo Tulku. His two renderings were very calming, joy bringing, simple, practice based introductory lectures specially designed for folks like me, who were in many ways new to the Buddhist path of enlightment. There, he talked about four noble truths, and training on conduct, concentration and wisdom. He, simply, introduced three vehicles of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana. As per his lecture, Theravada is simplest vehicle, Mahayana is middle, and Tantra is highest and most advanced vehicle. Therefore, he advised that we shall begin our practice from Theravada, and with advancement and realization through practice, should we advance towards Mahayana and to Tantrayana practice. I, fortunately, also received privilege to attend few other lectures; Anthropology of Buddhism in Nepal etc. which were somehow informational, and ritual practices, which were inquisitively energizing.
Orientation: Our orientation began on 31stAug on the day of ‘janai purnima’. Tina Lang and other orientation organizing members, in every way, tried their best to make us feel completely relaxed, and at the same time, also welcomed us, introduced RYI, and clarified and wiped away our confusions and dilemma. During orientation, we received lectures by three experienced monks from shedra on three different topics:
1) integrating study and practice;
2) the story of great stupa of Boudhanath; and
3) introduction to Dharma.
Through these lectures, our venerable teachers:
– emphasized on the indispensability of mindful, active listening, and qualities required for listening to be such; contemplation through investigation, individual analysis and group analysis; and experience through meditation (trainings in conduct, concentration and wisdom);
– recounted vividly enchanting story of Boudhanath stupa, effortful devotion of poultry women and her three sons, blessing powers that stupa holds, and many other interesting myths behind that ;
– And pointed-out the Buddhist philosophy of dependent origination, theory of cause and effect, and view of four Buddhist schools regarding dependent origination.
We found ourselves back to nursery standard when our language instructor introduced to us, Tibetan alphabets. Within few days, they placed founding- stones of Tibetan language in our mind, and more impressively, they did it without letting us feel any kind of pressure and difficulties.
Guided tour to old Patan kingdom with Dr. Gregory and tour to Namo Buddha were also a profoundly fascinating experiences. Under the guidance of father Greg. , I found myself alien in my own native country and felt glad to getting chance to tour under his guidance. Through this essay, in short, I would like express my grateful gratitude to RYI and team for their helpful services, and thank for providing us rare but crucial privilege to learn ‘way to the Dharma’, on behalf of all who are delighted for being here and for receiving your services.
Blessings of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Khenpo Tokpa Tulku: On 6thAug, after the arrival of venerable Rinpoche, he received us at his place where we (new students) met him, and had privilege to offer him ‘khatak’, the scarf of homage. There, we chanced to receive his short talk when he talked about the technological advancement of world, advantage and disadvantage of that, and urge of time to study and practice dharma for well-being of whole world.
On the following day, he lectured again, but this time in shrine hall. I reached late owing to the ‘Banda’, but I am delighted to have attained his half lecture. Through his lecture, he clarified that RYI is not interested in producing dry-scholar, who mugging up, would repeat the precious word of dharma like PARROT, without some kind of realization, instead RYI is willful in giving to the world, the scholar practitioners, who could work for the good of self and others, as Buddha and Sangha intend to. He shared with us, his sorrow regarding how people treat Sangha only as ritual practitioners, whom they remember only when they face some kind selfish problems, and emphasized on importance of Sangha as preserver, practitioners and distributer of words of dharma, and clarified that only for such dharmic work they should be venerated. He welcomed us, said that we all must have collected lots of merits to be here, and strongly suggested us to reflect study in practice to advance in path of dharma. We all are thrilled and rejuvenated having listened to such elevated practitioner in person and having received his compassionate ‘satsangha’.
We, Sagnik and I, chanced to meet and talk in person with Khenpo Tokpa, after he invited us in his residence. Khenpo, being one of the scholar practitioner, encouraged us to practice and study sincerely. He also pointed out the crucial importance of the view (right view) for the deeper experience in spiritual practices. He, openly, suggested and reminded that our job in the shedra is to build the foundation of view, and in turn to utilize that view in deepening our practice regarding training in conduct, concentration and wisdom.
Concluding: For me and may be for you too, RYI is the rare but spectacular blended spectrum of age, culture, hue, language, understanding and many more, where differences start dissolving into the white color of oneness as effect to the cause of stirring with eternal spoon of dharma teaching. Coming in haven of RYI, could there be anyone who would not feel good. But, let RYI not be the retreat, where we come and feel good, but let it be the celestial vehicle of wisdom traveling in which, we transcend the definition of good and bad. At this point, when I am willing to stop, I, vividly, recall one of my friend’s usual injection.
“We have come here to loose, not to earn. So, let’s lose everything, we have earned so far!!!!”
~Sujeet from Nepal