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Purple Flowers

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Learning, exam, exam, essay, exam….Done! The last weeks of a study semester at Rangjung Yeshe are – probably like at most universities, full of effort, eagerness and emotion. Like walking the last stretch of a steep mountain slope, there are pain and excitement mixed with fear, while just following each step with a sense of purpose to reach a goal.- How refreshing is it then to then, to make the last step onto the reached plateau and experiencing the new view!

And that I did reach a new perspective became especially palpable after this last semester in Madhyamaka reasoning. Through the help of the Indian Buddhist pandit, Chandrakirti’s text the Madhyamakavatara and especially through our wonderful Lopon Shedrup Gyatsho, I can’t help but notice now a subtle difference that is hard to pin down or communicate. Yet, imagine the following:
Imagine you had had an eye disease since the beginning of your life, which made you see small purple flowers anywhere you looked. Like everything was happening for you behind a curtain of purple translucent flowers. And you didn’t even consider it, because it was such a habitual way of apprehension that it just had to be like that. There wasn’t any other way! However, one day you happen to mention this experience to a friend and you find out that it actually is not a permanent condition. You hear that there is medicine to cure you from the flower curtain of your vision and that you are able to obtain that medicine. What would you do? Especially given that the purple flowers actually were never considered being a problem by you before?
Well, if you are interested enough and you start to understand that these flowers are a problem, you are going to try out the medicine! And if you do that regularly, you probably can notice a shift in some way. The first one being to notice that there are purple flowers in your vision!
Likewise, after many days of contemplating and thinking about Chandrakirti’s explanation that not one thing we experience is established by itself as such; it seems I can’t look at my life in the same way anymore. Moments of noticing my clinging, noticing my purple flowers, have increased! And I also notice more and more, how my otherwise habitual way of apprehending my life, seems limited. Now there is an option: a purple flower free vision! My enthusiasm and diligence to continue to work towards such a vision has truly sparked. As I engage my next steps of meeting family and friends during semester break, I can’t but feel grateful for this spark of enthusiasm and purpose that came with the medicine of last semester’s study. It continues to move me beyond measure. As I meet the familiar environment of my life, things are not the same anymore. I know I have walked on, into new perspectives….through a learning that doesn’t stay in the book, but touches the mark of my being!


~ Kerstin (Shoho) from Germany


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