Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

Beginning of an uncommon school year

At first glance, this might seem like the beginning of a school year in any common university, albeit in a monastic setting. Agendas are filling up with deadlines, and heads with all the different tasks at hand. Students and teachers alike are busy processing information and organizing thought. In and out of class, time is studiously consumed. 

But come Saturday, we meet with the uncommon spearhead of all this academic busyness. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has returned to ‘office’ and welcomes students with his hallmark, precious advice: his ambition is for us all to become scholar-practitioners, and not just “dry scholars.” The knowledge we accumulate here is not meant to merely fill up our brains, but should also enter our lives. 

Dharma, according to Rinpoche, means change. It is meant to transform us into kinder, happier human beings. There isn’t a line of the texts we learn that is not meant to be put into practice in our daily lives. Rinpoche reminds us once again that it would be a great waste if we left it in the sole realm of theory. 

There are infinite subjects to study in the world; however the particularity of dharma is that all theory leads to practice. In fact, our surroundings, and our teachers in particular, are a living testimonial to this:  we have just as much to learn from their words as from their conduct. Though the philosophy may seem abstract on paper, it is a very concrete reality experienced by those from whom we learn it. 

Rinpoche therefore encourages us to fully take part in this living tradition, inviting us to actively engage with the life of the monastery: “This is your spiritual home, this is your Mandala.” This is much more than a mere university.

~ Oriane from France

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