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When we plunge ourselves day after day; month after month into the rigorous study of Dharma and its related skills (reading/speaking tibetan, sanskrit, ect.) in a challenging environment such at RYI; it becomes all too easy to forget the original motivations and intentions that initially inspired our decision to enter full-time and in-depth study of the precious Buddha-dharma in the first place.
If you are someone like me; your initial motivation for studying at RYI in such an intensive manner was to simply gain the knowledge and education necessary to truly comprehend the vast Buddha-dharma on an intellectual level, and furthermore; (even more importantly/fundamentally) to gather the skills required in-order to experientially accomplish and realize the profound dharma’s innermost meaning.
These initial motivations which where once so strong/intense within my experience, have slowly diminished throughout the course of the two years that I have now studied at RYI. This gradual transformation/degradation was so subtle, slow and occurring on such a subliminal/subconscious level; that I did not even realize this was happening up until very recently. (a realization that ironically coincided with my decision to take a year off from study and redirect all time and energy into retreat/practice).
We Dharma scholars/practitioners of this present modern age are so extremely fortunate to have the capacity to enjoy unrestricted access to a virtually infinite wealth of Dharma material; such as audio/video recordings, english translations/publications, and endless online library/databases that are so widely available to us. However, this present state of extreme abundance/accessibility of the Dharma may give rise to one potentially detrimental side-effect.
What I am suggesting is that due to over-exposure; we may potentially grow insensitive/unreceptive to the dharma. We run the risk of becoming someone like what the Tibetan tradition calls a ‘dharma-bear’ (chos dred); that is to say someone who has received so much Dharma teaching without actually applying it to ones own experience, that it (the dharma) no longer has any potency to modify/alter ones way of thinking and behaving. This is of course a disastrous/fatal condition; one we must be sure to avoid at all costs.
Whenever we study or listen to the dharma we must intelligently and confidently extract/condense the essential key-point or meaning and then immediately apply that to our own life experience and Dharma-practice. If we get into the habit or studying without an overwhelming and fundamental concern for the practical implications and experiential repercussions of the Dharma; we may likely develop a certain insensitivity and resistance to the potentially transformative effects of the profound and vast topics Buddha-dharma.
In my opinion, there is absolutely no reason, purpose or benefit in studying Buddha-dharma from a merely from an intellectual/academic perspective. Therefore, if you are unwilling to study the profound and vast Dharma with an open, receptive, yet discerning/critical state-of-mind; and/or are simply not interested in exploring the experiential repercussions of practically applying whatever it is that you study- you should not even waste your time here at RYI.
This was written by the indifferent dharma-bear; known as Pema Chris C- with the intense wish that these words may inspire fellow students to abandon worldly concerns, and skillfully blend the three wisdoms of study, contemplation and meditation into a single vast expanse of awareness.