Once, in the middle of a conversation, someone asked me: “Why are you here at RYI?” For a few seconds, many things came to my mind, but my answer was pretty straightforward: “I am here because I want to study the Dharma”.
Later on, I thought that this was an interesting question; a question I have asked myself several times throughout the academic year in different ways. Usually, at the beginning of the semester, when everything is smooth and relaxed, the question arises as a joyful expression: “Why have not I come here earlier?” However, with the stress for the assignments and the exams, the question turns into a more comic expression. Sometimes with a certain rebellious mood: “What the heck am I doing here?” Or some other times even with a deep existential inquiry: “What is the real meaning of all these studies?” Luckily, all these questions vanish when the exams are over and I am enjoying my holidays…
Nonetheless, I want to answer again this question to myself, in brief but from a broader perspective: I have come to study at RYI basically due to my longing and interest towards the Buddha dharma, because I wanted to deepen my understanding of the Buddhist Philosophy as well as to improve my language skills in the Tibetan language. Mostly, I wanted to receive teachings on many of the great philosophical treatises that would help me to comprehend the meaning of emptiness, compassion and reality; and I wanted to have the opportunity of doing so for several years. That is why the BA program seemed to be the perfect match for what I was looking for.
Then, the following question is: “Is this initial purpose for my studies at RYI accomplished or not?” The answer is: “Yes, definitely.” At RYI, not only I do have the chance to receive the teachings from the Khenpos and Lobpons with a traditional perspective, but I also get the opportunity to attend classes with Western scholars who have been studying the Buddhist philosophy for a long time and present it from a modern perspective. Moreover, I also have language teachers whose complete dedication to their task is praiseworthy. This is a privileged place, in which students have a good fortune of having both Eastern and Western scholar-practitioners as teachers who will lead them in their studies with an amazing combination of traditional and academic approach. Of course the whole setup of the studies can be challenging in some aspects, but its sophisticated quality can bring about wonderful and fulfilling results.
~ Maite Castellano Menchaca