During my time here at RYI, I began having a completely different experience to the Buddhism that I knew. Having grown up in a Buddhist family, I had some experience of Buddhist practice and culture, but had never fully immersed myself in any specific text where the Buddhist terminology is used. I had of course some idea of what they meant, but never truly knew their meaning and where they come from – basically the details of what the word means (since one word can mean many things or has different meaning in different contexts). I opened a book and many seemingly random words and concepts jumped at me, and sort of overwhelmed me. Bodhicitta, Samdhinirmocana sutra, Sravakayana, relative and ultimate, Tathagata, existence, non-existence, both existence and non- existence and neither existence and non-existence – What? How can something be there and not there at the same time?
So my first year at RYI was the first time I had really plunged into the vast terminology of Buddhist literature. At first I found it difficult to follow along in most classes as there were a lot of unfamiliar words thrown about. Of course, to date, it is still an on-going process of learning, but after 3 years, I can place these letters into words that make sense. Now I can read through paragraphs and understand the general gist, and place the words in their specific contexts. After all these years, from thinking “OK, let me see what this is all about” to knowing that if someone were to ask me what Buddhism is about, I could give somewhat of an answer. I know over the next couple of year that I study here, and over the course of my life, I will learn even more, and yet look back to the time I write this blog and think how much I’ve learnt since then.