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Journey from Western Philosophy to Buddhist Philosophy 



My interest in Academic Buddhism grew at St Olaf college. Through the Religion department, I took several classes on Buddhism. Especially after taking the class on Zen Buddhism and Asian philosophy, I started observing similar themes that were also being discussed in the Western philosophy. One such example was the concept of an agent/self. I was a student of Western philosophy, mostly studying European based philosophy. My initial comparison between Western philosophy and Buddhism started from the thought that Buddhism provides a non- conceptual, experiential component which Western Philosophy lacks due to its armchair nature. As my interest in Buddhism grew, I applied for the summer program at Rangjung Yeshe Institute where I took a course on Buddhist Studies. Studying there made me realize that what I knew about Buddhism was just the tip of an iceberg. And this place further reaffirmed my view on the practical aspect of Buddhism. I met professors who embody the philosophy they teach. Moreover, I was also introduced to meditation. At the end of our retreat program, Ranjung Yeshe created a retreat session at Pharphing. This really started  my interest in meditation. And after I graduated from St. Olaf, I applied for a job at a mental health center where therapeutic tools like mindfulness and yoga were used to treat kids with trauma. I particularly remember an awkward moment with one of the therapists as I shared how buddhist practitioners do meditation in order to become a Buddha. Such a view felt uninvited in spaces where mindfulness had just become a tool to calm oneself. And even made me question what I meant by Buddhahood and created an urgency to study Buddhism extensively at Rangjung Yeshe Institute.  

My interest in Academic Buddhism grew at St Olaf college. Through the Religion department, I took several classes on Buddhism. Especially after taking the class on Zen Buddhism and Asian philosophy, I started observing similar themes that were also being discussed in the Western philosophy. One such example was the concept of an agent/self. I was a student of Western philosophy, mostly studying European based philosophy. My initial comparison between Western philosophy and Buddhism started from the thought that Buddhism provides a non- conceptual, experiential component which Western Philosophy lacks due to its armchair nature. As my interest in Buddhism grew, I applied for the summer program at Rangjung Yeshe Institute where I took a course on Buddhist Studies. Studying there made me realize that what I knew about Buddhism was just the tip of an iceberg. And this place further reaffirmed my view on the practical aspect of Buddhism. I met professors who embody the philosophy they teach. Moreover, I was also introduced to meditation. At the end of our retreat program, Ranjung Yeshe created a retreat session at Pharphing. This really started  my interest in meditation. And after I graduated from St. Olaf, I applied for a job at a mental health center where therapeutic tools like mindfulness and yoga were used to treat kids with trauma. I particularly remember an awkward moment with one of the therapists as I shared how buddhist practitioners do meditation in order to become a Buddha. Such a view felt uninvited in spaces where mindfulness had just become a tool to calm oneself. And even made me question what I meant by Buddhahood and created an urgency to study Buddhism extensively at Rangjung Yeshe Institute.  

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