Encounters with Testimonies of Awakening 

-Kerstin Shoho Kuebast, MBS from US 

It’s the third hour I am sitting over a book for my class. I am taking notes as I am reading and re-reading these dense paragraphs. A part of me has deep admiration for the Tibetan thinker, whose work is the focus of my book. I have also deep respect for the Western academic who wrote the book about the Tibetan thinker. Yet, another part of me is anxious I won’t fully penetrate the content of this book’s section, prior to my class tomorrow.  

This seems like a normal description of graduate study. At the same time, I do know that my encounter with this Tibetan thinker will be with me, even after my studies at RYI are complete. First, this is so because of the deep impression this study material has on me. Here I am learning not only of incredible visionaries that put forth great expositions on the Buddha’s teachings; these Indian and Tibetan Buddhist masters’ visions are their direct experience. An experience that has the effect of genuine happiness. We are to discover this for ourselves through our study. 

Through learning these teachings and of these accomplished Buddhist masters, my outlook changes. The study material is not just information that one is to stash away into some archive. Instead, I can see what a rare and precious opportunity it is to encounter such teachings. They touch the heart and change the way I relate to myself and those around me. Because what I learn makes sense, I am very much compelled to put it into practice. 

And that is also my third point on why the study material at RYI will be with me beyond my graduate program. As difficult as it is to read, understand and express my own understanding, the efforts are rewarding. Although I am not yet able to penetrate this book that I have been bending over for hours, it continues to be there. Some life situation turns and reminds me of my study material, inviting me: Look again! Look again! And indeed, each time I review my notes or revisit my study material, another layer of insight into these teachings seems to reveal itself. Some clarity arrives by combining study with practice. Then some confusion and tension are released. What is left is gratitude that beams with love towards these masters, who took the time and effort to express the Buddha’s visions, so we can access them. The efforts to do so are all worth it! 

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