academic studies in Buddhism

The Beauty of Diversity 

-Patric Zwahlen, a BA student from Switzerland

After last year’s extensive investigation of emptiness in the context of the Madhyamakāvatāra, this year’s focus is on the Uttaratantra Shastra and luminosity. Especially at the beginning of this year, it was often challenging to understand these two perspectives, emphasizing the second and third turning of the wheel in different ways, not as contradictory. In this context, I came to appreciate the book Mipham on Buddha-Nature by Douglas S. Duckworth. An essential element of this book is to illustrate that, from Mipham Rinpoche’s perspective, there is no contradiction between the presentations based on the second or third turning of the wheel. From his point of view, both perspectives can be considered definitive in their meaning and are different viewpoints on ultimate reality. It is a great privilege to study the diversity of the Buddha’s teachings here at RYI in such an inclusive atmosphere. Diversity, however, is not only a feature of the Buddha’s teachings but also an essential characteristic at RYI. The students with their different professional and cultural backgrounds are an expression of that diversity. But also, the combination of modern academic education and traditional monastic studies is an outstanding feature at RYI. Diversity is also visible in the encounter between East and West or regarding people of different ages who study and practice together. Diversity is one of the aspects that I especially appreciate here at RYI. It is rewarding to encounter this diversity with respect and appreciation, regardless of whether it concerns different philosophical perspectives of the Buddha’s teachings or the diversity of students and teachers at RYI. Facing diversity with openness and interest gives rise to new perspectives, and eventually, a deeper understanding can arise. I sincerely thank all fellow students, the administration, teachers, and translators for creating such a conducive environment. May we continue to study, reflect, and meditate together for a long time to come, and by doing that, may we benefit countless sentient beings 

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