My Journey into Buddhist Studies
-Stanzin Lotus, MA from Ladakh
I was born in a Buddhist family in Ladakh, a part of the Trans-Himalayan region situated at the northernmost end of India. Growing up I observed and practiced Tibetan Buddhism as a lay practitioner with gross knowledge. Post-schooling I graduated with B.Com (Prog.) from the University of Delhi, however my inclination in Buddhist studies gradually developed upon various encounters with people who shared their thoughts on various aspects of Buddha’s teachings. Soon after completing my graduation, having come across a random poster advertising Tibetan language learning and Buddhist Philosophical studies course, I decided to take the initiative to join this course at Tibet House Delhi, the cultural centre of H.H. the Dalai Lama.
I remember during my initial classes I was naïve enough, even the teachings on “the Four Noble Truths” was novel to me. I realised the importance of studying Buddhism from an academic point of view. Considering being born into a Buddhist family, having come across various discussions, spotting the random advertisement, and the growing thirst for Buddhist philosophy all together appeared as a good omen. Thus, I decided to switch my field of study and finally turned to Buddhist philosophy. To study and explore Buddhist studies academically, I pursued Post-graduation in M.A. Buddhist Studies from the University of Delhi. During my master’s I explored several topics such as the History of Buddhism, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Pāli Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, and so forth. Along with the masters I did the Nalanda Diploma Course in Buddhist Philosophy and Psychology from Tibet House Delhi where my understanding of the Buddha’s teachings grew further.
My journey did not end there. It became even more interesting when I was introduced to Rangjung Yeshe Institute. I did a Summer Program Course in Classical Tibetan at first, and am currently pursuing MA in Buddhist Studies through online mode. I found the classes challenging and conducive to excellent learning. Being provided with amazing reading materials, along with class discussions with teachers and my fellow mates at RYI really helps me gain a better understanding of the subject. I find it a perfect platform for learning where even though it is challenging yet equally fulfilling. It has enabled me to broaden my mind and has provided me with the opportunity to explore the different nuances of Buddhist Studies. The curriculum becomes furthermore interesting with classes such as Sanskrit Traditional chanting which is my favorite part of the course as it certainly brings joy within me when I do the chanting. At first as a beginner of the traditional style of chanting particularly one is required to focus on the practice of śravaṇa (listening) and the benefit that I reaped out of it is in terms of the clarity of my Sanskrit pronunciation.
If I come to Nepal next semester, I am sure that in such an environment Buddhism won’t just be a philosophy but a living practice where people embody it. I am excited to see Nepal, meet my classmates, and most importantly meet our Venerable Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche in person.