The Silent Transformative Power of Dharma  

-Mateo Buki, BA student from Ecuador

In my first year at Rangjung Yeshe, like most students in their first year, I studied the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra. In that class, many of my classmates who were on a study abroad program did not study that text motivated by a personal religious interest based on faith, as it was my case. They were approaching it with outsiders’ curiosity and as a cultural experience. I was curious to see what sort of effect the study of this text could have on us. This text is particularly known to be a profound and engaging text. It lays out the practice of the bodhisattvas in a smooth way backed by very solid reasoning, making the material very relatable to one’s own experience.  
Although in Rangjung Yeshe the emphasis is almost entirely placed on academic study, students are encouraged not to limit their studies to mere dry understanding, but rather to relate to it as a means for personal transformation. As the semester progressed, I intermittently asked my classmates about their experience regarding the impact of their studies on their personal life. To my surprise, although there was a lot of heterogeneity in their answers, they had something in common. This was the appreciation of the capacity of the human heart that the verses composed by Shantideva allow us to glimpse. Even more so, meeting individuals who dedicate their lives to training in what Shantideva advocates for, as is the case of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, and the lopons and khenpos. This was mostly what touched the heart of the students and what I believe is a catalyst for positive transformation in our lives. 

Students come to Rangjung Yeshe with different goals and objectives, many of them have never heard of the Dharma before and may not even have a particular interest in it. However, the mere experience of experiencing the Dharma through the beauty and depth of its texts, or seeing it expressed in someone who embodies it, is a transformative experience. 

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