Posts

Investigating Buddhist Ethics

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Investigating Buddhist Ethics
This semester RYI offered a class on Buddhist ethics, taught by Prof. Diane Denis. Have you ever wondered what Buddhism has to say about complicated ethical questions? Sure, we should be compassionate, follow our vows, avoid the ten non-virtuous actions and engage in the ten virtuous actions and the six paramitas, but what do we do when an issue is too complex to be answered by these maxims or they contradict each other? Is it more ethical to do a retreat or to help society through activism? I usually have an opinion on ethical issues, but it is mostly based on my gut-feeling rather than ethical considerations and I often wonder if my intuition is in accordance with Buddhist philosophy or not. There are many issues and problems in modern times that are not directly addressed in Buddhist teachings, because they were not relevant at the time. In our class, we started by learning a variety of ethical ideas that Buddhism has to offer and chose individual topic…

Nṛtya offering

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Arya Tara on Khenpo Rinpoche's 86th Birthday


Today (March 1st 2020) is KhenpoTsultrimGyamtso Rinpoche’s birthday. On this auspicious day, one of my secret wishes was fulfilled. Last year, I received lojong and vajra dance trainings from Ani Tsering Youdon, one of Khenpo Rinpoche’s nuns. This year, I began

Last Semester at RYI

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This is my last semester at RYI!!! Amazing, we are already at the second half of the spring semester. When I started my BA years ago, I thought this time would never come and four years felt like a lifetime. However, now I feel like it was only yesterday I arrived in Kathmandu, and I almost wish I could do the whole thing again. It was so nice to come to Nepal and know absolutely nothing about Nepal! At that time I did not even know that buff momos are better than vegetable momos, and I still enjoyed the Nepali traffic because it was “fun” compared to the traffic back home:) The only bad thing I can say about the early days was that I didn’t realize how amazing an opportunity it is to get to study Tibetan, Philosophy, and so forth in such an amazing monastery, and therefore I was quite lazy. I could have learned the basics of Tibetan and academic paper writing much earlier if I had been smarter back then. In spite of that however, I am so happy that I decided to stay in Nepal and cont…

My experience of offering Music Therapy sessions at RYI.

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I am a third year B.A student at Ranjung Yeshe Institute. Apart from studying at RYI, I also work as a freelance music therapist and musical artist. Last fall semester, I got an opportunity to facilitate music therapy sessions for RYI students at the newly built meditation room in Utpala Café. We would meet most Monday late afternoons and engage in an hour of musical activities. The activities included chanting, music and movement, and various self-reflective exercises. These sessions were open to all RYI students and occasional guests were also welcome to join us. It was a heart warming experience for me to offer my services to fellow student friends and their guests as this was the time where we could share our thoughts, connect with each other, or just sit silently in a safe musical space. The sessions were filled with enthusiasm and reverence for one another. It was a meaningful opportunity for us to get to know each other besides class room settings. During the sessions, we were u…

Dirty Window: A Reflection on the Uttaratantra-śāstra

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During the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters, a group of Rangjung Yeshe’s students had the good fortune to meet every day, during one and a half hours, to study the Uttaratantra-śāstra by Arya Maitreya[1] with Khenpo Karma Gyurme (also known as Tokpa Tulku). Approaching canonical Buddhist texts under the guidance of the ordained sangha is definitely one of the highlights of studying at RYI. Below, I wish to share a reflection on the subject of Buddhahood as ultimately uncreated, which is one of the core teachings explained in the Uttaratantra-śāstra. The idea of Buddhahood as uncreated means that enlightenment is unconditioned, it is not a state produced by the path; and, accordingly, the path is not the cause of enlightenment. Such statement, however, seems to contradict the interpretation of a spiritual path leading to the state of awakening. In other words, can a path that has a conditioned, progressive nature and its supposed outcome (Buddhahood) that is unconditioned be reconci…

Heroic Beings

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I want to share about a Buddhist text I studied in RYI that has been extremely helpful for me to embark on the Buddhist studies. This text is The Way of The Bodhisattva. Since it is in verse, it was easier to study with a commentary. First of all, a Bodhisattva is a being who possesses bodhichitta, which is the mind that wishes to obtain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. This definition shows the main characteristic that a Buddhist (in the Mahayana tradition) must possess. In the broad view, Buddhas teach the dharma, the path  towards cessation of suffering. Meanwhile, they also help and protect sentient beings from immediate sufferings such as deprivations for survival and fear from the adversaries, through their generosity. The intention behind this, which is bodhichitta, is solely to relieve the beings from suffering in this life and future lives. That is the reason why bodhisattvas are called sometimes heroic beings. Heroic is their practice and supreme is the …

A Place for Inspiration

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“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
Often, when a person settles in a location, one eventually becomes accustomed to his or her surroundings and can easily become complacent. I am grateful to reflect that, after almost three years living in Nepal, I still carry the same sense of awe that I had when I first arrived. On more than one occasion, I have walked down any road in Boudha with a friend or a colleague and wondered how strange and incredible it is that I (or we) landed here. This sense of awe is especially apparent when I walk with somebody who has never seen Boudha or Nepal before, for through fresh eyes can we revitalize our experience of the world. Life in Nepal provides a number of opportunities for students, but the most promising of those opportunities are the people we meet and the places we go to find inspiration. At RYI, we have a supportive community, and have the opportunity to work closely with our brilliant profess…