Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tantric kindergarten

Since my last post, back in April, I've been attending class and going to debate-- just like every other year. Now that we are studying tantra, though, it is like being in first year again. There is a lot of new terminology to learn, not to mention an extremely profound view of the universe. Unlike first year, however, at least we can all understand the text. In our first year many of us had to struggle to cope with the classical Tibetan. Despite being Himalayan, many of my classmates were not raised speaking or reading Tibetan. Rather they were educated in Bhutanese, Nepali, Hindi, English, and in one case, Urdu. Tibetan was not the language spoken in their homes, although some of their ancestors may have been of Tibetan origin. So we all had to struggle to figure out what was going on in class. I had an advantage actually, in that I could read the English translations of the texts we studied.

The quality of my studying hasn't been great these last few months. I've been worrying about my Indian visa. I can't go into details here, since this is a public blog, but what it comes down to is: I may have trouble attending enough classes to be able to write final exams. In order to write the exams for a given year of shedra we have to have attended at least eighty percent of the classes. I still have some things to try, I want to be able to write the exams… But if I can't, well, I will still study all the same texts. I just won't be able to graduate with my class. It is hard to accept this potentiality-- graduating from shedra is my dream. But really, it is just a piece of paper and a title. This situation forces me to focus on studying the Dharma for its own sake, which is how it should be.