Broader hori­zons

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By XU WEI

Watch­ing monks de­bate the scrip­tures at a Ti­betan Bud­dhist monastery is awein­spir­ing, and at times it re­minds one of the pu­rity of the monks’ lives.

That was my shal­low first im­pres­sion as I watched a scrip­tural de­bate, which serves as the ul­ti­mate test for monks ap­ply­ing for qual­i­fi­ca­tions, equal to doc­tor­ates or grad­u­ate de­grees, at the High-level Ti­betan Bud­dhism Col­lege in Bei­jing in May.

As a reli­gious af­fairs re­porter, one of my ma­jor chal­lenges is that there is so much to learn.

This time it was the ba­sics of Ti­betan Bud­dhism, with­out which I would not have had a clue about the sub­jects the monks were de­bat­ing. Some­times, the dis­cus­sion be­came so in­tense that I was wor­ried it might ac­tu­ally turn into a phys­i­cal brawl.

Sangnga Ny­ima was one of the monks cho­sen to face the chal­lenge from sev­eral scrip­ture teach­ers si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

The 23-year-old ab­bot of a monastery in Ny­ingchi city in the Ti­bet au­tonomous re­gion com­pleted a Chi Ram Pa pro­gram — equiv­a­lent to a master’s de­gree — at the col­lege af­ter an ac­com­plished per­for­mance in the scrip­ture de­bate in May.

Seven months later, hav­ing re­turned to his monastery to as­sume the role of ab­bot, he has found his ex­pe­ri­ences in the col­lege were highly ben­e­fi­cial.

“Be­fore, I spent vir­tu­ally all my time in the monastery, read­ing and study­ing the Bud­dhist clas­sics. I had no idea what the world out­side Ti­bet was like,” he said in a phone in­ter­view.

“The two years I spent in Bei­jing broad­ened my hori­zons. I was given the op­por­tu­nity to travel around the coun­try and the cap­i­tal city. Sur­pris­ingly, it helped me to bet­ter un­der­stand the clas­sics,” he said. “It also helped me be­come a bet­ter per­son. I made a lot of friends, and I learned how to get along with peo­ple.”

One of the keen re­al­iza­tions that emerged from both Sangnga Ny­ima’s study trip to Bei­jing and my vis­its to Ti­betan Bud­dhism monas­ter­ies is that see­ing is be­liev­ing — and that can open one’s mind a lit­tle bit more.

WU GANG / XIN­HUA

Monks hone their de­bat­ing skills at a monastery in Qing­hai prov­ince.

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