Author  Thao Phi

Reflections from Thao Phi, a recent student in the Graduate Certificate Program in Buddhist Translation, about how the program profoundly impacted her spiritual journey.

The translation program touched my life both in and beyond the classroom. In the Reading Seminar, we read the Therigatha, a poetry anthology depicting the spiritual experiences of elder nuns. Reading certain poems spiritually shook me and really planted a seed. A professor described my feeling as saṃvega, which in Pali is “Urgency or alarm in an existential way, remains the baseline of our practice, whether we act on it to the extent of renunciation or not. It’s the same path and the same motivating feeling.” I agree, and I continue to read the poems to anyone I can. The Therigatha inspires me to take on a similar endeavor with the high school girls I teach–what rare and fortuitous circumstances to be on campus with a population of nuns! This course also gave me the gift of bonding with my dad over Tang poetry and bringing about a new way of relating to each other.

Another outstanding course was Hermeneutics of Self. While I have been practicing Buddhism for much of my life, this course brought greater understanding and depth to my practice. It was so interesting to be able to deep-dive into segments of text with classmates. We analytically and experientially unpacked concepts like the five skandhas and what kleshas are comprised of. I was avoidant of the Yogacara school before this course, and now it makes so much more sense in a practical way. These impacts on my life manifested in very real, tangible, and meaningful ways. The transformations were, no doubt, a direct result of the Translation Program courses.