Xuan Ooi

Xuan Ooi
MA student | Class of 2020

Plantation, Florida.

Education: BA in English, University of Florida.

What were you doing before DRBU? 
I had freshly graduated from my undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and after traveling for a few days in Europe, I started work at a family friend’s law firm in Miami. I wasn’t planning on jumping into a Master’s program at the time, but after taking a break to go to Buddha Root Farm, a retreat in Oregon hosted by people involved in the DRBU community, I saw that there was a way I could be around nurturing people while doing what I loved: talking about texts and working on my own self-care and growth. 

Influential Class you've taken: 
At this moment, I would choose Classical Chinese IV because the work and discussions we have in class illuminate ancient Chinese culture. A valuable part of the class is memorizing and translating poems from the Tang and Song dynasties. Memorizing vocabulary words and poems redirects my mind to a wholesome, productive place, instead of overthinking or stressing about my life. Translation is a humbling task for me, allowing me to actively practice not being attached to being correct or not. 

Influential Book you've read: 
In the Buddha’s Words
translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi. It is a wonderful anthology of Buddhist suttas that presents imagery that I still reference back to write papers for my other classes. 

Concept that blew my mind:
It is from t
he Three Texts of Consciousness Only. I learned that what I like or dislike is karmic, which helps me not get stuck in feeling guilty for what I inexplicably feel when encountering certain types of situations. 

Challenges I faced:
I would continually lack confidence in myself and because of this, blow small situations out of proportion in my mind which would greatly drain me mentally, physically, and emotionally. Paper writing at DRBU has been one of the most impactful ways for me to look at what I experience head-on and deconstruct that, ending off with a solution. I’ve written papers about loneliness, perceived “lacking”, fears, and overthinking to interpret this general challenge.

How has DRBU changed me?
DRBU has changed me in many ways, although the most significant change has been in the development of my patience. I often contemplate the texts that I have read in classes in tough times, and found that meditating and reciting helps open a space of tranquility so that I can observe and think about what I am going through without irritation. 

What surprised you about DRBU?
The extreme kindness and caring that people genuinely bring forth in their interactions with each other. It is really unparalleled. 

Title of a recent paper:
“Uprooting the Attachment to Self and Exploring Nonattachment in Interpersonal Relationships.” 

What is it about?
It is an investigation of why people are attached to others. 

What is it really about?
This issue of grasping to others in the form of “I miss you” actually stems from a complete attachment to the perceived self. I wanted to “see interpersonal relationships as they really are'', truly embracing nonattachment. 

What language are you taking?
Classical Chinese. I am on my way to finishing my fourth semester of it. 

What’s your service scholarship (work study) job?
I am part of Student Activities, where a small team and I organize events for the community; Outreach, where I take photos of events, write for the website, help with social media and the newsletter, and work on DRBU’s student magazine Mirror Flower Water Moon; and, Institutional Research, where I help with the internal processes of the university. I also wash the pots and pans in the kitchen every Saturday, and bring food to the elderly nuns every weekend, on top of cleaning their dining hall. 

Describe a daily practice if you have one:
Every morning I meditate and recite the Shurangama Mantra, as well as do yoga. I also try to incorporate mettā practice as well as reciting during relatively mundane tasks. 

What do you do for fun?
I like listening to music and spending time having conversations with people. Another thing I like to do is to watch movies, which are also a big hit at DRBU. 

How has financial aid played a role in your being here?
Financial aid allowed me to be here right out of my undergraduate studies. I’m so glad to be learning everything I am learning now and look forward to having a long life of transforming myself that I wouldn’t have been able to do without financial aid. 

How do you see what you’re learning here carrying out into the world?
Everything I have learned in the Master’s program is directly applicable to becoming a more aware, better person. I’ve learned to shift my perspectives on likes and dislikes, obstacles in my life, developing wholesome qualities like confidence, patience, generosity, and loving-kindness, and more. To say it simply, what I’ve learned at DRBU really comes to fruition in face of conflict and in interpersonal relationships.