An Astounding Scene of Contemplation

The Five Great Treatises were first established by Master Khedrup-Je and have been passed down through the lineage till today

The powerful debates that shook the Three Worlds.

The resonant sound of the Manjusri Bodhisattva mantra seed syllable, together with the sound of handclaps, broke through the tension in the examination hall. In that moment, the breath withholding silence and gaze, translated into intense focus of and attention on listening. The sitting defender, also the one who established the view for debate, four seniors from the topmost class who have completed the Five Great Treatises curriculum, the other remaining candidates, and sangha, all surrounded the hall. This day, was the debate examination for the Sangha at the GEBIS.

Recalling back then, when Shakyamuni Buddha exhibited supernatural power to subdue the six heretic leaders; when the great Master Atisha seated on a golden throne refuting all the erroneous conceptions of the teachings; when Master Xuan Zang after giving a lecture at Kanyakubja, for 18 days he waited, and no one dared counter debate with him, thus his fame spread widely since; and when Je Rinpoche, with a heart as vast as the ocean, visited many renowned temples, listened to discourses, engaging in debates, as such, the study through listening and contemplating the teachings were once again practised widely throughout “The Land of Snow”.   In the same way the Five Great Treatises education system was first established by Master Khedrup-je, it continued its tradition to this day. Among which, the debate final examination system in Sangha at the GEBIS Community has gradually become more and more well-developed and complete. 

 

Every year after the completion of the study, in accordance to the traditional practice, the final examination will be carried out starting with the most senior class, down to the most junior class sequentially. This year (2017), the Monastery in Taiwan has commenced half-month long examinations for the beginner and intermediate “Ornament of Clear Realisation” classes, and the “Dialectic Studies” Classes. Every practicing sangha, in the presence of the entire class, a panel of four examiners, the witnessing audience, which came to about hundreds of people, had to continuously ask questions that were related to the content of their studies in that year, 15 minutes. Thereafter, they would enter into a 15-minute debate session with a classmate, who would then be the one to raise questions. 

 

In order to fight the inner intimidation of failing to live up to the expectations of all teachers, and the commitment to uphold the high standard of teachings in the Monastery, majority began their preparation for this day at least two to three months ahead. The scriptures were memorized repeatedly. Every question was reflected thoroughly from different perspectives, holding frequent consultation and discussion with the seniors; having debate practices time and again to uncover one’s blind spots. Frequent references were made to the Sutras and Commentaries, to search amidst its vastness, for the treasures in the Sages’ words of wisdom, thus filling one’s mind with the beauty from conquering one pinnacle to the next. Like what Venerable Xing Huang said, “Although pre-examination nerves are evident, however, during the process of intense preparation, I felt I have in fact learnt a great deal. The joy from this reward is indescribable!” 

 

As the debate session intensified, deafening sounds of handclaps and stamping feet filled the air; filling the atmosphere with the fighting spirit from the deep recesses of the hearts, and illuminating the breath-taking beauty of dharma thoughts. In the fervent exchange of words between both teams, it encapsulated the ultimate fruition of wisdom, possibly attained from years of many individuals’ hard work, thereby providing a collective vast offering to all Buddhas and Boddhisattvas.

 

The emphasis was not on the outcome, but on pushing one’s limits to overcome one’s very own weakness each time, in preparation for the very final battle with Lord of Death, crushing it with pride and dignity. While victory and loss are but only momentary, it is hoped that the strong desire to continue our pursuits of true Dharma will persevere joyously and ceaselessly through the course of the debate and reciting the sutras by heart. May all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Dharma Protectors smile upon us, and bless this debate event for as long as until the teachings of Master Tsong-Kha-Pa blossom in all ten directions and lift all sentient beings from the vicious cycle of sufferings and afflictions.