What does a hunting owl have to do with Nitartha?

A student essay by Charles Wesley on how Nitartha classes help cutting through our ordinary conceptualizations:

My relationship with words is very unnatural. You say “tomato” and I say “wrench.” The problem seems doubly compounded when I try to talk about Buddhism.

I have attended the Gomdra at the Nitartha Summer Institute for the last four years. I see Nitartha as a kind of Asgard, except instead of it being just for Viking heroines and heroes, it is for all suffering human beings. I’ve gathered the foundation knowledge of Buddhism from dozens of different places but it is all available at the Shedra of Nitartha.

The different times that I have been given the chance to study the Madhyamika reasonings and logic, a large part of the rest of the class has expressed lack of understanding of the purpose of this knowledge. But for me this study is crucially important when dealing with our everyday reality.

The everyday reality that confronts me seems like a solid unassailable wall of material and physical laws and inescapable relationships. Without these Madhyamika reasonings, I would not even for a moment have been able to cut through the ordinary conceptualizations. The reasonings show me that what, from a distance, seems solid and constantly running like an inexorable clock, when looked at closely is really not at all what it seems, and is not working at all.

The ordinary interpretation of reality is actually completely crazy and impossible. And yet it continues to appear and I remind myself every day of the tools I now have and will continue to remind myself until the apparent solid wall becomes the roiling mist of magical display that it actually is. I’m not sure what other people do or need, but if you have no means to cut through these conceptualizations, you should get on that as quickly as possible – and Nitartha is one place where you can get these.

One of the most amazing takeaways from my time at Nitartha for which I feel so fortunate and grateful is the view, the knowledge, the clarity, the image, the sight, the “whatever-it-is” of what I should be meditating on. The “thing itself” and the whole process seem somewhat indescribable.

I have this metaphorical image of a hunting owl, gliding silently, circling, and spiraling down towards its prey, a slithering snake. The owl sees the snake and is getting closer and closer and sees more clearly. But this metaphor only works if the slithering snake is also a black hole or antimatter and when the hunter pounces on its prey, they both disappear or burst into a dazzling explosion.

Charles Wesley