Introduction from Tennessee

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Introduction from Tennessee

Postby AndrewR » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:37 am

Hey everyone, I'm (do pronouns get quotation marks on Buddhist forums?) a sophomore undergraduate psychology student from Tennessee. I've considered myself a Buddhist [is this sentence contradictory?] since my early teenage years, but mybabiding faith in what I saw as the clearest and deepest expression of truth and reality within the philosophy/religion/ultimate truth of Buddhism has mainly been an isolated one. Tennessee is not exactly a thriving hub of Dharma activity (to my knowledge), and the few meditation centers I've visited didn't exactly inspire me for the deep explorations of pratitya-samutpada, dharma combat, sunyata, koans, Buddhist logic, Tibetan meditation, Vajrayana, vipassana, and tantra (realize I'm drawing freely from all three vehicles here) that interest me particularly in Buddhism and lodged it firmly in the center of my affections, convictions, and allegiance. I came to Buddhism through its texts, its words, whether it was Hanshan, the Suttas of the Pali Canon, poring over Nagarjuna's Mulamadyamakarika, or repeating koans endlessly and privately to myself, thinking about the way they played with logic and context.

At some level, Buddhism may be the most precious thing in my life. Every day I live is, in ways which seem absolutely unapparent to nearly everyone but me, informed by my understanding and resonance with the core teachings and insights that my years-long study of Buddhism has brought me. I want to sharpen and make more apparent that interest, through dialogue and experience of other dharma practitioners as well as trying to find and pursue goals of making a deeply informed and authentic formal practice a regular part of my life, along with all the ways that that is a transforming and even paramount life experience.

One of the central dreams of my life is to spend some time practicing in the home countries of Tibetan Buddhism and Zen, the two schools of Buddhism I am most strongly attracted to, perhaps at one of the great Tibetan monatery-universities or one of the more austere and rigorous Zen monasteries in Japan. I still have an opportunity to study abroad soon, and I suppose one of the central questions I have and one of the main reasons I've decided to use the Internet to connect with the larger Dharma community (aside from my aforementioned dharma-isolation here and a host of attendant reasons) is in pursuit of this dream-goal. Are there any forum-goers who have done either of these dreams, whether in Japan, Dharamsala, Chinese-held Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, etc? Could you comment on your experience and how you made it happen?


Thanks,

~Andrew
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Re: Introduction from Tennessee

Postby Shemmy » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:49 pm

Hello Andrew!

I salute you on the wide range of sources you have read from! It should help you when you start to meditate, which I would urge you to do, even if the centers in your area are less than inspiring. Look to yourself for the inspiration, and the centers can give you the guidelines for a practice. I know there is a center serving the chapter of the Padmasambhava Nyingma group and appears to be a fairly active center in Nashville. The Padmasambhava group always seem to be offering very interesting and esoteric teachings from the Nyingma tradition which I myself practice, tho I have never been to any of their centers. Have you checked them out?

I have a roughly similar situation to you, in that there aren't really any teachers in the Vajrayana here in Thailand where I make my home. I am American but I have lived over in Asia for 17 years, and ironically, you have, by and large much better opportunities to practice over there in America. The Buddhist culture is dying over here, in Thailand it is very corrupted, often used as a bolster for Thai nationalism, few people understand the basic tenets of Buddhism and what there is quite difficult to impossible to access as a westerner, language being the main barrier. There are opportunities if you are interested in Theravada, but it isn't like you'd think in a country that claims to 95 percent Buddhist. That said, I am on the verge of going to India and Nepal to practice and try and meet up with teachers and to practice intensively. Myanmar also has a lot of places to go and do retreat that sound appealing.

Recently the government has begun lifting its ban on Vajrayana. So we have had a stream of very accomplished people come through town and try and do what they could to give us some teachings. I got some good instruction, in January, 3 days from Lama Phakchok on Vimalamitra's non-conceptual meditation and in February, Lama Ringu Tulku, who is an excellent speaker and teacher on all aspects of Buddhism was here for a week. Now I've just gotten an empowerment to practice the preliminary practices for the Dudjom lineage practices from the Nyingmapas from a Lama who was the secretary for Lama Dudjom for 15 years, Lama Rinchen Phuntsok. Now, I've got my work cut out for me, gotta practice this!
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Re: Introduction from Tennessee

Postby Mr. G » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:16 pm

AndrewR wrote: Are there any forum-goers who have done either of these dreams, whether in Japan, Dharamsala, Chinese-held Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, etc? Could you comment on your experience and how you made it happen?


Thanks,

~Andrew


Hi Andrew,

If you feel like it, you may start a separate thread on your questions. Usually I find the "Introductions" forum doesn't get as much traffic since it's really meant for new members to give quick introductions
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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