My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby SonamZangpo » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:38 pm

(Well, as in many of my posts, this wound up being a lot longer than I had expected, and I know not everyone has the stamina to read, especially when it comes to someone else's life experiences. However, I think my story is important for young practitioners, to know that a life in devotion is, in fact, and option. I split the whole thing in sections, so you can read parts at a time. The most important parts are the following beginning paragraph, and the last few paragraphs, marked starting by the multiple asterisks.)


If you are reading this, and you are a young person, and you have some connection to a Buddhist center which in turn has an affiliate monastery. If you are without direction, without purpose, without cause... then please consider becoming a Monk or Nun. I realize the thought of completely devoting yourself to Buddhism is a scary thing- and indeed being scared is the natural reaction. I feel scared, but it isn't I who is scared, it is my Ego screaming in fear knowing it will be eradicated. Also, I am saying consider it. Coming to this decision to become a monk has taken over a year, of thinking about it a lot, and took a lot of really bad things happening to make me realize that this is what I was meant to do. I pray in this moment that none of you will have to endure the suffering I did, even though for me it was absolutely necessary. By simply considering it, and considering seriously, the seed of being a monk or nun will be planted within you. It will eventually grow and bloom. It may not be in this lifetime, it may be in the next, or a hundred lifetimes from now. However, if you take the five lay vows, and live without harming others, and continue to generate good merit, the choice to become a monk will become obvious. I'll share a little of my story with you so you can see what I mean.

I am currently 22 years old, I came across Buddhism when I was twenty. Growing up, I was a hardcore christian kid. I was under the impression that I was going to become a pastor. I was praised (not in the definition of prayer, I was told I was a good practitioner) by the members of my congregation at a young age, being told that I was farther along my walk with God than many adults were. However, I had a very ignorant view about prayer. I thought if you had a problem, any problem, that if you prayed to God with enough devotion and faith, the solution would present itself to you with little effort. I also believed if the solution was not revealed to you, there was meaning for it, either a lesson to be learned, or divine punishment. This view worked great for a while, because my problems were relatively minor. Also, it seemed my power of prayer worked, even on some of the bigger things. I knew not to pray for materialistic things, and that it was very good and right to pray for others. Even the pastors- who worked in tandem- started having me read scripture every Sunday, because I read with such devotion and enthusiasm that it got everyone excited. However, eventually my ignorance caught up with me. I started becoming mentally ill, unaware that I was destined to develop a personality disorder. With a personality disorder your brain structure literally grows different than others, so you wind up thinking and reacting differently than most. I started feeling horribly depressed all the time, and I, with my ignorant thoughts in mind, began paying heavily. Hours on end spent in private praying with devotion, offering things, and so on. I even pleaded that I needed to be emotionally well in order to reveal the joy of Christianity to others. However, I only got worse. By the time I was sixteen, I left Christianity. It wasn't that I didn't believe in God, not at first- It's that I did believe in him, in my ignorant way. I believed he heard my prayers and ignored me, that he was punishing me, one of his most devout disciples.

After leaving Christianity, there was an emptiness in my being where my faith used to be. I started trying to fill it with miscellaneous things, but mostly philosophy. This is when I came across my first tastes of Buddhism. However, reading quotes of philosophical wisdom doesn't provide the same benefit- or even the same meaning as if they were read by a practitioner. For years I wandered aimlessly, and I became obsessed with romantic love. Love had become my new religion. In my old life, love was second to God. But now that God was out of the picture, there was only romance. I was under the belief that I would never truly be happy unless I met that special someone, fell in love, and started a life with them. And so I began looking, and looking very hard over the years, in the meantime training my skills in poetry, psychology, and romantic philosophy in order to become more appealing to a potential mate. Well, ever hear or see those people, who look for something so hard, that they will find it in anything, completely delusional? That was me. I had relationship after relationship thinking "this girl is the ONE." After high school though, my emotional problems got so bad and untreated that I was hospitalized, released only under the condition that I attend a partial hospital program, in which I went to therapy 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (the place is now 5 hours a day instead). I got out, and then a whole new chapter in my spiritual life had started- my ultimate downfall.

It's probably a good thing that I discovered hedonism early on. If I had discovered it later in life, I would have put off the inevitable rock bottom I was meant to experience. I became a stoner with relative ease- I had been smoking since I was 16 (the same time I left christianity and religion as a whole- coincidence? Not at all). It was a few months into being a stoner that things became worse, all because of Hedonism, or rather, my simple, perverted view of it. For those of you who don't know, Hedonism is the belief that pleasure is the ultimate good. This has been practiced in many ways, but a way in which it is practiced modernly, which I practiced, was to indulge to the fullest extent possible. I believed in anything made you feel pleasure, then it was good, no matter what. With this in mind, I wound up becoming a cocaine and heroin addict. After a while I got sober, but then relapsed again with cocaine. Knowing that my surroundings at the time were relapse-central, I ran away. I eventually came to live at a homeless youth transitional program in upstate NY. That was the beginning of change for me.

Living in this house, I met my amazing friend John. Now, john was a Vajrayana Buddhist, but was far from being devoted. In fact, his faith was sort of broken, and he had begun studying many other religions, though, he did remain steadfast in his vows, and always asserted he would remain with dharma, but may incorporate other religious beliefs into his life. I told him my woes and how I longed for a spiritual path, only to come across hedonism and ruin my life. The first thing he told me, was that Buddhism was NOT for me. He commented on how much of a black-and-white thinker I was (and still am in some ways, but have come a long way), and coming from a theistic background, I simply could not grasp Buddhism. So, he introduced me to some other beliefs, but in the end, he conceded to teach me about Buddhism. For the next few months after, we became full on Buddhist, or, as much as two young guys in a slummy town with constant drama being thrown in our faces could. Not to mention I was also dealing with becoming sober, and hadn't told anyone. As I said, months passed. It eventually came time for me to discharge from the program. I was to move into an apartment merely one bus ride from woodstock- where Karma Triyana Dharmachakra is located. However, because of some complications, my living arrangements fell through and I had to move back to connecticut. Before I left, though, John and I had made a deal and promise to become Monks together. At the time, while John was more studied and had more experience in Buddhism, we were sort of equals, in a way.

I moved back to my home in connecticut, completely cut off from all things Buddhist. Instead of preparing to become a monk, I started chasing after girls again, and became so obsessed again that I told my friend John I would not become a monk, because I wanted to have a family. He protested, and pleaded, and ridiculed, and nagged, but ultimately I just started ignoring him, and his reaching out to me in an attempts to get me to practice the Dharma. There has been a lot of things that have went on since then, I will explain them quickly- found no work, got lied to and backstabbed by a few close friends, began drinking heavily, started going back to college, met the "love of my life", got engaged, got cheated on but forgave, then got left for the guy I got cheated on with, met another girl, fell for her, was told she wasn't ready for a relationship YET, and I let myself be strung along for 5 months, I got into a fight with my sister such that she will not even go to my mother's house if I'm there, I got kicked out of my mom's house by my stepdad, spent a little time homeless, moved into an apartment where my roomates make it party central, fell into a deep depression for months.

**********************************************************
However, that whole time, dharma was working. At some of my lowest points, I would say mantras and meditate- and feel better. Once I felt better, I would become distracted by... samsara, and would ignore Buddhism all over again. But still, the seed of Dharma was planted, and it was growing. Slowly I realized parties weren't fun, bars weren't fun, and months later, that drinking wasn't fun, and slowly but surely, many of the distractions began to disappear. The final one that stood in my way, even as I became a more serious practitioner, was wanting to fall in love. However, my karma must have been just right, because I had a moment of insight where my ignorance cleared- I had spent countless amounts of time, effort, money, and sanity, not only on Love, but on wordly, mundane things, and it had gotten me no where! No where at all! It was then I knew I was to become a Monk. Now, I am in the process of pursuing that goal.

(EDIT 8/29/2011: Ok, when writing the following advice, I truly had the best intentions. I'm still going to leave the passage, but I'm also going to clarify that if you start out a rant addressing anyone who feels lost with no way to go, and then tell them they should devote themselves entirely to a cause [it doesn't really matter what the cause is] with the promise that they will gain a deeper sense of meaning in life, they're likely going to take up that opportunity. Don't get me wrong, out of all the causes one could devote themselves to, I truly believe that Buddhism would be the best, I just think that I wrote the following passage in the throws of passion without much consideration for how easily influenced some people can be)

So, I repeat- if your story is like mine... If you have tried to make it in the world over and over, only to fail merely because you do not seem cut out for it. If you see no reason to get out of bed in the morning, if you have no direction or worth or meaning or identity... consider devoting yourself completely to Dharma. Being in that sort of position actually puts you at an advantage over others, since you have less attachments to let go of. Again, as I said, just consider it... it is an option, and will remain an option, and the fear you feel when thinking about it will go away with time.

Thank you for reading, many blessings to you, and may for all the good merit I accumulate, you take a share, and for all the bad karma you accumulate, may I take a share to ease your burden. I say that with sincerity, my Brothers and Sisters.

(NOTE: This is not a past I am dwelling on, so no need to worry there. I just find many people can learn from others experiences, so I am conveying them here. I am very, very far from perfect, so I apologize for any imperfections or offensive material in this post, and if need be, I can modify it. The point in my now being able to start becoming a monk is that I have weakened my attachments to a past such as this.)

(PS: If you were wondering about date of sobriety and length... I cannot give you anything exact, as when I last used hard drugs, I didn't know it was my last time. however, I do know it was in mid-to-late august, which would put me at 2 years, 2 months sober from cocaine, and 2 years, 7 months sober from heroin on the tenth of this month. I have drank in the meantime, but I sort of equate "sobriety" to "time spent not using the drugs you were addicted to." However, if we want to talk about absolute sobriety, I have not been drunk in a few months, and my last alcoholic beverage was half a beer three or four weeks ago. I quit smoking a couple days ago. So I guess in absolute, it has only been a couple days! lol )


:oops:

(EDIT AUGUST 29TH 2011: It seems that this thread got brought back up recently, and I have received messages asking me about becoming a monk and things like that, and I would like to clarify that this was written almost a year ago and very little of what it contains is still accurate for me. I posted an update thread back in April and forgot to link it here, so... here: viewtopic.php?f=77&t=3744&p=33757#p33757
and in addition to that, I have also written an even more updated reply to both this post and the post from April, it's currently on the second page of this thread. Thanks for reading, and sorry about the mis-communication!)
Last edited by SonamZangpo on Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Will » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:45 am

This from an old Buddhist. Sounds like you recapitualted many lifetimes of samsaric hell in just a few years in this life. Carry on with Dharma study & practice, yet do not look for results.

namah samantabuddhanam
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby plwk » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:34 am

If you have tried to make it in the world over and over, only to fail merely because you do not seem cut out for it. If you see no reason to get out of bed in the morning, if you have no direction or worth or meaning or identity...
16 Most Inspiring Famous Failures

...consider devoting yourself completely to Dharma. Being in that sort of position actually puts you at an advantage over others, since you have less attachments to let go of.
Interesting thought....reminds me of what I used to read on...
Do Dharma
Making Dharma A Career
http://tsemtulku.com/teachings/contempl ... ng-refuge/
When are you ready for Dharma?
If you are subject to birth, sickness, old age, dying, you are ready for the Dharma.
If you are in samsara, you are ready.

Again, as I said, just consider it... it is an option, and will remain an option, and the fear you feel when thinking about it will go away with time.
Options options options....
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Luke » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:03 am

Hi Zangpo,

Congratulations on overcoming your substance abuse problems!

Here is some general info on ordination from Sravasti Abbey:
http://www.sravasti.org/monasticlife/considering.html
http://thubtenchodron.org/Publications/ ... index.html

You mentioned KTD, but is there even a monastery there? I know that there is a retreat center there, but I could never tell from the website if they have a monastery there or not. Although they probably have some visiting or permanent teachers who are monks or nuns.

Also, have you thought about taking smaller steps first, such as completing some long-term retreats first without ordaining? Doing a one-year Ngondro retreat might be good, and doing a three-year retreat is quite a big commitment in itself.

Have you read the "Jewel Ornament of Liberation" by Gampopa? Back on E-sangha, there was a Drikung Kagyu nun who recommended reading that because it's an essential Kagyu philosophical text. Also, Gampopa was the founder of the Kagyu monastic order. Simply reading Gampopa is a blessing.

http://www.amazon.com/Jewel-Ornament-Li ... 094&sr=1-1

:anjali:
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby ground » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:49 am

Hi SonamZangpo

Luke wrote: Congratulations on overcoming your substance abuse problems!


I second that.
Although I think that overcoming such kinds of addictions actually takes a longer time than the time it takes to become and stay "sober".

Very impressive what you have related. I guess there are some who are "natural born spiritual persons". It seems as if this sort of karmic inclination goes hand in hand with extreme forms of conduct in the beginning. Perhaps this phenomenon is sort of a basic karmic noise preceding a phase of stability. On the other hand there is always the possibility to slip towards the wrong side due to dormant imprints. So watch out mindfully!


Kind regards
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby SonamZangpo » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:27 pm

Luke wrote:Hi Zangpo,

Congratulations on overcoming your substance abuse problems!

Here is some general info on ordination from Sravasti Abbey:
http://www.sravasti.org/monasticlife/considering.html
http://thubtenchodron.org/Publications/ ... index.html

You mentioned KTD, but is there even a monastery there? I know that there is a retreat center there, but I could never tell from the website if they have a monastery there or not. Although they probably have some visiting or permanent teachers who are monks or nuns.

Also, have you thought about taking smaller steps first, such as completing some long-term retreats first without ordaining? Doing a one-year Ngondro retreat might be good, and doing a three-year retreat is quite a big commitment in itself.

Have you read the "Jewel Ornament of Liberation" by Gampopa? Back on E-sangha, there was a Drikung Kagyu nun who recommended reading that because it's an essential Kagyu philosophical text. Also, Gampopa was the founder of the Kagyu monastic order. Simply reading Gampopa is a blessing.

http://www.amazon.com/Jewel-Ornament-Li ... 094&sr=1-1

:anjali:


KTD (Karma Triyana Dharmachakra) is indeed considered a monastery. The residential aspect of building isn't fully completed I do not think, but they do have people living there (as hopefully I will!) It is considered Karmapa's seat in America. Whenever he comes to America, no matter where he intends on going, he always stops at KTD first.

Well, I plan on moving to the monastery, but I'm not going to jump into being ordained. I have merely made the decision to become a monk, but I know that I have a lot to work on before coming ordained. I will take the lay vows, celibacy vows, and some others, and I will slowly begin converting my lifestyle to that of a monk, so once I do become ordained, I will have already been acting as a monk does. I do plan on doing a three year retreat, but I also am going to do smaller retreats in the meantime.

I also take psychiatric medications, and I plan on, over time, gradually work myself off of them as I develop a more concrete practice. Actually the type of therapy used to treat my condition (Borderline Personality Disorder) is called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which borrows many of its concepts from Buddhism, though, they are twisted to conform to psychology's standards and to stand alone from dharma. In any case, I wish to be off of my medication for a while before I go into a long retreat, opposed to stopping them just before, and having something awful happen while I'm in retreat.

Also, I'm having a lot of anxiety about getting into the monastery, but filling and sending in an application tomorrow and hopeful for an interview on sunday, so please send me some good energy and prayers!
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(I acknowledge I do not follow the quote above this, that is why it is there! so I will be reminded every time I post! :) )
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Astus » Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:29 am

Wow, it was a good read! I hope the best for you and with this enthusiasm and literary skills you should make a fine monk.
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Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:25 am

Hi Zangpo,

You seem to have a reasonable, gradual plan. This makes me more confident that you will succeed.

I think after taking refuge in the Three Jewels, that taking the Bodhisattva Vow is the most important next step: from that point on, you try to work for the benefit of all beings. Everything else comes out of that motivation. Perhaps you could ask to take the Bodhisattva Vow when you're at KTD on Sunday.

Once you are certain that you've overcome your addictions and once you've become very strong mentally through meditation, you might consider becoming a substance abuse counselor. Since you've experienced these problems yourself, you understand more about them than people who haven't, and it would be a good way to help other people.

You mentioned going off your medication, but I don't think there are any rules against taking necessary medications during Buddhist retreats. Even when my sangha does Nyungne, my lama makes exceptions for people who truly need to take medications (although they have to swallow them without water during Nyungne).

KTD is probably good, but you might also want to look into other places, such as Drikung Kagyu and Shangpa Kagyu retreat centers in the US. They are both great Kagyu sects as well. You might have the karma to succeed at KTD, but then again, your karma may ultimately draw you someplace else instead. I would keep your options open.

Good luck on Sunday!

Luke
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby SonamZangpo » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:42 am

Well, the medication/retreat problem is more that no psychiatrist would ever prescribe three years worth of medication at one time... not to mention since I will be giving up monetary things, I will eventually have to stop out of not being able to afford to pay for them.

Also, I've always wanted to get off of them and become self sustaining. In fact, one of the medications I have has a black box warning (high rate of mortality) for those who are older. Over all, I think the less medication I take the better, so not taking so many pills in a day would be nice.
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OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA

"The world is dark when you're depressed; your thoughts have the power to invent your world." -Courage Wolf

"It is more important to be kind than to be right."
(I acknowledge I do not follow the quote above this, that is why it is there! so I will be reminded every time I post! :) )
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby ground » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:44 am

Luke wrote: I think after taking refuge in the Three Jewels, that taking the Bodhisattva Vow is the most important next step:


I would remmend to be very careful here. Taking the vows to early may have serious consequences. The vows actually are a very far reaching step because with that you vow to actually practice all paramitas very consequently and if you do not then you transgress and will have to bear the consequences. One should have stable authentic bodhicitta for that.
Usually the sequence is pratimoksha -> bodhicitta vow (or pledge to never stop training in bodhicitta and never ever abandon the thought) -> bodhisattva vows

Kind regards
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:57 pm

Hi Zangpo,

I can understand wanting to get off meds in order to save money. Have you thought about some herbal remedies? Perhaps you might find something effective which is cheaper than your current prescription drugs.

TMingyur wrote:I would remmend to be very careful here. Taking the vows to early may have serious consequences. The vows actually are a very far reaching step because with that you vow to actually practice all paramitas very consequently and if you do not then you transgress and will have to bear the consequences. One should have stable authentic bodhicitta for that.
Usually the sequence is pratimoksha -> bodhicitta vow (or pledge to never stop training in bodhicitta and never ever abandon the thought) -> bodhisattva vows

Wow. Thanks for mentioning that. Do you know where I could find some good info about the Bodhisattva Vow?

I took it when I saw the Dalai Lama during the Chenrezig empowerment he gave. Everything went by so quickly and His Holiness' English isn't always so clear, so I didn't catch all the information. It just came to a moment when HHDL said, "Okay, if you want to take the Bodhisattva Vow, repeat the Tibetan after me. If you don't want to, stay silent." I had no idea that His Holiness was going to be giving the vow, and I only had a second to think, but I felt that I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
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Re: Vows

Postby Will » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:39 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Luke wrote: I think after taking refuge in the Three Jewels, that taking the Bodhisattva Vow is the most important next step:


I would remmend to be very careful here. Taking the vows to early may have serious consequences. The vows actually are a very far reaching step because with that you vow to actually practice all paramitas very consequently and if you do not then you transgress and will have to bear the consequences. One should have stable authentic bodhicitta for that.
Usually the sequence is pratimoksha -> bodhicitta vow (or pledge to never stop training in bodhicitta and never ever abandon the thought) -> bodhisattva vows

Kind regards


Let us not get too concerned about taking or making vows. If taking involves a very quick decision with no deeply felt motivation, then such shallow vow repeating will not result in much good or bad karmic effects.

Making vows is more important since it comes from within, but even then, if we are casual and not seriously motivated they will be so weak that, again, bad or good effects will be small & weak likewise.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Vows

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:04 pm

Will wrote:Let us not get too concerned about taking or making vows. If taking involves a very quick decision with no deeply felt motivation, then such shallow vow repeating will not result in much good or bad karmic effects.

I agree, but in case you're referring to my situation, I have to add that I had wanted to take the Bodhisattva Vow for a long time and I did have deeply felt motivation, even though the opportunity was a surprise.
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby ground » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:32 pm

Luke wrote:
TMingyur wrote:I would remmend to be very careful here. Taking the vows to early may have serious consequences. The vows actually are a very far reaching step because with that you vow to actually practice all paramitas very consequently and if you do not then you transgress and will have to bear the consequences. One should have stable authentic bodhicitta for that.
Usually the sequence is pratimoksha -> bodhicitta vow (or pledge to never stop training in bodhicitta and never ever abandon the thought) -> bodhisattva vows

Wow. Thanks for mentioning that. Do you know where I could find some good info about the Bodhisattva Vow?

Well in this context I entrust myself to the lineage of Asanga ->->-> Tsongkhapa.


Luke wrote:I took it when I saw the Dalai Lama during the Chenrezig empowerment he gave. Everything went by so quickly and His Holiness' English isn't always so clear, so I didn't catch all the information. It just came to a moment when HHDL said, "Okay, if you want to take the Bodhisattva Vow, repeat the Tibetan after me. If you don't want to, stay silent." I had no idea that His Holiness was going to be giving the vow, and I only had a second to think, but I felt that I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I know. That's the way it goes for many. Personally I am inclined to study and probe this deeply. I cultivate high respect for the vows and do not want to rush into something for which I do not have acquired the appropriate qualities.
Also often the term "bodhisattva vow" is applied ambiguously: sometimes it stands for the "real" bodhisattva vows and sometimes for what I have called "bodhicitta vow".

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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Ogyen » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:37 am

What is the distinction between Bodhisattva vows and the Bodhichitta Vow? Is one the preliminary to the other?

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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby ground » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:49 am

OgyenChodzom wrote:What is the distinction between Bodhisattva vows and the Bodhichitta Vow? Is one the preliminary to the other?

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Sorry but I have made up the term "Bodhicitta Vow" in order to differentiate between the vow to never give up the mere thought of bodhicitta (mindfulness directed towards the benefit of others) and the training to perfect it (which I refer to with "Bodhicitta Vow") for which there is a ritual and the vow to earnestly learn and actually practice the paramitas (like giving all your possessions etc) for which there is an extended ritual. Without actually practicing the paramitas one never will attain buddhahood. But the sincere and uncompromising altruistic intent to learn and really practice the paramitas is a result of authentic and stable bodhicitta.

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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:41 am

Luke wrote:Wow. Thanks for mentioning that. Do you know where I could find some good info about the Bodhisattva Vow?


Luke,

Since you're very drawn to the Nyingma school, I would suggest a book called "Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the The Vows" which is a commentary of pratimoksha vows, bodhisattva vows, and anuttarayogatantra samayas by Ngari Panchen and with commentary by HH Dudjom Rinpoche. Both masters teach from a POV in harmony with both Nyingma and Sarma, and in harmony with both the lineage of Profound View (Nagarjuna) and the lineage of Vast Conduct (Asanga), which comprise the two principle streams of bodhisattva vow transmission.
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:31 am

OgyenChodzom wrote:What is the distinction between Bodhisattva vows and the Bodhichitta Vow? Is one the preliminary to the other?

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:namaste:


As TMingyur has stated, this terminology is his own convention, but it's basically in line with the two aspects of relative bodhicitta: aspirational and practical (or engaged). Accordingly, there is a ritual for formally making the aspirational bodhicitta vow to maintain the wish to attain buddhahood in order to help all beings attain liberation, and a ritual for the practical bodhicitta vow to go the further step of engaging in the discipline and practices involved in acting on one's aspirational bodhicitta. There is, of course, a way of offering all the vows in their entirety, and as far as I can tell it seems like Tibetan masters tend to do it that way when formally conducting the bodhisattva vow ceremony.

Another distinction is that the aspirational bodhicitta doesn't depend on any formal taking of vows: as soon as you give rise to that thought, you've got it. It's only further strengthened by formally taking the vow. But the practical bodhicitta vows depend on one possessing one of 7 categories of pratimoksha vows (like for instance, some or all of the 5 precepts in the case of a layperson).
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby Luke » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:28 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Since you're very drawn to the Nyingma school, I would suggest a book called "Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the The Vows" which is a commentary of pratimoksha vows, bodhisattva vows, and anuttarayogatantra samayas by Ngari Panchen and with commentary by HH Dudjom Rinpoche. Both masters teach from a POV in harmony with both Nyingma and Sarma, and in harmony with both the lineage of Profound View (Nagarjuna) and the lineage of Vast Conduct (Asanga), which comprise the two principle streams of bodhisattva vow transmission.

Hi Pema,

Thanks for the info. I'll have to check it out.

As I think more about this subtopic in this thread, I think that perhaps what I should have said earlier is that reflecting on the Bodhisattva ideal is one of the most important things. In the regular world, I am an adult, but when I read the writing of great bodhisattvas like Shantideva or the current Dalai Lama, I realize that I am still like a child in the Buddhist world and that I still have a great deal to learn.
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Re: My Spiritual history and a plea to young Buddhists

Postby dharma81 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:31 pm

I would seriously suggest consulting with a psychiatrist before ending your medication, especially if you are taking an antipsychotic like Risperdal. It can have SERIOUS consequences on you well being - especially with vajrayana practice. Many teachers state that mental health should be stable before practicing vajrayana. Slow and steady...slow and steady... don't put too much pressure on yourself.

Congrats on your sobriety and thanks for sharing.
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