I first heard the term "Dharma -Lite" referring to the approach toward buddhism more of, as you say, a self-help course, a cozy way to feel good about oneself rather than actually cutting through attachment to the self. Because some Theravadan buddhists do not concern themselves with issues of rebirth, and because the concept of the emptiness of phenomea (sunyata) is not generally held by all Theravadans, some people assert that Theravadan Buddhist only scratch the surface, and understand the term "Dharma -Lite" to refer to that school. But I do not think this is correct. Theravadan Buddhism is also quite "deep" and Some Thai monks I know who have meditated in forests with wild elephants, poisonous snakes and tigers literally moving right next to them would probably not consider what they do "lite".
If you go into almost any popular bookstore chain, a Barnes & Noble for example, you will find a lot of books about
Buddhism, or about how you can be a happier person through meditation, but very little, if anything, of actual
sutras-- the words of the Buddha. "Dharma -Lite" as I understand it refers more to pop-culture buddhism. Of course, it never hurts to be a better person, to be a little nicer and to approach your own life in a more gentle way.
If you can find a dharma center where you can learn basic calm mind meditation (shamatha) instruction, that is a good start.
kaiel wrote:1. Very overactive imagination, the moment I close my eyes a deluge of images and thoughts hit me
That is what happens to everybody. Actually, your barin is always doing this but usually you are not aware of just how busy it is.
What is going on is that as you relax the mind you are becoming more aware of all of that movement.
Most medtation methods focus on watching your breathing. One way to address the flow of thoughts is, as soon as you realize that your mind is distracted, think the word "thinking" and just go back to watching your breath. Don't try to stop thinking. After awhile the busy thoughts will settle down on their own.
kaiel wrote: 2. I am easily bothered by other people (something I am hoping Buddhism can help with) If someone talks in a theatre, I find myself wishing a meteor will hit them, someone cuts me off on the road, I find myself wishing I had James Bond's car etc....Obviously I am just racking up bad Karma here.
I wish i had the Astin Martin DB5, with the ejector seat. And it's funny that you mention that, because I play a CD of James Bond movie music a lot when I drive, especially on the freeway, and I fire my headlight machine guns at a lot of bad drivers.
It may seem as though you are wishing bad thoughts on others. But what if that really happened, if you saw somebody crash and get killed?
Probably what you are really wishing is that the jerk in the other car was not being a jerk, and that the person in the theatre would be more aware and considerate. what you are really wishing is that they would be better people, and that is not such a bad wish. The jerk in the car is suffering. he is in a hurry, he's all agitated and he is passing this on to everybody on the road. From the buddhist point of view, he is doing that because he is experiencing a type of suffering. So, if you are basically a compassionate person, then even though you feel wrath, that wrath is really the wish that the other driver should not be suffering.