Advice

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: Advice

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:35 am

You are right! I am very surprised, I guess I was looking at the more expensive programs.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Advice

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:03 am

Read the suttas and sutras
Then check out all the schools,see what is the differences and the similarities are.talk with many Buddhists,debate on views,learn,and attend different teachers and schools,then after 3 years please post back here again,with what,when where and how you came to your final conclusion.

But then again Im biased to Shentong view so check it out.

Peace and Love
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Re: Advice

Postby LastLegend » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:57 am

Explore both and see which one suits you.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Advice

Postby ground » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:09 pm

Adamantine wrote:
ground wrote:
Vidyaraja wrote:I greatly appreciate any advice anyone can lend me on these topics and in regards to my personal situation.

Thanks in advance.


If you are inclined to join a religious group, it does not matter what tradition it is. Just go were you feel at home. Everything will work out that's for sure. You can have confidence. If later you change your mind because of this or that and want to join a different group then just let your mind change and act accordingly. No need to think about it too much and strive for a perfect decision from the start because you will have to make experiences and what appears perfect now may appear not so perfect later. Rely on yourself. Rely on your experience, but listen to your experience! Do not cover your experience up with intellect.

Then ... later ... after you have made experiences with this or that group, this or that tradition, you may want to investigate into the nature of religion. :sage:


This advice may not be applicable in the context of Vajrayana: if one just jumps into it and takes empowerments which involve solemn oaths to the Guru, then those oaths are made for a lifetime.

If this is the case it may be better not to get involved in vajrayana in the first place if one does not have appropriate self confidence and therefore strongly depends on the words of others. :sage:
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Re: Advice

Postby dude » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:36 pm

"Read the suttas and sutras
Then check out all the schools,see what is the differences and the similarities are.talk with many Buddhists,debate on views..."

I quite emphatically agree.
The Buddha said : After the passing of the Thus Come one, you should rely on the dharma [the Buddha's teachings] as your instructor.
The sutras are the only real authority.
The Buddha also said : Rely on the dharma and not upon persons.
A teacher is only a conduit, a vessel for the transmission of the Law from master to disciple.
If even my own teacher, whom I trust with my very life, were to suddenly turn around and go against the words of the sutras, I would be in his face and cause a lot of trouble.
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Re: Advice

Postby randomseb » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:26 pm

dude wrote:I quite emphatically agree.
The Buddha said : After the passing of the Thus Come one, you should rely on the dharma [the Buddha's teachings] as your instructor.
The sutras are the only real authority.


The dharma in this context is not "the teachings" but "things, nature" (Or Law, in the Lotus sutra)
Disclaimer: If I have posted about something, then I obviously have no idea what I am talking about!
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Re: Advice

Postby Vidyaraja » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:42 pm

I truly appreciate the input guys. In regards to programs, I am currently poor (broke) and unemployed, so obviously it will be quite a bit before I have the funds necessary to support such an endeavor.

My other major plan in my life besides continuing studying metaphysics and various spiritual traditions in an attempt to find my path was to teach English abroad. Since I also lack a college degree (may earn one in the future if I can pay my own way, I wasn't interested in putting myself in debt and failing to secure employment like so many of my friends with degrees these days) my options for teaching abroad are primarily limited to China and Russia. I've always been fond of traditional Chinese culture, being a fan of Romance of the Three Kingdoms since adolescence, and so I figured China would be a good choice. So my plan was to see, once on the ground, if I could find either a Chan Buddhist or Taoist master/monastery worth dedicating myself to in order to achieve my spiritual goals. The documentary "Amongst White Clouds" was also a bit of inspiration for this choice. Trying to discover the current state of Chan Buddhism on the Mainland was one of my intentions in starting this thread, but I figured I'd keep the discussion a bit more broad by including the other traditions.

Another point worth mentioning is that of the languages, I'd be most interested in learning Chinese, and if not Chinese either Korean or Japanese. I have no qualms with Tibetan, but I figure my use of Tibetan would be strictly limited to Buddhist study, whereas if I ever decided to not become a monk the other East Asian languages, especially Chinese, may be more useful.

So if, for the sake of discussion, we were to exclude Tibetan/Nepalese/Indian Buddhism and focus on the state of Zen (or Shingon) in the three East Asian nations I mentioned, primarily focusing on China, does anyone have any information in this regard?

Thanks again!
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Re: Advice

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Maybe i'm missing something here...

But if you are this interested in Dharma, especially devoting your life or a portion of it exclusively to it's study and practice; maybe the best thing is to go out and actually see how it works for you first? So find a teacher, a Sangha, or both and try it on for size, get as much of a perspective as possible from your current circumstances before even considering all these larger questions.

I don't know anything, but i've read so many warnings from those that are monastics about not jumping into these things, basically you need to know if you can practice Dharma from where you are right as this moment before making any grander decisions about it. Again I don't know squat personally but this has always seemed like very sane advice to me.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Advice

Postby Adamantine » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:34 pm

Where in general are you living? Maybe people
could point you towards some local centers where
you could get a taste.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Advice

Postby Vidyaraja » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:53 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Maybe i'm missing something here...

But if you are this interested in Dharma, especially devoting your life or a portion of it exclusively to it's study and practice; maybe the best thing is to go out and actually see how it works for you first? So find a teacher, a Sangha, or both and try it on for size, get as much of a perspective as possible from your current circumstances before even considering all these larger questions.

I don't know anything, but i've read so many warnings from those that are monastics about not jumping into these things, basically you need to know if you can practice Dharma from where you are right as this moment before making any grander decisions about it. Again I don't know squat personally but this has always seemed like very sane advice to me.


I understand where the confusion could lie. Essentially, yes, it's true that I've never had a teacher, a sangha, or so forth. I am also not saying that I am 100% ready to jump into being a monk but rather it seems likely that this is choice I am going to make in the future. I am making these inquiries primarily to get some advice in regards to these traditions, their potency today in their respective countries, their willingness to accept Westerners, etc. so I have some further knowledge based on other people's first hand experiences.

What I do know, however, is that at heart I am an ascetic/yogi/monastic, simply because I've had an experience beyond ego, space, and time that changed my life. I have that frame of reference knowing that it is the highest goal and in conjunction with that, I know that the normal goals of society will not satisfy me. I also know that, despite being a Traditionalist as I mentioned earlier, of the world's traditions I am by far most interested in Eastern traditions. I've considered Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Daoism, and the forms of Buddhism I've mentioned, and of those I feel Zen and Daoism interest me the most. Of course on an exoteric level these traditions are different, but to my view they all are the same where it counts in their understanding of the nature of reality, the importance of meditation, and their goal to lead their followers to a transcendent, non-dual realization beyond birth and death.

I already meditate, try to incorporate spiritual principles into my life, study the metaphysics and practices, etc. I am just trying to learn more.

Adamantine wrote:Where in general are you living? Maybe people
could point you towards some local centers where
you could get a taste.


I live in Burlington County New Jersey.
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Re: Advice

Postby Jinzang » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:39 am

What I want to know is, of these two traditions, which is the most alive and potent today? Which, in your opinion, offers the most realistic chance of true spiritual progress and enlightenment?


It really depends on more on the quality of the teacher and the trust that the student is willing to place in them than in the tradition. The tradition is more like the gift wrapping on the box: nice, but not essential. I trust my own teachers but can't make recommendations about teachers I haven't met.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Advice

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:01 am

Jinzang wrote:What I want to know is, of these two traditions, which is the most alive and potent today? Which, in your opinion, offers the most realistic chance of true spiritual progress and enlightenment?


The one that you feel motivated and inspired by to practice through all hardships to achieve the result.
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~Arthur Carlson
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Re: Advice

Postby Vidyaraja » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:00 am

Hello again. I figured I would update the folks here and refine my initial question based on that update in hopes to receive some further insight from those more learned than I. Over the past few days I've contemplated, studied, and meditated heavily on where I should place my efforts. After much deliberation, I decided I should focus my efforts more heavily on Tantra, which has been an interest of mine for some time (both in its Buddhist and Hindus forms.) Though I have to say I feel I am a Buddhist, not a Hindu.

That essentially leaves me two major traditions which I am interested to study further, which I currently am doing. The much more well known (at least in terms of the wealth of information available) Tibetan Buddhism, and Shingon Buddhism. So if I were take my original concerns about the aliveness of these traditions, efficacy, their willingness to accept Westerners, etc. what more could you tell me? Since there is a wealth of information out there about Tibetan Buddhism, I was specifically wondering if anyone could tell me more about Shingon. In particular, whether the secularization of Japan has severely effected the tradition, why it is so obscure/why there is such limited material about it in English, and if anyone could point me to more resources to learn more. I recently purchased Taiko Yamasaki's book on the subject and have been reading through the topics on the forum to give me a start.

Thanks again.
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Re: Advice

Postby greentara » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:23 am

This is very good advice by Master Hyakujo: "The way to understand the meaning of the following story is that the water represents
Truth or the Dharma. The vase is the vessel that holds that truth, it is the
teaching, it is the tradition.

That truth cannot be told, however. Sure, you can use simple words like "Truth"
or "Reality," or you can fill books with complex philosophical explanations. But
ultimately those are all words and don't truly convey what the Truth is. The
"water" cannot be named. That is why Master Hyakujo gave this challenge to his
disciples.

The lead disciple, clearly a cunning man, sees this as a test of his mental
dexterity. If he cannot name the water-filled vessel, he will say what it is not,
thus suggesting it by negation. But he has only negated one object in a world of
infinite objects. A person can spend a lifetime listing all the things something is
not, and never come to the point where only the unnamed thing remains. The lead
disciple is trapped on the endless road of the intellect.

But the cook, Isan, understood the situation simply and clearly. He tipped the
vase over, emptying the vessel and revealing the water. The truth cannot be told,
it can only be shown.

What's more, the truth cannot be held, it cannot be contained, it can only be
poured out. The vase itself, the spiritual tradition, is empty and only has meaning
as a vessel to transport the truth. By tipping over the vessel, he is suggesting
that we must not worship the tradition itself. Religion, philosophy, spiritual
tradition -- these are not an end to themselves; they should be respected for
their function as a delivery vehicle, but nothing more"
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Re: Advice

Postby Vidyaraja » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:54 am

greentara wrote:This is very good advice by Master Hyakujo:
What's more, the truth cannot be held, it cannot be contained, it can only be
poured out. The vase itself, the spiritual tradition, is empty and only has meaning
as a vessel to transport the truth. By tipping over the vessel, he is suggesting
that we must not worship the tradition itself. Religion, philosophy, spiritual
tradition -- these are not an end to themselves; they should be respected for
their function as a delivery vehicle, but nothing more"


I agree, I realize that truth transcends and cannot be contained in a particular tradition. As I said, I am a Traditionalist, so I don't even think it can be contained in Buddhism alone, at least on an experiential level, though of course I feel Buddhism is the highest (or "truest") elucidation of truth on a philosophical and conceptual level, hence my attraction to it. However, it seems to me that traditions can degenerate and lose their efficacy; this is a concern of mine considering the nearly global trends toward secularization, materialism, and even anti-spiritualism. A prime example of a tradition that I feel has been sapped of its vital elements is modern Catholicism when one compares it to what came before. I was curious how this applies with the situation of Buddhism in its traditional countries of practice.

I also feel that while truth transcends particular traditions, it isn't likely (or at least isn't as likely) that one will be able to know and see that truth directly for himself unless he lives and fully participates in a tradition, preferably one containing teachers that have a high level of attainment or knowledge themselves. Since knowing truth directly is the central goal of my life, I feel I need to discover the tradition that is both right and practical for me. Coming from a secularized and non-religious upbringing as was the case for me, it is not so easy to discern the path, especially with the plethora of traditions and choices to consider. I don't want it to come off like I am shopping for a tradition so to speak, but rather I am earnestly trying to make a discovery that will allow me to grow to my fullest potential.
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Re: Advice

Postby Adamantine » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:31 pm

I do believe that the Shingon tradition is still somewhat alive and going, I am just not sure how widespread, easily accessible to westerners, or how pure and true to it's origins it is. I hope there are some actual practitioners of this tradition that can answer in more detail and depth.

On the other hand, being in NJ you are not terribly far from a number of truly authentic and rare Tantric Buddhist masters of the Tibetan lineages. Is it possible for you to travel to NYC for teachings occasionally?
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Advice

Postby alpha » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:10 pm

Vidyaraja wrote: I don't want it to come off like I am shopping for a tradition so to speak, but rather I am earnestly trying to make a discovery that will allow me to grow to my fullest potential.


If you want to discover your true potential and achieve the highest possible goal in this lifetime dont waste your time and start with dzogchen.

Everybody here gives advice according to their understanding.
And my understanding is this:
Start with dzogchen.
There is nothing else you should know.
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Re: Advice

Postby Vidyaraja » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:55 pm

Adamantine wrote:I do believe that the Shingon tradition is still somewhat alive and going, I am just not sure how widespread, easily accessible to westerners, or how pure and true to it's origins it is. I hope there are some actual practitioners of this tradition that can answer in more detail and depth.

On the other hand, being in NJ you are not terribly far from a number of truly authentic and rare Tantric Buddhist masters of the Tibetan lineages. Is it possible for you to travel to NYC for teachings occasionally?


Thanks for the information. I suppose I could make my way up to NYC, but the only issue is I am strapped for cash and don't really like going to NYC, but I suppose I'd be willing to go somewhere I dislike for the chance at receiving empowerments or learning more. I believe there are other Tibetan Buddhist centers in NJ closer to me, but I am not sure how authentic they are.

alpha wrote:If you want to discover your true potential and achieve the highest possible goal in this lifetime dont waste your time and start with dzogchen.

Everybody here gives advice according to their understanding.
And my understanding is this:
Start with dzogchen.
There is nothing else you should know.


Thanks, I will take what you say into consideration. Dzogchen is what most interests me about Tibetan Buddhism (and Mahamudra.) I haven't researched as much about Shingon as I would like and I know that Shingon doesn't have the later tantras that Tibetan Buddhism has, but is there an equivalent practice or something similar to Dzogchen within Shingon?
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Re: Advice

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:10 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:
Adamantine wrote:I do believe that the Shingon tradition is still somewhat alive and going, I am just not sure how widespread, easily accessible to westerners, or how pure and true to it's origins it is. I hope there are some actual practitioners of this tradition that can answer in more detail and depth.

On the other hand, being in NJ you are not terribly far from a number of truly authentic and rare Tantric Buddhist masters of the Tibetan lineages. Is it possible for you to travel to NYC for teachings occasionally?


Thanks for the information. I suppose I could make my way up to NYC, but the only issue is I am strapped for cash and don't really like going to NYC, but I suppose I'd be willing to go somewhere I dislike for the chance at receiving empowerments or learning more. I believe there are other Tibetan Buddhist centers in NJ closer to me, but I am not sure how authentic they are.

alpha wrote:If you want to discover your true potential and achieve the highest possible goal in this lifetime dont waste your time and start with dzogchen.

Everybody here gives advice according to their understanding.
And my understanding is this:
Start with dzogchen.
There is nothing else you should know.


Thanks, I will take what you say into consideration. Dzogchen is what most interests me about Tibetan Buddhism (and Mahamudra.) I haven't researched as much about Shingon as I would like and I know that Shingon doesn't have the later tantras that Tibetan Buddhism has, but is there an equivalent practice or something similar to Dzogchen within Shingon?


Padma Samye Ling is not that far, up in the Catskills outside of Binghamton:

http://www.padmasambhava.org/

They have some online study that you can listen to:

http://www.padmasambhava.org/morning.html

The resident lama there, Khenpo Tsewang is a Dzogchen master and an all-around mensch.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
~Arthur Carlson
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Re: Advice

Postby justsit » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:05 pm

Try Karma Thegsum Cholingin Shamong, very near you - genuine Dharma, Karma Kagyu tradition.

or Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Center in Howell - Gelugpa, very traditional.

You can take NJ Transit (or Megabus!) into NYC for cheap, and most Tibetan teachings there are donation or sliding scale.
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