After having a bit of a toe-dip in various threads I now understand just how much out of my depth I am at the moment. Lending truth to the saying about not testing the depth of the water with both feet I guess!
Anyway, as some may recall my daily practices involve (in random sequence - because I fit them in where possible, but try to make a fixed pattern if I can):
1. Yoga - Salute to the Sun, at dawn and dusk (recently increased from just dawn)
2. Taijiquan - very important part of my life. Long time practitioner of hand form and several weapon based systems.
3. Qigong - various forms depending on my daily needs (tends to be either zhan zhuang, baduanjin, swimming dragon or another ji ben nei gong set - apologies for those who are unfamiliar with Eastern energy work)
4. Chanting - Heart Sutra in Mandarin (I use a YouTube video to singalong with and I sing through just once each day)
5. Zuochan (zazen) usually for 15-20 minutes, watching the breath.
6. Recital of Namo Amituofo.
Sorry for all the mixing of terms and languages. I seem to have picked up a number of tools along the way and tossed them all into the same toolbox.
Coupled with the above I have also read (or soon to be read) some texts (though do not profess to understand them very well), mainly, in no particular order:
1. The Diamond that cuts through lllusion - Thich Nhat Hanh
2. The Heart of Understanding -Thich Nhat Hanh
3. The Dhammapada - transl. G Fronsdal.
4. Finding our true home - Thich Nhat Hanh
5. The zen teaching of Huang Po - transl. J Blofeld
6. Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh
7. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching -Thich Nhat Hanh
8. The Book of Tibetan Elders - S Johnson
9. Peace is Every Step - Thich Nhat Hanh
10. Zen Keys - Thich Nhat Hanh
11. Shobogenzo - Dogen (on the back burner until I find more time to give it a good go)
12. Discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness - from the Plum Village website
13. Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing - from the Plum Village website
14. The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation - Shramana Zhiyi (on it's way from the UK!)
And of course I have an interest in Daoist energy work and thus have a number of books by authors such as Mantak Chia, Yang Jwing-Ming and Damo Mitchell.
The problem that I have, which I touched upon in other threads, was that my practices lack any real structure or direction. On the advice of others (Greg, JohnnyD, Nilasarasvati, Kirtu, KimO, Jikan, Mandala - apologies if I left anyone out), I have decided to take the sacred bull by the horns and front up to one of the local groups. Initially this will be the Diamond Sangha guys (I have already contacted them and they have some beginner's nights, so next week it is!).
Furthermore, today I had the privilege of being with a few feet of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Man! Can he talk or what?
I sat spellbound for over an hour as he answered our questions. However, what really touched me was that when he first came into the room he noticed a person in a wheelchair just in front of me and he immediately approached them and, I don't know whether this is the right way to put it, bowed to them (head to the floor) before engaging them in a whispered conversation. As he did this my perception was that his entire attention and care was concentrated on this one person in its fullness. It doesn't really matter if my perception is incorrect (IMO) but the act was somehow unexpected (never seen him before) and actually brought a tear to my eye (which was a touch embarrassing for a chap). And oh boy, does he have an infectious laugh!
Long and short of it is that in a few weeks I will swing by the Dharghey Centre and have a taste of Tibetan Buddhism as well.
We will see how it goes from there.
What might be useful for this forum though is if the other far more senior lay members and venerables would give some thought to outlining some potential structured approaches for anyone who finds themselves interested in learning more but perhaps only have the internet as a resource. Ultimately a good library is useful but it takes a lot of time to understand it all, whereas some good directed reading both for theory and for practical matters. I realise that some of this information is contained within the various sub-fora. Perhaps it is time to produce a small online guide to practice for complete beginners?
As can be seen I have a leaning toward Pure Land and Ch'an, but I think I am quite an eclectic sort of guy so am happy to rummage around in other traditions - unless this is a bad thing, which would go in the guide!
Maybe such a thing already exists and I have yet to find it (highly likely I would imagine given the low level of my intelligence), but sometimes an extra big sign saying "Are you lost? Please head this way!" would be a great help.