A little change? What should I do?

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A little change? What should I do?

Postby JustAFool » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:05 am

Metta friends,

(You can skip my background history and jump to the last paragraph)

To start off with a little bit about my background in Buddhism. I was born into a semi-Buddhist family. What I mean by semi-buddhist is because they are what we would called "traditional Chinese religion" which is a combination of Neo-Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. However I'm not Chinese. Anyway I started to seriously study Buddhism for around 5 years now I believe? I started with E-sangha forum and then I went to many different monasteries and temples to study from different teachers and traditions of Buddhism, I also read a few different sutra, mainly some of the main one of Mahayana Buddhism like the Lotus Sutra. I focused on Pure Land Mahayana for a while, and then I shift into studying Chan which focus a lot on the Heart Sutra and meditation. I also took a bit of interest in Vajrayana for a bit but just never got into it. I spent 3 years as a leader in a youth group at a Vietnamese temple and then I attend a Chan Monastery which is affiliate to Chung Tai Chan Monastery founded by Master Wei Chueh of Taiwan where I took the refuge under the Triple Jewels and the precepts.

And I loved all the things I have learned from both Pure Land and Chan tradition, however Pure Land wasn't satisfying to me. I'm sure it is a great practice but I just didn't feel right with it. So I went into Chan(Zen) which I really like and for a while it was good until something happened, and then I feel it isn't for me either, maybe the masters were too dogmatic. It seems almost like a God-Fearing religion.

I went from being a "religious" Buddhist to slowly becoming an Atheist. I feel right where I am now, But I still deeply respect the Buddha and many of his non-dogmatic teaching. I still applied many aspect of Buddhist's teaching to my every day life and I would like to study Buddhism from a humanistic and atheistic point of view, but I find that difficult to do because I seem to be on my own. Dharma friends that I used to know doesn't have the same view of me anymore, so it would be great if there is any recommendation in any sort of writing that i would like, or maybe group/monasteries that I might be interested in.

Thank you metta.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:05 am

Seems like the problem is lack of faith and sincerity and too many methods no specialty in one method. Stick to Chan if you are gonna do Chan. Stick to Pure Land if you are going to do Pure Land. Don't expect to gain anything from the path but on the contrary detach from everything. And practice practice don't take people's words for it. Dogmatic? Not Dogmatic? Ok, let me really practice and experience for myself, and by practice you have to follow the proper methods that are taught to you. Don't let sectarianism or dogmatic scare you, you want to practice to see for yourself. When you accept the teachings of Buddha, you will have to abandon every pre-conceived idea that you expect about Buddhism.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:07 am

It's not about dogmatic. It's about what works and what does not work for you.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby JustAFool » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:45 am

LastLegend wrote:Seems like the problem is lack of faith and sincerity and too many methods no specialty in one method. Stick to Chan if you are gonna do Chan. Stick to Pure Land if you are going to do Pure Land. Don't expect to gain anything from the path but on the contrary detach from everything. And practice practice don't take people's words for it. Dogmatic? Not Dogmatic? Ok, let me really practice and experience for myself, and by practice you have to follow the proper methods that are taught to you. Don't let sectarianism or dogmatic scare you, you want to practice to see for yourself. When you accept the teachings of Buddha, you will have to abandon every pre-conceived idea that you expect about Buddhism.


Lack of faith? I dont think faith should be necessary. This was my problem with the Vietnamese temple, they view Buddha almost as a supreme god and many feared to questioned the teaching of these masters and that is what I meant by dogmatic, and most accused me of being arrogant and prideful for saying that, but it helps avoid blind faith. Perpetual truth has no form and is dependable. I believe Buddha wanted people to practice the Dharma because they find truth in it, and the Dharma itself has no form, and if people find both profound and practical truth in something, faith shouldn't be necessary or required. My humble opinion.

Thank You
Metta.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby adinatha » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:42 am

In Buddhism faith means trusting in the truth of karma. Nothing more. The go for direct perception of the nature of mind.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:45 am

I love Taiwan. I am from USA where I live. Once, a Taiwan friend who visited Washington DC asked me why, of all the US presidents, was Abraham Lincoln the only one who had a temple. We call it the Lincoln Memorial, but he was right...it is very much like a sitting Buddha in a temple. My friend from Taiwan grew up with Pure Land but said there was never any explanation, and questions were not answered. Now he practices vajrayana and says it is just right for him, because the lama is happy to explain everything.

Here is my understanding:
If we see buddhas and bodhisattvas as gods, that's religion.
If we see buddhas and bodhisattvas as aspects of our mind, that is atheism.
if we see that both views are the same, both arise from emptiness, that is non-duality dharma.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby JustAFool » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:11 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:I love Taiwan. I am from USA where I live. Once, a Taiwan friend who visited Washington DC asked me why, of all the US presidents, was Abraham Lincoln the only one who had a temple. We call it the Lincoln Memorial, but he was right...it is very much like a sitting Buddha in a temple. My friend from Taiwan grew up with Pure Land but said there was never any explanation, and questions were not answered. Now he practices vajrayana and says it is just right for him, because the lama is happy to explain everything.

Here is my understanding:
If we see buddhas and bodhisattvas as gods, that's religion.
If we see buddhas and bodhisattvas as aspects of our mind, that is atheism.
if we see that both views are the same, both arise from emptiness, that is non-duality dharma.


:) Thank you.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby Adamantine » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:35 am

It seems like you lept to the conclusion that Buddhism is a baseless institution of belief through limited experiences with particular institutions that either didn't bother to explain it properly for your particular capacity or didn't have the ability to. Which aspects of Buddhism bother you, as a proclaimed Atheist? Is it the belief in reincarnation, or the belief that all beings have the potential for full awakening beyond conventional limited consciousness? For the first, I'd recommend looking at the research of Dr. Ian Stevensonhttp://www.near-death.com/experiences/reincarnation01.html, and for the second I'd recommend studying Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way http://www.amazon.com/Fundamental-Wisdom-Middle-Way-ulamadhyamakak/dp/0195093364, as well as listening to the recorded Uttaratantra teachings by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche http://www.siddharthasintent.org/teachings/recorded-teachings/vancouver.html
And after all of this, I'd also recommend trying a 10-day meditation retreat at one of Goenka's Vipassana centers http://www.dhamma.org/: the meditation technique and explanation in this context is purely related to your own personal experience in meditation and your insights derived from it -- there is no belief you need to bring with you or leave with, but the power of the practice is self-evident, and illuminates the main goal of all true Dharma lineages: to go beyond grasping and aversion, or hope and fear. You can certainly still be an Atheist and benefit from this experience. If you get a lot out of studying Nagarjuna and the Uttaratantra teachings, then there is a foundation to understand why some of the other practices such as tantra or zen work outside of mere dogma, which it may appear as on the surface. I hope this helps!
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby Quiet Heart » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:38 am

:stirthepot:
I was going to stay out of this, but I just couldn't.
You are at the same stage that I was in probably 20 to 25 years ago, so I think I am familiar with what you are feeling now.
In spite of what many people will tell you, it is common to feel a letdown after a period with "Buddhisim". You need to carefully analyse and examine the reasons why you feel this way.
I would say you need to perservere, and continue your exploration of Buddhist thought and philosophy. You DO NOT need to pick a Buddhist school of teaching or a sect to join.
What you should do is read as much about many schools/sects/etc. of Buddhisim. Don't commit yourself to any one of them unless what you read appeals to you. There will be devotees from every school of Buddhisim who will tell you that their school is the "only true" school of Buddhisim....but don't believe them.
They will also tell you that you need a teacher...or a guide...to properly instruct you in the "correct" way to practice...don't believe them either.
The only guide and teacher you can truely trust is your heart and mind. So trust that.
Of course you will make mistakes and sometimes go in the wrong direction. I did also. But if at some point you feel you have gone the wrong way just go back to where you feel comfortable...and then go from there in the direction you feel is right . Do not feel discouraged. just keep looking for your path...following the directions of your heart and your mind. Question everything you read or study. If you do meditation, then meditate on what you read or study. Then again, follow your heart and mind, based on what you feel.
You need to understand what is happening to you. You are experiencing new ideas and new ways of thinking. What is called your "Ego Mind", that mind that says "I am" and "I want" is what was controlling your life previously. Now you are challenging the control of your life and your percieved reality by that "Ego mind". So the dissatisfaction and doubt you feel is that "Ego mind" fighting to retain it's control over you. That is entirely normal and you will feel the doubt of your "Ego mind" more than once in your path to understanding.
Remember the only true guide and teacher is inside of you...in your heart and mind. So listen to no others.
I'm probably going to get a lot of criticisim for what I just told you You probably will also if you follow my advice.
Remember this:
Do you not already have a Mother and Father?
Why then do you think you need another Mother and Father for yourself to be re-born?
Like the man who had a bowl of uncooked rice, and then went searching for fire to cook his meal of rice with a lit candle in his hand...ask yourself...do you truely understand the nature of fire?
There is a story of a foolish man...who was looking at his head in a mirror when he accidentally dropped the mirror and broke it. Because he was a foolish man, he thought his head was broken when he dropped that mirror. Therefore, he spent many years searching for another head to place on his shoulders. Then one day he found another mirror, and looking into it he suddenly realised that he had a head on his shoulders all the time he was searching for another head.
Don't be like that foolish man.
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
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in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:41 pm

Quiet Heart wrote:There is a story of a foolish man...who was looking at his head in a mirror when he accidentally dropped the mirror and broke it. Because he was a foolish man, he thought his head was broken when he dropped that mirror. Therefore, he spent many years searching for another head to place on his shoulders. Then one day he found another mirror, and looking into it he suddenly realised that he had a head on his shoulders all the time he was searching for another head.

Great story. :smile:
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:46 pm

JustAFool wrote:Metta friends,

[...]
I went from being a "religious" Buddhist to slowly becoming an Atheist. I feel right where I am now, But I still deeply respect the Buddha and many of his non-dogmatic teaching. I still applied many aspect of Buddhist's teaching to my every day life and I would like to study Buddhism from a humanistic and atheistic point of view, but I find that difficult to do because I seem to be on my own. Dharma friends that I used to know doesn't have the same view of me anymore, so it would be great if there is any recommendation in any sort of writing that i would like, or maybe group/monasteries that I might be interested in.

Thank you metta.

Perhaps if you could slowly discuss the aspects of the mainstream Buddhist view that bother you, someone can help you.
Maybe you can think a bit about what are the aspects of the doctrine that make you feel uneasy, place one or two questions and start from there.
Adamantine gave you a very good answer, btw.
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Re: A little change? What should I do?

Postby catmoon » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:11 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Here is my understanding:
If we see buddhas and bodhisattvas as gods, that's religion.
If we see buddhas and bodhisattvas as aspects of our mind, that is atheism.
if we see that both views are the same, both arise from emptiness, that is non-duality dharma.


Well said well said! :applause:
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