Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

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Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby tk_leaf » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:28 pm

Hello, everyone!

This is my first post here, after a long read-only period. I have to say that this is probably the best Buddhist forum I have ever seen, with lots of friendly and knowledgeable people.

So, I am interested in Buddhism, and I would like to practice, but I have a problem deciding which school should I choose. It seems that I have both too many options, and too few. There are so many different kinds of Buddhism, and I feel I really cannot decide which one is best me just by reading about them. I do feel more attracted to some of them more than to others, but I still just cannot single out any particular school. Well, the only thing I am 100% sure about is that it should be Mahayana.

Also, I have to be realistic. I may be attracted to a school like Tendai, for example, but I realize that the odds of meeting a teacher are practically non-existent. The only schools with any kind of presence in my country (I am not even speaking about my town/region, there are none) are Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. This means I should choose one of them, but again I have no idea which one.

I know that being an "armchair Buddhist" is no good, having no teacher is no good, mixing different schools is no good, and even practising one school and then abandoning it for another is probably best avoided, am I right? I do not really know how to make this choice (yes, I am generally bad with choices), so I would be grateful for some advice.

English is not my first language, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes.
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:32 pm

Visit many teachers and temples. See who you connect and feel comfortable with.

You don't have to pledge yourself to a single school or sect at the very beginning.
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby Josef » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:33 pm

Hey Leaf,
Try not to worry too much about this right now.
Go check them out, meet some people and start practicing.
You have to work with what you have in order to find what works for you so dont worry about trying both options before you make a decision.
Also, if you work with one for a while and then move on to the other that is ok too.
You are about to learn a lot about the Dharma and yourself as you start to figure this out.
Have some fun with it too!
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby tk_leaf » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:55 pm

Thank you for your answers.

Huseng wrote:Visit many teachers and temples. See who you connect and feel comfortable with.
You don't have to pledge yourself to a single school or sect at the very beginning.

Yes, I know I should... which is not easy, by the way, I hate to travel and it is quite expensive, but there is no way around it. I know that I do not have to make a choice immediately, but still, I feel that first experience (taking Refuge, for example) establishes a kind of special connection between me and that particular school/teacher, so I think it matters too.

Nangwa wrote:Hey Leaf,
Try not to worry too much about this right now.
Go check them out, meet some people and start practicing.
You have to work with what you have in order to find what works for you so dont worry about trying both options before you make a decision.
Also, if you work with one for a while and then move on to the other that is ok too.
You are about to learn a lot about the Dharma and yourself as you start to figure this out.
Have some fun with it too!

I guess it's just my usual perfectionism trying to make my life difficult again. I read about different schools, find things that I like about them, find things that I dislike about them, find schools that I like but which are out of my reach, etc. And all choices begin to look bad one way or another. I need to learn how to take such things easy :)
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:58 pm

Hi, tk_leaf! I think we're in the same boat here. I've been a bookstore/armchair Buddhist for a little while.

Just find some local centers, throw out all your ideas about schools and philosophies, and go see how they feel :) After all, you won't be taking refuge until you find a good fit anyway. Remember all those big arguments in Christianity about was the world created in seven figurative days or seven literal 24-hour periods? Much like Jesus would probably facepalm over that, I think the Buddha would do the same if the specific lineage of a school caused you to pass over a place you could have genuine growth. Don't let the form confound the dhamma for you :) It might be better to have a broader sangha than to wriggle into a very specific lineage with no local teachers at all.

If you're in a medium-big city, there's probably a wealth of centers to explore. In my area, there are way too many for me to possibly go visit. I've had to narrow it down to a 30-minute drive radius.

Best of luck in finding what you're looking for!
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Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby tk_leaf » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:12 pm

Hi , duckfiasco!
duckfiasco wrote:If you're in a medium-big city, there's probably a wealth of centers to explore. In my area, there are way too many for me to possibly go visit. I've had to narrow it down to a 30-minute drive radius.

I am not so fortunate - in my case, getting to the closest Dharma center would mean 6-7 hours on a train, and the ticket cost stings. So, visiting a center is serious business for me! :) Well, I'll have to do it eventually, but, as you can imagine, this just adds to my anxienty.
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:48 pm

Oh jeez, that is tough. That would make it quite inconvenient to go there weekly. Do you know if they offer a weekend retreat or something similar?

I'm sure folks here will have lots of great advice on how to get a good practice going without a center nearby. Even just visiting this forum has done a lot of good for me so far :) Maybe we're in the age of the e-Sangha.
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby tk_leaf » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:21 pm

duckfiasco wrote:Oh jeez, that is tough. That would make it quite inconvenient to go there weekly. Do you know if they offer a weekend retreat or something similar?

I'm sure folks here will have lots of great advice on how to get a good practice going without a center nearby. Even just visiting this forum has done a lot of good for me so far :) Maybe we're in the age of the e-Sangha.

I agree that this forum is really helpful. At least regarding Buddhist philosophy, reading the forum often clarified things for me when books failed.

Yes, even monthly visits would cost too much for me. I'll try to find out about retreats, Zen or Tibetan - I am not sure yet. Meanwhile, I guess I'll try out that email course on Tendai they mentioned here on this forum - it looks interesting, and it is free :)
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby MrDistracted » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:23 pm

duckfiasco wrote: Maybe we're in the age of the e-Sangha.



Oh, I think we've gone past that.....
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby justsit » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:38 pm

MrDistracted wrote:
duckfiasco wrote: Maybe we're in the age of the e-Sangha.



Oh, I think we've gone past that.....

:rolling:
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Re: Schools of Buddhism: Which one is "mine"?

Postby plwk » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:20 am

Maybe we're in the age of the e-Sangha.



Oh, I think we've gone past that.....

That was E-Sangha...

I am not so fortunate - in my case, getting to the closest Dharma center would mean 6-7 hours on a train, and the ticket cost stings. So, visiting a center is serious business for me!
Have you read the lives of past Masters and Disciples and the lengths they would go to just for the Buddha Dharma?
Once a month's travel wouldn't dent your life now would it at the very least? If one wants results, one must create the cause for it, no?
As you wrote earlier, being 'an armchair Buddhist is no good'... where there's a will, there's a way I guess...
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