Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

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.

Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby Bodhi » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:57 pm

Hello,

I am here after quite a bit of a journey. I used to be active member here and of e-sangha. I practiced Pureland for a few years and a few years in Chan(Zen) at a branch of Chung Tai. I am now facing a bit of an obstacle in my spiritual life. About a year and a half ago I abandoned everything for many reasons that I prefer not to say since it might offends many. I lost the light, the belief, the faith, and the endeavor in my Buddhist practice. I guess I really and probably still dont accept the mystical aspect of buddhism. I declared myself an agnostic Atheist and rejected all religions. For a while it felt right then it didnt, I also didnt feel like I belong within the Atheist community because for some odd reason I still feel spiritual and the aggressiveness (seems like even hate) of the majority of atheists toward religion and eagerness to attack it is a turn off for me. Though what I do have in common with many of atheists are my love for science.

So I really dont know exactly what I am asking. I feel like I am lacking spirituality, feels like I am missing buddhism but cant bring myself to accept or believe it in again. I feel kind of lost. What do you think? Why do you practice Buddhism? Any experience from your practice that prove your practice?

Most sincerely
Peace abd happiness
Wherever you are, that is where the mind should be. Always be mindful, and be your own master. This is true freedom. - Grand Master Wei Chueh
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby wayland » Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:45 pm

Bodhi wrote:I lost the light, the belief, the faith, and the endeavor in my Buddhist practice.

Hi Bodhi,
It looks like you lost the 'endeavor' because is was being sustained by belief and faith. There may be a big element of those in the traditions you followed, then the bubble burst... Time to re-evaluate what Buddhism can offer you. Buddhist schools, like the Theravadan (not plugging it btw) don't tend to rely too much on faith. Investigate the four noble truths - back to basics and don't "believe" it, just try it - in a scientific way if you like. Put the teachings to the test.

Not believing does not make you a "bad Buddhist" it just makes makes you someone who is ready to go beyond that. An opportunity here, rather than a problem IMHO.
:namaste:
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby Yudron » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:05 pm

I love science, too. "I have a masters degree in science" as the radio character Dr. Science used to say.

Science does inform my practice a lot. Honestly, by looking at things with the eye of a little science I think my understanding of emptiness is stronger than some Buddhist's I know who don't have any of that. As you know, if you ook at smaller and smaller particles down to subatomic particles and what they are made of, there is no "thing" there to find. Weird things start to happen where in the very act of looking at these "things" they shift into something else. It's so profound. How can we take serious "me" and "you" and all this stuff around us? Even how they look to us is totally dependent on the eye anatomy of the human species and the way those non-thing things reflect light. It's all arbitrary! I could go on and on. Have you looked at the scientific literature on the Multiverse?

My conclusion is that Buddhism--especially the Mahayana and Vajrayana--get at truths that go beyond that atom smasher. Ultimately, there are no word to describe reality and consciousness that can really capture it, and never will be because labeling ruins our awareness of reality. But the great esoteric traditions of Buddhism make the effort.

Ultimately, we have to rest in the nature of the ultimate. That requires being convinced of the benefits of doing it.... and that's why there are teachings and paths of practice and so forth.

I can say, personally, that I am a content person who is happy most of the time as a result of my practice. Before I was moody, anxious and depressed, critical and judgmental. Slowly, slowly, these things have untied themselves. Do I lapse every now and then, sure! You can see that from my posts. But I am soooo much better. That's no small feat! I couldn't have gotten myself about of the mental mess I was in. I had to take refuge in the triple gems.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby greentara » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:48 pm

Bodhi, Most seekers go through an arid period. Forget about your tertiary qualifications they're of little help. You've got two choices. Find a meditation teacher that you find awesome and makes your heart melt.
Or deal with this mind that is a thought factory. Churning out unwanted thoughts endlessly. These thoughts always latch on to emotions and its a rollercoaster ride. When you really become aware of the tyranny of the mind, through one pointed effort you then attempt to stem the flow, stop the thrum.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:29 am

I think there is really good advice above.

I can just add that for me, Buddhism is primarily about doing rather than believing. It is a practice rather than a dogma.

I am a mathematician by trade, so I guess my job is to be careful about assumptions and scrupulous about the logic. I don't have a problem with the main Buddhist beliefs but for people who are bothered by rebirth, siddhis, etc I'd simply say, put it all aside and practice.

These days Buddhist practice for me is summed up by two words "pay attention" and what can possibly be wrong with that?
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby wisdom » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:59 am

Try to go back to the basics. Look at the four noble truths, the eightfold path, and the essentials of what Buddha taught about the senses, attachment, aversion, and emptiness. Ask yourself if these things accord with your reasoning. If they do, then proceed to look into other Buddhist paths. Maybe Chan/Zen/Pureland is not for you. If the basics of what the Buddha taught do not accord with your reasoning and common sense, don't just abandon your search for truth, but try to determine why. It might lead you onto non Buddhist paths, but at least then you are still trying.

Also remind yourself of the suffering and aversion you see in everyone around you. Few paths produce as many happy, well adjusted, balanced, normal, healthy people as Buddhism does. Few paths have such a rational approach. The Buddha said to use your common sense. If something sounds too mystical and out there, don't deny it might be true, but don't accept it blindly. Buddhism is based on experiential evidence. There are elements of faith and devotion, but these are taken up as skillful means. In the same way a scientist will undertake an experiment having faith that if they follow the instructions, the outcome will be what the experiment says it will be. So even an atheistic scientist has to have faith from time to time.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby wisdom » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:03 am

Bodhi wrote:So I really dont know exactly what I am asking. I feel like I am lacking spirituality, feels like I am missing buddhism but cant bring myself to accept or believe it in again. I feel kind of lost. What do you think? Why do you practice Buddhism? Any experience from your practice that prove your practice?


Also consider what you are feeling right now. Dissatisfaction, suffering, sorrow, confusion. You want experiential evidence that what Buddha taught was true? This is the foundation of his teaching, that samsaric life only leads to these kinds of negative experiences. The first step to really being a Buddhist is to see this and accept it as fact. We can try to deny it but we will find that over and over again we will be suffering, confused, and so forth.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:41 pm

Bodhi wrote:Any experience from your practice that prove your practice?

Only one way to find out.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:03 pm

I'm probably speaking out of turn, but I'm curious why dyed-in-the-wool "scientific" physicalists/materialists don't go for a philosophy more like Stoicism instead of pining for the label of "Buddhist".
Slap a meditation practice on to Stoicism and you've got your "Secular Buddhism" right there...
:shrug:
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:22 pm

Bodhi wrote:Hello,

I am here after quite a bit of a journey. I used to be active member here and of e-sangha. I practiced Pureland for a few years and a few years in Chan(Zen) at a branch of Chung Tai. I am now facing a bit of an obstacle in my spiritual life. About a year and a half ago I abandoned everything for many reasons that I prefer not to say since it might offends many. I lost the light, the belief, the faith, and the endeavor in my Buddhist practice. I guess I really and probably still dont accept the mystical aspect of buddhism. I declared myself an agnostic Atheist and rejected all religions. For a while it felt right then it didnt, I also didnt feel like I belong within the Atheist community because for some odd reason I still feel spiritual and the aggressiveness (seems like even hate) of the majority of atheists toward religion and eagerness to attack it is a turn off for me. Though what I do have in common with many of atheists are my love for science.

So I really dont know exactly what I am asking. I feel like I am lacking spirituality, feels like I am missing buddhism but cant bring myself to accept or believe it in again. I feel kind of lost. What do you think? Why do you practice Buddhism? Any experience from your practice that prove your practice?

Most sincerely
Peace abd happiness


Actually my practice is not believing in anything or doing anything with my mind. That's how I rest my mind.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby greentara » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:52 pm

bodhi, Most of us feel like this at the beginning of a spiritual quest but it becomes weaker along the way.... "Internally I was rejoicing. I actually had a feeling like on the inside I was lit up. I’d discovered something buried, like a spiritual artefact accidentally dug up on an archaeological adventure"
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby lobster » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:34 am

Most sincerely


It seems you are still a seeker. I spent two years in the very real world of atheistic 'certainty', devoid of practice. It is a real place and involves suffering. Buddhism will only help with overcoming suffering. No more, no less. What I did was very simple, I started to practice the overcoming of suffering. No more, no less.

My thoughts are with you. The merit of my practice today I send out to inspire you. No more, no less. :heart:
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby Punya » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:57 pm

Bodhi wrote:I am here after quite a bit of a journey. I used to be active member here and of e-sangha. I practiced Pureland for a few years and a few years in Chan(Zen) at a branch of Chung Tai. I am now facing a bit of an obstacle in my spiritual life. About a year and a half ago I abandoned everything for many reasons that I prefer not to say since it might offends many. I lost the light, the belief, the faith, and the endeavor in my Buddhist practice. I guess I really and probably still dont accept the mystical aspect of buddhism. I declared myself an agnostic Atheist and rejected all religions. For a while it felt right then it didnt, I also didnt feel like I belong within the Atheist community because for some odd reason I still feel spiritual and the aggressiveness (seems like even hate) of the majority of atheists toward religion and eagerness to attack it is a turn off for me. Though what I do have in common with many of atheists are my love for science.


Hi Bodhi. Don’t forget that atheism is also a belief system but it doesn’t sound like it’s the one for you. Maybe consider giving the dharma another chance. As has been said in other DW forums, try visiting different centres and attending teachings in different traditions. You might find something or someone that resonates with you. However, the “going back to basics” advice offered here also seems very good.

I did some formal buddhist studies a few years back and when we got to the last unit, which was about vajrayana, a number of my fellow students simply baulked. “What a load of crap” etc. It had obviously happened before as this unit wasn’t compulsory in order to complete our studies. Western thinking is hugely influenced by rationalism and scientificism and it seems hard for some western dharma students to get past that. I think this is why some people are particularly attracted to the Tibetan Gelugpa tradition with its emphasis on logic. (Sorry for all these generalisations). It certainly attracted me in the beginning.

When I come across something in Buddhism that my rational ‘self’ finds difficult, I remember the advice Khamtrul Rinpoche gave to (now Jetsumna) Tenzin Palmo, which is mentioned in Vicki McKenzie’s book “Cave in the Snow.” It was something along the lines of “if you find some aspect of the dharma difficult just leave it for the time being and work with the rest”.

I also wonder while you were involved with Buddhism whether you did something similar to me. Attended and liked the teachings and did a bit of practice but not very seriously. It’s only in the last couple of years when I’ve made a real commitment to practice that things have started to very slowly change - and only because I am taking seriously my teachers’ advice to give up all expectations of results.

Bodhi wrote: Why do you practice Buddhism?


I notice that some people seem to turn to Buddhism in times of crisis but their practice lessens as this passes. Or they use Buddhism as a kind of therapy in order to feel good. This seems like a very unstable foundation. Even though in everyday life I continue to be incredibly self-centred, I have a bigger wish to help others and from a Buddhist perspective there is only one way to do that! :smile:
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby greentara » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:04 pm

ngodrup,

Receive the gift into your hand,and acknowledge that you have received it. That completes the act
for the giver. Then you get to perform an act of generosity. You may, for example, say "I wish to
make an offering of this very precious object I have to you." Then you give back the very same
item, saying "it was given to me by a very kind donor, I think you may find it useful and meaningful.
Please receive my generosity at this time.

This may sound good but it's very scripted. I'd prefer something far more spontanious.
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby Bodhi » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:44 am

I sincerely appreciate all the responses, advices, and guidances

My apology for not being able to respond to all of them but I read through them all and had considered and put much thoughts on each of them. I am also very grateful for all the good wishes and dedication of merits.

Science does inform my practice a lot. Honestly, by looking at things with the eye of a little science I think my understanding of emptiness is stronger than some Buddhist's I know who don't have any of that. As you know, if you ook at smaller and smaller particles down to subatomic particles and what they are made of, there is no "thing" there to find. Weird things start to happen where in the very act of looking at these "things" they shift into something else. It's so profound. How can we take serious "me" and "you" and all this stuff around us? Even how they look to us is totally dependent on the eye anatomy of the human species and the way those non-thing things reflect light. It's all arbitrary! I could go on and on. Have you looked at the scientific literature on the Multiverse?


This is very true. My love for science especially physics and astronomy initially had gave me a much more profound and very scientific perspective on Buddhism. I would learn about quantum mechanics and what all i think about is exactly emptiness of Buddhism. When sutras refered to manyany Buddha lands away of ten directions, it reminds me of our scientists' great attempt to search for lives else where in the universe and of course the multiverse theory of physics. Though I found that these insights are often not very welcomed or cared much by most Dharma brothers and sisters or community I have been involved in.

I also wonder while you were involved with Buddhism whether you did something similar to me. Attended and liked the teachings and did a bit of practice but not very seriously. It’s only in the last couple of years when I’ve made a real commitment to practice that things have started to very slowly change - and only because I am taking seriously my teachers’ advice to give up all expectations of results.


I was actually born into a family with what we can refer to as "traditional chinese religion" (Inam actually Vietnamese though)which is a strange mix of Ancient chinese paganism, teaching of Confucious, and Buddhism. It was merely just a worshipping practice and my family dont care much for learning about it. However I had always been interested in philosophy and looking understand the nature of realty both through science and philosophy/theology so I did my own study of all three belief system with Buddhism winning me over. I then spent a few years studying vigorously both from a practicing buddhist perspective and scholarly perspective, taking class from this Bhiksuni and also taught Buddhism to younger teens and holding a discussion course at my Pure Land temple with older and even elderly Buddhists. Then i found the path of Pure Land, to me personally, incomplete and lack alot of what i love about Buddhism, that more profound insights. So I attended a Chan(Zen) tradition from a branch of Chung Tai Monastery (From Taiwan). It was very eye-opening and I really did find what I was seeking there for a while. Then I got very involved and was on many different team of the monastery. I attended mediation & dharma lecture classes and it was great. But soon for many reasons it became very artificial. Especially when we took a trip to see the Grand Master coming to Houston. It was very disappointing and I felt like everything just shattered there. And they are very similar to Pure Land than Zen. I was also having internal conflicts woth science and my religious belief there..
Wherever you are, that is where the mind should be. Always be mindful, and be your own master. This is true freedom. - Grand Master Wei Chueh
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Re: Advice, suggestion, guidance, anything?

Postby lobster » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:55 pm

But soon for many reasons it became very artificial

It is. It can be. Now what?
Buddhism in practice, in actuality is not perfect. Even the most perfect teaching manifests in samsara as well as nirvana. We have to find a Middle Way. How?
Scientific dharma would advocate a testing of a proposition to elicit the veracity. What aspects of Buddha dharma work for you or do you want to work with? The question is, 'what is missing?' :yinyang:
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