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.
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!