Converts and their stories

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Converts and their stories

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:45 pm

I always like to hear people's stories of how they came to Buddhism. So, if you're a convert, what's your story? What religion were you before you converted? How were you introduced to the Dharma? What are some things you considered before converting, and what are some of the things that lead to your conversion?
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:56 am

I grew up in a very non-religious household, although I did attend a church school. But I had a feeling about what I came to later think of as 'enlightenment' from a young age. I had a vivid realization when I was around 13 - it wasn't very Buddhist, in fact years later I realized it was much more like Ramana Maharishi. I started learning about meditation in my mid-twenties from secular 'consciousness-raising' type of school that suddenly appeared in my city - learned a lot from them. That was when I started to understand the idea of what I call 'The Not' (as in not manifest, not this, not that - the way of negation.) Then went on a short self-guided retreat at Wat Buddha Dhamma under the guidance of Phra Khantipalo (who subsequently disrobed and 'converted' to a Tibetan approach). Went to an inspirational talk by Lama Yeshe. In the 1980's I read To Meet the Real Dragon which gave me a really vivid sense of the meaning of emptiness. Since then it has been an unfolding process.

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Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby greentara » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:07 pm

jeeprs, I would never use the word converted but rather influenced. I also felt the power and teaching of Ramana Maharshi vivid and life changing. I attended many talks by Phra Khantipalo and was guided by Ajahn Sumedo.
I did nothing officially but change was taking place and the effect and influence still continues.
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby MalaBeads » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:41 pm

greentara wrote:jeeprs, I would never use the word converted but rather influenced. I also felt the power and teaching of Ramana Maharshi vivid and life changing. I attended many talks by Phra Khantipalo and was guided by Ajahn Sumedo.
I did nothing officially but change was taking place and the effect and influence still continues.


Ajahn Sumedo is quite a yogi. I stayed at Amaravati for a short while in the late 80s. Then saw him again in the U.S. when he gave a short retreat at a Zen Center. Showed me just how paltry my practice was.
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:43 pm

I have no problem with the word 'conversion'. I think it represents a real change in your inner being, like converting an engine from running on gasoline to LPD. It's not just a matter of changing your opinion but a reconfiguration.

I liked Khantipalo but I found him very kind of formalistic and rather dry in the 1970's when I visited the Wat. But subsequently he went through a big change - a crisis, I think - before he disrobed and opened his other centre in Northern Queensland.

I never saw Ajahn Sumedho in person but I read a lot of his articles on Buddhanet and always admired them.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby greentara » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:54 am

jeeprs, I worked fairly close to the Buddhist temple so it was easy for me to attend many of his talks and he had quite a following as his talks were lively and sincere, he would have influenced many. Later in life Norbu had a quite an impact on Phra Khantipalo and he disrobed not long after that.
Malabeads, Ajahn Sumedo had a huge impact on many. I think you are right in calling him a yogi and his laughter full of joy simply bubbled out of him.
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby MalaBeads » Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:46 am

greentara wrote: Malabeads, Ajahn Sumedo had a huge impact on many. I think you are right in calling him a yogi and his laughter full of joy simply bubbled out of him.


Yes, I very much agree. His laughter comes from a man who is quite comfortable with himself, his strengths, his foibles and he knows very well what his practice is - and isn't.

A Still Forest Pool (the story of Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedo's Thai teacher) is one of my all-time favorite Dharma books. In the mid 80s, I read it many times over and used to give it away. It is a completely simple and completely profound book at the same time, written straight and only from experience.
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby KeithBC » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:21 am

I grew up in a non-religious nominally-Christian home. My mother was Catholic and my father was Anglican, son of a Church of Scotland minister.

I knew from an early age that I didn't believe some of the doctrine that I was taught in school. (There was no separation of church & state in the UK when I was growing up.) Things like all non-Christians would go to hell - I just knew that couldn't be true. I was in grade 2 at the time.

In my twenties, I was feeling nostalgic for the 1960s, which I had been too young to enjoy first-hand. I was browsing in a bookstore and came across "The Way of Zen" by Alan Watts. I seemed to recall that Zen Buddhism had been a big thing in the 60s, so I bought the book. Reading the book, I had a powerful feeling of recognition rather than discovery. I took note of all the bibliographic references and read as many of them as I could.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby plwk » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:49 am

Ajahn Sumedo is quite a yogi. I stayed at Amaravati for a short while in the late 80s. Then saw him again in the U.S. when he gave a short retreat at a Zen Center. Showed me just how paltry my practice was.
Agreed. One can expect that where he is associated with Ajahn Chah and in turn Ajahn Mun who's his teacher, another revered name in Thai Theravada. I was so blessed to watch him teach live in person some years back when he and his Sangha entourage of other prominent teachers who were on a rare world tour and stopped by my country. He shares a close relationship with another prominent Chinese Mahayana organisation in California which I follow closely where their late founding Master offered the piece of land on what is now Abhayagiri Monastery in the same state in the spirit of friendship with the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah.
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby greentara » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:25 am

Sarlos guru rating service, site map, under the heading tales. I found this really charming story about Ajahn Chah on "Tales from the Path"
The page was contributed by Dhanya.
Its well worth a read.
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby Snovid » Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:03 am

I always like to hear people's stories of how they came to Buddhism. So, if you're a convert, what's your story?


"Every nation and the land area
have their old gods and spirits.
They are the sacred energy of your Earth.
With them, you should seek the agreement
and from them you should expect help. "-Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

 "One should profess religion our own country "-Dalai Lama

I am not a convert
I am not a Buddhist :)
I'm interested in Bon and Dzogchen
I am from Poland I use google translator I do not know English
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby Hickersonia » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:48 am

Hi dyanaprajna,

I was introduced to Buddhism by some of my coworkers, Khmer Buddhists who have immigrated to the United States. I had a few chats among them and realized that I appreciated how non-involved they were with all the drama at work while simultaneously being some of the friendliest people I had ever met. I even had several more-flirty-than-average encounters with one of them, but by my estimation she began to respect me too much after my conversion to keep up the flirtiness (which is fine, since I'm already married).

I spent a lot of time reading online, eventually stumbling across Access to Insight. I quickly came to the conclusion that the Buddha's teachings speak volumes to me and, quite frankly, answer all of the questions I've ever felt religion failed to answer. The unequivocal peacemongering of the Buddha's dispensation, the dismissal of the all-knowing God that made us "in his image," and the simplicity of the Eightfold Path really "click" for me I guess. It is all worth practicing, unlike the many paths the world preaches (consumerism, money worship, and lust).

I suppose I was some sort of Christian prior to my so-called conversion, although I hadn't felt particularly serious about it in years. I never really felt like I had any confirmation that God was out there and I never really felt like there was any path, anything to practice. I didn't think that "belief" was enough, and I think that made me a bad Christian. If there was no reason to behave in any particular way because I was already "saved," then why not behave in a way that made me feel "good?"

My biggest concern when I realized I was converting (I wouldn't say it happened all at once or suddenly), was that I thought I might alienate my wife and family. For a while, I think this did indeed happen, but when my wife realized I hadn't become some sort of devil-worshiper, I suppose things started to smooth over. I seriously expected her to leave me at first, though, and I was somewhat prepared for the posibility that the "right" spiritual path might really indeed by that hard.

Well I hope that kinda helps satisfy your curiosity a little. :) If there is anything here you'd like me to elaborate on a little, just say so, of course.

Be well, friend.
Hickersonia
http://hickersonia.wordpress.com/


"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of
throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned."

Nam mô A di đà Phật!
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:13 am

Basically, conversion is a shift in one's fundamental orientation, an about-face, from self-absorption or self-enclosure, to self transcendence… . For the most part, and usually, the shift…is in fact a process. It usually takes place not all at once but in steps. It has some notably dramatic moments for some, but for most of us it is a continual, slow, and unobtrusive movement beyond the isolation of the subject, beyond a constantly self-referential horizon, to self-transcendence. And for all of us it has to be continually renewed.


Bernard Lonergan on Conversion
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Converts and their stories

Postby Jainarayan » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:49 pm

greentara wrote:jeeprs, I would never use the word converted but rather influenced. I also felt the power and teaching of Ramana Maharshi vivid and life changing. I attended many talks by Phra Khantipalo and was guided by Ajahn Sumedo.
I did nothing officially but change was taking place and the effect and influence still continues.


Pretty much the same for me. I haven't converted to anything, just evolved. I was raised Roman Catholic, became disillusioned, joined the Eastern Orthodox Church, became disillusioned, became agnostic/deist, Hindu tendencies (latent since teen years) surfaced, becoming disillusioned with some of the ritualistic superstition and silliness, becoming influenced by Buddhism and Taoism and melding the similarities between all three.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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