How the Three Jewels saved my life

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

How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby Alix1112 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:06 am

Hi All,

I have a complicated past and slight indications of my past existences and accumulated karma to only start to understand my character, my destructive actions, and the consequent reactions for them in this lifetime.

My mother had me as a single mom and I was abused mentally and physically for a long while by her growing up - she took me when it was convenient for her/when it could be afforded and left me at her parents otherwise. I developed a intense loathing for her, myself, and my family; they are very traditional Asian, Evangelical Christian folks that did not approve of the circumstances under which I was born and was being brought up and were very strict and authoritarian. While my grandparents did truly care for me and were more gentle - they were approaching their 70's and were not prudent on providing me with structure and perhaps did not know the complicates of raising a child in the 1990's in North America vs the 1950's in South-East Asia when they had their own children.

I was eventually taken in fully by my grandparents and they look my legal custody which lead shortly to great disaster and things spinning out of control....

I developed into a extremely arrogant, entitled, insecure, and obsessive pre teen/teenager with a unhealthy social life, mental frame and outlook on life. I wallowed in self pity, foolishness, vanity, and hedonism for a long time. I often thought of suicide, but was afraid of the fruits of an unsuccessful attempt/the possibility that death would not bring relief.

I happened upon Buddhism nearly all too late in life to actually realize my mistakes and change the error of my ways. To admit foolishness after thinking you know it all is a painful thing, to accept poverty after a lifetime of wealth is a pang at your ego, to admit failure after years of artificial self projected success and respect is crushing - but finding clarity, realizing the ultimate futility and pointlessness of desires and material objects, and focusing on learning, evolving, and building good karma with compassion for the world and your own surroundings transcends all the pain.

I took refuge in the Three Jewel at Vancouver Fo Guang Shan on July 7th 2013 and will receive the first five precepts at Guan Yin Temple this coming Monday, August 26th 2013.

I am not perfected - I still err and must focus on repairing my character, developing compassion, respecting others, taking criticism and advice in the correct way, and humbling myself/ego. But of all I have experienced in life thus far, I am most grateful for having discovered the true treasure of the Three Jewels and Mahayana. There is slow but sure improvement in my existence and I hope, if not to be enlightened in this lifetime - to at least learn a thing or two about life and to spread some compassion. :namaste:

Amithaba.
ལྔ་བརྒྱ་ཐ་མར་གྱུར་པ་ན། །
ང་ཉིད་ཡི་གེའི་གཟུགས་སུ་གནས། །
ང་ཡིན་སྙམ་དུ་ཡིད་བྱོས་ལ། །
དེ་ཚེ་དེ་ལ་གུས་པར་གྱིས། །
In the last five hundred year period,
I will appear in the form of scriptures.
Consider them as identical to me,
And treat them with due respect.

- Sakyamuni Buddha
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby Huifeng » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:27 am

All the best for your journey to awakening!

:namaste:

~~ Huifeng
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby smcj » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:27 am

Congratulations and welcome to the club. I'd be dead too without the blessings of the 3 Jewels.


:bow:
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby yan kong » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:03 pm

Congratulations. I live in Vancouver too!
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:35 pm

Hello, and welcome. I think there are many of us here with similar stories, although probably not quite as extreme as yours. I don't know where I'd be without Buddhism and the Three Jewels. I lived a life of extreme cynicism, hating my family, and in general hating life. As a Christian, I never felt that these things should have been avoided. I didn't know the destruction they were actually causing. On top of that, I was an alcoholic for over a dozen years, which led to my divorce. It was at this point that I knew I either had to find something else, or just give up. I was too prideful to commit suicide, or try...again. So I took a journey, one that led me to Buddhism. And I'm glad that I did, or else there's a good chance I wouldn't be here today.
"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: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby Alix1112 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:20 am

Thanks one and all for the greetings and wishes.

One thing I needed to learn and yet was sort of sheltered from was the sense of self responsibility. The facts that I could control my own karmic destiny (even the concept of Karma was dismissed as superstition while I was growing up), that I had to take responsibility for my own surroundings/actions/decisions, and that I did not HAVE to live a life in one way or another just because that's the way things "were" were all totally foreign to me and never brought up by any of my relatives, grandparents etc. I harbored intense hatred of all around me which fanned the flame of a deep, dreadful urge to perish. Nothing seemed to help - not my family, not doctors, not counselling, not church, not friends... Things took a major turn for the worst in October 2013 when my grandfather passed away from this world. It looked very, very bad....

Through all the sordid events and trials & tribulations though - I am glad to still have my life and the chance to pay homage to the Buddha & Bodhisattvas, study the Dharma, and honor & perhaps become part of the Sangha.

Amithaba & Good night from Vancouver! I receive the precepts tomorrow afternoon :smile:
ལྔ་བརྒྱ་ཐ་མར་གྱུར་པ་ན། །
ང་ཉིད་ཡི་གེའི་གཟུགས་སུ་གནས། །
ང་ཡིན་སྙམ་དུ་ཡིད་བྱོས་ལ། །
དེ་ཚེ་དེ་ལ་གུས་པར་གྱིས། །
In the last five hundred year period,
I will appear in the form of scriptures.
Consider them as identical to me,
And treat them with due respect.

- Sakyamuni Buddha
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby lobster » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:35 am

Alix1112 wrote:I receive the precepts tomorrow afternoon :smile:

:woohoo:

How wonderful.

May all be well. May all be auspicious.

Let us know how it went :namaste:
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby Alix1112 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:58 pm

Everything is well - but the ceremony was cancelled at the last minute for today. The office registrar of the temple just called to let me know; perhaps there was a scheduling conflict with the abbot or something came up. Anyways, no matter. It'll just have to wait till next time; hopefully within a month or so. :smile:
ལྔ་བརྒྱ་ཐ་མར་གྱུར་པ་ན། །
ང་ཉིད་ཡི་གེའི་གཟུགས་སུ་གནས། །
ང་ཡིན་སྙམ་དུ་ཡིད་བྱོས་ལ། །
དེ་ཚེ་དེ་ལ་གུས་པར་གྱིས། །
In the last five hundred year period,
I will appear in the form of scriptures.
Consider them as identical to me,
And treat them with due respect.

- Sakyamuni Buddha
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby lobster » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:31 pm

Ah you get a chance to practice the precepts before formal taking. Sounds great :twothumbsup:
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby tidathep » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:24 pm

Alix1112 wrote:Everything is well - but the ceremony was cancelled at the last minute for today. The office registrar of the temple just called to let me know; perhaps there was a scheduling conflict with the abbot or something came up. Anyways, no matter. It'll just have to wait till next time; hopefully within a month or so. :smile:

-----------

Sawaddee Ka..Alix1112,

All Ariya-monks in Thailand that I know....always preach that 5 Precepts/8 Precepts ..you may pray to the Buddhas at your home and observe 5 Precepts by yourself everyday...and would be very nice to observe 8 Precepts on Uposatha Day(once a week). 5 Precepts are in your heart, you just practice observing silas as routine, there's no need to ask any monk to give you 5 or 8 Precepts. You are the one who intend to observe 5 Precepts ..to pray to be true to yourself...the merits are yours.

Image

The heart of Buddhism:

To do good
Not to do evil
To purify your mind

This is the teaching of all the Buddhas. :anjali:

Sincerely,
tidathep
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby bamboo » Mon Sep 09, 2013 5:26 am

I have been thinking of joining a sangha or taking refuge. I'm curious what does it mean when you take refuge and receive the precepts. Any explanation on this is appreciated.
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby Alix1112 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:09 am

tidathep,

Indeed this is very true. The five precepts I think are things that we should be upholding as basic moral code anyways; buddhist or not. But receiving them formally and making that promise to myself helps strengthen my personal resolve. Look at it as a way of encouraging oneself. Taking refuge certainly helped me center myself more and understand more to Mahayana and ways of working with my mind. It is also very good training for taking on the Bodhisattva Precepts later on - which have more to do with thought/root of thought as well as actions.

Bamboo,

Taking refuge is basically "officially" becoming a Buddhist when one takes refuge in the Three Jewels. The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Taking on the precepts is receiving the precepts of refraining from killing, stealing, lying, intoxicant use, and improper sexual practice. In Mahayana you can recieve one precept at first, two, three etc. Some people don't take the one of refraining from intoxicants due to having regular business/social engagements where drinking is "required", others perhaps might not take the precept of killing due to being in professions such as veterinary work, extermination, butchering, restaurant chef etc - at least these are the examples which I've seen or heard of locally. So it's very personal and totally up to you; it's just a promise to yourself that you will try your very best to uphold these precepts to their fullest in your life.

It's better (IMHO) to take it step by step - study Buddhism a little more if you are new to it, Take refuge after that if you wish to do so, then consider taking on precepts (it's your choice how many and how far you wish to take it). As far as entering monastic life...(I'm assuming that's what you mean by saying joining the Sangha) see how all goes first and take it one step at a time. Sorry if I'm not super informative!

Amithaba
ལྔ་བརྒྱ་ཐ་མར་གྱུར་པ་ན། །
ང་ཉིད་ཡི་གེའི་གཟུགས་སུ་གནས། །
ང་ཡིན་སྙམ་དུ་ཡིད་བྱོས་ལ། །
དེ་ཚེ་དེ་ལ་གུས་པར་གྱིས། །
In the last five hundred year period,
I will appear in the form of scriptures.
Consider them as identical to me,
And treat them with due respect.

- Sakyamuni Buddha
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby yan kong » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:52 am

tidathep, while I respect the Theravada's point of view on the subject it is not entirely the same in the Chinese Mahayana. I'm not sure how FGS views it but Master Sheng Yen did not feel it was just enough to follow the precepts. He felt that a formal ceremony was very important.

Also I don't think Bamboo was refering to the monastic community. The sangha of monks and nun is distinct from householders who have taken refuge and the five precepts.
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby T. Chokyi » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:20 pm

bamboo wrote:I have been thinking of joining a sangha or taking refuge. I'm curious what does it mean when you take refuge and receive the precepts. Any explanation on this is appreciated.



http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Taking_Refuge
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby bamboo » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:27 am

Alix1112 wrote:tidathep,


Bamboo,

Taking refuge is basically "officially" becoming a Buddhist when one takes refuge in the Three Jewels. The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Taking on the precepts is receiving the precepts of refraining from killing, stealing, lying, intoxicant use, and improper sexual practice. In Mahayana you can recieve one precept at first, two, three etc. Some people don't take the one of refraining from intoxicants due to having regular business/social engagements where drinking is "required", others perhaps might not take the precept of killing due to being in professions such as veterinary work, extermination, butchering, restaurant chef etc - at least these are the examples which I've seen or heard of locally. So it's very personal and totally up to you; it's just a promise to yourself that you will try your very best to uphold these precepts to their fullest in your life.

It's better (IMHO) to take it step by step - study Buddhism a little more if you are new to it, Take refuge after that if you wish to do so, then consider taking on precepts (it's your choice how many and how far you wish to take it). As far as entering monastic life...(I'm assuming that's what you mean by saying joining the Sangha) see how all goes first and take it one step at a time. Sorry if I'm not super informative!

Amithaba


Thanks for the clarification. I actually tried to take refuge in the dharma and uphold the precepts, but it didn't work out so well for me. I guess having a teacher and Buddhist friends can keep one more focused and motivated while traveling the path.
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby bamboo » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:35 am

yan kong wrote:tidathep, while I respect the Theravada's point of view on the subject it is not entirely the same in the Chinese Mahayana. I'm not sure how FGS views it but Master Sheng Yen did not feel it was just enough to follow the precepts. He felt that a formal ceremony was very important.

Also I don't think Bamboo was refering to the monastic community. The sangha of monks and nun is distinct from householders who have taken refuge and the five precepts.


Yes, I was referring to lay people who practice Buddhism.
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby bamboo » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:38 am

T. Chokyi wrote:
bamboo wrote:I have been thinking of joining a sangha or taking refuge. I'm curious what does it mean when you take refuge and receive the precepts. Any explanation on this is appreciated.



http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Taking_Refuge


Thanks for the link :smile:

I need to learn how to multi quote.
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby shaunc » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:20 am

I'm with Tidathep on this one. If a man/woman follows the 5/8/10 precepts, would it not make him/her a better person & help them to find their way further along the spiritual path regardless of whether they'd gone through a formal ceremony or not. The 5 precepts especially are a very basic teaching in Buddhism & I don't feel as though we need a learned master to teach us how to understand them, following them 100% is not as easy admittedly.
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Re: How the Three Jewels saved my life

Postby tidathep » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:50 pm

shaunc wrote:I'm with Tidathep on this one. If a man/woman follows the 5/8/10 precepts, would it not make him/her a better person & help them to find their way further along the spiritual path regardless of whether they'd gone through a formal ceremony or not. The 5 precepts especially are a very basic teaching in Buddhism & I don't feel as though we need a learned master to teach us how to understand them, following them 100% is not as easy admittedly.

-----------
Sawaddee Ka..Shaunc,

So true!..no need to wait for a monk to give you 5/8 Precepts with ceremony at the temple. ***Only when you want to stay all day/overnight at the temple to observe 8 Precepts formally..then you may need the abbot to give you 8 Precepts****.....I did that many times when stayed overnight at the temple with many upasakas/upasikas on Uposatha Days.

But like I said you can observe 5/8 Precepts everyday wherever you are...just pray to the Buddhas and promise that you'll try to observe 5/8 Precepts the best you know how....if you can't do 100%..don't be sad...try..try again.

tidathep :namaste:
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