Greetings from Finland ! (no, we DON`T have polar bears and penguins walking around here)
I am 22 year old university student (studing chemical engineering) dude interested in dharma. I have been meditating for little over one year now and have familiarized myself with different traditions of buddhism. I started with soto zen buddhism but couple of moths ago i found Tibetan buddhism.
Tibetan schools of Buddhism attract me because of their straightforwardness and versatility in practises. I used to basically sit only shikantaza daily and tried to cultivate awerness in my daily life. And found my progress painfully slow.
Some time ago i changed my style of meditation in good ol` samatha where i follow my breath. That helped me alot.
Then i found deity practice. My firts impression on the practise was that it cant be good for ones mental health as you feed idea of BEING that deity or at least CONNECTING to such deity. I thought that i`m going to just run around and tell people that i am some bodhisattva or buddha.
But i still felt the idea of that practice intriguing and so i educated myself on the subject. With better knowledge and good instructions i tried Chenrezig sadhana few times.
And it worked! I felt emotionally connected to the great compassionate one, and going through the sadhana with its mantras and so on felt natural for me... as a result after just few sessions my compassion, devotion and bodhichitta skyrocketed. Before that moment i had not really cared much about those things... I thought that they will come in time and i dont have to worry about such things. Damn I was wrong! With all that devotion, compassion and so on my meditations got deeper and sharper. I felt and still feel that only now the dharma is beginning to reveal its self to me, I`m having realizations frequently. I also tried Vajrasattva purification. To this deity I was not so well connected, and i had trouble with the visualisation, however i can tell that the purification and 100-syllable mantra worked. Infact after the purification I realized that i had carried with me a lot of unconscious/semiconscious emotional burden. I dont know what that burden was but i felt that it is gone now.
Third deity i feel strongly drawn to is medicine buddha. I have not yet tried his sadhana but I have tried just visualizing him and for some reason i can do it effortlesly (mayby because of the blue color).I am not going to try any more deities as i feel that now i have everything needed and i want avoid "spiritual shopping" and ending up as some airhead that changes his practices every two days.
But that`s overview of my journey so far. Like i said I`m feeling that i`m only now starting to practice buddhism. I consider myself as a down to earth person and not "religious" or "spiritual" at all. But i have to admit it, people... last two - three months of my life i have felt as if i have been standing in the rain of blessings sent by bodhisattvas and buddhas. Maybe its dat karma, son! I feel strong determination in my practice and life in general.Plus i think i should find a teacher and proper sangha but there are no Tibetan buddhist lamas in Finland.. only soto zen/rinzai sanghas and those of course cant provide tibetan curriculum of buddhism.
But now i feel i know what i have to do.and that is to live my life in meaningfull way taking care of myself and others. And realize the nature of mind.And go far and beyond.
Thanks for reading
Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before
-H.H. 14th Dalai Lama