How did we get here?

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

How did we get here?

Postby gnegirl » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:20 am

To the point where we practise this sublime path? I was raised Roman Catholic, and one would wonder how on earth I ended up in the Vajrayana of all things.

One obvious answer would be karma of course, but its interesting, almost accidental on the surface.

in 1993 we saw an ad in the paper advertising a public talk by HH the Dalai Lama in my home town. We go, listen, the audio quality is AWFUL, you can't understand half of what HHDL is saying. However, this led to receiving a transcript of the talk in the mail, which I devoured and reread so many times i lost count. Which led to reading other books on Buddhism, and on the very early baby internet of the early-mid 90's, participation in a list service about Zen.

Eventually, I end up on an intense Zen retreat at a Soen Korean Zen retreat center, where among studying Kong-ans, i find myself drawn to chanting the name of Avolokiteshvara in Korean (Kwan Se Um Bosal).

Since there is no Soen center in my home town, i end up at a Soto temple for weekly practise. Eventually someone gets the idea 'lets go visit the Tibetans!' The 'Tibetans' are a local Nyingmapa group in the lineage of HH Dudjom Rinpoche. I'm very much intrigued, VERY.

Not too much later, there is a Thangka art show at the local library. The suggestion on how to view the art is to find one that appeals to you and just sit with it. So i browse all the images and sit myself down in front of an image of Guru Rinpoche. At this time, I didn't really know who this image was, it was just well, intriguing. I end up going to the public practise of the Nyingma group every week about this time. The rest of the story takes some other twists and turns, but it was a sequence of lucky accidents and happenstance in many ways.

Anyone else care to share? I am leaving out quite a few things, but they don't really add anything to the tale in my opinion.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby Tilopa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:08 am

gnegirl wrote:To the point where we practise this sublime path? I was raised Roman Catholic, and one would wonder how on earth I ended up in the Vajrayana of all things. One obvious answer would be karma of course, but its interesting, almost accidental on the surface.


You're 100% right. It's just karma, nothing more and nothing less. No such thing as an accident.

Wonderful is it not?

And just a little amazing! :anjali:
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby ground » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:14 am

Where?

Kind regards
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby mindyourmind » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:06 am

I have often asked myself this, especially as I was raised in a very conservative Christian home.

I must say that all the potential answers I have come up with "work" for me, I find them all quite acceptable.

Obviously, I accept karma and that sort of speaks for itself. The first time I really started studying the Dharma I just felt (pardon the cliche) as if I had come home.

Then, on another level I suppose that my training, my education, my personality also all point towards a largely rational, even scientific approach to life, and again I find on that level that the Dharma makes sense to me, it does not really (with very few exceptions) ask me to accept things that causes cognitive dissonance such as certain other worldviews require.

I have also had the benefit of having Buddhist friends from an early age, I find the art and most of the cultural attachments absolutely beautiful, and the whole message of peace and compassion towards all sentient beings all resonate with me.

So, while I am immensely grateful for being "here", I am not really surprised :bow:
As bad as bad becomes its not a part of you

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Re: How did we get here?

Postby Ken1969 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:41 am

I've ended up here by a roundabout route. I'm a recovered Alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a 12 Step spiritual program of recovery (that I'm sure many of you guys would approve of (maybe not the 'God bits'; but they can be subtracted)), and to learn how to meditate (which is part of Step 11) I found myself at a Buddhist Centre where I heard a Dharma talk. Much of what I heard reminded me of A.A. - it seemed to be about adjusting ourselves to the world, rather than trying to adjust the world to suit us; and I became interested.

After about 18 months of fairly hefty 'casual reading', I've enrolled on a two-year foundation course in Gelug Buddhism, which is interesting, and I've been exploring and trying to practice Lam Rim for about a year now.

So, you could say my drinking led me to the dharma! :mrgreen:
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby gnegirl » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:01 pm

Ken1969 wrote:I've ended up here by a roundabout route. I'm a recovered Alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a 12 Step spiritual program of recovery (that I'm sure many of you guys would approve of (maybe not the 'God bits'; but they can be subtracted)), and to learn how to meditate (which is part of Step 11) I found myself at a Buddhist Centre where I heard a Dharma talk. Much of what I heard reminded me of A.A. - it seemed to be about adjusting ourselves to the world, rather than trying to adjust the world to suit us; and I became interested.

After about 18 months of fairly hefty 'casual reading', I've enrolled on a two-year foundation course in Gelug Buddhism, which is interesting, and I've been exploring and trying to practice Lam Rim for about a year now.

So, you could say my drinking led me to the dharma! :mrgreen:


Awesome! And Congratulations on your progress working through your addiction. Its inspiring. The Lam Rim is absolutely wonderful too, by the way.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby gnegirl » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:09 pm

mindyourmind wrote:<snip>
I must say that all the potential answers I have come up with "work" for me, I find them all quite acceptable.

Obviously, I accept karma and that sort of speaks for itself. The first time I really started studying the Dharma I just felt (pardon the cliche) as if I had come home.
<snip>


Me 2! The first retreat i went on i had that exact same feeling, 'I'm HOME!'.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby KeithBC » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:59 pm

Short answer: karma, of course.

That karma manifested itself to me through my infatuation with the era of the 1960s. I was strongly influenced by growing up in that era, though I was too young to be an active participant. Some time later, in the 70s, I was feeling nostalgic for that time and wishing I had been born a few years earlier. Browsing through a bookstore, I came across Alan Watts' "The Way of Zen". I seemed to recall that Zen had been a big thing in the 60s, so I bought the book. Though Watts is considered a lightweight when it comes to Buddhism, I found it a good introduction. Everything he said just seemed to resonate, as though I had heard it before. (Cue spooky Twilight Zone music.) I took notes of other books and sutras that he referenced in his footnotes, tracked them down and started reading more.

By 1979, I was calling myself a Buddhist. As I found out more about Right Livelihood, I realized that a military career was not acceptable to me, so I quit the Air Force and grew my hair long.

The Dharma has stayed with me ever since, and so has my love of the 1960s, as you can tell by my current avatar and my previous one:
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Om mani padme hum
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby Tilopa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:48 pm

gnegirl wrote: Me 2! The first retreat i went on i had that exact same feeling, 'I'm HOME!'.

Agreed and it's one of the most commonly expressed sentiments I've come across.
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby Luke » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:16 am

When I was 16, I was browsing the philosopy/religion section of my local bookstore and I felt drawn towards a book about Zen. Although the book lacked a lot of Buddhist fundamentals, it did include a very brief account of Shakyamuni Buddha's life and enlightenment and I found this very believable and inspiring. This book was like a breath of fresh air compared to the other eastern and western religious books I had read. Reading that book became pretty much my religion for the next few years, although unfortunately, I didn't have the karma to meet a real Buddhist teacher until a few years ago.

I guess I can ask the question: Why didn't I pick up a Hindu book or a book about the Kabbalah in the bookstore that day, instead of a Buddhist book? I think the answer is pretty clearly "karma."
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby mudra » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:56 am

Of course it is karma, but it is also a matter of choices, skillful means and willpower - not all of which one has when young.

When I was twelve I was introduced to the darkroom by a photographer friend of the family - the very first prints I developed were of Tibetans!!! Years later, not only did I become a photographer but also a "Tibetan Buddhist".

I was a teenage product of the late 60s/early seventies: music (Woodstock and everything that went with it were definitely part of my dreamsphere), attitudes etc. Like Keith, I was drawn to all the 60s literature - Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, etc.

By the time I was 16 I finished high school, then dropped out of going to college despite being accepted, and landed in India. In Bodhgaya Kyabje Ling Rinpoche was teaching, but it being 1972 there was no translation. I can't impress on you enough the terrible sense of frustration - I was so attracted but there was no avenue. In retrospect I could've studied Tibetan, but I was too lazy. I ended up drifting over to yoga and shortly thereafter spent a year in a cave in the Himalayas as a Saddhu (one can be very romantic at 17!!!). Eventually I snapped out of it - it felt like a dead end.

A few years later I became involved with Theravadin Thai Buddhism, and took refuge in the mid 70s. For some reason I was a little wary of Tibetan Buddhism at that point. Several years later I drifted away, again feeling not quite at home.

It was only after meeting HHDL in the early 1980s (it was lot more possible back then!!) that I suddenly realised this was my path. It was like being electrified. Today, almost 30 years later, this path still seems so full and rich, so much to discover, so much to do. I wish I had simply got myself into gear way back in the early 70s but I just
was not strong willed enough (or was it too many reefers in my mid teens?).

Where did I start? As a good Muslim boy from Indonesia who got sent to high school overseas. Already as a child I had many premonitions about Buddhism - a totally captivated state when visiting the Borobudur as a child, looking at images in my fathers library, musings etc. But it took years to break through.
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby Dharma Atma » Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:04 pm

>I guess I can ask the question: Why didn't I pick up a Hindu book or a book about the Kabbalah in the bookstore that day, instead of a Buddhist book? I think the answer is pretty clearly "karma."
Maybe it was :smile:
Maybe the style of the book played its role. If that Zen book was written not good enough, you might've chosen Kabbalah one or Hindu... :thinking:
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby Madeliaette » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:53 pm

I must have practiced in a former life. This time through, I was born to Christian parents and brought up as such. I 'tried' but it didn't work for me. I thought at first that maybe modern Christianity was wrong, so I started delving into 'God, Bible & me' instead - then i decided I did not beleive in Jesus/God, so i ditched that and looked at non-religious spirituality - just love, nature, rightness, peace. This led me through until about five years ago when my now best friend got me into Yoga. I was so amazed at the way it worked for me, i looked into other things he was into also - Buddhism was one of these. Everything clicked - it was a proper path aimed at the exact same place I wanted to get to. I find a lot of the practices come quickly/easily to me, as if I had already learned them in a former life and just have to recall rather than learn from scratch. I don't know what dreadful deed I did that I did not start out Buddhist - but I must have done something bad last time through, as it took me 40 years to 'rediscover'! Currently, I am searching about trying to locate what lineage I belong to - as I would like to continue. I only know that it is Tibetan and some form of Vajrayana so far though.
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Re: How did we get here?

Postby uslic001 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:51 pm

Raised Roman Catholic. Went to Catholic schools from grade 1-12. I never really believed any of the crap they taught me as none of it made any sense. I just never had any faith and no amount of praying could change that. So then I went into New Age spirituality in college/post graduate school. I never found anything in New Age Spirituality that made complete sense either plus I never seemed to become a better person using any of the techniques I tried. I went back to Christianity once I was married and started having kids but it was even less fulfilling than when I was younger. I continued to wander lost in samsara until I came across a Pema Chodron book in a bookstore when I was on vacation in Colorado skiing. I started devouring all types of Buddhist books. I had finally found something that made complete sense. I eventually took refuge from Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Intellectually I understand everything I have read but I have no true realizations as my meditative practice is inconsistent and I have no local teachers to go to help when I run into issues. I just keep plugging away and try to become a better person. :namaste:
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