Hey guys; I'm new here.
Joined here looking for an e-saṅgha.
A little bit about me:
I'm 23 years old, 24 in little over a month. I have two children (one boy, youngest, and one girl, eldest). I've been married for 3 years.
Religion and spirituality speaking, I was raised without religion. At about 13, I bumped into Buddhism, and began learning about it. After a year, I decided to start doing Buddhist practices. I've pretty much stayed as a Buddhist in practice and belief--albeit not very well read, until recently. I've spent some time out of Buddhism looking at other religions, but other than 6 months, I've always done Buddhist practices. Buddhism is the only one with the simplicity, beauty and flexibility when it comes to culture for me.
I can't go for other Dharmic religions, which would probably "solve" that problem. Hinduism still hasn't shaken off the "birth-caste" idea, so many texts, and some still do not welcome outsiders or it's inaccessible because it's still so... well, Indian, some who do such as the Hare Kṛṣṇas are groups with whom I do not feel comfortable (For example, Hare Kṛṣṇas only permit sex once a month inside a marriage, for the purposes of procreation, and one should do fifty rounds of 108 on the prayer beads!). With Sikhism, it was the whole "kesh" thing -- where one cannot cut, pluck, shave, sugar, or surgically remove any of his or her hair on the body, from one's beard to one's leg or pubic hair, or anything. Many Sikhs don't, but they expect that kind of dedication from a convert. I may have long hair (Keshin, Sanskrit keśiṅ), long haired), but not being able to cut it - let alone any of it is totally bleh to me - I'd rather not have such things forced onto me.
I have a liking for Hindu devas and find it cute seeing them in Buddhism (Mahākāla, Vināyaka, Tārā, Cundi, etc). Naturally, as any Buddhist (and pretty much any Hindu - there seems to be a lot of misinformation about Hinduism from some Buddhists it seems
..) I believe they aren't "permanent" if they are devas and will have to be reborn - if they exist at all. Even if they don't, I see their prayer and meditation and such as useful for those who wish to use it.
There is a Buddhist temple near me, however, they are Ambedkarite Buddhists, and they are very, well, anti-Hindu, which I don't approve of. Buddhist-speaking, I lean towards Jonang and/or Pure Land (either Japanese Pure Land or Japanese True Pure Land).
I'm looking for a community and/or school where my use of the terms 'God' and 'soul' will not be met with cringing.
Regarding God: I don't believe in a Supreme Creator God who rewards or punishes us, but I do believe in a transcendent all-pervading unity (like in the Kulayarāja Tantra, where Samantabhadra says "I am the core of all that exists", etc), and I don't believe in a "soul" that is separate from this Unity. I'm also one of those people who seems to be pre-programmed by his mind to believing in something that could be called as "God". I'm a panentheist and see everything as what I consider as God, but that God to transcend everything too, and that our "souls" are a part of that being. I'm comfortable using the term 'God' when referring to the Adibuddha/Dharmakaya Unmanifest/Amitābha ("Eternal Buddha"), and I'm comfort able using the term 'True Self' or 'Soul', when referring to the Buddha-nature/Mindstream & Base Consciousness together. I use "God", because that's an immediately accessible term for me - but I use it in a panentheistic (God is in all and beyond all) and transpersonal (does not intervene and make prophets and stuff, but is not an unfeeling, personality-less, non-sapient entity).
Regarding Soul: Effectively, it's our "True Selves", free some skandhic-ness: one with the Dharmakāya, our Buddha-nature, and pretty much the Buddha-nature/Mindstream & Base Consciousness together. Possibly even a Self of Nirvāṇic permanency beyond the skandhic mundane world, but I'm not sure at the moment.
Wow, feeling egotistical after writing all that.
So... am I welcome here, guys?