How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

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How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby lukejmo » Fri May 20, 2011 2:57 am

In the short time span of a few years, my understanding of Buddhism has gone from "huh Boodizm?" to "oh yeah I'm gon' be the best meditator evar F U christians lol" to "Well, ahem, actually you're thinking of the Theravadins let me explain, jees..." etc., etc.

Taking classes in college, reading academic stuff more critical of Buddhism (Faure, those types) and trying to get into the thick stuff (Tibetan Madhyamaka debate, Indian Buddhist history etc.) has made me realize NOTHING is as simple as I thought it was. If you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself about Buddhism and being a Buddhist, what would you tell yourself?

Off the top of my head, "Stop being smug - no really, and stop "being humble", it makes you look like an ass. And get over idealizing traditional Buddhist societies, human is human."

Oh, and just for good measure, the book I'd recommend myself is The Power of Denial. Not that I necessarily endorse his POV, but it definitely effected my thinking.
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby tobes » Fri May 20, 2011 5:42 am

That's a really good question.

To give you a succinct answer, I suppose the biggest shift I have found over the years is a more critical awareness of the uses and abuses of western fidelities to the 'east.' As Faure captures so well, a better understanding of the limitations and distortions which inevitably manifest in the unfolding of any tradition.

I suppose I was a bit of an orientalist (in the positive sense); I love south-east Asia, and India...the aesthetics and cultures of both, and I think my relation to Buddhism was strongly influenced by an embellishment of those things, whilst also being simultaneously a rejection and escape from western culture.

But the embellishment was just that: a distortion of reality, which was probably very aesthetic in character. Now I'm just plainly and nakedly interested in the ethical and practice, both of which have been deeply informed by an investigation into the metaphysical. So you might say, a much blunter engagement with the actual ideas and practices, and a quickness these days to call a spade and spade and reject whatever needs to be rejected. :namaste:
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby Sherab » Fri May 20, 2011 6:54 am

I used to look at monks and naively think that they are all true renunciates. Now I don't.
I used to know little about what Buddhism take on reality is. Now I know much better.
I used to be a stickler to form. Now I aim to comply with the spirit.
I used to think that all religions lead to the same goal. Now I see all Buddhist paths lead to the same place, but that in the end there is no place and no path.
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby dzoki » Fri May 20, 2011 10:12 am

Milarepa said, that the measure of one´s understanding of dharma is how much one has decreased ego clinging. So over the years I can say I have not understood much, one thing that I have understood that basicaly I am a big jerk but I am not sad about that anymore, actually from time to time I have a good laugh about that.
When it comes to buddhism, at first I had a very naive idealised outlook, now I understand that buddhists are humans, not necessarily buddhas.So I hope and wish that even though as humans we have our ups and downs, we will manage to go past that and that we will make it to the final goal.
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby Luke » Fri May 20, 2011 11:07 am

I used to think that Buddhism was fairly simple and that I understood it fairly well from reading a few books. But now I realize how vast and complicated it is and how little about it I truly understand. Any book one reads is only the tip of the iceberg!
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby Anders » Fri May 20, 2011 1:06 pm

lukejmo wrote:If you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself about Buddhism and being a Buddhist, what would you tell yourself?


Have fun with it, enjoy yourself and please be full of care.

Actually, now that I am writing this, it occurs to me that is almost the verbatim advice I was given by a Bodhisattva early on in my practise (2nd/3rd year-ish).

Either way, the unnecessary baggage along the way have been delightful learning experiences.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby Madeliaette » Fri May 20, 2011 3:07 pm

If you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself about Buddhism and being a Buddhist, what would you tell yourself?

Well, I doubt very much that i would have listened to my latter self if i had had such an opportunity!! :rolling:
As a kid, I was 'trying' to be a good Christian to please my parents - so when our school classes covered 'other' religions - cramming them all in a single 1/4 year - Ishut my ears and eyes... All that filtered through from that era in relation to Buddhism were that Buddhism had monks that swept the path before them so they didn't kill ants and bugs, and that 'Buddha' himself was some fat Chinese dude that sat on the ground wearing a sheet and smile.... :crazy:
I am glad to report that I have come a long way since then..... :meditate:
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby gyougan » Mon May 30, 2011 3:09 pm

Until I encountered Pure Land Buddhism I had a very difficult relationship with Buddhism.

I always understood that Buddhism was my religion but it only made me frustrated. And even gloomy, since I was starting to be afraid of falling into hells due to my inability to keep the precepts.

I finally found my spiritual home after encountering a Jodo Shinshu priest.
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby ronnewmexico » Mon May 30, 2011 7:43 pm

I consider buddhism now as simply a tool, a means to a end and nothing more than that.

So that is how my conception of buddhism has changed. I wouldn't call it a understanding, most would disagree with that as stated, and consider it a misunderstanding. So I say changed concept. Understanding infers known quality or improvement upon. I claim no improvement understood for others to use as application. My understandings are no more valid than theirs.
I have a different concept on this thing, I don't claim a understanding, it is vast and complex.

False humbleness as in, doesn't understand and his understandings no more valid than others....that's the facts jack. I can support such in discussion if neccessary I would suppose.

My concept of buddhism has changed, if I were to understand buddhism fully such couldn't change. I may understand some certain aspects of buddhism.
Buddhism itself...nah not a chance.
So I would go back and tell myself nothing on buddhism. ON concepts....I may tell myself concepts change, with time and change.. but that started way way before my formal introduction to buddhism .
But if that is considered acceptable I would go back and tell myself that....concepts change.

And if we are throwing out things to read I have just been reading the Mayahanan Brahama net sutra(Brahamajala) and the theravadan, Brahamajala sutra.
They are a interesting contrast though being named similiarily. Both can be found on line, the theravadan being more remote. Both I find must be read in totality, interpretations of such don't have the same effect upon reading.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby BFS » Tue May 31, 2011 12:42 am

Anders Honore wrote:Have fun with it, enjoy yourself and please be full of care.

:bow:
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby ground » Tue May 31, 2011 6:31 am

I have realized that the appearance of the Buddha in the sutta pitaka is actually the appearance of the perfected bodhisattva and that there is no other that can compete. (But there are numberless occasions where one can go astray.)


Kind regards
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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby mindyourmind » Tue May 31, 2011 6:36 am

tobes wrote:That's a really good question.

To give you a succinct answer, I suppose the biggest shift I have found over the years is a more critical awareness of the uses and abuses of western fidelities to the 'east.' As Faure captures so well, a better understanding of the limitations and distortions which inevitably manifest in the unfolding of any tradition.

I suppose I was a bit of an orientalist (in the positive sense); I love south-east Asia, and India...the aesthetics and cultures of both, and I think my relation to Buddhism was strongly influenced by an embellishment of those things, whilst also being simultaneously a rejection and escape from western culture.

But the embellishment was just that: a distortion of reality, which was probably very aesthetic in character. Now I'm just plainly and nakedly interested in the ethical and practice, both of which have been deeply informed by an investigation into the metaphysical. So you might say, a much blunter engagement with the actual ideas and practices, and a quickness these days to call a spade and spade and reject whatever needs to be rejected. :namaste:



I really couldn't improve much on that.

In eight years my practice has certainly deepened, mainly through making all the possible mistakes one can make - from the cultural confusion to seeing Buddhism through my own filters, from adding just another complication to my life to breaking through into something truly Buddhist .... I have truly made some hard yards. Please ask me the question again in another eight years :namaste:
As bad as bad becomes its not a part of you

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Re: How has your understanding of Buddhism changed?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:20 am

I remember opening Robert Thurman's book about Tibetan Buddhism and reading about as much as I could take before my head exploded. It was nothing remotely like "Buddhism Plain And Simple" by Steve Hagen. Somehow, over time, I came to understand it all pretty darn well. If I went back to read Thurman's book, it would probably not be that difficult, but might be boring. I have no idea how things really began coming together, to be honest. Read a lot, practiced a lot, was confused and questioning for a damn long time, but I persisted, anyway. A lot of the struggle was emotional as well as intellectual, getting angry and then getting angry that I got angry because I should have learned enough by now not to let me emotions get the better of me so easily.

I remember putting off Nagarjuna for the longest time because I had heard it was notoriously difficult. When I finally got around to reading it, it didn't seem that difficult, but it was extraordinarily transformative and enlightening. That was a big one. It answered a lot of questions and there's no doubt in my mind that his genius was beyond any other philosopher, including Kant.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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