No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

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No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby Epistemes » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:59 am

Hi,

As I posted over in the Theravada forum - Dhamma Wheel - I'm not entirely new to Buddhism, but I'm having to re-learn it all over again. I got interested in it about 12 years ago through Steve Hagen's introduction to Buddhism, then I found myself reading Goddard's Bible and selections from the Tipitaka via Access to Insight. I probably would have described myself as Zen then, though I never really settled on anything. When my practice faded, I was beginning to learn about Pure Land and Nichiren.

I've entered a phase in my life at the age of 30 where I need solid advice from a trusted friend - the Buddha. I've purchased some books to re-introduce myself to the dialectic: Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh (to re-familiarize myself with the biography of the Buddha), In The Buddha's Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi since I remember loving the suttas of the Tipitaka, the Dhammapada, and the autobiography of the Dalai Lama. (I'm a rather scattered reader, reading what needs to inspire me when.)

Like my previous attempt, I don't really have a home in any sect. I have a tattoo of a double vajra with Om Mani Peme Hung written around it - so, I have some affinity for Tibetan Buddhism, but practicing it would be impossible considering there are no lamas beyond a 100 miles radius to learn from. I also have an affinity for Theravada because of its claim to be the most ancient, plus, as I've mentioned twice now, I enjoyed learning from the Tipitaka and Dhammapada. I can't go into more specifics than that.

Without a home, I meditate (when I can, which I'm trying to make more frequent), find myself chanting Om Mani Peme Hung at other times, and read the books listed above at other times. Right now, I'm finding myself concentrating more on what the dharma is and how to live it rather than within which tradition I choose to follow it in. Considering my locational circumstances, I almost imagining myself assuming an eclectic breed of Buddhism, borrowing something from each branch so long as it works towards the goal of living the dharma.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:15 am

Epistemes wrote:I'm not entirely new to Buddhism, but I'm having to re-learn it all over again.


I think that maybe relearning it all over and over again is the essence of practice.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby LastLegend » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:31 am

What do you hope to gain from Buddhism?
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby Epistemes » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:48 am

What do I hope to gain from Buddhism? I don't know - peace and understanding for now. Those would be my immediate goals with it. The more I learn and the more I practice meditation, I suspect those goals will change and become deeper and more to the point.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby LastLegend » Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:23 am

Epistemes wrote:What do I hope to gain from Buddhism? I don't know - peace and understanding for now. Those would be my immediate goals with it. The more I learn and the more I practice meditation, I suspect those goals will change and become deeper and more to the point.


What stops you from having peace?
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby Epistemes » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:52 pm

LastLegend wrote:What stops you from having peace?


A lack of wholeness and integration.

It's been 30 years of low self-esteem, broken relationships, self-abuse, burning bridges, identity crises, and the party favors that comes with it all.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby LastLegend » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:00 pm

Epistemes wrote:
LastLegend wrote:What stops you from having peace?


A lack of wholeness and integration.

It's been 30 years of low self-esteem, broken relationships, self-abuse, burning bridges, identity crises, and the party favors that comes with it all.


Congratulations! Dharma is definitely for you. You seem to understand what causes you suffering. Perhaps the way you think, and the way you do things?
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby Epistemes » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:50 pm

Yes, I'm sure that dharma is for me. My studies 12 years ago at least enlightened me enough to recognize the presence and causation of suffering. As a young impressionable adult, that formed the backbone of my existential philosophy. But, as the Buddha says, "However many holy words you read, however many holy words you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act upon them?"

Perhaps my search for a tradition is vain and egocentric and further evidence of my search to define my-self. Why there exists a Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana I'm not sure. All I can do now is "listen" to the words of the Buddha, meditate, be mindful, and chant when I feel like it.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby Epistemes » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:37 am

I find that I'm already getting sort of lost. Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself. This site seems to be for people who have practiced Dharma for years, not beginners like myself who don't know which way the wind is blowing due to remaining unmindful and unawakened and not even realizing what those concepts mean though I use them so casually.

I sense that my frustration will ultimately allow me to leave this path by the roadside like all the others.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:42 am

Give it time. There are lots of friendly people here who don't know anything, like me.
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby LastLegend » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:12 am

Epistemes wrote:I find that I'm already getting sort of lost. Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself. This site seems to be for people who have practiced Dharma for years, not beginners like myself who don't know which way the wind is blowing due to remaining unmindful and unawakened and not even realizing what those concepts mean though I use them so casually.

I sense that my frustration will ultimately allow me to leave this path by the roadside like all the others.


What you mean by lost? I thought you are meditating. What's the problem?
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Re: No beginning, no self: Discovering what I am (not)

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:51 pm

This dharma business has been around for some 2500 years, so there is no need to hurry.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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