Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

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

Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:17 pm

Until about age 15, I was reared fundamentalist Christian, specifically Primitive Baptist, which is a tiny sect among the sea of Christianity. Yet, I was taught that everyone else in the world, except Primitive Baptists, would go to hell, among other self serving prophesies. This idea was, in my opinion, ignorant. Why would a God make humanity in his image and condemn all of those who were ignorant of the Primitive Baptist church to hell, merely because in their lifetime they had no chance to even hear the name Primitive Baptist?

My realization that self serving prophesies are ignorant was an epiphany that slowly changed my life. There were two primary effects. First, it was like the straw that broke the camel's back, and it me angry at my mother because she wanted me to accept on faith that which I decided was ignorant. Although, the root of my anger was due to my being profoundly unhappy as a child, which I blamed on my mother, regardless of the facts...I was young, dad wasn't around to share the blame, and at the time I did not recognize how much genetics and family history played a part in my being unhappy. Second, my epiphany made me an outcast from my family who were all Primitive Baptists and bigoted against anyone who was not Primitive Baptist.

Thus, from the age of 15, I could not trust my family to be a support group, because they lived a fantasy life...the Christian myth; whereas, I had decided to view life as realistically as possible. I began contemplating my life, but not as Buddhists meditate, because I didn't know to put my mind at peace before contemplation. Thus, my contemplation was inefficient and my progress slow. I funded my own college education and became an Engineer with a profound love of science and all rational knowledge. I married my soul mate in 1984 and reared a family. I salvaged my life through rational thought. Now at the age of 66, I have found Buddhism, which has been teaching for 2500 years, the things I contemplated and more. I now wish I had learned 50 years ago about the Three Marks of Existence, Four Noble Truths, Five Skandhas, etc.

My father, his father, and his two sons, including me, were/are addicts. My grandfather, father and brother are/were alcoholics, and I am addicted to food. All four of us suffer/suffered from a mild to moderate, chronic depression. I have read that Buddhism can alleviate suffering, and believe people have alleviated their suffering, but I am having difficulty with meditation.

I realize that reaching for a comfort food is slowly killing me. My meditation technique is straight forward. When I feel the need for a comfort food, meditate instead; thereby, postponing the act of eating. Unfortunately, I suffer from chronic neuropathy pain, which makes meditation extremely difficult to impossible. My doctors cannot prescribe a pain medication to help alleviate the pain. I resort to eating comfort food to get my mind off the pain, which is exactly the wrong thing to do.

I am new to Buddhism and meditation. Are there techniques that can help me meditate while suffering from pain? Anyone have any helpful ideas?
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Epistemes » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:14 pm

Hello,

I am sort of new to Buddhism, too. Like you, I come from a predominantly Christian background, born and raised in the Bible Belt, and my whole life thus far has seemed like a quest to discover some aspect of truth. Also like you, I became angry with the Christian Church, rebelled, tried to reconcile faith and non-faith, and tried living out the spiritual/emotional void I felt inside through alcohol, sex, and food. I am an addict too. I'm addicted to a lot of sh*t that I know isn't good for me and may contribute to an early death.

Concerning your question concerning having difficulty with meditation, many Buddhist masters would say that you are in a prime spot for cultivating the four immeasurables -- loving-kindness, compassion, joy for others, and equanimity -- and, indeed, you are. I wish I had the background to be able to quote some authoritative source demonstrating that these four immeasurables are at the heart of practicing the Dharma and attaining full enlightenment, but they are and you can place great trust in that. I think beginners like you and I benefit greatly by masters such as Pema Chodron is a very down-to-earth person, demonstrating that practicing the Dharma isn't about gaining access to some secret, relaxed Garden of Shangri-La, but it's about confronting the fear, anger and nasty habits we all deal with on some level. If you're interested in seeing what she has to say, I'd recommend her audio course titled How To Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind which is currently listed on amazon.com for $21.86. I'd also recommend her audio course titled From Fear to Fearlessness. She also has some really great books - among which I'd recommend Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. These recommendations are, I believe, affordable - and spending time with just one of them will bring you great rewards.

This is the only advice I feel comfortable providing you with as, like you, I really don't know what I'm doing. In fact, I'm no longer confident that I'm doing anything at all. Meditation, like everything else, is a matter of practice. There is nothing particularly comfortable about it - especially not at first when our conditioned minds scream at us to do anything else. The meditation the Buddha taught is to see how life is and accept it. Pain is a part of that. Pain isn't better or worse than pleasure. Both are simply an experience. All experiences are just that -- an experience. It is all the ignorant ideas, baggage, attachments and delusions we hold that tell us one is better than the other.
Cantankerous Buddha
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:30 am
Location: Here

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Jikan » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:04 pm

edearl wrote:I am new to Buddhism and meditation. Are there techniques that can help me meditate while suffering from pain? Anyone have any helpful ideas?


Welcome to town!

To your question, yes. A good place to start might be _How to Be Sick_ by Toni Bernhard. You're dealing with a serious illness; how to face it, work with it, work through it?

It would also be helpful to you to find a Buddhist group to practice with and, just as importantly, to build friendships in. This forum is helpful toward that end (people know people who know people...), but nothing can replace face-to-face contact and support.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4285
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:10 pm

Study Madhyamaka.

That is the summary of Buddhism in a nutshell.
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:37 pm

edearl wrote:and I am addicted to food.



Not a problem if you do heavy weight training

Read Starting Strength 2nd edition
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:55 pm

Epistemes wrote:... it's about confronting the fear, anger and nasty habits we all deal with on some level....

I agree, and thanks for the references to Perma Chodron's work. Her interview with Bill Moyer was really good.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:06 pm

Jikan wrote:It would also be helpful to you to find a Buddhist group to practice with and, just as importantly.

I am not very mobile, my travel is limited almost exclusively to Dr's offices. When I get better, I hope to join a Buddhist group. Thanks.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:58 pm

alwayson wrote:Study Madhyamaka.


My study at the moment is basic, learn and contemplate the Three Marks of Existence, Four Noble Truths, Five Skandhas, Six Realms, and Eightfold Path. In addition, I am trying to understand features of the various Buddhist schools including their differences and similarities, and the various teachings categorizing them as scientific, philosophical and religious. I feel agreement with scientific teachings, interested in philosophical ideas, and entertained by religious myth. I shall be sure to study the Madhyamaka along my path. Thanks.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:02 pm

edearl wrote:My study at the moment is basic, learn and contemplate the Three Marks of Existence, Four Noble Truths, Five Skandhas, Six Realms, and Eightfold Path. In addition, I am trying to understand features of the various Buddhist schools including their differences and similarities, and the various teachings categorizing them as scientific, philosophical and religious. I feel agreement with scientific teachings, interested in philosophical ideas, and entertained by religious myth. I shall be sure to study the Madhyamaka along my path. Thanks.



You don't need to study all that crap and waste your time.

Madhyamaka is the core teaching of Buddhism.

P.S. Also once you understand Madhyamaka, you will understand how Buddhism invalidates other religions.
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Paul » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:08 pm

alwayson wrote:
edearl wrote:My study at the moment is basic, learn and contemplate the Three Marks of Existence, Four Noble Truths, Five Skandhas, Six Realms, and Eightfold Path. In addition, I am trying to understand features of the various Buddhist schools including their differences and similarities, and the various teachings categorizing them as scientific, philosophical and religious. I feel agreement with scientific teachings, interested in philosophical ideas, and entertained by religious myth. I shall be sure to study the Madhyamaka along my path. Thanks.



You don't need to study all that crap and waste your time.

Madhyamaka is the core teaching of Buddhism.


Actually, it's very, very important. If you think it's unimportant, you'll never understand what the Buddha or Nagarjuna were pointing at. :crazy:
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
User avatar
Paul
 
Posts: 753
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 pm

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:13 pm

Hayagriva wrote:Actually, it's very, very important. If you think it's unimportant, you'll never understand what the Buddha or Nagarjuna were pointing at. :crazy:


Well of course you need to understand Madhyamaka in context. :crazy:

But start with Madhyamaka, and supplement as needed.
Last edited by alwayson on Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:14 pm

alwayson wrote:
edearl wrote:My study at the moment is basic, learn and contemplate the Three Marks of Existence, Four Noble Truths, Five Skandhas, Six Realms, and Eightfold Path. In addition, I am trying to understand features of the various Buddhist schools including their differences and similarities, and the various teachings categorizing them as scientific, philosophical and religious. I feel agreement with scientific teachings, interested in philosophical ideas, and entertained by religious myth. I shall be sure to study the Madhyamaka along my path. Thanks.


You don't need to study all that crap and waste your time.

I find the process interesting, rather than a waste of time. Moreover, I must make up my own mind, you cannot do it for me. Thanks.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Epistemes » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:18 pm

alwayson wrote:
Madhyamaka is the core teaching of Buddhism.



The Four Noble Truths are the core teaching of Buddhism. There would be no Madhyamaka without it.
Cantankerous Buddha
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:30 am
Location: Here

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:19 pm

edearl wrote:I find the process interesting, rather than a waste of time. Moreover, I must make up my own mind, you cannot do it for me. Thanks.



Thats all well and good.

As long as you are aware that dependent origination/sunyata is THE cardinal doctrine of Buddhism.
Last edited by alwayson on Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:20 pm

Epistemes wrote:The Four Noble Truths are the core teaching of Buddhism. There would be no Madhyamaka without it.


Bullshit.

The Four Noble Truths are not the core teaching of Buddhism.

Dependent orgination is.

All of Buddhism from Theravada to Dzogchen follows dependent origination.
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Paul » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:34 pm

alwayson wrote:
Epistemes wrote:The Four Noble Truths are the core teaching of Buddhism. There would be no Madhyamaka without it.


Bullshit.

The Four Noble Truths are not the core teaching of Buddhism.

Dependent orgination is.

All of Buddhism from Theravada to Dzogchen follows dependent origination.


You do know that entering the path of seeing involves sixteen subsequent cognitions, these cognitions corresponding to a direct perception of the four noble truths?
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
User avatar
Paul
 
Posts: 753
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 pm

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:37 pm

alwayson wrote:
Hayagriva wrote:Actually, it's very, very important. If you think it's unimportant, you'll never understand what the Buddha or Nagarjuna were pointing at. :crazy:


Well of course you need to understand Madhyamaka in context. :crazy:

But start with Madhyamaka, and supplement as needed.


Just now, I started to read Ekottara Agama 18.4, and soon ran across the word Ego. From reading Alan Wallace's "Introduction: Buddhism and Science—Breaking Down
the Barriers," I learned that Buddhist Ego is not the same as Freudian Ego. Thus, knowing some Buddhist vocabulary is necessary to understand the Agama. I think I have a long path to understanding Buddhist literature.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:55 pm

You've read this book right?

http://buddhisttorrents.blogspot.com/20 ... ction.html

Everyone recommends it as the best beginner book.

Download it for free.
alwayson
 
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby booker » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:04 pm

If I may say something - try to see if you can visit some Buddhist centers and do practice together with people. ;)

Also, I found working with a qualified master very, very helpful.

As for the Buddhists forums.. well, you'll see for yourself but having years been on some, there's one general lesson I got: treat what people say with distance, learn from live Masters, face-to-face ;)
"Be Buddhist or be Buddha"
User avatar
booker
 
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:08 pm
Location: UK

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:03 pm

alwayson wrote:You've read this book right?

http://buddhisttorrents.blogspot.com/20 ... ction.html
...


My study of Buddhism began days ago, I have no books on Buddhism yet. I will download it. Thanks.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
User avatar
edearl
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 pm
Location: USA, Texas

Next

Return to Personal Experience

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: hop.pala, Indrajala and 8 guests

cron
>