Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

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

Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Paul » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:09 pm

edearl wrote: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.


English Buddhist vocabulary is still evolving. If you can get hold of well-educated translators' explanations of terms, it can be very useful indeed. See for example: http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Self-grasping and http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/bdag.
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:41 pm

alwayson wrote: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.


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."
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Epistemes » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:41 pm

alwayson wrote: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.


Seriously?

The best beginner book for what...Madhyamaka?

And who is everyone? You?
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Chaz » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:08 pm

edearl wrote:
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.



Ah, you'll be fine.

There's lots of plain-English books for newcomers to Buddhism. I've always thought that Walpole Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught" was one of the best beginner's books currently in print.

I wouldn't be too concerned with Madhyamaka teachings at this time. It's get's pretty intense and even for people accustomed to those sorts of teachings, Madhyamaka can be a bit confusing.

So stick to books on the 4 Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, the Nidannas, the 5 Skandhas and so on. I don't care to debate what is a "core" Buddhist teachings, but it's best, I think to start at the beginning. Teachers in all traditions start their students in those common, foundational teachings. So study that stuff and more importantly, practice as much as you are able.

And you grew up in a Primitive Baptist church? Dude, that is OLD school!
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Nighthawk » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:12 pm

Enjoyed reading your story. My advice to you is to check out the Pure Land schools of Jodo Shu or Jodo Shinshu where no meditation is required. Having been a Theravadin Buddhist for years and failing at meditation over and over not to mention leading a busy life, I realized enlightenment for me in this life was not possible. The Jodo schools give you a great solution.
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:13 pm

Chaz wrote:And you grew up in a Primitive Baptist church? Dude, that is OLD school!


Yes, it is old school. :rolleye: Thanks for the reference. :smile:
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."
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:58 pm

Ryoto wrote:Enjoyed reading your story. My advice to you is to check out the Pure Land schools of Jodo Shu or Jodo Shinshu where no meditation is required. Having been a Theravadin Buddhist for years and failing at meditation over and over not to mention leading a busy life, I realized enlightenment for me in this life was not possible. The Jodo schools give you a great solution.


Thanks, I'll consider Jodo. At the moment I am partial to Zen, partly because "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is one of my all time favorite books. For most of my life, I have practices contemplative meditation (vipasyana); although, I didn't know it was meditation. I've not practices meditative quiescence (samatha), but have a medical device called an alpha-stim that electrically stimulates alpha waves in the brain to force a kind of quiescence very quickly. My challenge is controlling myself.

I have more to learn through contemplative meditation and Buddhist literature, for example about attentional stability and vividness. I have virtually everything to learn about meditative quiescence, since the alpha-stim cheat is very limited. My Dr. prescribed the alpha-stim to help control my pain, and it is often effective on minor pain but not severe pain. My hope is that quiescence will help control my physical pain and the chemical imbalance called minor depression. With a heartbeat monitor, one can learn to speed up and slow down their heartbeat during meditation. Unfortunately, no device exists to measure depression and feed back data about it, which makes the control of depression is more difficult to achieve than control of heartbeat. Whether depression control from meditation is inherently easier, the same, more difficult than changing heartbeat rate is unknown. In fact, I'm not even sure if it is possible, but I am hopeful.
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby kirtu » Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:52 am

edearl wrote: Are there techniques that can help me meditate while suffering from pain? Anyone have any helpful ideas?


Hi edearl!

You could meditate analytically. In fact in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism analytic meditation is explicitly taught for all Mahayana level teaching. As mentioned you could practice in the Jodo Shu school (is a Pure Land place near you?). Zen practice may or may not be a good option for you. If your pain is extensive then you may have to make some accommodation. I would suggest going to a good Zen place and talking to the teacher. Zen practice does not require extensive Zen meditation although there are, practically speaking, no places that are not Zen meditation centric. But there have been Zen masters in the past with similar issues who did not primarily practice meditation. You could read sutras and contemplate the sutra for example. You might be able to practice Tendai as well.

Also - you could actually meditate for 5 minutes at a time or even less and gradually lengthen that time. And if the pain gets to be too much then just stop. Frequently people with various kinds of pain find that the pain becomes manageable or even negligible after a person has learned to meditate. I have heard of women with breast cancer for example doing seshin (intensive Zen meditation retreat) for several days, even a full 10 day period.

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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Huifeng » Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:30 am

edearl wrote: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?


Thank you for sharing your story, edearl! :namaste:

One of the most important parts of Buddhist practice, really even before what we often call "meditation" per se, is contemplation on the law of cause and effect. I believe you are already doing this with regard to food and alcohol - seeing the results of indulgence.

If you are suffering from or have suffered from depression, meditation on loving kindness is also highly recommended - starting from yourself! In cosmic terms, although it may seem late in life to find the Dharma, it is never too late at all.

I rejoice in your search for happiness, and hope that your path will be freed from obstructions!

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:30 am

kirtu wrote:
edearl wrote: Are there techniques that can help me meditate while suffering from pain? Anyone have any helpful ideas?


Hi edearl!

You could meditate analytically. ... might be able to practice Tendai as well.

Also - you could actually meditate for 5 minutes at a time or even less and gradually lengthen that time. And if the pain gets to be too much then just stop. Frequently people with various kinds of pain find that the pain becomes manageable or even negligible after a person has learned to meditate. I have heard of women with breast cancer for example doing seshin (intensive Zen meditation retreat) for several days, even a full 10 day period.

Kirt


Thanks Kirt, I believe you are correct to say meditation can alleviate pain. I believe meditation can cause the body to produce endorphins that are much better than morphine. Since my pain is not continuous, I can often meditate. I had hoped someone would have specific meditation techniques to help with pain relief.

Medical evidence of endorphin production by meditation, see: http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases ... s_Pain.htm
Last edited by edearl on Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:02 am

Huifeng wrote:Thank you for sharing your story, edearl! :namaste:

One of the most important parts of Buddhist practice, really even before what we often call "meditation" per se, is contemplation on the law of cause and effect. I believe you are already doing this with regard to food and alcohol - seeing the results of indulgence.

If you are suffering from or have suffered from depression, meditation on loving kindness is also highly recommended - starting from yourself! In cosmic terms, although it may seem late in life to find the Dharma, it is never too late at all.

I rejoice in your search for happiness, and hope that your path will be freed from obstructions!

~~ Huifeng


My wife of more than 25 years, who is not Buddhist, made me to practice loving kindness, not merely meditate about it, but I can benefit from such meditation as I am far from perfect. I vow to meditate some on loving kindness each day, from now on.

I love to learn good things. You are absolutely right, it is never too late to find the Dharma. I have begun that study, and shall continue with it. Some days, like yesterday, I have spent many hours studying the Dharma.

:good: Thanks :namaste:
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."
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Paul » Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:15 am

edearl wrote:
kirtu wrote:
edearl wrote: Are there techniques that can help me meditate while suffering from pain? Anyone have any helpful ideas?


Hi edearl!

You could meditate analytically. ... might be able to practice Tendai as well.

Also - you could actually meditate for 5 minutes at a time or even less and gradually lengthen that time. And if the pain gets to be too much then just stop. Frequently people with various kinds of pain find that the pain becomes manageable or even negligible after a person has learned to meditate. I have heard of women with breast cancer for example doing seshin (intensive Zen meditation retreat) for several days, even a full 10 day period.

Kirt


Thanks Kirt, I believe you are correct to say meditation can alleviate pain. I believe meditation can cause the body to produce endorphins that are much better than morphine. Since my pain is not continuous, I can often meditate. I had hoped someone would have specific meditation techniques to help with pain relief.


I am 100% certain meditation will help with pain. It may not reduce it, but there can be a dramatic change in your relation to it. I've only meditated on tooth-ache, but it apparently helps for chronic pain in the same way.

Mingyur Rinpoche's advice in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGQ2mxjkb2E (and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDWPeulxm8w) may be of relevance. :anjali:
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:31 pm

Meditation

My research and contemplation about meditation indicates the following:

A person can gain the benefits of focused attention meditation can be achieved by learning the technique and meditating for 20 minutes. This meditation causes the brain to release endorphins that induce a feeling of well being and pain relief, and the pain relief is usually better than taking morphine.

Ref 1. says, "Focused attention is a form of mindfulness meditation where people are taught to attend to the breath and let go of distracting thoughts and emotions," which sounds familiar.

My contemplative meditation about focused attention meditation has resulted in the following process :soapbox: To begin meditating, one should slow down their breathing and take deeper breaths, without causing either hyperventilation or hypoventilation. I tend to err on the side of hyperventilating at first since it causes an immediate feeling of well-being or exhilaration in me. One should not hyperventilate to dizziness or panic attack, follow the middle way. Breathing slower helps me slow down my mind and the feeling of well-being or exhilaration from momentary hyperventilation helps me clear my mind of troubling thoughts. Now I need to practice this meditation and hopefully learn to focus my attention and clear mind for more than a few seconds at a time. Meanwhile, I repeat the start-up process and meditate for a few seconds, again and again, for as long as desired. It works for me, and perhaps this process may help others.

My research is not complete, and maybe I'll find a better process. If so, I'll amend this posting.

:namaste:

References
1. http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases ... s_Pain.htm

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorphin

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperventilation

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoventilation
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby alwayson » Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:38 pm

I would emphasize that Buddhism is not about mediation.

Even Hindus meditate, but they can only reach the level of a Shiva.
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Tara » Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:09 pm

Temporarily locked, cleaning in progress.

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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Tara » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:04 pm

Topic unlocked

Several posts have been removed.

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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:15 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.


I would say, rather, that Madhyamaka is subsumed within the 4 Noble Truths.
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby AdmiralJim » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:41 am

How are you meditaing edearl? posture etc...........
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby edearl » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:05 am

AdmiralJim wrote:How are you meditaing edearl? posture etc...........

I usually sit with eyes closed. I'm sure my posture could be better, but my body is limited. The duration of my meditation is improving with practice. In the past, my contemplative meditation was often done walking, actually more like pacing, but no more.

I like to meditate, have not yet developed a strong habit, but practice will change that. I meditate when not suffering from pain, or perhaps enduring minor pain, which helps my pain overall. Practice should, in the future, help with meditating during greater pain, but I'm not there yet.

Thanks for asking :smile:

:namaste:
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."
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Re: Fundamentalist Christian to Buddhist

Postby some1 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:30 am

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

Dependent orgination is.

All of Buddhism from Theravada to Dzogchen follows dependent origination.

Based on my very limited understanding of Buddhism, I think Four Noble Truths embraces Dependent origination. Dependent origination could be the core/ultimate doctrine, however without a clear methodology/path as described by the Four Noble Truths (especially the Noble Eightfold Path), Buddhism will not be practical (especially for beginners). If Four Noble Truths is irrelevent or is a waste of time, the Buddha will not speak about that in the first discourse after his enlightenment.
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