I created a thread like this a couple of days ago, but I had Dechen delete it because I was embarassed by its contents - I was embarassed because I had admitted on a public forum in the whiniest manner possible that not only am I not
a bodhisattva nor a great practitioner but, on some level, Buddhism is making me less happy and less peaceful and more sad and frustrated. Well, it's time to overcome that pride, write down my thoughts and experience, and see if there's anyone who can relate enough to offer solid advice.
When I converted to Catholicism 4 1/2 years ago, I spent the next couple of years battling scrupulosity. I saw sin in everything I did and didn't do: tone of voice, looking at a beautiful woman, not praying the rosary everyday, buying too many books, not going to daily Mass, eating too much food, etc.. I finally got beyond that through frequent discussion with a friend in a similar situation, my priest and a Catholic therapist. Getting over the scrupulosity, though, gave me enough clarity to see that I questioned the central dogmas of Catholicism and Christianity more than I actually truly accepted them. Thus began my journey towards Buddhism - again. I've been re-familiarizing and building upon my knowledge of Buddhism since about August of this year, 2011. I've also been trying to practice.
To be honest, though, I don't know all eight factors of the Eightfold Path - I know about five out of eight by heart. I don't know what all six paramitas are. And so on. I've learned shamatha and vipashyana meditation from reading Chogyam Trungpa and Pema Chodron, among other sources. I'm still perfecting shamatha, though, and going for longer periods.
Right at the outset when I joined this forum, there were people who suggested that I should look into Dzogchen. Even though I barely understood Buddhism, much less Tibetan Buddhism, bought a copy of Namkhai Norbu's "Crystal and the Way of Light" and read it. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I then purchased "The Supreme Source" and it made even less sense. That's when I committed myself to reading Chogyam Trungpa. I haven't read much Chogyam Trungpa, but I like to pretend around here on the forum that I've read all of his books. Stupid ego. As November 20th approached, the anniversary of Adzam Drugpa, there was a flurry of activity surrounding receiving transmission from Namkhai Norbu. Many of you know about my hesitations and eventual participation. My hesitations were because I had finally come to a certain acceptance concerning my knowledge and practice of Buddhism, and I had resolved to continue reading Chogyam Trungpa and practice shamatha/vipashyana. I participated in the transmission because I realized it was a rare opportunity and that tuning in could only be beneficial. To be honest, though, ever since receiving transmission, I've been in this huge downward spiral of commiseration, doubt and frustration. My practice is even suffering.
I've been reading more books about Dzogchen lately. I still don't understand it as my recent "Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism" thread illustrates. I thought I understood it, but that was just pride - again. I ordered a bunch of books from Shang Shung: Guruyoga
, Precious Vase
, Commentary on Cycle of Day/Night
, Commentary on Short Tun
, The Mirror
, Song of the Vajra
, and maybe some others that I can't remember. I wish now that I hadn't ordered them. I wish that I had just saved my money and kept on reading Chogyam Trungpa. Now that I'm reading about Dzogchen, I've become so incredibly anal retentive about remaining aware and present. I can't even enjoy a pleasant laugh with my girlfriend or any family without my mind racing wondering if I'm remaining aware and present. Then I tell myself to just relax and I can't relax because that's another thing I'm trying to remember to do. I don't smile anymore, I'm not at peace, I'm hardly ever happy, I'm always thinking about remaining present and aware, always questioning whether I'm attached to something or someone or not, asking how I can remove myself from being attached to my girlfriend, family, myself, my practice. And I just want to yell at the top of my lungs and break down in tears.
This isn't Buddhism or Dzogchen, I know, but just another face of samsara. I liked the other, more peaceful, pleasant samsara of a few months ago, prior to studying Buddhism and Dzogchen, better.