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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:30 pm 
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Hello to everyone, its great being here.

I have been visiting the forum on and off and I have finally decided to officially become a member. As for an introduction I will try to put it into a "nutshell" and try to keep it short. Please forgive me if I do not.

I grew up in in what might be considered a very fundamentalist christian household. In fact, my whole life was centered on the Bible and its literal interpretation. As time went on I studied Biblical and Systematic theology and became an “Elder or Minister” in my denomination. By the mid-nineties I went through what might be described as a spiritual crisis which resulted in my questioning most of my long held beliefs. Many things I once believed in just did not make any sense.

I left the denomination and eventually drifted into Catholicism for a number of years. I was intrigued by the mystical side of Catholicism especially through the writings of St. John of the Cross and Teresa de Avila. Through these Catholic mystics I was exposed to contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer comes down to a releasing of the self and a merging with the ultimate reality. These mystics describe this merging as oneness with the divine that can only be described as pure love. Personality ceases to exist as this oneness is achieved. At the time this actually seemed kind of Zen-like to me.

Even though I found all of this to be quite interesting, the nagging doubts continued to haunt me and I eventually became disillusioned with religion altogether.

As for eastern religions my first exposure was reading “The Science of Religion” by Paramahansa Yogananda when I was in Junior High School along with other books on Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism. I have also been an avid reader of various Buddhist magazines such as Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma. Many of the articles have given me much needed and practical advice when it comes to living in our very perplexing world. I am also considering enrolling in the online courses at the FPMT website to become better acquainted with Buddhist beliefs.

Do I consider myself a Buddhist? To be honest I must answer no. At this point in time I might consider myself simply as a searcher with lots of questions and very few answers. One point that I always like to keep in mind is that to find answers we must become an empty vessel and leave our opinions and preconceived beliefs at the door. Only then can we be open to the truth.

All I have to offer is my empty vessel.


Once again I thank all of you for having such a great forum.


Peace and Love to all.
Namaste

:smile:


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:16 pm 
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Hi Takoda,

Welcome, and I wish you success in your search. :smile:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:08 am 
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:hi:

Welcome to Dharma Wheel!

:buddha1:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 7:21 am 
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Takoda wrote:
Hello to everyone, its great being here.

I have been visiting the forum on and off and I have finally decided to officially become a member. As for an introduction I will try to put it into a "nutshell" and try to keep it short. Please forgive me if I do not.

I grew up in in what might be considered a very fundamentalist christian household. In fact, my whole life was centered on the Bible and its literal interpretation. As time went on I studied Biblical and Systematic theology and became an “Elder or Minister” in my denomination. By the mid-nineties I went through what might be described as a spiritual crisis which resulted in my questioning most of my long held beliefs. Many things I once believed in just did not make any sense.

I left the denomination and eventually drifted into Catholicism for a number of years. I was intrigued by the mystical side of Catholicism especially through the writings of St. John of the Cross and Teresa de Avila. Through these Catholic mystics I was exposed to contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer comes down to a releasing of the self and a merging with the ultimate reality. These mystics describe this merging as oneness with the divine that can only be described as pure love. Personality ceases to exist as this oneness is achieved. At the time this actually seemed kind of Zen-like to me.

Even though I found all of this to be quite interesting, the nagging doubts continued to haunt me and I eventually became disillusioned with religion altogether.

As for eastern religions my first exposure was reading “The Science of Religion” by Paramahansa Yogananda when I was in Junior High School along with other books on Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism. I have also been an avid reader of various Buddhist magazines such as Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma. Many of the articles have given me much needed and practical advice when it comes to living in our very perplexing world. I am also considering enrolling in the online courses at the FPMT website to become better acquainted with Buddhist beliefs.

Do I consider myself a Buddhist? To be honest I must answer no. At this point in time I might consider myself simply as a searcher with lots of questions and very few answers. One point that I always like to keep in mind is that to find answers we must become an empty vessel and leave our opinions and preconceived beliefs at the door. Only then can we be open to the truth.

All I have to offer is my empty vessel.


Once again I thank all of you for having such a great forum.


Peace and Love to all.
Namaste

:smile:


"Seek and you shall find," because Truth belongs to those who are open-minded and humble. While it is not clear at the moment whether Buddhism is right for you, it can be assured that most, if not all, of your questions will find Buddhist answers which are clear and justifiable.

Welcome to the Dharma Wheel!

~acarefreeman


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:09 am 
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Location: Reading MI USA
Just a comment from a beginner.
I found that reading through the forums here, and a few others, you need to find the school that hits home with you.
To me it is the Gelugpa school of Mahayana, this is also what FPMT teaches the practice of.
That is a great organization, which many folks here have said previously. The "Discovering Buddhism" dvd set gives a great overview of the Buddhist thought. I also am using their home study courses as I'm unable to travel to far to a temple or a center. If you live in an area where there are temples of different schools of Buddhism, visit them and see if you like it.
If it weren't for the great people here at DW, I may have wandered down an unfavorable path with a "group" that is more "cult like" than Buddhist. So post away and ask questions, it's the only way to learn.


Kindest wishes, Dave

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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:21 pm 
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Welcome to the board Takoda!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:01 am 
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Thanks to all of you for the warm welcome.Its great being on the forum.

As I began to delve into Buddhism I realized there are quite a number of different schools. In fact about less than an hour’s drive from where I live there are three different Buddhist centers (Forgive me if I misspelled any of the names).

One is a Padmasmbhava Buddhist Center-Nyingma Tradition (Affiliated with Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche).

The other is the Ganden Sherub Ling Buddhist Center (Affiliated with Venerable Geshe Lhundub Sopa, Venerable Lhundup Dancho, Yangsi Rimpoche)

And finally a Zen Center from the lineage of Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

I am really not that familiar with any of these traditions, although I do believe the first two belong to the Tibetan branch of Buddhism. I may be a tad more familiar with Zen since I have read a few books on the subject (mostly some light reading such as the “Way of Zen” by Alan Watts).

I am currently reading “Buddhism Plain and Simple” by Steven Hagen. I must mention Pema Chodron whose books have given me a great amount of guidance during some of the most difficult times of my life. Any reading suggestions are more than welcome.

Once again,

Thanks to all for the warm welcome. :smile:

Takoda


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:28 am 
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Posts: 12
Location: Toronto, Canada
Takoda wrote:
Thanks to all of you for the warm welcome.Its great being on the forum.

As I began to delve into Buddhism I realized there are quite a number of different schools. In fact about less than an hour’s drive from where I live there are three different Buddhist centers (Forgive me if I misspelled any of the names).

One is a Padmasmbhava Buddhist Center-Nyingma Tradition (Affiliated with Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche).

The other is the Ganden Sherub Ling Buddhist Center (Affiliated with Venerable Geshe Lhundub Sopa, Venerable Lhundup Dancho, Yangsi Rimpoche)

And finally a Zen Center from the lineage of Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

I am really not that familiar with any of these traditions, although I do believe the first two belong to the Tibetan branch of Buddhism. I may be a tad more familiar with Zen since I have read a few books on the subject (mostly some light reading such as the “Way of Zen” by Alan Watts).

I am currently reading “Buddhism Plain and Simple” by Steven Hagen. I must mention Pema Chodron whose books have given me a great amount of guidance during some of the most difficult times of my life. Any reading suggestions are more than welcome.

Once again,

Thanks to all for the warm welcome. :smile:

Takoda


Dear Takoda:

Before your questions are answered by anybody else, it would be both necessary and helpful for you to be aware of some important principles/guidelines in choosing a particular school or teacher, and/or in learning and practicing Buddhism in general.

First, Buddhist wisdom or achievement falls into three different levels, those at the level of the simple acceptance of the dharma on reading or hearing it, those at the level of thorough understanding after reflecting and digesting the dharma, and those at the level of samatha and vipasyana practice where the mind is able to remain in a state of awakening and be free from any mental affliction or any attachment to an external environment (be it Form, Sound, Smell etc. ...). This means that you don't read the dharma for the purpose of reading or knowledge only, you read it in order for it to become your own way of thinking and living. In short, you need to practice what you have read/heard in order to truly benefit from it. And in turn, your practice helps to verify or confirm the truthfulness of what you have learned.

Second, don't be afraid to challenge any Buddhist doctrine. Remember: The Buddha's teaching can always be critically examined or even challenged before it is to be followed, and in this way you can at a very good chance avoid blindly following any school or teacher, and therefore avoid going astray in the path of truth-seeking.

Third, whichever school or teacher you follow, the dharma is your only refuge, not the teacher or the school. Just like a loving parent, when he/she teaches his/her child to walk and live, he/she does it in such a way that the child quickly gains the power to walk and lively independently and to become more mature, not in a way letting the child to depend more heavily on the parent. If any teacher or school has deviated from this key Buddhist principle, it may be an indication or sign that something has gone wrong.

Fourth, though the Buddha is free of any mental, speech-related, or bodily mistake or error, this is almost in no way to be the case with any other teacher or school, and therefore a blind or absolute trust in a teacher is neither justified nor healthy. Remember: In Buddhism, the final salvation is achieved through one's own effort, not through a teacher or gods or God. In a world where the integrity of human beings is frequently a problem, it is not unusual for beginner Buddhists, especially female learners, to fall victim of some bad “teachers”.

Lastly, whichever school or teacher you choose, start with the easy and foundational work, and this is the core teaching and practice of the Theravada tradition. Remember: You don’t build a skyscraper in air or in loose sand, you build it on a solid foundation; and the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, and the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination are the rock foundations of the whole Buddhist edifice. Any Buddha who comes into this world will teach these, and it is absolutely making no sense to belittle these fundamental teachings. Since “No pain, no gain”, and “Haste makes waste,” hence a wrong attitude or an unrealistic expectation in learning and practicing Buddhism is more likely to make a short way longer rather than do the opposite. Thus resisting the temptation of taking a shortcut way may not be an easy thing to do, but it will always prove to be safer and healthier.

Good luck to you on your way of truth-seeking!

~acarefreeman


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:22 am 
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acarefreeman wrote:
Takoda wrote:
Thanks to all of you for the warm welcome.Its great being on the forum.

As I began to delve into Buddhism I realized there are quite a number of different schools. In fact about less than an hour’s drive from where I live there are three different Buddhist centers (Forgive me if I misspelled any of the names).

One is a Padmasmbhava Buddhist Center-Nyingma Tradition (Affiliated with Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche).

The other is the Ganden Sherub Ling Buddhist Center (Affiliated with Venerable Geshe Lhundub Sopa, Venerable Lhundup Dancho, Yangsi Rimpoche)

And finally a Zen Center from the lineage of Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

I am really not that familiar with any of these traditions, although I do believe the first two belong to the Tibetan branch of Buddhism. I may be a tad more familiar with Zen since I have read a few books on the subject (mostly some light reading such as the “Way of Zen” by Alan Watts).

I am currently reading “Buddhism Plain and Simple” by Steven Hagen. I must mention Pema Chodron whose books have given me a great amount of guidance during some of the most difficult times of my life. Any reading suggestions are more than welcome.

Once again,

Thanks to all for the warm welcome. :smile:

Takoda



Lastly, whichever school or teacher you choose, start with the easy and foundational work, and this is the core teaching and practice of the Theravada tradition. Remember: You don’t build a skyscraper in air or in loose sand, you build it on a solid foundation; and the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, and the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination are the rock foundations of the whole Buddhist edifice.

~acarefreeman


Hi Takoda, :smile:

Welcome to Dharma Wheel.

I would like to take this opportunity point out if you are interested in the Theravada tradition you may want to look at our sister site http://dhammawheel.com/ which is a website dedicated to that tradition.

Regards,


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:30 am 
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My heartfelt thanks for all of the excellent advice and "words of wisdom".

acarefreeman wrote:
start with the easy and foundational work, and this is the core teaching and practice of the Theravada tradition. Remember: You don’t build a skyscraper in air or in loose sand, you build it on a solid foundation; and the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, and the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination are the rock foundations of the whole Buddhist edifice.


Thanks acarefreeman. In fact I read your post quite a few times. Great advice!

Tara wrote:
Welcome to Dharma Wheel.

I would like to take this opportunity point out if you are interested in the Theravada tradition you may want to look at our sister site http://dhammawheel.com/ which is a website dedicated to that tradition.


Thanks Tara, I definitely will check into it.

The Seeker wrote:
If it weren't for the great people here at DW, I may have wandered down an unfavorable path with a "group" that is more "cult like" than Buddhist. So post away and ask questions, it's the only way to learn.



I fully agree with you Dave. "Cults" always seem to be lurking around the corner. This is one reason why asking questions is so important in our individual search for the truth.

Kind regards to all

Cheers

Takoda


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:45 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:36 pm 
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Takoda wrote:
Hello to everyone, its great being here.


I left the denomination and eventually drifted into Catholicism for a number of years. I was intrigued by the mystical side of Catholicism especially through the writings of St. John of the Cross and Teresa de Avila. Through these Catholic mystics I was exposed to contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer comes down to a releasing of the self and a merging with the ultimate reality. These mystics describe this merging as oneness with the divine that can only be described as pure love. Personality ceases to exist as this oneness is achieved. At the time this actually seemed kind of Zen-like to me.

Even though I found all of this to be quite interesting, the nagging doubts continued to haunt me and I eventually became disillusioned with religion altogether.

Do I consider myself a Buddhist? To be honest I must answer no. At this point in time I might consider myself simply as a searcher with lots of questions and very few answers. One point that I always like to keep in mind is that to find answers we must become an empty vessel and leave our opinions and preconceived beliefs at the door. Only then can we be open to the truth.

All I have to offer is my empty vessel.



I must say that I am quite fond of Catholicism and its symbolism, and the direct manner in which many Saints describe their interaction with the Spirit. Many decades ago, I attended a Buddhist empowerment, and received a vase-consecration from a visiting Lama, and this seemed remarkably like a Baptism to me, so perhaps the two creeds are not so different after all.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:24 pm 
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Welcome!!! :meditate:

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"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy


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