Hello from a grad student

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Hello from a grad student

Postby totan » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:38 am

Hello,

I am a 25 year old female from Louisiana, and I am studying to get my Master's degree in cultural anthropology. Although I grew up Catholic, I have always had an interest in Buddhism and have taken several classes on various forms of Buddhism throughout my undergraduate studies.

I am currently collecting information on Buddhism for my Master's thesis, but I need a relavent and compelling topic to research. That's why I've joined this site: I want to hear from fellow members who practice Buddhism what is important to them and what topics they think are overlooked or down-played.

Feel free to message me with your ideas or feedback. Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your time.
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby pilgrim » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:53 am

welcome...hope you get lots of ideas here
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby James the Giant » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:47 am

Two exciting things happening in Theravada Buddhism at the moment are:

The ordination of bhikkhunis (nuns) in the west, and the backlash from the conservative [male] traditionalists back in Thailand... and in some western monasteries too. Big debate, big excitement, a real development/evolution/schism in Western Buddhism. There's a huge thread here on Dhammawheel about it.

And the other really interesting thing happening in the past few years is also a western phenomena.
I'm not sure what to call it. Based around western meditators taking Buddhism and
...stripping away dogma and unhelpful taboos, people sharing with each other in ways that are down-to-earth, helpful, and pragmatic, and the vision that it can be done, rather than a dharma world that is mysterious, artificially heirarchical, dogmatic, and secretive.
http://www.interactivebuddha.com/

http://www.dharmaoverground.org
* pragmatism over dogmatism: what works is key, with works generally meaning the stages of insight, the stages of enlightenment, jhanas, freedom from suffering in what ways are possible, etc.
* diligent practice over blind faith: this place is about doing it and understanding for yourself rather than believing someone else and not testing those beliefs out
* openness regarding what the techniques may lead to and how these contrast or align with the traditional models
* personal responsibility: you take responsibility for the choices you make and what you say and claim
* a lack of taboos surrounding talking about attainments
* the assumption that the various aspects of meditative development can be mastered in this life
* the spirit of mutual, supportive adventurers on the path rather than rigid student-teacher relationships and the notion that the collective wisdom of a group of strong practitioners at various stages and from various traditions and backgrounds is often better than following one guru-type.

Just a caution, some people (well, okay, a lot of people) think Dan Ingram is a bit of a loon. Which may be true. But many other people are also involved and doing the same stuff as him and getting results, so he can't be all wrong.

Also related to Dhamma Overground and Daniel Ingram's project, is Chicago's Cheeta House and the Dark Night Project. There's a woman there Willougbhy Britton, who is doing some interesting work on the more uncomfortable stages of insight... http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/09/bg-231-the-dark-side-of-dharma/

Willougbhy Britton studies neuroscience at Brown University, which has an awesome faculty "a branch of the Brown University Contemplative Studies Initiative in the Warren Alpert Medical School that focuses on the clinical aspects and applications of contemplative practices."
http://www.brown.edu/Faculty/Contemplative_Studies_Initiative/

Those are the areas that spring to mind when considering what might be interesting to write a masters thesis on.

Oh, one more thing, if you like matters relating to minorities and racial issues, is looking into the reasons for the lack of Black and Hispanic faces in western dhamma communities and practise groups. It tends to be disproportionately white middle-class folk.

Best wishes, and do drop back in when it's (A) decided, and (B) finished. Show us what you wrote!
:namaste:
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby Ben » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:16 am

Greetings totan and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:17 am

Welcome Totan! May you find what you're seeking here!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby bodom » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:09 pm

Welcome totan!

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby totan » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:47 pm

Thank you everyone for your kind words of welcome and feedback. I will definitely keep everyone updated on the status of my thesis and the various topics I am researching.
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:11 am

:hello:

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!

:buddha1:

Perhaps you might find some ideas to expand upon from some of the modern developments listed here:
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _Theravada
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:35 am

Welcome, totan, and all the best for your studies.
James' suggestions are two that I might have mentioned if he hadn't gotten in first. Another is the cross-fertilisation of the historically separate Buddhist schools since about 1950 when transport and communications were suddenly good enough that people could see the differences and similarities.

:namaste:
Kim
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