New to Buddhism

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New to Buddhism

Postby KevinL » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:46 am

I'm very, very interested in learning more about buddhism. But for some reason, books just don't cut it with me. I'd rather learn by practicing buddhism as opposed to reading about buddhism. So I've visted my local zen center and learned how to meditate. It's very frustrating though because it's extremely difficult to keep those thoughts down and focus on my breathing. The first time I met with the zen teacher, he told me "Concentrate on your breathing." The second time I went there he said, "What did I tell you to do the last time?" I said "Concentrate on my breathing." "Yes, keep doing that."

I wish he would offer a little more instruction then that because I don't feel like I'm getting anything out of my meditation and it feels like the more I do it, the worse I get. Not only that, but I hate having to shell out ten dollars for a donation everytime I attend their group.

I really want to learn from someone but I'm starting to get frustrated.

Also, as a side note, I didn't exactly "pick" zen either. I'm not really sure too much about the differences between the various branches. I just picked that because that was what was, locally, available.
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Re: New to Buddhism

Postby Virgo » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:02 am

Hi Kevin.

Welcome to the Buddhist path.

You might want to begin by reading about the 4 Noble Truths and then take it from there.

There is much, much great Buddhist literature to read as well as meditations to do.

Don't worry, you will figure it all out...

Kevin
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Re: New to Buddhism

Postby Reductor » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:25 am

KevinL wrote: The first time I met with the zen teacher, he told me "Concentrate on your breathing." The second time I went there he said, "What did I tell you to do the last time?" I said "Concentrate on my breathing." "Yes, keep doing that."



I think that is Zen in a nutshell. :jumping:


I wish he would offer a little more instruction then that because I don't feel like I'm getting anything out of my meditation and it feels like the more I do it, the worse I get. Not only that, but I hate having to shell out ten dollars for a donation everytime I attend their group.

I really want to learn from someone but I'm starting to get frustrated.

Also, as a side note, I didn't exactly "pick" zen either. I'm not really sure too much about the differences between the various branches. I just picked that because that was what was, locally, available.


The differences are many. If you don't really want to read much then Zen is a good choice, but often times the approach can be cryptic (so I gather). As for the instructions you might get (here or anywhere), they can be endless...

If you take up Theravada then you will find reading is a big part, but the rewards are high.

Ajhan Lee was a well loved meditation monk. Below is link for a book of his that I have found useful (and tantalizing)... and below that is an essential except from it that you can apply right away. Memorize the basic method and then try it as is for a while. As for the most classic breath meditation instructions found in Theravada, try this: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html -- scan it quickly if it seems daunting, then note the first three steps in the "mindfulness of in and out breathing" section. At a later time you can return to this teaching, called a 'sutta' in Theravada, and see if you pick up any pointers from it.

Good luck and welcome to the path... I dare say it is the supreme path.

Lee's book: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html

Method 2

There are seven basic steps:

1. Start out with three or seven long in-and-out breaths, thinking bud- with the in-breath, and dho with the out. Keep the meditation syllable as long as the breath.

2. Be clearly aware of each in-and-out breath.

3. Observe the breath as it goes in and out, noticing whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable, broad or narrow, obstructed or free-flowing, fast or slow, short or long, warm or cool. If the breath doesn't feel comfortable, adjust it until it does. For instance, if breathing in long and out long is uncomfortable, try breathing in short and out short.

As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body. To begin with, inhale the breath sensation at the base of the skull and let it flow all the way down the spine. Then, if you are male, let it spread down your right leg to the sole of your foot, to the ends of your toes, and out into the air. Inhale the breath sensation at the base of the skull again and let it spread down your spine, down your left leg to the ends of your toes, and out into the air. (If you are female, begin with the left side first, because the male and female nervous systems are different.)

Then let the breath from the base of the skull spread down over both shoulders, past your elbows and wrists, to the tips of your fingers, and out into the air.

Let the breath at the base of the throat spread down the central nerve at the front of the body, past the lungs and liver, all the way down to the bladder and colon.

Inhale the breath right at the middle of the chest and let it go all the way down to your intestines.

Let all these breath sensations spread so that they connect and flow together, and you'll feel a greatly improved sense of well-being.

4. Learn four ways of adjusting the breath:

a. in long and out long,
b. in long and out short,
c. in short and out long,
d. in short and out short.

Breathe whichever way is most comfortable for you. Or, better yet, learn to breathe comfortably all four ways, because your physical condition and your breath are always changing.

5. Become acquainted with the bases or focal points for the mind — the resting spots of the breath — and center your awareness on whichever one seems most comfortable. A few of these bases are:

a. the tip of the nose,
b. the middle of the head,
c. the palate,
d. the base of the throat,
e. the breastbone (the tip of the sternum),
f. the navel (or a point just above it).

If you suffer from frequent headaches or nervous problems, don't focus on any spot above the base of the throat. And don't try to force the breath or put yourself into a trance. Breathe freely and naturally. Let the mind be at ease with the breath — but not to the point where it slips away.

6. Spread your awareness — your sense of conscious feeling — throughout the entire body.

7. Unite the breath sensations throughout the body, letting them flow together comfortably, keeping your awareness as broad as possible. Once you're fully aware of the aspects of the breath you already know in your body, you'll come to know all sorts of other aspects as well. The breath, by its nature, has many facets: breath sensations flowing in the nerves, those flowing around and about the nerves, those spreading from the nerves to every pore. Beneficial breath sensations and harmful ones are mixed together by their very nature.

To summarize: (a) for the sake of improving the energy already existing in every part of your body, so that you can contend with such things as disease and pain; and (b) for the sake of clarifying the knowledge already within you, so that it can become a basis for the skills leading to release and purity of heart — you should always bear these seven steps in mind, because they are absolutely basic to every aspect of breath meditation. When you've mastered them, you will have cut a main road. As for the side roads — the incidentals of breath meditation — there are plenty of them, but they aren't really important. You'll be perfectly safe if you stick to these seven steps and practice them as much as possible.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: New to Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:36 am

Hi & Welcome to dhamma wheel!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: New to Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:42 am

Greetings Kevin,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

:buddha1:

I think Right View is an important precursor to the rest of the path, so don't deliberately avoid learning the Dhamma in preference for focusing on meditation.

Study and meditation go hand in hand and are mutually supportive.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: New to Buddhism

Postby bodom » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:02 am

Welcome Kevin.

: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: New to Buddhism

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:54 am

Hi Kevin
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
metta

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- Hereclitus


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Re: New to Buddhism

Postby zavk » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:07 am

Welcome Kelvin.
With metta,
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