0pper wrote:I'm extremely intrigued by Buddhism and am well on my way to becoming Buddhist. I've been reading about it for a long time, but I'm close to making a commitment to becoming a Buddhist. I am now in the stage of choosing what specific path of Buddhism I want to follow.
My understanding is that Theravada Buddhism is closer to what the Buddha actually taught while Mahayana, although also very profound, seems to be influenced very much by others aside from the Buddha himself. Mahayana seems to have more cultural trappings. Things like dieties, divas and spirit worship... well frankly I have no interest in that whatsoever. I was a Christian in my early 20s for 4 years. Been there, done that.
I'm more interested in the practical aspects of Buddhism and less in the religious stuff.
Is Theravada a better fit for me?
What do those who are critical of the Theravada path have to say?
From my experience it is no less religious than other traditions.
What you have here on these English Speaking forums is some sort of Westernized meeting of Buddhism. Buddhism is still largely a Culturally Asian Religion and many lay folks and monks/Nuns alike are no less irrational and superstitious than the average Christian.
Buddha founded a religion after all.
I will also caution, the type of Westerner that tends to be more attracted to the Therevadan can be somewhat athiestic and somewhat Fundamentalist in outlook. I've experienced some very disturbing experiences with people who feel the need to point people back to a book than express their own wisdom. You get that somewhat more with Westerner Therevadans.
But to their credit they tend to be more rational and focused on reality than the Western Mahayanan.
Don't think you will get a more rational/compassionate and realistic replacement for Christianity. You will experience all the same issues.
So get what you can out of fellowship here and reading the Sutras, but be less focused on debating what the passages mean and more focused on practice and living the journey to enlightenment.
I had to leave Buddhism a few years ago because I had become disillusioned with it. I was hanging/chatting with too many hardcore Western style Theravadans who were behaving no different than Fundamentalist Christians. I only realised this later on.
But it's all part of my journey.
Think about it. This tradition is focused on the original Sutras and the emphasis on the real teachings. Then combine that with a bunch of Westerners whose culture has been shaped by Christians - then you get some pretty disturbing behaviour.
All of us are humans, we all have equal value. Sometimes we need to drop the Religious BS and focus on the reality in front of our face.
Retro runs a good Forum here, and I think a lot of folks here have seen what I speak of. Not everyone is a Fundi, but it's something to watch out for.