Torn between traditions

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Torn between traditions

Postby greggorious » Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:50 pm

Hi there, I know very little about Theravada Buddhism but have come across it via a website as I was interested in learning a little more about it. For a couple of years I have been a practicing soto zen. As much as I love Zen and it's wisdom's I haven't felt like I've been getting anywhere. I find zazen very difficult, especially as one needs to have one's eyes open throughout it. Before Zen I used to practice at a Tibetan centre of the kagyu school. Once again the meditation was eyes open, plus I found the practice far too intense, fear based and extremely devotional.
I've recently looked up the meditations of vippassana and samatha and they seem very appealing to me, much more so than other Buddhist meditations I have practiced. However I've been told that Theravada can be very strict and is very conservative and othordox, which troubles me slightly.
I love Buddhism, and I have no problems calling myself a Buddhist but I'm just not sure where I belong, in which tradition.

Any feedback would be most welcome.

Greg
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:54 pm

A lot of us have been there, moving through various Mahayana schools, finally finding oneself at home with the Theravada, and there a are also a few Zen and Tibetan Buddhists who post here, but this is a good place to learn about the Theravada. Please feel free to ask whatever questions you need to aid your exploration.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:57 pm

I too spent ( quite a long ) time in a Kagyu sangha.
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby Fede » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:11 pm

I have been practising under the Theravada"Banner" for some time, and I have not found it to be strict or conservative....

Mind you, I wouldn't classify myself as an educated Theravadin....and in all probability, neither would many others....

But it's the mutt's nuts!

Welcome! :namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby ground » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:19 pm

Feeling "torn between two positions" may be caused by desire. A more positive outlook may be appreciating the "agravic state" "in between".


Kind regards
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:24 pm

TMingyur wrote:Feeling "torn between two positions" may be caused by desire. A more positive outlook may be appreciating the "agravic state" "in between".


Kind regards
The reality is, of course, that "desire" - being "torn between two positions" - is likely just that with which have have to work. We can only start from where we are.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby greggorious » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:28 pm

I have to be honest. I find some of the re birth theories troubling. That doesn't mean to say I don't believe in re birth, I do. But when it comes to the whole hell realms, hungry ghosts, Gods and all that I become dissilussioned. That's one of the reasons I liked zen, cos it stayed clear of all that, but as I said I like the look of the vippassana and samatha meditations, that's what's brought me here.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:35 pm

greggorious wrote:I have to be honest. I find some of the re birth theories troubling. That doesn't mean to say I don't believe in re birth, I do. But when it comes to the whole hell realms, hungry ghosts, Gods and all that I become dissilussioned. That's one of the reasons I liked zen, cos it stayed clear of all that, but as I said I like the look of the vippassana and samatha meditations, that's what's brought me here.
Actually, Zen in its traditional contexts, does not "stay clear" of all that.

One can get into all sorts of fruitless debates about rebirth and the realms, but basically it is something you decide for yourself as to how you want to relate to it. The primary practice is to pay attention, and from that insight unfolds. And over time how you understand and relate to things such as rebirth will also change. These things should not be made to become stumbling blocks to one's practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby greggorious » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:42 pm

Ok thanks, that's reassuring. I enjoy meditating, and I also believe in the 4 noble truths, the eightfold path and the precepts. When it comes to death, re birth and intermediate states between death I do get put off, I'll admit it. I do have certain views about existence, i.e I believe certain things are layed out for us by the universe, and it's not all down just to chnace. I hope that's not controversial in relation to Buddhism?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby daverupa » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:11 pm

Anthropomorphizing the universe is a bit of a sticky widget simply because it's positing a self in claiming the universe has agency in that way.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby greggorious » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:25 pm

Thanks Jhana, that was a good response. Do you believe in the 'take what you want and leave the rest' method?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby Fede » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:42 pm

greggorious wrote:I have to be honest. I find some of the re birth theories troubling. That doesn't mean to say I don't believe in re birth, I do. But when it comes to the whole hell realms, hungry ghosts, Gods and all that I become dissilussioned. That's one of the reasons I liked zen, cos it stayed clear of all that, but as I said I like the look of the vippassana and samatha meditations, that's what's brought me here.


Look upon the other realms as states of Mind. I do. It's much simpler that way, and actual;ly proposed by Buddhist scholars far more advanced and educated than I.
If you see the different realms as states of Mind, and mental manifestations, you may find it easier to equate...

http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/bdoo ... realms.htm

i.e I believe certain things are layed out for us by the universe, and it's not all down just to chnace. I hope that's not controversial in relation to Buddhism?

No, but as you learn about Kamma, you may alter your thinking.
As has been said, "if you wish to know what you once were, look at your body, now. If you wish to know what you will become, look at your Mind, now.
Your Mind-set and volitional actions do much to determine how things unfold.

1. No killing
2. No stealing
3. No intoxicants
4. No lying or inflammatory speech
5. No sexual misconduct ( sex with people who are not mentally competent unattached adults )


Actually, if I may say so.it's:

1. No killing
2. No stealing
3. No sexual misconduct ( sex with people who are not mentally competent unattached adults )
4. No lying or inflammatory speech
5. No intoxicants.

And if I may further elaborate, the precepts are vows to make the effort to not:

1: Harm other beings
2: take anything which is not freely given, if it's in a position to be so.

3: Indulge in immoral or inappropriate sexual behaviour (and to my way of thinking, that entails anything where the other person feels compromised, coerced or compelled, against their will or well-being)
4: indulge in idle unproductive chatter, needless gossip or lying
5: take recreational drugs, alcohol or any other substance that will addle the brain, confuse the mind and cloud the thinking.
(Drugs for medical purposes which have been prescribed as a necessity, are of course, not on that list).
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby nobody12345 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:37 pm

Stick to Theravda (such as Thai Forest tradition).
If that is too much for you, then stick to the Nikayas.
Life is too short.
Don't waste your time.
Go with the earliest, tried and proven formular based upon the direct teachings of the one and only fully awakened one.
Metta.
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby Hanzze » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:34 am

Its like flowing

To the Ocean

The streams, lakes, and rivers that flow down to the ocean, when they reach the ocean, all have the same blue color, the same salty taste.

The same with human beings: It doesn't matter where they're from — when they reach the stream of the Dhamma, it's all the same Dhamma.

108 Dhamma Similes-byAjahn Chah
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:09 pm

greggorious wrote:However I've been told that Theravada can be very strict and is very conservative and othordox, which troubles me slightly.


I think you'll find that that is misinformation.

Yes there is a conservative and orthodox end of the spectrum but when you consider the looser and more open insight meditation movements as part of the spectrum there is quite a breadth of approaches. Even with one of the most strict monastic traditions, the Ajahn Chah tradition, while the discipline is strict I find the people in it very open and experiential in their attitudes and approach to practice.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby Goedert » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:55 pm

This is very common, as tiltbillings words are very true.

Theravada tradition is the most close to the original teaching. Welcome.
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby Nibbida » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:18 am

greggorious wrote:Hi there, I know very little about Theravada Buddhism but have come across it via a website as I was interested in learning a little more about it. For a couple of years I have been a practicing soto zen. As much as I love Zen and it's wisdom's I haven't felt like I've been getting anywhere. I find zazen very difficult, especially as one needs to have one's eyes open throughout it. Before Zen I used to practice at a Tibetan centre of the kagyu school. Once again the meditation was eyes open, plus I found the practice far too intense, fear based and extremely devotional.
I've recently looked up the meditations of vippassana and samatha and they seem very appealing to me, much more so than other Buddhist meditations I have practiced. However I've been told that Theravada can be very strict and is very conservative and othordox, which troubles me slightly.
I love Buddhism, and I have no problems calling myself a Buddhist but I'm just not sure where I belong, in which tradition.

Any feedback would be most welcome.

Greg


I fumbled around with Zen teachings for far too long, about 15 years. I wasn't really aware that anything else existed at the time, or how it would be different. On one hand I like it's simplicity, but on the other hand, they don't explain things very well. There are things I love about the Tibetan tradition as well, but the devotional emphasis is less my personal style.

When I discovered Theravada about 6-7 years ago, my reaction was, "Why didn't someone just say this 20 years ago?" It was fairly clearly laid out and comprehensible. I started with books by teachers in the IMS/Spirit Rock circuit (e.g. Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield). I felt a little resentful for a while that I had been reading cryptic rantings of Zen teachers for so long, trying to decipher it when a much clearer explanation existed. Vipassana and loving-kindness are such a straightforward methods, given some basic instruction and a little practice.

My preference is not to limit myself exclusively to any one school however. I love the Pali Suttas, listening to talks by Theravada teachers, and doing Theravada meditation techniques. But I also love the Mahayana elaborations on emptiness, which have greatly advanced my practice. Whenever I read too much of one single tradition, my practice becomes a little stale. I shift to reading another tradition, which gets a the same core from a slightly different angle, and I feel refreshed, invigorated in my practice.

But that's just my preference. Experiment a little and see which teachers/methods work for you. Even if it's just within one tradition, there are usually many variations among teachers and emphases.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby amrad » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:14 am

imaginos wrote:Stick to Theravda (such as Thai Forest tradition).
If that is too much for you, then stick to the Nikayas.
Life is too short.
Don't waste your time.
Go with the earliest, tried and proven formular based upon the direct teachings of the one and only fully awakened one.
Metta.


Really? The one and only fully awakened one? Hummm Who keeps a record of fully awakened ones? Is there a registry? LOL
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Re: Torn between traditions

Postby nobody12345 » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:21 am

amrad wrote:
imaginos wrote:Stick to Theravda (such as Thai Forest tradition).
If that is too much for you, then stick to the Nikayas.
Life is too short.
Don't waste your time.
Go with the earliest, tried and proven formular based upon the direct teachings of the one and only fully awakened one.
Metta.


Really? The one and only fully awakened one? Hummm Who keeps a record of fully awakened ones? Is there a registry? LOL

There were fully awakened ones before the Buddha Gotama.
There will be fully awakened ones after the Buddha Gotama.
However, in our time, the Buddha Gotama was/is the one and only fully awakened/enlightened one.
He has penetrated entire workings of Samsara and all of its various layers of dimensions.
Even Arahant disciples of his were worshipping him till their dying day because they knew so well that the depth of knowlege and vision of the Buddha was simply unfathomable.
Also the Buddha only arises when the previous Buddha's teaching is lost and forgotten.
Metta.
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