Discovering One's Place

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Discovering One's Place

Postby Epistemes » Tue Aug 30, 2011 8:59 pm

On my left shoulder blade, there is a tattoo of a Tibetan dorje with the mantra Om Mani Peme Hum Hri in Tibetan characters around it. I got the tattoo because I have an interest in Tibet, I think it is a beautiful region, and (I guess) I imagined that Tibetan Buddhist symbols and mantras were somehow universal for all Buddhists.

For the past couple of weeks, I've tried fostering my interest in Buddhism. I'm meditating (irregularly), trying to read dharma books, and I'm posting here and on the sister site, Dharma Wheel. I wouldn't say that I'm Buddhist (yet), but my heart increasingly leans towards the Dharma.

I don't know where I "belong" in the Dharma. And belonging seems to matter since it dictates what meditation method you use, what teachings you primarily focus upon, what kind of books you read, etc. A kind heart on the Dharma Wheel forum re-directed my confusion, allowing me to see that, at base, I should be meditating, observing suffering in desire, greed, hate, lust, etc., observing the co-dependent arising of things, and cultivating the brahmaviharas. I couldn't agree more.

I still feel this need to "belong." The people over at Dharma Wheel think I'm a troll because I started a topic yesterday questioning some of the more ceremonial and ritualistic elements in Mahayana and Vajrayana. As I said, things like bells, prayer flags, special deities, and prostrations can become a distraction. Some people over there are a little sensitive (and clingy) and felt that I had a combative tone. There's nothing combative about me: These are my observations, and I'm looking for observations. And I'm not a troll.

So, I'm wondering: Do I belong in the Theravada school? I mean, I'm currently reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Old Path White Clouds and In the Words of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and I find myself thinking, "This is what the Buddha taught, not prayers and offerings and tantra."

But I have this tattoo. A Tibetan tattoo which praises Avolekitesvara. I'm not interested in getting it removed. And it's this tatoo which makes me think I ought to endure the absurdity of something like Ngondro.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:33 pm

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby cooran » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:23 pm

Hello Epistemes,

I was like you ... I tasted and tested many forms of Buddhism and eventually, after some years, settled back on Theravada realising that it was the real deal - that it was my hearts' home. I still have some connections to Dzogchen (Chogyal Namkhai Norbu), but have never taken any vows within that School. I occasionally attend Teachings in other schools by well-known Teachers (e.g. when the Dalai Lama comes to Australia).

You probably already read the AccessToInsight website: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-subject.html

- especially their Index: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-subject.html

BuddhaSasana is a very good website for articles about all facets of Theravada. (I’m certain if you post on Mahayana websites you will come across the term Hinayana as a way of referring to Theravada – which is incorrect.
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebidx.htm

Mahayana and Theravada
Now, what is the difference between Mahayana and Theravada?
I have studied Mahayana for many years and the more I study it, the more I find there is hardly any difference between Theravada and Mahayana with regard to the fundamental teachings.
- Both accept Sakyamuni Buddha as the Teacher.
- The Four Noble Truths are exactly the same in both schools.
- The Eightfold Path is exactly the same in both schools.
- The Paticca-samuppada or the Dependent Origination is the same in both schools.
- Both rejected the idea of a supreme being who created and governed this world.
- Both accept Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta and Sila, Samadhi, Panna without any difference.
These are the most important teachings of the Buddha and they are all accepted by both schools without question
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha125.htm

Take your time, keep investigating - try to find a Theravadin Teacher for meditation and the Dhamma - even if it is for a 10 day Retreat each year.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7474
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:39 pm

Epistemes wrote:But I have this tattoo. A Tibetan tattoo which praises Avolekitesvara. I'm not interested in getting it removed.


Don't get it removed.

And it's this tatoo which makes me think I ought to endure the absurdity of something like Ngondro.


I don't even know what Ngondro is, but I like Avolekitesvara. It's all good. It's all Dhamma / Dharma.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8008
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:52 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Epistemes wrote:But I have this tattoo. A Tibetan tattoo which praises Avolekitesvara. I'm not interested in getting it removed.


Don't get it removed.

And it's this tatoo which makes me think I ought to endure the absurdity of something like Ngondro.


I don't even know what Ngondro is, but I like Avolekitesvara. It's all good. It's all Dhamma / Dharma.


:goodpost:

Though I identify as a "Theravadan" Buddhist, some of my favorite teachers are from the Mahayana Zen tradition.

:namaste:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4600
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Saijun » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:02 pm

Hello friends,

For what it's worth, I spent a year and change practicing Soto Zen; took Jukai, sewed the Rakusu/Okesa, etc., and despite giving throwing myself into it to give it a fair shake, it never completely set right. So now I've given up my Zen vows, and come back home in Theravada. The time spent was not without merit, though; I have a whole new appreciation for "everyday practice" (sewing, eating, etc), and see how having archtypes like Kannon, Manjushri, Jizo et al can be a useful aid to practice.

More than that--before I went and practiced Mahayana for a while, my faith in Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha was unshakable, but having only experienced Theravada, I was unsure as to whether it was the best presentation of the Dhamma. Now I know that, for me at least, it is. Exploration can be of great value, even if all you do is come full circle with renewed faith and vigor.

Metta and Anjali,

Perry
Saijun
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:28 pm

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:27 pm

If I were in your shoes, I would go and check out local centres and see which ones feel "right". Try to stay away from the controversial and culty ones. A good community (spiritual friends) is essential to practice in all traditions and I would argue that a regular contact with a teacher, is as well.

This "feels right" is a tricky thing, because I don't mean all welcoming, warm and fuzzy. I mean honest, open, moral and committed.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2626
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:19 pm

Greetings,

Epistemes wrote:And it's this tatoo which makes me think I ought to endure the absurdity of something like Ngondro.

I'm sure when you got the tattoo it wasn't with the intention that it would wed you to a spiritual path that doesn't best meet your needs.

For me the path to Theravada was quite obvious, because it's the only tradition that gives primacy to the Pali Canon. It was a quick process of elimination, actually.

If "This is what the Buddha taught" is an important criteria for you, I think you'll find yourself increasingly in Theravada territory. Bear in mind too that Theravada contains a broad spectrum of beliefs, priorities and practices... so within Theravada there's still room to move.

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)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14650
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:For me the path to Theravada was quite obvious, because it's the only tradition that gives primacy to the Pali Canon. It was a quick process of elimination, actually.

If "This is what the Buddha taught" is an important criteria for you, I think you'll find yourself increasingly in Theravada territory. Bear in mind too that Theravada contains a broad spectrum of beliefs, priorities and practices... so within Theravada there's still room to move.


I, too, greatly value the wisdom of the Pali Canon. When I first tried my hand at the dharma, which was about 12 years ago, even though I was reading Dwight Goddard's Buddhist Bible, I latched on to the early online version of ATI and fell in love with the "stories" of the suttas. 12 years later, as I re-begin my search, the Pali Canon was the first thing I tried re-locating. I even have the Access to Insight app on my iPad for offline convenience!

"What the Buddha taught" is important to me because, as I read last night in Old Path White Clouds, the Buddha seemed to stress his teaching as a boat to reach the other shore or as a finger pointing to the moon, and he did not want his teachings to become dogmatized or indoctrinated so that all peoples at all times could realize truth for themselves, not according to some "laws" or "precepts." The Pali Canon seems to be the surest demonstration of this.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:33 pm

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:44 am

I would like to thank everyone thus far for their response and support - especially the mods, admins and founding members.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:33 pm

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby alan » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:58 am

"Old Path White Clouds" is a lovely book, but not a good source of information about Buddhism.
alan
 
Posts: 2540
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:02 am

cooran wrote:Mahayana and Theravada
Now, what is the difference between Mahayana and Theravada?
I have studied Mahayana for many years and the more I study it, the more I find there is hardly any difference between Theravada and Mahayana with regard to the fundamental teachings.
- Both accept Sakyamuni Buddha as the Teacher.
- The Four Noble Truths are exactly the same in both schools.
- The Eightfold Path is exactly the same in both schools.
- The Paticca-samuppada or the Dependent Origination is the same in both schools.
- Both rejected the idea of a supreme being who created and governed this world.
- Both accept Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta and Sila, Samadhi, Panna without any difference.
These are the most important teachings of the Buddha and they are all accepted by both schools without question
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha125.htm

There's another version of this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Points_Unifying_the_Theravada_and_Mahayana along with a couple more lists of commonalities.
I would like to add my 2c worth of support to all those who have said, in one way or another, that the commonalities are more important than the differences and that your home will be wherever you are most comfortable with the people you meet and the style of their practice. People who welcome you, a teacher who inspires you ... all good dharma/dhamma friends.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3040
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:23 pm

alan wrote:"Old Path White Clouds" is a lovely book, but not a good source of information about Buddhism.


Why do you say that? As far as I can tell, much of it is based on the Pali Canon.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:33 pm

Re: Discovering One's Place

Postby Jaidyn » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:48 pm

I did belong so much that I finally found myself belonged by my thought of belonging to something, but then found I did actually not belong to any anything, so I read about everything. ;)
User avatar
Jaidyn
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:47 am


Return to Discovering Theravāda

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest