Which flavour should I choose?

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Which flavour should I choose?

Postby JiaYi » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:55 am

When I first picked up a discarded book on Buddhism, I wasn't quite prepared for the impact it had on me, in a good way that is. The trail of breadcrumbs soon turned into an overwhelming torrent, thanks to Google. It would've been a simple slam dunk for me if not for that fork in the road that crept up on me really quickly.

It's really like a Baskin Robbins 31-flavour type of situation. What's good - Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, New Age, or a salad mix? I still don't know how to choose. My experiment with Mahayana was short-lived because there's only so much mysticism I can handle. Will I feel the same way about the next one I try?

I know most people will say just go with what you feel comfortable and decide when the time comes with but that's just the thing. What if everything seems plausible to you at the beginning and you decide to try each flavour one at a time, rejecting things based on your own ideas about what's reasonable and not, guided by your pet aversions and delusions. How long will it take before you get exhausted and confused?

I came to Theravada because it appeals to my rationale, but that's before I've tried out the others (bar Mahayana.) I am mindful of the fact that life is precious and we should maximize it; that we really don't have the luxury of spending too much time on trial and error.

The internet has been indispensable to me in seeking the dhamma but wading through the thicket of intra- and inter-sectarian views has been exhausting. I've realized that even abandoning the internet for a real teacher won't help me escape the same question eventually: Do I go for the teacher in the grey robe, yellow robe, maroon robe, or the one in jeans that looks like a hippie? On what basis do I choose?

On what basis did you choose?
Last edited by JiaYi on Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:00 am

I went for the teacher who was a self-confessed "Square".

Just take your time. And if you have time, try a residential retreat or two.
And hang out here for awhile. Get to know some practitioners and ask questions.
All the best,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby JiaYi » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:39 am

Thanks Ben. That square guy didn't happen to be Spongebob, did it. LOL.

People compare the cultivation process to a journey. It doesn't matter which road you take because they all lead to the same place.

Funny because I thought its more like baking a cake. Use different amounts of the same ingredient and you get an entirely different cake.
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:58 am

I just stuck with a place I stumbled onto where the monks and lay people seemed happy. No thinking or choosing involved since I had no intention of taking up Buddhism.

:anjali:
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:02 am

Greetings JiaYi,

Ask yourself this... do you want a spiritual path that gives you sure fire answers to all things cosmological, philosophical, ontological, metaphysical etc.? Or do you want the cessation of suffering?

In connection with that, see:

MN 63: Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Where do your priorities lay?

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


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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby Dan74 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings JiaYi,

Ask yourself this... do you want a spiritual path that gives you sure fire answers to all things cosmological, philosophical, ontological, metaphysical etc.? Or do you want the cessation of suffering?

In connection with that, see:

MN 63: Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Where do your priorities lay?

Metta,
Retro. :)


I've got to say this is one of the strangest characterisation of the different Buddhist schools I've ever heard.

They are all concerned with cessation of suffering.

JiaYi, I would say Ben's advice is good - go and check out some centres and do a retreat or two. Jump in at the deep end! (Just stay away from the dodgy cultish places with bad reputation)
_/|\_
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:38 am

Greetings Dan,

It's not a characterisation of Buddhist schools - it's a characterisation of wherever the Noble Eightfold Path is not found.

DN 16 wrote:"In whatever Dhamma and Discipline the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, no ascetic is found of the first, the second, the third, or the fourth grade. But such ascetics can be found, of the first, second, third or fourth grade in a Dhamma and Discipline where the Noble Eightfold Path is found. Now, Subhadda, in this Dhamma and Discipline the Noble Eightfold Path is found, and in it are to be found ascetics of the first, second, third or fourth grade. Those other schools are devoid of [true] ascetics; but if in this one the monks were to live the life to perfection, the world would not lack for Arahants"

I am attempting to discern if JiaYi's skepticism is such that it would prevent the pursuit of the Noble Eightfold Path.

In connection with that...

SN 56.31: Simsapa Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:11 pm

JiaYi wrote:Thanks Ben. That square guy didn't happen to be Spongebob, did it. LOL.

My teacher is SN Goenka. The 'square' comment comes from one of the ten-day course discourses where SN Goenka is sharing a joke at his own expernse - describing himself as a 'square'. Which, back in the day, meant that someone is 'uncool'.

JiaYi wrote:People compare the cultivation process to a journey. It doesn't matter which road you take because they all lead to the same place.
To be honest, I don't know. I think what you will hear a lot of reputable teachers say is that having chosen a particular approach, stick with it for awhile. See where it leads, whether it is of benefit to you before evaluating its effectiveness and whether you need o jump ship.
Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best!
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:27 pm

JiaYi wrote:On what basis did you choose?


Get a book written by a non-Buddhist scholar that describes the different types of Buddhism. Once you have a sense for which type is appealing to you look for books written by meditation teacher in that type of Buddhism. If you can find plenty of such books that click with you, you have found your type.

You might enjoy this essay from which this paragraph comes:

The Kalamas of the Kalama Sutta were, like my father, a skeptical but responsible bunch. They were quite alive to spiritual matters, but they were overrun with teachers and teachings, each teacher competing for an audience, each propounding a different philosophy or path. Their situation was not very different from ours now. We're inundated with possibilities: "You're interested in religion? Well, what kind? Buddhism? What flavor would you like? Tibetan? Okay, we have about ten flavors there. Theravada? Oh, you've tried that? A little too dry for you? Too much talk about suffering and impermanence? Perhaps you'd prefer Dzogchen, the innate perfection of the mind. That sounds much better, doesn't it? And they have more colorful outfits. Most Vipassana teachers aren't Asian and aren't even monks; they just wear sweatpants. At least the Tibetan teachers look like teachers, you know? And then you get to Zen: beautiful — those great stories that teach you and make you laugh. Theravada teachings go on and on, but Zen is just hilarious one-liners."
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:56 pm

I would advise not making a choice based on what you feel like you might want to beleive. Buddhism is about practice. First find a practice that you feel at home with. If practice is interesting and comfortable for you, you may do more of it :)

Your practice will be with you long after the finer points of doctrine and dogma begin to lose their meaning.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby Tex » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:30 pm

JiaYi wrote:On what basis did you choose?


I was in a similar situation to yours: I became very interested in Buddhism and spent a few months learning the basics, including some about each tradition, but didn't know how to settle on a tradition.

I wound up choosing Theravada in large part because of the authenticity of the Pali Canon. The suttas are the closest thing we have today to what the historical Buddha actually taught, and from what I understand there is very little, if any, scholarly disagreement on this.

The Mahayana sutras, on the other hand, show up several centuries after the Buddha died and are, frankly, rather apocryphal in nature.

To me, it was simple: why spend time studying writings that may or may not be authentic when we know where to find authentic writings? Why study writings that came along several centuries later instead of going right to the source (or as close to it as we can get)?
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby Nyana » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:10 am

JiaYi wrote:People compare the cultivation process to a journey. It doesn't matter which road you take because they all lead to the same place.

No matter which tradition you choose to follow, if you commit to an authentic practice sooner or later you will be challenged to step outside of your comfort zone of habitual thoughts and (re-)actions.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:56 am

Follow the one which you think easy to understand at your current capacity.

If you think Theravada is easy to follow, then follow it.

If you think why there are various interpretations, study the reasons why they are different. It will enhance your knowledge.

A true Buddhist practitioner is the one who is free from label.

There is a saying we study self in order to forget self.

Similarly we study Buddhism in order to forget Buddhism.

In emptiness, there is only direct experiences free from schools and labels.

Theravada school can bring you to that reality, which finally you will be beyond Theravada or other Buddhist schools.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:19 am

Issues to consider: Practicality- is the centre within commutable distance? -having a group to practice with is really helpful

will i benefit from this? (by this I mean moral, spiritual development- becoming a better person, reducing your suffering)

Do I get on with the teacher? -if you dont have some faith in his/her teachings it is going to be difficult to follow and practice accordingly.

Is it too different from my own beliefs- it is good to be challenged a bit but too much might just put you off- trying to swallow what you cannot..

Is the teacher (atleast) ethical, virtuous, kind/wise. Are the students (generally) look to you like they have benefited.

Remember you don't need to commit to one teacher- in fact, it is probably better if you don't. (when we think of religion often we think of committing- but is this really necessary?) Remember that this is your journey- you need to draw nourishment from where ever you can- and those needs will change from time to time- so as some teachers are better at somethings than others, you will need to draw upon different teachers and teachings at different times. Clinging to one teacher and getting railroaded into one way of thinking is not helpful- stay open. Your mind and needs are too complex to be satisfied with one teacher, in this journey to enlightenment.

Having said that, it is good to stay with a group of spiritual friends who will be your companions over many years- this helps motivate. You can take on their main practice while exploring other teachers/teachings- nothing wrong in that.

Hope that helps :)

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby JiaYi » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:30 am

Hi friends, I'm most attracted to Theravada, which I feel appeals to my need for reason than belief, and I do find occasional Zen one-liner hilarious.

One question. If our senses are defiled and not to be trusted, should we trust the choices we make, including the type of Buddhism we that we find appealing? We are not exactly picking out a fashion item but if sensory appeal is our guide, isn't that what we're doing? Just a thought.

:anjali:
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Re: Which flavour should I choose?

Postby anjali » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:32 am

I've spent some time studying Theravada (Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Maha Bua,Upasika Kee Nanayon), Mahayana (Chan: Huang Po, Xu Yun, Hsuan Hua, Sheng Yen; Zen: Uchiyama Roshi, Chinul) and Vajrayana (Mahamudra/Dzogchen, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche). Also, I've spent some time at several retreat centers in some of the different traditions.

In my opinion what they all have in common is the dual meditative approaches of samatha/vipassana or samadhi/panna (Therevada), shamatha/vipashyana (Vajrayana Mahamudra), samadhi/prajna or stopping/seeing (Chan/Zen). Pick the path you seem most attracted to for now, then look under the covers at these dual aspects of practice as a unifying theme. It cuts through to the heart of empty awareness or unentangled knowing. Maybe these thoughts will help. Maybe not. Your mileage may vary. ;-)
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