Members Bios - please contribute yours

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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby marc108 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:28 pm

great thread, its really neat to read about the people i see posting here.

I'm Marc, 31 years old.

I started practicing Yoga & Meditation as a spiritual discipline around the age of 18. 2 or so years ago I became interested in Buddhism after I read Mindfulness in Plain English and realizing that the Buddha's approach to meditation, and spiritual practice in general, was superior to anything I had done previously and have since immersed myself in the Dhamma. I love this forum as it's the only place I've found, on or offline, to have serious discussion about the Dhamma with seasoned practitioners.

In the unreal world I'm a student, finishing up a degree in nutrition & i work for a vitamin company doing product demos and education. I enjoy olympic weight lifting, anything in nature, playing with my cats & gardening. I grew up in New York & New Jersey, and 4 or so years ago moved to Northern California.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Sutiro » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:49 am

My life in the Sangha (also see www.fourwindslao.com)

I was an angry, restless young man. I started to take stock of myself after the premature death of my older brother in 1975. I took a course at university on Comparative Religions of which Buddhism was one and began reading anything of Hermann Hesse that I could get my hands on. I closely related to Harry Heller in the "Steppenwolf" but it was after reading "Siddhartha" that I first realized that the Buddha was a real person not a demi-God and I imagined being alive in the 6th Century BCE and able to sit with Him and listen to Him. I could also have slipped over to China and sat with Confucious, then back to Persia to be with Zoroaster, then to Israel and the desert Prophets and so on back to India to listen to Mahavira. I set my mind upon travel to Asia as so many of us were doing back then.

When doing the section of the course on Buddhism I was wrapped to have Pra Khanti Palo come to our class and outline the basic tenets of Buddhism. He was the first bhikkhu I ever saw. It all made so much sense and he explained much of what had been inexplicable. He invited students to come and see him later that afternoon in his rest room. I was late and thought there would a big queue waiting. It turned out that I was the only one of about 200 students at the lecture who had bothered, so I was lucky really.

I worked two jobs for a year and saved up $3000 and took off overland to Asia in early 1977. After some hedonist adventures in Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui, I met a Lao refugee who lived in Australia. He had just returned from a trip to NE Thailand. I asked him if there was some place a Westerner could go and learn about meditation. He recommended Wat Bah Pong. I had bought a one way ticket to Kathmandu but, luckily, had a few days before I could fly and I hated being in Bangkok in Summer so I caught the night train to Warin, Ubon Province. I arrived in the morning and found my way to Wat Bah Pong.

It was like falling into a well. Set in a quiet and serene re-growth rainforest the huts and buildings were camouflaged even hidden amongst the trees. There were very few people around, not many monks and just one Westerner, Pra Arranya Bo. How lucky I was.

Loom Por wasn't there. He was in England with Ajahn Sumedho on his first trip overseas that would eventuate in the transference of the Western Sangha to England. I was lucky that Arranya Bo was there. He was perfect for what I needed. He explained the practice and the dhamma in the most clear, compelling and humble way. He talked at length about Loom Por's 'Five Year Plan'. Five years is an eternity when you are twenty-four. After talking with him all day I said I had better find a hotel somewhere. He said I could stay there on the floor of the sala. It would be almost six years before I returned to normal life again out of the Sangha.

I started at he bottom at Wat Bah Nanachaht which had been established about eighteen months before. Everything happened in stages, little renunciations that would go on for years. After a week I shaved my head and took eight precepts and became a Pa Kao and spent the pansah of 1977 at Nanachaht. I cleaned spitoons, cleaned toilets, washed monks feet, drew water from the well and sat at the end of the queue for food distribution. I hated the place and was desperate to get out into the Lao sahkahs (branch Wats) where I could really practice and learn the language:) I knew nothing about practice.

The first pansah was hell, constant pain in my knees as we sat forever on concrete floors with knees up under my armpits, listening to boring talks. I committed for three months, then a year. I ordained as a Samanera after 5 months and then Loom Por sent me to famous Wat Tum Saang Pet where I stayed more than a year. I took full ordination with Loom Por as my Uppacchaya just prior to the 1978 pansah. Loom Por gave me a new name to signify my rebirth in the Sangha, Sudhiro or Sutiro in Thai.

I spent the first pansah as a monk at Tum Saang Pet, where I was the only Westerner for a 100 kilometres. Malaria struck during that retreat. There were five monks and novices and one Pa Kao, a 10 year old brother of one of the novices. Sadly he died an agonizing death when the dreaded virus went to his brain. Everyone on retreat at Tum Saang Pet went to hospital for treatment except me who took the least care to avoid mosquitoes, (as an addhitthana I slept without a net for the pansah. The "Mad Falung" they called me.) How lucky I was!

I spent future pansahs at Suan Goo-ay, Nanachaht, and another remote Wat of forgotten name. Loom Por always sent me to the roughest places, including a sala in a paddy field near Dorn Muang Airport, right under the flight path of the Jumbos. Try meditating there! It was the 1980 pansah that I was able to spend with Loom Por at Wat Bah Pong. I had enough language, spoken and written, a tape recorder, dictionaries and I was the second most senior Western bhikkhu there. How lucky I was that Loom Por would be at the top of his teaching prowess before he was gradually overcome with creeping diabetes. I taped and translated everything I could. I sat under his kuti with him every opportunity. He took ill towards the end of the retreat and had to go to Bangkok. But it was still the most rewarding experience of my spiritual life.

That year I also returned to Australia for six months. I spent time with Pra Khanti Palo at Wat Buddha Dhamma in 1981 before returning to Ubon for my 4th pansah as a monk. My final and fifth retreat was at Nanachaht. Big things were happening in the West. The Western Sangha at Chithurst in England had been a success. There was an invitation from Perth to set up a Wat in Western Australia and other places around the world.

I completed my fifth pansah and the famous 5 Year Plan and went Toodong (dhutanga) as is the tradition when a bhikkhu is released from dependence and becomes an Acariya (or Ajahn). It was during this time that I decided to disrobe and return to a new life in Australia. I made arrangements and then returned to Bah Pong to do the deed. Loom Por was now just a shell of the great man that we knew and loved. It was sad to see him that way but such is the lot of all condition things. He never taught again and finally died in 1992.

I had to go and face Ajahn Liam which was something I wasn't looking forward to, as I always found him mysterious. But I was lucky. He was very pleasant and asked me if I was sure, which I was. He wished me all the best and with a few short words my Sangha life was over.

I had many excuses for disrobing : I'd done my five pansahs, life in the Sangha had one purpose only that was to seek enlightenment, I didn't want to become a career monk in the West, Loom Por would never teach again, I could do wonderful things with my life now that I had my stuff together. The mind can throw up some very compelling arguments when you let it but there was really only one reason. I knew that I just wasn't up to the task. I marvel when people say they cannot see Kamma at work in their lives. I now see it as luck.

That was nearly thirty years ago. I have great marriage, have raised a family, and have had a good career but it leaves a strange feeling inside as you get older and realize that you did the most important thing you will do in your life when you were only 25.
Sadhu.
Sutiro
http://www.fourwindslao.com
Last edited by Sutiro on Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:53 am

Thank you Sutiro for your very interesting bio. It sounds like your experience in SEA during the 70s to 80s were incredibly formative. I would hesitate to say the most important thing you've done was when you were 25. Every step on the path we take is important regardless of our status at a particular point in time.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Sutiro » Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:04 pm

Thanks Ben

That time in the Sangha laid a foundation for the rest of my life and made me a better person. I retained some valuable tools that have assisted in my working life. But that's not the end of it of course. I have a duty to give something back to the Sangha and honor the teacher with practice as I move into the next phase of life. Have a nice night.

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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:06 pm

You too.
with metta,

Ben
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Mr Man » Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:30 pm

Sutiro
Are you conected with The vinyana group/Four winds Lao?
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby marc108 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:23 pm

Sutiro wrote:My life in the Sangha


awesome story! Sadhu! :anjali:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:49 pm

Greetings my Buddhahomies,

About me:

I am the seventh son of a seventh son, born with a caul, eight planets in Aquarius and according to family rumor, a di-rect descendant of the illegitimate offspring of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau and Privateer Jean Lafitte, born under a full moon with the wolves a-howlin and the banshee a-wailin. Therefore, I see all, know all, and tell a great deal more.

Facts: Born and grew up in Knoxville Tennessee, the Armpit of the Southern US. Moved to Bloomington Indiana, where nothing exists except Indiana University where I am currently their oldest student. Oh yeah, the Mongolian Cultural Center and Tibetan Buddhist Temple is here. I'm Theravada, so I've been there twice. It's nice, very pretty and I don't understand a thing that goes on there, or what those big bells and spinning wheels are for, why there are dragons and big colorful banners, but it is pretty. The nearest Thera center is a four hour drive from here. I have three college degrees: A bachelor of Fine Arts, in oil painting, a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and one I'm currently working on finishing in Creative Writing, expected matriculation Spring 2013. I started taking piano lessons two years ago at age fifty and I'm awful at it. I have been married four times, have a grown son and two cats. I retired from engineering circa 1994 and went into the entertainment business, where, according to the suttas, I'm assured rebirth into Hell. I'm a professional stage Hypnotist and Magician, which undoubtedly casts me down into hell's lowest circles.

In addition to school and operating my own business I'm currently working on a five-novel series of supernatural horror/murder mystery and have completed the first two books in the series. I'm vacillating between shopping for an agent or going the self-publishing route. I don't know if being a fiction novelist is condemned somewhere in the suttas but it probably is, as pretty much everything I enjoy seems to guarantee rebirth as something awful. Nevertheless I practice with reasonable diligence hoping to offset my hedonistic lifestyle and lusty appreciation for women, cognac, opera, chocolate, coffee and other of Samsara's sensual pleasures too plentiful to enumerate here for fear of overloading the server. Suffice it to say as a libertine I make Oscar Wilde look like Saint Augustine, and practice Buddhism in the hopes it will keep me from toppling over completely into the heresy that yes, happiness can found right here, right now in this here old world and that people are basically capable of their own salvation.

No one is more surprised than I that I made it past the half-century mark and I feel every day beyond this milestone is free and a gift, and when I awake each morning not dead I try to make the most of it. This is because I'm an idiot who hasn't realized what an awful place the world is. I attribute this moronic POV to the fact I don't watch Fox news, a habit many of my acquaintances see as a sign of mental aberration. I've done the research and discovered they are correct: Happiness, it turns out, is a symptom of an electrochemical imbalance in the brain and according to the DSM-IV there is both a diagnosis and a prescribed drug for Dyseuphoric Hedonia-presentation Maladjustment Disorder, or inappropriate contentment. My more down-to-earth friends howl: "What the hell's wrong with you--can't you see the world's about to end? The economy's in the crapper, terrorists are going to blow us up, and the Mayans are going to rise from the tombs in December 2012 and eat us all!" Buddhism offers a non-psychiatric take: "Well, you know all this happiness isn't actually happiness at all. It's really suffering, you just don't realize it because it's on a subtle level. All that giggling you're doing is just an illusion." In other words, if you're happy now you'll suffer later, so suffer now so you'll be happy later. My grandparents believed the same thing I think. They were the grimmest people I ever met but always talked about heaven like it was Branson Missouri, another place they hoped to visit one day but never did.

There's a lot more about me but I'm starting to feel narcissistic and besides, it's a nice day to sit on the balcony with a cognac. :toast:

BB
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:45 pm

Thanks for that, BubbaBuddhist.
:smile:
If you can write like that for a few hundred thousand words, you'll do okay with the novels. Just make sure to tell us when they come out and some of us (Tilt and me, for starters) will risk lower rebirths for the fun of reading them.

:namaste:
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby puppha » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:52 am

Dear Frank,

frankinnc wrote:Hi, my name's Frank...and my bio is gonna read alot different than most others, lol. Here goes: Grew up poor, did drugs, broke laws, smoked crack, broke more laws, went to prison ( 5 and 1/2 years), discovered Zen second year of prison, sat zazen almost everyday thereafter, went on "community passes" to a zendo last year of prison, got out of prison and continued to practice..still sober and sane and breaking no more laws. there ya go.

Sadhu! I am very happy for you! :twothumbsup:

Metta
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby jasonfei » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:47 pm

Hi, everyone!

Here is my brief background:

I am from China and began to learn Buddhism in graduate school about 8 years ago, and my major is law. I have learned both Mahayana and Theravada tradition, and have tried meditations like Goenka, Mahasi, and Pa-Auk, and the Thai Action Meditation. Besides, I have taken psychology courses, and studied for about 4 years.

I think the legal mechanism a state to harmonize the conflicting interests and ideologies are similar to the psychological process an individual balancing his or her thoughts, which means an equal, humane system can achieve happiness both in social and personal aspect.

I will take the Action meditation which is a kind of Vipassana to achieve an ultimate liberty. However, as a husband and father, it is also my duty to support families and do job I don’t like very much as a law teacher.

I do like to share thoughts and experiences with you guys, and hopefully we will support each other and finally achieve Nirvana.

Metta to you all!
TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:36 pm

Greetings Jason and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby jasonfei » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:05 pm

Ben wrote:Greetings Jason and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!


:),thank you, Ben!
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby kilgoretrout83 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:29 pm

I have taught US and World History for 19 years now. Prior to that I was and am a musician. When I moved to this town I noticed lots of churches and explored Christianity for a few years. I was never really a very religious person, but kept getting invited to different churches. What I have been searching for was not in those churches. About 6 years ago I began taking a form of Okinawan karate and my Sensei had a certain presence about him. I began to explore Buddhism just recently, but it was something that has always been in the back of my mind. To be honest, I found Buddhism less "stressful" than anything else I have tried. However; I am a beginner, and as far as I know, there are not a lot of Buddhists around this area. Most of what I am learning is from reading and conversations with my Sensei. He is actually not a Buddhist in name, but has many of the qualities.
So...I am new and am very open to this way of life. Buddism makes sense to me.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby cooran » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:32 pm

Welcome kilgoretrout83!
It's an interesting journey.

with metta
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Anandavajri » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:09 pm

Hello world, my username is Anandavajri, the name I dreamed that I would be given when I was ordained, but wasn't. I is a mix of Theravada and Mahayana as am I.
I have thought of myself as a Buddhist since I was a young teenager at school but with no access to a sangha then. I eventually joined one in 1991. It is based on the teachings of the Buddha and his senior disciples without the cultural stuff that it picked up over the centuries. I teach there and do the admin.
I am married but did not want children. I have poor health with a long list of illnesses, some related, but I am just about able to keep going supported by the Dhamma.
I found this site by accident, it looks as if it may have some thoughtful contributors. I hope so. :anjali:
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:14 am

Anandavajri wrote:Hello world, my username is Anandavajri, the name I dreamed that I would be given when I was ordained, but wasn't. I is a mix of Theravada and Mahayana as am I.
I have thought of myself as a Buddhist since I was a young teenager at school but with no access to a sangha then. I eventually joined one in 1991. It is based on the teachings of the Buddha and his senior disciples without the cultural stuff that it picked up over the centuries. I teach there and do the admin.
I am married but did not want children. I have poor health with a long list of illnesses, some related, but I am just about able to keep going supported by the Dhamma.
I found this site by accident, it looks as if it may have some thoughtful contributors. I hope so. :anjali:


Welcome to Dhamma Wheel, Anandavajri!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Yana » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:07 am

Hi everyone,

I realized i haven't wrote my bio :tongue: so here goes..

My name is Yuliana but my family calls me Yana. Since you are my family i would like you to call me Yana. :hug:

I was born on the floor of a very small clinic in the middle of nowhere.My mother was alone and didn't feel any pain so was shocked when i came out.She was standing and had to hold my head so i didn't..you know..smash my head on the floor or anything.. This i think was a very traumatic experience for her as she was left in shock on the floor covered in a pool of blood while That One Doctor tried to make sure i was alright.

I don't know if it was that experience or not but my mother never really liked me.I could tell because she never likes to touch me and when she sees me she gets angry a lot.Almost like just by being there was enough to irritate her.I don't know what motherly nurture means.My father was my mother and i love him dearly.Though my mother was practical and made sure i had the basic necessities,she never nurtured me emotionally,she was also very controlling and could be quite abusive.People think it's sad my mother has this attitude towards me but i don't.. the best thing about growing up in that sort of environment is your taught at an early age that rejection is just a part of life.

As for my personality generally speaking,In this lifetime,I was born with a lot of Scorpio planets :tongue: so i am naturally very quiet,private,focused,calculating and determined person..i can also be very intense..and i tend to make people uneasy i am not sure why..i've always had people make the "why so serious?" or " Who died?" jokes..which annoys me even more..maybe it's because i am akward,serious,shy,and withdrawn..i don't know have your pick..i gave up even trying to smile more or whatever..which is such a shame because i really do mean well.The combination of all this just turns me into one big loner.But i don't mind i like the solitude.

I love to write though :heart: And i am drawn to anything spiritual or more than the material world in a sense.something higher. It's where i feel nurtured.I was raised as a Christian by my very devoted Christian mother.And i felt at home going to church or bible studies or prayer times.In fact it was after one of these bible studies that i fell asleep and had a dream about the Buddha radiating,golden and smiling.I was sixteen years old and it was the first time i have ever encountered anything Buddhist in a sense.Buddhism was just not a part of my devoted christian life.It never crossed my mind.In a world where you were taught that other religions were just the work of Satan trying to deceive you from Christ the Saviour..that dream couldn't have been more far fetched from my daily life..I didn't give the dream much thought except that it was very memorable and i developed a quiet reverence for The Buddha.

I didn't know that many years later,while i was sitting alone in the middle of the afternoon.I would remember that dream, look up a Buddhist website,read a random page about the four Noble Truth and suddenly change.

It was like learning how to read.Everything looked alien and foreign to you.You had to learn the alphabets one by one and finally when you can piece everything together.They gave you a word and to your great surprise It Made Sense..It made sense!
That's how i felt when i read the buddhist teachings like i understood what the hell these monks were on about.

So i have been practicing since then and hopefully be free from suffering :jumping: and that's my story folks! :smile:
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:52 am

Anandavajri,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel and thanks for the bio. If I ever ordained, I would want to choose my ordination name too, if it was allowed. :tongue:

Yana,

Interesting bio. I had a similar birth event and there was a discussion a couple of years ago about births and I was happy to see that several others here had similar types of birth that we had. There are always some troll-types who use it to insult (not anyone here), but just something else to put equanimity to.

In another discussion thread I remember you also mentioning that your father taught you to play chess and that you played when you were younger. :thumbsup:
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Anagarika » Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:32 am

Yuliana, perhaps by your name I inferred that your Mother was Russian or Ukrainian? I have some family in Russia, and it's not unusual for young women to give birth in these solitary clinics, cut off from any family, and surrounded by other lonely women in pain and giving birth.

I wonder if your mother was a product of a difficult upbringing. I have seen families in Russia where the mother was strict, controlling, sometimes not loving at all, but the father was more nurturing, more friendly, more sensitive.

You mention learning at a young age about rejection. Maybe its not so much about rejection, bu that your mother didn't have the experience herself of being accepted or validated, so in turn, she had no capacity for cultivating empathy or acceptance. In other words, she didn't reject you, only because she always lacked the ability of acceptance, even of herself.

I am glad you have your father's devotion, but I'm guessing that because you have such an enlightened view of your mother, with your Buddhist practice you have the capacity and opportunity to be a loving and accepting force in the lives of others around you. This really is at the heart of the practice, to take the Buddha's acknowledgement of suffering, and cultivate the practice to allow ourselves to find release from these fetters, and then work to help others find release as well.

I don't mean to be so personal, but your letter suggested to me that you have a some very developed insights and a bright light that you can use to guide yourself and others down the path. Perhaps your mother's karma created for you a gift...one that you can share with yourself and others.
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