My name is Murkve, and I am a new seeker living just north of Minneapolis.
I've always known the basics of Buddhism, and have always been drawn to it, but lately I've begun to appreciate the Dhamma at a much deeper level. This may be because I have witnessed its myriad applications and wisdom in my chosen field (Education), or it may be because I find it's philosophy beautiful, self-consistent, and applicable - much like Mathematics. More than likely it is a combination of both, though I truly cannot say for sure what sparked my interest this time.
Here's what I do know:
- I like the Buddhist emphasis on impermanence and change (Anicca). As a Calculus teacher, I greatly admire how the Dhamma addresses the never-ending change and mutability of Nature. For this reason, I can see many connections between the Dhamma and Calculus - as both attempt to address and understand impermanence.
- I am pleased with how the Dhamma answers the age-old philosophical problem of the Identity of Theseus' boat versus its reconstruction. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus
) I have been grappling with that question for years. It may be my western, binary mind, but it never occurred to me to consider that there was no 'Boat' to begin with. I understand this as 'Anatta'.
- I enjoy the focus of morality being on 'Wholesome' and 'Unwholesome' acts, rather than on 'Good' or 'Evil'. It comes across as more goal oriented.
Over the last 2 months I've been reading quite a few Buddhist books, Suttas, and other literature such as "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Boddhi, "What Makes You Not a Buddhist" by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, the "Dhammapada", and "Being Dharma" by Ajahn Chah. I like to read the Suttas slowly, and reflectively. I'm inexperienced on Meditation yet, but I like to think that the focus and mindfulness it cultivates is not unlike that cultivated whilst doing Mathematics.
I'd like to take my practice further - with a community, and I've located 3 near enough to my home to make attendance regular. The first two are foremost in my mind:
Minnesota Buddhist Vihara - This is a Sri Lankan Sangha led by the Venerable Witiyala Seewalie Nayaka Thera. I am optimistic about this Sangha as it seems to incorporate Theravada ethnic traditional services while still being accessible to people from without the culture. From what I have read many services are offered in both Pali and English. http://www.mnbv.org
Common Ground Meditation Center - This is a thoroughly western Buddhist center. I can appreciate that, and I know that the culture here would likely be easy to 'fit in' with. At the same time, I'm not sure if I'm fully OK with that concept. I like the myriad support options that they offer, but it almost seems run like a Martial Arts Dojo - with differing classes every day. http://www.commongroundmeditation.org
Wat Anoka Dhammaram - This is my third choice. It seems to be completely ethnic Buddhist - which is fine. However, from pictures and literature on the site, the services look to be completely in Lao. This makes it nigh inaccessible to me, which is a shame as it looks like a nice community, and in a great location. http://www.watanoka.com
I'm asking you all this as I'd dearly like your input on this, as practicing and experienced Buddhists. I'm not very familiar yet with various Buddhist Communities in the US. I've mainly been looking into Theravada Buddhism as my first experience, as it is more in line with my modes of practice and thinking, but I am not opposed to exploring other paths.
So, thank you for reading and: