Members Bios - please contribute yours

Introduce yourself to others at Dhamma Wheel.

Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 05, 2013 3:40 pm

I'm much more active over at Dharma Wheel, but once in awhile I check in here as well.

I'm 27, Canadian and have been practising and studying Buddhadhamma since I was 18 or 19.

I have a MA degree in Buddhist Studies from Japan. My main area of study has been classical East Asian Buddhism, though I've been reading Indian and more Eurasian history a lot as of late.

At the moment I'm in India, but I've lived in Japan, Taiwan and to some extent Kathmandu. I like to wander and own nothing more than a backpack of stuff.

I also like to read and write. I have a lot of my writings stored here:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadepository/home

In the future I hope to travel to many more places and hopefully do some long-term retreat.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 7:43 am

Indrajala wrote:I'm much more active over at Dharma Wheel, but once in awhile I check in here as well.

I'm 27, Canadian and have been practising and studying Buddhadhamma since I was 18 or 19.

I have a MA degree in Buddhist Studies from Japan. My main area of study has been classical East Asian Buddhism, though I've been reading Indian and more Eurasian history a lot as of late.

At the moment I'm in India, but I've lived in Japan, Taiwan and to some extent Kathmandu. I like to wander and own nothing more than a backpack of stuff.

I also like to read and write. I have a lot of my writings stored here:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadepository/home

In the future I hope to travel to many more places and hopefully do some long-term retreat.
Thankyou for posting. I, for one, am glad to have you here.
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: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby equilibrium » Mon May 06, 2013 10:05 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Indrajala wrote:.....
Thankyou for posting. I, for one, am glad to have you here.

Ditto here.
The article on "Fazang on the Fate of Arhats" is amazing.....as well as many others!
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Nan Tien Institute » Wed May 08, 2013 2:44 am

Nan Tien Institute (NTI), located on Australia’s picturesque South Coast of NSW, just south of Sydney, is the country’s first Institute of higher learning grounded in Buddhist wisdom and values.

This innovative learning environment has grown from a belief that education is an essential part of a life-long quest for knowledge, skills and wisdom. Our vision and mission is to provide a place for cultural exchange, and to broaden students’ knowledge and perspectives through subjects covering the arts, philosophy, humanities, business and science.

As part of a dynamic international learning community that spans Australia, the US and South East Asia, we offer innovative and distinctive subjects and courses designed to enrich and enhance lives. NTI offers an education with a strong foundation focused on multicultural and practical life applications.

NTI is the fourth in a series of tertiary education facilities established worldwide by Fo Guang Shan. Along with our sister universities University of the West in Los Angeles, California; Nan Hua University and Fo Guang University in Taiwan, NTI has the infrastructure to provide a strong support network for students (including future international exchange opportunities).

NTI aims to be recognised internationally for our outstanding location, unique teaching methodologies, world renowned lecturers and researchers, and high-achieving students.

With a campus on-site at award-winning major tourist attraction Nan Tien Temple, and a future $40 million campus under construction, NTI has the facilities to support students in all academic endeavours.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Kim OHara » Wed May 08, 2013 5:18 am

Nan Tien Institute wrote:Nan Tien Institute (NTI), located on Australia’s picturesque South Coast of NSW, just south of Sydney, is the country’s first Institute of higher learning grounded in Buddhist wisdom and values.

This innovative learning environment has grown from a belief that education is an essential part of a life-long quest for knowledge, skills and wisdom. Our vision and mission is to provide a place for cultural exchange, and to broaden students’ knowledge and perspectives through subjects covering the arts, philosophy, humanities, business and science. ...

That looks and sounds wonderful!
It also looks like a good place to address this gap in our higher education system:
Environmental Ignorance Is Economic Bliss
by Philip Barnes [http://steadystate.org/environmental-ignorance-is-economic-bliss/]
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that economic activity is exceeding environmental limits and destabilizing both global and local ecosystems, demonstrably flawed pro-growth economic theory continues to be touted as the cure to our ailments. Could the collective of practicing economists, policy-makers, economics professors, and economics students all be suffering from something akin to the Dunning-Kruger Effect? As a community, are these individuals so unknowledgeable about the environmental consequences of pro-growth economic activity that they tend to systematically overestimate the discipline’s environmental performance?
So if you want to find a representative sample of courses being offered in the leading economics departments, looking at the US News and World Report cream of the crop is a useful approach. … For the 2012-2013 academic year in all ten of these departments, only one single course presented alternative economic theories through alternative learning methods. The one-off course entitled “Buddhist Economics” was a seven-week-long sophomore seminar at UC Berkeley taught by Dr. Clair Brown. Eight students enrolled. …
Yet Dr. Brown’s course was the exception rather than the rule … in introductory courses for micro and macroeconomics, ecologically-minded economic theory and knowledge is woefully absent. This claim is supported by a recently published paper [http://viableeconomics.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/IJPEE030205-GREEN.pdf] in which the author, Tom Green, reviewed the most popular introductory level economics textbooks and found that the causal relationship between economic activity and environmental consequence was either systematically ignored or underrepresented.


:namaste:
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby chargingbull » Wed May 08, 2013 1:55 pm

Please forgive the length, but I have never been one for brevity....:)

If anyone chooses to read it in part or in whole, I thank you in advance. Welcome to the story of my meat-bag so far....

My ‘spiritual’ journey, started as a young teenager, reading books such as “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsh. I was psychologically and emotionally sidelined by these books, becoming fascinated with the deeper concepts and truths that appeared to be held within. I continued a normal teenage exploration of life, but privately subscribed to a deeper search for truth and relationship to the numinous. It almost invaded my mind and I looked for these truths everywhere.

Unfortunately, somewhere around 17 years of age, I remember becoming much more introverted, anxious and depressed than I had been previously, perhaps as a result of smoking too much cannabis, as I went through a period where I smoked multiple times daily, every day. I soon discovered CBT and self-help, that I feel allowed me to progress past a definite depressive period. In terms of mental health, the years that followed were predominated by a rapidly cycling mood, alternating between an almost hypomanic confidence, especially after meditating, and periods of dysthymia. I remained mostly functional, at least to all observers, although I struggled greatly with affect regulation, self-concept, anxiety...but most of all, a pernicious and pervasive sense of self-doubt, that was never far from my consciousness.

 By university, I was looking for more. I got lost down rabbit holes of New Age spirituality; David Icke, Eckhart Tolle, internet ‘energy groups’, online reiki ‘attunements’, conspiracy theories...the list goes on. It ended, and began again, with a group called “Higher Balance Institute”. I was led there on one of my long internet searches, clicking from one link to the next in a kind of compulsive madness, or addiction to information. It all changed with the discovery of this institute, promising to be one of the last remaining authentic spiritual ‘schools’ on the planet. It taught meditation, the development of psychic sensory, higher consciousness and promised intense experiences. The meditation techniques resemble what I now understand to be almost tantric yogas in kind; I meditated twice daily on chakras, gaining energy or ‘prana’ and developing what they called ‘non-thought’, or clearness of mind.

Rather than developing a lack of thinking, it encouraged developing a higher awareness. My experiences developed rapidly and I became progressively dedicated to my spiritual path, even teaching others whilst I was still at university. I was known as something of a spiritual maverick, an odd-ball perhaps, but grounded enough to associate with my peers through all the normal rituals of a university education. I experienced deep ‘awakenings’ and profound meditations, sometimes walking around in alternate states of consciousness for hours at a time, reflecting on the nature of existence and the nature of my own mind. I developed considerable strength of mindfulness, but my cycling moods were always around the corner.

 I attended a number of meditation/informational ‘retreats’, meeting with the master of this school on a number of occasions in a one-on-one context. The third retreat was held in Hawaii in 2009, named “Across the Universe”. I had a profound vacation for sure, but at this point my experiences very much took a turn for the worse. The retreat was a week long and by the third day things were really beginning to heat up from an experiential point of view. I was walking around in a shifted state of consciousness continually, without the periodic grounding in more human relational frames that I had been accustomed to.  

Wild ‘kundalini’ type energies rocked through my psychological, emotional and physical systems, expanding my mind and stressing my physical body. I felt like I was ‘downloading’ information from the cosmos, directly in tune with a super-conscious force of energy, guiding and flowing through all things. Of course, these feelings directly resembled the ideas of my then teacher, things we were instructed to try and find, but the intensity was overwhelming. I remember feeling time and space move in ways very alien to our three dimensional training and vastly complex ideas flowed through my understanding with ease.

I was walking around the retreat, talking to others and relaying to them some of this information, at which they were frequently in awe. On the final day, there was a definite shift. Everyone in the retreat was meditating in preparation for the final lecture, when a new energy came over me. The previous flares of knowledge calmed to an inner silence, with my visual perception taking on a luminous quality. Everything glowed intensely, as if I could see, directly, that it was made completely of light. That all matter is really this multi-dimensional stream of information, shimmering down from higher, non-physical dimensions. Everything was infinitely connected to everything else, and it felt like I just understood. Before I could formulate a question in my mind, it was as if I knew the answer. I felt like I radiated outwards like a sun, with flowers growing in the ground, following my steps (metaphorically). Everything I looked at was a reflection of the divine, including my own actions, now that I felt I was truly listening to this cosmic force.

Reality seemed to bend to my will, and I remember thinking I was controlling large expanses of energy, including the weather etc. At one point, I remember leaning down to a small flower, willing it to grow, and seeing it grow before me a number of inches. I have no idea as to the physical reality of this act, although I suspect a heightened state of self-suggestion and perceptual disturbance. There were no gross visual hallucinations that I really remember, but all senses were greatly magnified. The liberation did not last more than half a day or so, if I remember correctly, which I am pretty sure I don’t.

There was an interpersonal issue with my teacher, who apparently misunderstood some of my previous actions on the retreat, involving some of my peers. I was very confused, as I found it hard to think in a ‘normal way’, or relate to my normal identities, with my attempts to do so ending in a hellish dovetailing of human and dimensional/cosmic thought. These began to bleed over into one another; I can only imagine that they magnified my inner demons and complexes, which started to roar into a renewed existence, fuelled by this high state that I was in. Metaphorically, it was as if the light of my consciousness magnified and intensified the shadows on the wall. I began to flee, psychologically and emotionally speaking, in attempt to run from myself. Conversations about Krishna and Kali intensified these inner fears and before long I was in complete crisis internally. There were only a few that really knew of the extent of these reverberations, a fact that is somewhat ironic considering this was supposed to be a camp full of highly psychic individuals.

Every event, every interaction, was overwhelmingly symbolic; it was as if reality itself, at every turn, was teaching me something about my own psychology, lessons that had to be learned. These lessons were coming directly from the universe and it was up to me to not only decipher them, but to control them. If my mind became too anxious, my reality became more terrifying. If I surrendered, it became benevolent. With the retreat over, people began to dissipate, leaving me with only a few others. It must have took me hours to orientate myself to leaving, collecting my things in confusion and horror, constantly running away from the growing shadows in my mind. Friends gave me a lift to the airport. At the terminal, I became convinced that the ‘darkside’ of this cosmic energy was going to trap me if I could not control my mind. As my mind was connected to all things, on a psychic or energetic level, again my world would oscillate between a safe or dangerous place. It felt very much that I was in a cosmic game, weaving between different layers of truth, whether they be the more mundane appearance of human life, or more subtle interactions of energy, and ultimately the force/darkside, at others. I was having to constantly ‘stealth’ my mind, so that I wouldn’t be found out too much. As I felt it slipping, I would feel the awareness of other people on me. I don’t know if you have seen the movie ‘Inception’, but it was very much like trying to avoid the subconscious of the dreamers mind. After getting through security, highly concerned they would find a gun in my bag (some kind of baggage swap etc), I couldn’t read my tickets, as they were just a jumble of letters and numbers, so my friends helped me board.

On the plane, obviously things did not improve and each flight became a wrestle between my life and death instincts, if I can put them that way, trying to not allow the plane to crash. I could feel the plane all around me, the nuts and bolts, the engines etc. As you can imagine, this was terrifying. I have no idea how I navigated each domestic airport, as there were two before the final jump to the UK. It was all part of the game - it would take me a long time to relate all of the narratives contained within it. I hope the gestalt I have already given is enough. I became highly confused on the flights themselves, losing my seat multiple times, as I eluded the grasp of the FBI/Mi5. I found it incredibly hard to pay attention to anything, and I am fairly sure that multiple in flight movies, that I watched without sound, became encoded into my nightmare. I was the possessor of an intergalactic decoding device that showed me multiple meanings in everything around me. A dimensional criminal, on the run from the dimensional law. By the end of the final flight, as we approached Heathrow, lightning did actually strike the plane (was later validated), which of course signalled the end for me. I thought the plane was genuinely flying towards the ground, convinced that I would kill myself and everyone in it. The guilt and pain was dissociating - I cried gently to myself, holding an ice-cube, a metaphorical dagger, trying to sacrifice myself to God to save the plane. I thought I was going to hell, and saw how I would spend an eternity getting back out. I genuinely thought I had an evil soul, that I was a devil incarnate, that I would pay for trying to become God, or whatever I thought it was that I had done. As we escaped the storm turbulence, I thought the plane had been saved. As we approached the airport, I broke down, no longer able to tolerate the identity confusion; at one point, I thought I was actually Ricky Hatton, the boxer, that our identities had been somehow switched in this inter-dimensional game I had entered, and that I would spend the rest of my life suffering unspeakable toil in jail. I had vivid visions of being paraded through the airport in deep shame and humiliation. I was wheelchaired off the plane, no longer able to walk.

By this time, I must have been severely sleep deprived and dehydrated. My Dad, who came to find me, said I look severely gaunt and perished. My anxieties grounded a little on seeing my father, although he soon became the subject of my unleashed insecurities. I remember experiencing all these memories that he wasn’t my real father, that I had seen my mother copulating with my uncle as a child. I think, in truth, these were confusions from the movies I had ‘seen’ on the flight, as the idea is completely preposterous, knowing the dynamics of my family as I do. It may have been some internalised childhood trauma, manifesting in another way. I am sure I experienced many traumas in my youth,  as I have always felt different from others, despite an apparently healthy upbringing. I was checked out by psychologists, but by that point I was somehow able to orientate myself in date/time. I probably narrowly avoided a section, but returned home with my Dad. The week that followed consisted of child regressions, acute hypochondrias, terrifying persecutory nightmares (often of being dragged down to hell by malevolent beings) and fears of impending doom. I experienced frequent panic attacks, but with the help of diazepam, I gradually began to re-orient. I was struggling to decompress all my post-retreat experiences, and nearly left the country for America (to be closer to my teacher), at one point. Over the course of months, I began to leave my spirituality. I began to consider an acute stress psychosis, or possibly mania. I weighed up the possibility of biological brain dysfunction, against those of genuine spiritual crisis. I had begun my career in psychology as an assistant clinical psychologist and I think, by osmosis of that environment, I began to view my experiences with increasing scepticism. I read a little material on critical thinking, neuroscience.... Fast forward 3 years. I’m working in primary mental health care, within the “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” services, as a ‘psychological well-being practitioner’. I have aspirations for clinical psychology, but to varying degrees since Hawaii, have been haunted with echoes of the transcendent. I am looking to understand my experiences, and intergrate them into a path lived now. I don’t know what form that will take, but I am greatly attracted to the mindfulness-based paradigm rising within the psychological mainstream
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby chargingbull » Wed May 08, 2013 2:05 pm

Apologies, my android is having trouble editing and sensibly paragraphing my post!

In short, over the past months, the Theravada tradition and its associated practice has become a sanctuary for me. I greatly look forward to growing in the Dhamma, but also meeting some good friends along the way. This board seems to be brimming over with authentic practice! :). I hope to attend a 10-day Vipassana in a month or two.

If anyone wishes to contact me about my somewhat vivid story, please don't hesitate to ask questions or offer council.

Moderators, if my above post is too long or in someway inappropriate, please let me know and I will edit accordingly!

In warmth,

Rick (a.k.a "chargingbull", as my task is to tame quite the beast of a mind!)
Last edited by chargingbull on Wed May 08, 2013 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Dan74 » Wed May 08, 2013 2:08 pm

Wow.

I did read it - you write well.

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel, Rick! You may notice I have a bull (somewhat tamed) in my avatar. It's from the 10 Ox-herding Pictures (but it is really a bull - oxen don't need taming).

I hope you find he right thing for you here.
_/|\_
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Bookie216 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:37 pm

Hello all,

My name is Will and I've had quite an intrigue for Buddhism for sometime now. I've been looking for a religion to help fill the void of purpose I've had for sometime. I found myself drawn to Buddhism staggering away from the common teachings of christianity that surround me because of the area I reside in. I love Buddha's teachings and I've found myself really taking in his vast knowledge he spreads, but I find it difficult to practice because of other obligations (graduate school for physical therapy, family values, and lack of time). I've been studying what I can to help free my mind of trivial things and unhealthy habits too which I've done decently so far with a few faults. I want to spread my compassion to others be it friends, family, future patients in order to provide a better life for those around me while not neglecting my own needs. I find myself caught in a continual loop though. I find myself geared toward my religion lose sight because of other constraints and falling back into feeling I have learned nothing from my lack of practice. I'm hoping to change that and really bring forth my love for this religion but it is hard to tread a path others do not follow in with me. I know I should take more initiative for my actions but it seems difficult with how my life is in constant change with other knowledge I need to absorb for my career path and other personal things that tend to cloud my judgements. I'm hoping by joining this community I will become more active in my faith and hope I will become enlightened from Buddha's teachings and be a better being because of it.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby dsaly1969 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:28 am

Hi all,

I've been a lurker on the board for quite a few months so I thought I would post a short bio.

I was raised Mormon but was spiritually seeking even when I was young. As a kid I read Socrates and Plato, the BIble and Book of Mormon (both from cover to cover), the Qur'an, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Initially my interests laid more in Vedantic philosophy and yoga practice (I studied hatha yoga in the Iyengar tradition and practiced jnana yoga, raja yoga, karma and bhakti yoga through the Vedanta Society and Self-Realization Fellowship) as a teenager. Eventually I was introduced to Buddhism through the Mahayana schools and practiced within the Japanese traditions for many years. I took Ti Sarana through the Kubose Dharma Legacy (now called Bright Dawn Institute). Eventually I was practicing with Rissho Kosei-kai which is a Lotus Sutra school which also puts a lot of emphasis on the "core teachings" of Buddhism. This, of course, led me to Theravada as it is more direct (I was using all of the extravagant imagery from the Lotus Sutra as an expedient mean).

My personal daily practice since the beginning of this year has been shamatha / vipassana (with metta added in twice per week). I maintain a home altar and teach basic Buddhist philosophy to my kids. Since I live at a distance from any compatible Buddhist center, I study the suttas and other writings at home (thank goodness for resources like Access to Insight, Buddhanet, Just Be Good, and this site). My wife is a supportive secular humanist.

Professionally I work in the field of social work.



Dave
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby napoona » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:03 am

Hello!

48 year old female nursing student, meditated for years for pain management and thought Buddhism was a bunch of silly stuff until I went on a couple of retreats and found "happiness!" i had know idea it really existed. Looking to listen to other like-minded people. with Metta,
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby jayve » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:19 pm

Hello !
It 's a pleasure for me to join this community. I present myself : I m french (so excuse me for the syntax errors), thirty seven years old and waiting for a baby shortly (!). I work as psychologist, and I m and deeply engaged in the buddhist practice (meditation..) and the pali text study. It make me understand better what's the Dhamma, it 's the purpose I suppose...

I m sure I 'll find in this area great informations and discussions, that will help me in all aspects.
See you soon
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby kmath » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:58 pm

Hello,

I'm a 24 year old American. I started meditating around the age of 17 and two years later, I left school and joined a Thai Forest Monastery. I spent two years there, which included my 21st birthday, what a roaring time that was :toast: Anyway for a number of reasons I decided to leave the wat and have now been back in "the world" for about two years. I'm just starting to get back into Buddhism. You see, after I left I went through a major re-examining of all the teachings and had a lot of confusion about what I really believed. The monastic experience was kind of overwhelming to be honest. I'm just starting to get a handle on what it all meant.

On a mundane level, I'm back in school studying mathematics at the University near me. I'm also in a relationship, which is a trip after spending years in celibacy. But I love it. I think the lay life is definitely a better fit for me.

Anyway that's my story. It's a pleasure chatting with all of you and reading through these bios. Thanks!

KMath
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Chi » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:56 am

Thank you everybody for your honest biographies. I've been on here on and off for more than two years so it's about time I offer my background. I will be as honest and concise as possible, but will leave some things out both unintentionally from lack of memory and intentionally for other reasons. I apologize for any grammatical or spelling errors or stylistic shortcomings. I've rarely talked about this stuff to anybody my whole life. It's LONG.

Born in New York City in 1988, spent 12 years on Long Island, went to high school and college in Arizona. 25 years old. Mom is Japanese, dad Chinese (from Taiwan). One younger sister. My parents' relationship has affected this body/mind significantly, so I will start here.

There was and is deeply conditioned cultural tension between parents. Not sure what made them think they could overcome their cultural differences, but it was most likely physical attraction, their mutual friend's introduction, and a sense of solidarity between themselves as two young immigrants in the United States. Japanese and Chinese people as a whole, historically, do not get along. The two cultures are very different, with the majority of each country/nation/people having negative views of the other.

My parents seemed to embody this conflict in every way. Each parent went to separate Pentacostal churches in Queens, New York. Every Saturday, my sister and I accompanied one parent. Mom's church was quite strict. The lecture and singing was entirely in Japanese. I never understood 99% of what was being said. My sister and I would just sit in the back row with my mom for 3 hours (I think) and be bored out of our minds. We wanted to play! We would mostly lie on mom's lap, trying to sleep though the lecture. I remember becoming a bit more serious about singing hymns and turning to the right page in the English Bible so I could follow along and praying as time went on but only understood God as this weird being that listened to prayers and had great powers and had a son named Jesus, who was also God. People prayed in tongues (and some people could really speak in tongues [a completely unintelligible slurring/language/gibberish not even the person praying could understand {I think}]). The schedule was something like this (as best as I can remember): Sing 2-3 hymns, lecture from female minister along with reading the Bible aloud (there were three ways: 1. minister reads alone, 2. everybody reads together, 3. minister and audience alternate verses.), pray in tongues for 15-20 minutes, lecture/reading, hymns, lecture/reading, pray in tongues, lecture/reading, pray in tongues, hymns, final chanting. Something like that.

My dad's church was completely different (from a kid's perspective). I think I liked my dad's church better although I would rather have stayed home and played video games or in the yard with neighbors. We had a youth class, in which we would be taught the commandments and new lessons each week (in English). I had a couple of friends at the "Chinese church" and after lunch we could run around in the church yard or watch television. At least here, I could somewhat relate and talk with people, although most of the time I had very little interest in anything but playing and watching sports and movies. One thing I remember very clearly was how serious and intellectual everything was at both churches. None of the adults really laughed and rarely smiled.

I was a kid, I didn't want to be serious. I wanted to have fun and run around and kick stuff and throw stuff. At my Dad's church, if a person could speak in tongues, he had the Holy Spirit, and if a person could not speak in tongues, he clearly did not have enough faith and was not really a wise person. He did not have the Holy Spirit. I couldn't really speak in tongues except by effort. I guess I've always been effort-oriented, and could never understand what non-efforting was. Looking back now, it felt most people speaking in tongues were really passionate and alive. There was little to no personal effort involved, it was just the Spirit moving through them. Needless to say, there were no truly bright enlightened souls who I can remember at either of these places. Everything felt heavy and dark, dogmatic and hard, especially at the Chinese church. My dad could never really speak in tongues. He tried very hard (I remember him trying to pray in his bedroom). Still, he was called upon to translate from Chinese to English on the podium from time to time. SOOOO weird, now thinking about it.

Mom always wanted to change dad (most Japanese view themselves as more advanced and sophisticated in every aspect), and dad has always tried to please my mom but clearly was conditioned to be the way he is. Whenever there was good news about Japan and/or the USA or bad news about China, mom would use it as justification for why Japan and Japanese people are better. Lots of this pride feeling is not said but just emitted through the body/mind. Dad, I feel, realized and admitted Japanese culture was more clean and polite in general. My dad actually loves being in Japan. He would probably live there if it were more affordable, or if he had a good relationship with my mom.

With China's growing economic power, dad has become prouder. He also has antagonistic views of the United States, as the US and China are competing for global power. As he identifies with China, anything good for the US is likely bad for China, and vice versa. Mix this in with good US-Japanese ties, and there is a whole mess of conflicting political and personal philosophies, biased perceptions, strong prejudices, and tension in general. OK, so feeling, seeing and hearing all this growing up has been quite confusing for my own psychology. Now, with Vipassana, it's easier to have a more balanced view of what really went on and continues to go on between my parents. At the root, is a DEEP attachment to self.

I was usually a good student in school. Actually, in my early school years, teachers were not sure whether I would speak English well, as it was my third language behind Chinese and Japanese, and my parents did not speak English with me at all. I was in ESL for a couple of years I think. I started talking a lot, and sometimes got into trouble for being too talkative. I learned English fine over the years. I went to Chinese school once a week. I spent most summers in Japan, went to school there from 4th-8th grade in summer. As time went on, I became increasingly more competitive with grades and everything else in general. We moved to Arizona after my 7th grade year. OK, I'll start going fast now.

High school -- Straight-A's through junior year except for one B in Spanish my freshman year. Ranked near top of class. Late sophomore year, started getting into light partying, smoking, drinking. Started playing poker online and with friends at my house or others' houses. Spent hours on the internet playing poker. Once ran a free $10 account to 16-20k or so in a couple of months with a couple friends. Lost 10k in 2 days and decided I had enough stress. Quit that for a while. Junior year was worse. Got a girlfriend. Had a very sexual, corrupted, self-centered relationship. Started smoking marijuana pretty seriously. Ran for student government president (lol!), talked about poker and my girlfriend in election speech, obviously lost (I seriously thought I was going to win; I was very deluded). Senior year, all B's. Cut class a lot, smoked marijuana almost everyday, went to the casinos many days of the week (illegally). Paid gf's first semester at state college (very naive). All through this, I tutored several students (man, I must have been a bad influence). I was also president of the largest community service club at my school during senior year (I probably didn't do a great job). Girlfriend broke up with me after senior year. Depression really activated, smoked everyday. What a paradox of the fruition of good karma and creation of bad karma through these years (and onwards).

College -- Went to Arizona State University on full-ride National Merit Scholarship. Received extra money from school. First semester -- smoked everyday, pretended to be cool and visit parties, played poker almost every night, came home many mornings at 5/6/7 after spending all-night at smoke-filled backroom. Went into a little debt playing poker and generally living a depraved lifestyle. Made money back, paid money back, and vowed never to play poker again (I knew it was bad for me, but I would break this vow many times). Tutored 5-6 high schoolers on the side. Didn't spend much time on studies, but managed GPA of 3.7-8.

Second semester -- Decided to clean up my act a little. Smoked less. Tutored more. Made money, got good grades. Third semester -- really got into reading books, writing. Tutored a lot. Fourth semester -- same thing, except more intense. Would go to school during the days, tutor during the evenings, and read and write all weekend (literally). Looking back now, I was in a deep depression at this point. My family was in shambles. My dad's real estate business had collapsed and his relations with another woman shook up home life (significant family deterioration had already been going on for 2-3 years, and probably more like 15 years of slow deterioration). I felt so responsible for everything (supporting the family, getting straight-A's). It was a tough time.

Fifth semester -- started out aiming for third major in English literature (gosh I was ambitious), considered using 4th year of scholarship money to do hybrid year in law school, and then got convinced to market a product for a MLM company (bad decision!), completely gave up school, started cutting lots of classes, dropped one class, got my dad involved, my mom was angry I did not consult her before making decision (what?! me?! consult?!). I never thought consulting people was a good idea (fool!). I wanted it my way all the time (still do, but now I see it's all dukkha). I thought I was going to drop out of school, but parents convinced me to stay (thank you!). Received first C ever.

Sixth semester -- Took four very easy classes to ensure straight A's. Spent minimal amount of time on studies and at school. I was in business now! I was going to make lots of money and save my family. Yeah right. I lost interest in the business after a few months (more liked, realized it was a pyramid scheme), but by the end of the year, I was getting involved in the political signature gathering business. Started playing poker again, smoking again. Graduated early with two B.A.s in Political Science and Religious Studies. Ended with a 3.97 GPA, summa cum laude. Was quite disappointed for not getting 4.0 (so conditioned to be perfect). Obama gave the commencement speech at graduation!

Moved to Long Beach, lived in a motel with a depressed business partner for most of 7-8 months, while traveling back to Arizona a few times for business. Still quite depressed myself. Started business, borrowed money from mom on a couple of occassions, made back all the money and a bit more in 8 months, decided it was time to leave. Finally! I was introduced to Vipassana meditation, dhamma.org by a friend. Went to the retreat, and I knew I was a good path. Or so I thought....

Came back home after retreat, obviously high from my first taste of piti/sukkha. Bad karma pulled me back: borrowed money from my mom and gave most of my own money to a rather convincing con man. What a great teacher and mirror he was. Realized I had been fooled. Became depressed again. After about 4 months, moved to Silicon Valley, with only one goal in my mind (to pay back my mom). Got a quite high-paying job with growing start-up (my first real job ever), being on the computer all day. Made back all the money to pay back mom after quite a few grueling months, left company. Finally!, I thought.

Spent 3.5 months at California Vipassana Center in North Fork. Took a couple of ten-days. Every time I went home to Arizona, I would backslide, look at girls on the internet. Decided I needed a long retreat. Went to Panditarama Forest Monastery in Burma for 60-day retreat. Came back home COMPLETELY high on piti/sukkha. Became depressed again, fell into old patterns. Decided I needed to be in solitude. Booked two long retreats (seriously, naive). Put most charges on my credit card, having faith money would come in from different sources. Went to GAIA House for 90 days, went to Japan for a month to do 10-day with mom, and then spent 100-some days at Forest Refuge and Retreat Center in Massachusetts. Went through some significant psychological crises. Left due to medical condition (it was probably an yeast infection on my scrotum, but I did not know at the time). Now I know I've had Seborrhoeic dermatitis all my life (ego never thought the body could get sick).

Anyway, back home now. A bit depressed again. Needed to pay taxes and I gave away all my money as food dana while on retreat (lol! what little foresight I had), moved to San Diego to a small residential Zen center, tutored, became a substitute teacher. Felt completely lost on the path. Worked all the time. After 3 or so months, could not resist the urge to play poker to pay back debt. Took credit card advance. Jumped in rather big game, lost $4300 in two days. Now further in debt. Completely depressed now and angry with my mistakes. Back to Arizona, now $6-7k in debt, having the feeling I have wasted all my life, not knowing what to do.

Back in Arizona. Poker habit kept going. Made back all money to pay back credit card debt and back taxes. Kept going. Ended up making 65-70k in a couple of months. COMPLETELY depressed. Gave most of the money to mom, some to dad, some to sister, some to IRS. I need to escape, meditate! Went to CVC again. Spent 4 months managing kitchen, took 4 10-days. I need to be a monk and live a pure life! Ticket to Bangkok. Now I am in Bangkok, leaving in a couple of days to Burma to Panditarama. Plan to be there indefinitely until something pulls me away. I don't know if I can live a monk's life forever, but I want to try for as long as I can.

Wow, a lot of typing. It's good to get these thoughts out and to see how long the spiritual path is, and how selfish I have been all my life. I'm still prideful and ignorant, greedy, selfish, and fearful. Always looking out for #1, strongly and ignorantly attached to body/mind/self. Being in retreat, I want to really see and face suffering as it is instead of running away from it. Now I can feel it more: it's me against me. Every time I let the senses, the mind wander, I pull myself further into suffering. But I only know how to work in retreat space. As soon as I come out of retreat, formal meditation goes completely out the window. It's quite humbling to realize I don't know how to live as a healthy human being, but it's the darned truth. I just want to not hurt myself and other people any more. I want to be a good force in this vast universe, a positive influence on myself and on others. Mostly, I just want to learn to follow people's directions and live a pure, simple life. Holding onto desire and money contracts the body/mind. It creates fear. Can I see this more and more clearly without trying to deceive myself every moment doesn't matter? How much can I let go? I don't know.

OK, rant over. I've edited a bit, but most of it was stream of consciousness, so I apologize for anything you may find unclear.

May my practice benefit all beings. May all beings be happy!
Last edited by Chi on Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Do Good, Avoid Evil, Purify the Mind.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:16 pm

Chi:
Heartfelt post. :heart:

Blessings and Metta.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Welshmatt » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:58 pm

Hello, I'm Matthew I'm a 33 year old male from wales ( uk) . I am totally new to this. Buddhist beliefs have always made sense to me and I've thought about becoming a buddhist and buddhist practices for some years now . The time is now! I've looked for local meeting places with no avail unfortunately , so any advice / help would be much appreciated. My wife and children all support my decision and this isn't just a New Years resolution, so any advice and/or web pages , books etc would be much appreciated.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby StandBright » Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:26 pm

Hello everyone.

My name is Li Ming, or "Stand Bright" in English. I live in the United States. I have been practicing Buddhism for about a year. I am part of a local Sangha in Zen tradition. My goal here is to gain a better understanding of the Dharma and to find more ways to apply Buddhist practices in my life.
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby Invincible_Summer » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:04 am

My name is Dan. I'm 25 and am born & raised in British Columbia, Canada. I've been actively practicing Buddhism in various forms for about 3 years now.

I grew up in a Christian (Baptist) family, but began to lose faith around 16 years old. While in university, I dabbled in radical politics and the atheist crowd, but after I completed my degree in Sociology, I come to the realization that social change always happens - the radical politics that I subscribed to never amounted to anything, political systems never stayed the same... seemingly nothing in society could ever be certain, permanent, or reliable. I also grew weary of the constant arguing that came with being in the atheist crowd. Something in me decided to look back at religion to see if I could find more solace there, rather than blaming the outside world for my problems.

I picked up Huston Smith's "The World's Religions" on a whim. Cliche as it may sound, the chapter on Buddhism changed my life!

I was initially drawn to Shin Buddhism (perhaps my Christian upbringing?) and Soto Zen, and practiced the latter for most of my time (as brief as it is) as an "active" Buddhist. However, within the past year of my practice, I've developed doubt towards Zen and have been developing a strong affinity for the teachings of Ajahn Chah, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Ajahn Brahm, and Bhante G. Visiting Thailand in 2012 also helped push me in the direction of the Theravada tradition - the respect for tradition of the Buddha's teachings (vs the borderline iconoclasm found in Zen) is very appealing to me.

Although I don't necessarily believe in a creator god, I am very sympathetic to the beliefs and no longer hold a hard atheistic stance as before. I suppose you'd call me an "agnostic." I have a soft spot for Christian contemplatives like Thomas Merton and Sufi writings.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, so I'll stop there! Thanks for reading. :console:
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Hello and Ayubowan ! (May you be blessed with long life!)

Postby chethinie » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:58 am

Born and raised in Sri Lanka where there are Theravada Templese almost in every corner of the country but it is when I moved to Belgium that I came to know what Buddhism is really about and how profound and perpetual the teachings of the Buddha is. Being brought up in a Christian environment, I consider my self lucky to have had the wisdom to see and realize the four noble truths and the Noble eightfold path. A devoted Buddhist, thrying ever so hard to walk the path to reach the land where there is no more births..

On the other hand, a mom to two wonderful sons, a wife to a wonderful husband and at the moment, try hard to start my own small business - An ethically and socially responsible, slow fashion clothing line.

Iooking forward to learn more about Buddhism and also to meeting long lasting friends :smile:

Sikhino vā khemino hontu (May all beings be happy and safe) :hello:
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Re: Members Bios - please contribute yours

Postby martinfrank » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:35 pm

My name is Martin Frank, I'm 63 years old, gay, working in our small real estate business. I don't work much. I'm very slow.

I began to read Lord Buddhas Discourses when I was 19 and soon remembered that this is what it all is about and what I had come for.

I tried to ordain as a Theravada monk and became a samanera in the Thai Monastery in Budh Gaya. I had two wonderful teachers and learnt to meditate and was taught Abhidhammattha Sangaha. Not knowing Thai ways, I didn't feel comfortable with the monastic organization and left.

I met two wonderful friends with whom I'm staying now for more than forty years. We live in a house we built together. Our household is three old guys, one kid, two dogs.

I wrote a gay bestseller and had my five minutes of fame about 1981.

I traveled in India and spent much time in Thailand and with Thais. I stayed as a temporary monk in a South Thailand monastery and was happiest there. I plan to go back.

I play (badly) piano and guitar. Learning to play an instrument is a good way for me to keep from wasting time surfing the Internet. I read Henri-Ferdinand Amiel's Journal Intime.

I adopted a son from India, got another from Africa. They are both married adults now. We get along extremely well. I have four grandchildren, all boys.

What else? Since I was 19 I have unshaken faith that Lord Buddha has shown us the way. I'd like to die as a monk and have a Thai funeral.

May all beings be happy!
The Fourfold Path: Proposed to everybody, imposed on nobody.
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