Hello Dhamma Friends

Introduce yourself to others at Dhamma Wheel.
Post Reply
User avatar
Opanayiko
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:52 am
Location: Canada

Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by Opanayiko »

After a long time as a 'Guest' lurker, I decided to register and join for some discussions and Dhamma-vicaya, and also seek advice as I am making preparations to go-forth from householder to homelessness soon.

A little backstory:

I am 31 years old. Born and raised in Southern BC and Northern Alberta, Canada, to parents who were very supportive of a philosophical and existential seeker from a young age, who always felt like an 'outsider' to the hedonist pursuits of my highschool friends. In highschool I learnt Taichi, Qigong, Daoist meditation and was first introduced to Eastern Philosophy from my Taichi teacher as he would read sections from the DaoDeJing after each class. After highschool I stumbled upon a 6 month Samatha meditation course offered by the Willpower Institute and Thai monk Luangpor Viriyang Sirintharo in Fort McMurray and completing that course we went to Northern Thailand for a retreat with a group of monks and lay people in Doi Inthanon forest park. Upon returning to Canada I did two long personal retreats at Birken Forest Monastery (Sitavana) and was very inspired to become a monk there and then, however, my best friend was in a serious car accident and became a paraplegic, I wanted to give him my support. Also being a virgin, some societal influences lead me to pursue worldly life again. I decided to search for a way to help my injured best friend and decided to go to China to study Chinese medicine with the aspirations that I could find a way to heal his spine.

Being 19 at the time, hormones were overwhelming when in China. I did end up studying TCM from the monks and living at the monastery on Emei Mountain in Sichuan province. Taking the Buddhist Refuges and also studying Chan Mahayana from quite a few amazing masters. Needless to say that my young male hormones got the better of me and I got tangled up in a relationship with a Chinese girl who plucked my heart strings enough to lead me away again from ordaining there and I moved into a big city in China to teach English and be with this girl. I came back to Canada a few times for short visits and to share my new found knowledge of TCM and meditation with my friend. Perhaps it helped a little, but he seemed to be on his own path to recovery by then.

The years passed while living in Mainland China and I grew discontent with the futility of worldly pursuits and bitter-sweet agony of romantic relationships. I discerned myself the discrepancies of Mahayana Vinaya in contrast to the Theravada. I naturally felt a skeptical of Pure-Land practice which is ubiquitous in China. I felt strongly drawn to align myself with the core teachings of the Buddha so I contacted the Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha in Yangon (which was about an hour's flight from where I was living) and requested a sponsorship letter, which I received. I intended to sever all ties to romance and pursue the meditative life. On the fateful day of my departure I made a phone call to my ex-girlfriend to wish her goodbye. She begged and pleaded that I not go and came up with some good sounding reasons for us to stay together. At 21 years old, maybe I hadnt experienced my fill of Dukkha. I cancelled the flight and stayed in China.

Again the years passed living in Mainland China. Struggling with moments of happiness and pain. Grief at loss, and pleasure with gain. Basically drinking in Samsara. At times I would feel regret for not going to Burma, but trying to make the best of my situation as a lay Buddhist practitioner. In 2005, I felt I had enough and needed to be inspired to drag myself out of foolishness. I had read of the four places of Buddhist pilgrimage and that the Buddha said "And whoever, Ananda, should die on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in faith, at the breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness." I truly felt drained of the will to live as a Puthujjana and decided to go on this pilgrimage with no plans for an afterwards. I bought a one-way ticket to Kathmandu, Nepal and didnt tell my girlfriend. I thought I could just disappear.

Having seemingly successfully 'disappeared' I roamed around the four Holy Places of Nepal and Northern India. Varanasi was my home-base. I lived in an ashram on a Ghat of the Ganges and when I wasnt at Bodh Gaya or Sarnath I spent time learning Kundalini with the owner of the ashram. Varanasi is an awe-inspiring, hair-raising place. The stench of death is everywhere. From the smoke of the 24/7 cremations to the dying cattle and stray animals in the gutters. Stepping over diseased and dying people lying in the streets, part of me was always weeping for their pain and part of me wanted to get the hell out of there. The Holy-places did instill great motivation to carry-on and "Strive with heedfulness". But being penny-less and with malaria I had to rely on the concern and compassion of my mother to fly me home.

Not suprisingly, I felt regret for just disappearing on my girlfriend. For some reason, I got the idea that I 'owed' her something. So, foolishly, broke and at the vexation of my mother I yet again returned to China. This time to get married. Life was a lot like ground-hog day, wishing different results with the same actions. This episode in the 'China years' lasted until 2010. Then, being now divorced, deeply in credit card debt, depressed and desperate for a life-change I made the final trip back to Canada. And since then, more or less, I have been working to repay the debt, re-igniting my desire for liberation from Samsara, following the training of the precepts, and earnestly studying all aspects of the Dhamma.

At this point we come to the present day. Debt free. I now own a large house. Have a high paying job. Stayed single! Observe Uposatha days. Regularly attend local Sangha group meetings and put meditation and Dhamma study at the forefront of my life. I am so grateful for everything that has happened to me thus far, as I have seen exactly what True Happiness IS NOT. So, I have now made preparations to quit my job, sell my house and give away all my possessions and finances with the wholehearted aspiration of entering the monkhood for life. My next step will be on April 1st when I will begin my journey to visit Theravada monasteries in Canada and in the US, perhaps even in Burma or Thailand with the intention of finding a suitable place for me.

I am grateful to members Bhikkhu Pesala, Gavesako, Dhammanando, appicchato and Phra Chuntawongso for their wisdom and patient advice I have read in their posts.
I am inspired by the experiences of members Jayantha-NJ, Blackbird, reflection, James the Giant
And to the considerate posts of Ben, Retrofuturist, Ytrog, SarathW, Lonesomeyoghurt, Modus.Ponens, 5khandas, cooran, cittasanto, manas, pilgrim, mkoll, sekha, mikenz66, kusala, David N. Snyder, Tiltbillings and others I forgot to mention

I look forward to deepening the practice and understanding with you all.

With Metta,

Thomas
:anjali: Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Saṁbuddhassa :anjali:

By oneself is evil done,
by oneself defiled,
by oneself it’s left undone,
by self alone one purified.
Purity, impurity on oneself depend,
no one can purify another.
-Dp 165
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17913
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by mikenz66 »

Welcome Thomas!
Thanks for the detailed background.

:hello:

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6544
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by Mkoll »

Hi Thomas and welcome (officially) to the ranks of posting members on the forum.

:hello:

Your background is fascinating! I admire your persistence and ability to "leave things behind," if you will. It seems to have helped lead to many adventures and will surely aid you in the monkhood. Best of luck on finding a monastery!
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Reductor
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by Reductor »

Welcome, bud. Where are you living now (northen AB or southern BC, or somewhere else)? I'm from Grande Prairie (and am also 31, to boot).

It's nice that your taking up robes. I wish you all the best.
User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 13501
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by DNS »

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!

Interesting bio!

:meditate:
User avatar
Opanayiko
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:52 am
Location: Canada

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by Opanayiko »

Reductor wrote:Welcome, bud. Where are you living now (northen AB or southern BC, or somewhere else)? I'm from Grande Prairie (and am also 31, to boot).

It's nice that your taking up robes. I wish you all the best.

Hey there friend, I am currently living the grand metropolis of Whitecourt, AB!
Awesome to hear of more Dhamma friends nearby. We have a small group that meets for meditation and Buddhist discussion in a yoga studio here in town. How is life in GP?

Thank you also to everyone for their welcomings.

Im inclined to give updates of my progress of finding a monastery as time draws nearer. Perhaps others who are interested can benefit as well. I will first drive to Abhayagiri, Pa Auk Tawya USA, Metta Forest Monastery, Bhavana society, and Tisarana. Slowly and taking my time, getting familiar with each place and let them get to know me. Considering it is a life-long ambition, I intent to gather as much advice and reflect on the reality of this decision, then proceed as Anagarika.
:anjali: Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Saṁbuddhassa :anjali:

By oneself is evil done,
by oneself defiled,
by oneself it’s left undone,
by self alone one purified.
Purity, impurity on oneself depend,
no one can purify another.
-Dp 165
User avatar
pilgrim
Posts: 1667
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:56 pm

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by pilgrim »

Great story Opanayiko ! I attribute it fully to my ego, still, it was pleasing to know I contributed a little to your journey.
User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8503
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by cooran »

Welcome to DhammaWheel! :group:

I will be going to the Four Holy Places again in early February - really looking forward to it! :smile:

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
Reductor
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by Reductor »

Opanayiko wrote:
Reductor wrote:Welcome, bud. Where are you living now (northen AB or southern BC, or somewhere else)? I'm from Grande Prairie (and am also 31, to boot).

It's nice that your taking up robes. I wish you all the best.

Hey there friend, I am currently living the grand metropolis of Whitecourt, AB!
Awesome to hear of more Dhamma friends nearby. We have a small group that meets for meditation and Buddhist discussion in a yoga studio here in town. How is life in GP?
Life in GP in GREAT! High cost of living, high snow banks (which grow) and no bottom to the market - oh woe! :tongue:

Dhamma-wise, there could be a thriving community here for all I know. It's been a few years since I've checked. At that time there were some new-age get-togethers and a self-styled guru peddling goenka meditation. He had no interest in me unless I was a 'student'. No kalyanamittas for him, thank you very much!

My one dhamma friend and I attempted to arrange a group in town, but it didn't go anywhere. The location wasn't the best, and the two of us must have lacked charisma. He's since moved away.

So now I mind my business, raise my kids, and (try) to get along with the Miss. I study a bit, meditate a bit, and keep my sila pretty well (but have had half a glass of wine a few times this last week - but resolve now not to have more).

All in all, I can't complain.

Do keep us apprised of your search.
SarathW
Posts: 14715
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by SarathW »

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel Ophaniko,

It seem that you have well gone through the life mill.
I don't think that you will ever look back again.
Good luck.
:bow:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
Opanayiko
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:52 am
Location: Canada

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by Opanayiko »

Reductor wrote:
Bows to you friend! :bow: It is rare for anyone to practice Dhamma in Alberta, North of Edmonton. (I have searched around a little).
We are truly against the stream here, and hopefully more will learn of the benefits of practice. I hope to keep in touch with you. Welcome to contact me if you ever come to Whitecourt in the next couple months. Any later and I will have started my journey.
pilgrim wrote:
Always enjoy your posts! :toast:
cooran wrote:
Hi Chris, Sounds like you might be preparing to leave soon eh? What is your itinerary? I do hope you keep me (or us at Dhammawheel) updated with your journey. I would be interested to know if the atmosphere at Bodh Gaya has changed at all since the terrorist attack and recent sad news about the Japanese student there. My heartfelt wish for peace and unity. Sadhu to your pilgrimage! :bow:
SarathW wrote:
Thank you friend. Through accruing the causes and conditions, I hope we can all learn to realize the end of the origin of Dukkha. :anjali:
:anjali: Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Saṁbuddhassa :anjali:

By oneself is evil done,
by oneself defiled,
by oneself it’s left undone,
by self alone one purified.
Purity, impurity on oneself depend,
no one can purify another.
-Dp 165
User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8503
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Hello Dhamma Friends

Post by cooran »

This is the trip itinerary - going with a group from Dhammagiri Forest Hermitage:

http://www.dhammagiri.org.au/uploads/1/ ... 2015_1.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
Post Reply