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Buddhism - Definitions, Experiences

Last post 07-24-2006, 9:24 PM by 89875517873681764. 3 replies.
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  •  07-07-2006, 6:16 PM 1110

    Buddhism - Definitions, Experiences

    Hi All,

    I am going to plead ignorance on this subject, but I want to know what Buddhism really is? It seems like there are a lot of Buddhists here, and hopefully there are others out there that want to know.

    My background was to suppress my own Spirituality for many years until about 12 years ago when I could put God into a definition that worked for, that God was in me, and I found much of this through the Unity Church. But now I am feeling that I am outgrowing Christianity somewhat and that it is putting more boundaries on my life than opportunities.

    So what does Buddhism mean to those of you with experience?

    Michael (who is looking for a meaniful Avatar)

    Michael Figg
    Columbus, Ohio
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  •  07-07-2006, 6:35 PM 1113 in reply to 1110

    Re: Buddhism - Definitions, Experiences

    Hey Michael,

    What a big question!  I wouldn't even want to tackle all that the word Buddhism might hold in the world.  There are so many perspectives to take.  I guess I'll take my own very small and personal take on it.

    The first one being, that I don't consider myself a Buddhist per se.  At this point in my spiritual journey, any label like that seems too limiting, after a while, it is not what I am, but how I live, and yet I take so much from the tradition.  In addition, the term Buddhism is in itself evolved over time.  What I practice is a form that has been influenced by the West, and teachers from the West.  What others practice may be steeped more in traditional ways and their original cultures.

    Meditation was my attraction to it.  That is why I came into it.  I was looking for a way to detach from this world of materialism, and find a relationship with my true self.  I was not looking to be some kind of ascetic in a cave (although at times that does sound nice), but to bring stillness and silence into my life.  I suppose I could have found that in many of the Western contemplative traditions, but I actually did not learn of them until after my immersion in buddhist practices and teachings.

    I guess I stayed because the approach to the practice and ethics of it were steeped in kindness and deep psychological uncovering.  When you take away the cultural clothes, and the differences in the many lineages, that is what I get - a practice that helps me know myself better, and a set of ethics that respects and takes into consideration others at all times.  Buddhism is a psychological approach to the mind. 

    But like the Dalai Lama says, "My religion is kindness."

    There is so much more.  But it is a start.


    It's ALL soul. Junior Wells
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  •  07-08-2006, 2:27 PM 1155 in reply to 1113

    • Davidu is not online. Last active: 09-03-2007, 12:59 PM Davidu
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    Re: Buddhism - Definitions, Experiences

    Hello Michael,


    I can certainly empathize with what you may be going through.  If what Kelly said above was a garment, it would fit me quite well. 


    I was raised with a Catholic education up through college, and by that time the dogma was weighing heavy on me.  I found myself rebelling.  Also, I learned fairly well how to avoid what I thought I should, and at the same time worked at getting the things I wanted.  After many years of that materialistic behavior it began to feel hollow.  Probably due to my narrow focus, I had some unexplained peak experiences.  Gradually I realized there was more to living than an endless pattern of desire and satiation.  I began to read books on spirituality which helped to provide an initial context for some of those peak experiences.  Chilton-Peirce. Krishnamurti, and Jean Klein were early influences.  I owe Krishnamurti my continuous dedication to open inquiry.  I also met gifted spiritual friend who introduced me to meditation, the Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, and many authors, such as Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, David Bohm, Ken Wilber, A. H. Almaas, Tarthang Tulku, and so on.


    I found for my Western mind, at least initially, that Buddhist philosophy and psychology was most attractive, but the details of culture and dogma were the same barriers I reacted against with Catholicism.


    While reading and practicing the yogas I was meditating, which was most important.  I think meditation can be one affective way to expand a habitually tight perspective, or put another way, you can arrive at a destination from any number of directions, meditation in any of its many forms can be one of the directions. 


    Before I engaged in insight meditation, I didn't understand much (not that I know a lot now).  I had some unrealistic expectations and some big open spaces for questions.  I hadn't really spent any time observing my own interior, and didn't know what to expect.  I didn't even know where the 'Now' was, or how to recognize it if I tripped over it. 


    All I knew, for the most part, was my own thoughts, and they were me, and the world was out there.  And that was my 'habitually tight perspective', and that is, I dare say, the perspective of a very large segment of the world's population. 


    Through meditation, I discovered myself, I discovered my own interior, I discovered the Now, I observed the unfolding of my own self, and eventually the space in which the unfolding happened, and realized it was all me, and not only the thoughts.  Then, as if through no effort on my part, the Now began to show up during my day to day activities, I found I had a depth, a perspective that was no longer tight, and that at times seemed to lose all boundaries. I found a self that was not outside as the controller and limiter of experience, so much as a self that was 'in' experience, and experience itself was much more encompassing. 


    This subtle addition of internal observation restructured my entire outlook (worldview) from the outside of the original tighter and smaller worldview.  To me this was a radical change.  Forget whether or not I had mystical or peak experiences during meditation.  They tell you not to get hung up on them, and they're right.  They can be decorations along the way, and potential traps.  But perhaps most importantly, at least for me, they were tests, and how I proceeded from each experience is what influenced and thus shaped this ever changing identity.


    So, if someone hasn't had that radical change in their perspective and they have decided they want it, they often tend to focus on the peak experiences as the goal, and they would be missing the point.  The real point is much more gentle, more subtle, more simple than we seem to think possible.  The real point to meditation is not to over expect, but to learn for the love of learning now.  In my case, it was to simply observe until I discovered the Now, and to continue observing.


    So, this is long and probably more than you ever wanted to know.  I agree with Kelly, Buddhism is kindness, and also a direct familiarity with your own interior as you are unfolding.


    I also found the Time, Space, Knowledge books by Tarthang Tulku Rinpoché, although not Buddhist per se, they do embody for the Western mind some practices that parallel Dzogchen, and they do provide a model for allowing inquiry to continue and the opening up of experience.


    I haven't told you what Buddhism is so much as summarized my own practice and its outgrowth, so my contribution probably isn't going to be of much use to you, however, this meager offering is really all I have.



    "Presence 'is', yet is open-like a drawing in the sky..." Tarthang Tulku
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  •  07-24-2006, 9:24 PM 1871 in reply to 1110

    Re: Buddhism - Definitions, Experiences

    Michael, I think Buddhism is a science of subjective reality. It is the diametric opposite, and complement, to its' objective reality, Science. "Being kind" helps in that it requires less mind energy than being hateful (unless one's a sociopath).
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