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New here and could use some feedback...

Hello to all of you wonderful souls,

I am Sandy from Belgium, and I became interested in the Buddha's Teachings some time ago. I have been practicing meditation and the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo -chanting, which gives tremendous peace and happiness. As you all know; there is so much to learn about Buddhism one can't possibly learn in 1 lifetime. So, I am “exploring” different schools of Buddhism. Today I visited the Tibetan Institute in Antwerp. It was a beautiful and inspirational guided tour in the Temple. During the speech however, it was mentioned that they didn't encourage anybody to become a Buddhist, even more so, they suggested the people to stay within their own religion. This is also what Richard Gere said during an interview. But this is not how I see it though. First of all; I never felt at home in the religion I was born into (Christianity) nor in the church. Yet I always felt in need of a spiritual way of life but never really found it. Until a few months ago, when I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and my life literally started to change for the better. Buddha's Teachings attracted me and when I read about them, I feel a connection of understanding, of coming home. So much; I want to share my joy and happiness with others. I guess, when we find our way home, it is just matter of time before we reach the door. I have also contacted the SGI in Belgium, and they seem more open for everybody to practice Buddhism with them, because I was immediately invited to join their upcoming monthly meeting (which is in 2 weeks). Now, I don't know which school to turn to for studying Buddhism. I am devoted and feel this is the path to follow, but since there are so many directions it is a bit overwhelming. So, my question to you kind and patient people is; if you want to be part of the Sangha, and find a good teacher to learn from, then what should one keep in mind? And are there people among you who are also trying to find the “right” school? Any experiences to share? Does anybody have something to share about the Tibetan Buddhism or the Nichiren Buddhism, SGI? Blessings and Happiness to you all, Sandy

yagrCinorjerlittlestudentRuddyDuck9

Comments

  • yagryagr Veteran

    Welcome Sandy. Can't improve on federica's comment.

    SANDYELIZABETHA1RuddyDuck9
  • Keep exploring.
    Don't settle until you are dusted.

    Try other mantra.
    Try walking meditation. Try attending talks, retreats, seminars, interfaith meets. Read up on schools.

    If you are able to meditate that is a strong basis. Keep it simple for now.
    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/meditation-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

    SANDYELIZABETHA1
  • Hello! Yes, as @federica pointed out, the "stay with your own religion" line has been vastly overblown. What it means is just that we're not here to convert you. If you think your religion serves your needs, fine with us. We certainly welcome with open arms anyone who wants to explore the benefits of the Dharma. After all, Buddhism did and continues to send out missionary monks to other nations. They didn't make the hazardous journey for the scenery.

    People from the non-Eastern world who are Buddhists are a pretty eclectic bunch. We tend to be the misfits and explorers who didn't find our family's religion a comfortable fit, if they even had one. That's resulted in an interesting blend of philosophies and practices. For people in Buddhist cultures, there's no question what practice is the right one or what Buddhism means to them. It's what the temple down the street provided their family for generations.

    lobsterWalkerSANDYELIZABETHA1RuddyDuck9
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 2016

    @SANDYELIZABETHA1 said:
    So much; I want to share my joy and happiness with others.

    Share it with us. I need all the encouragement available. B)

    Evangelical Atheism, Christianity, Trumpism, Dhamaism, Islamism, Trotskyism etc is not much fun for the recipient ...

    In the words of the Buddha [allegedly]:
    “Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.”
    http://www.realbuddhaquotes.com/#ath

    Gosh what a misery guts ... :p

    RuddyDuck9
  • @karasti said:
    what you need will come to you. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. You will know it's the place/group for you when you know. There isn't much mistaking it.

    Wow ~ this is so nicely put! Straight to the heart, thank You! And yes, today, a wonderful Lady of the SGI Belgium called me to say we could have a meeting next week, in order to ask questions... She gave me just the same warm feeling you did with your words. I have complete faith in the future, and I will take your kind advice at heart. Thank You.

    And thanks to everybody, for the kind reactions to my question.
    Blessings to You all,
    Sandy

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Go to the SGI with an open mind, but if something they say does not resonate with you or raises questions in your mind, do not commit yourself to anything until and unless you are completely sure it is exactly what you're looking for.

    I wish you much success and happiness in your research.

    SpinyNorman
  • BoundlessAwakeningBoundlessAwakening of the Heart New

    I've read at least one writing from Thich Nhat Hanh which instructs readers to stay with the religion they were brought up in, but I agree with @federica's comments about HHDL, and @Cinorjer that this probably means something like "stay if it's important to you; you don't have to abandon one tradition for a "Buddhist" one."

    As for your questions about "the search" (for a sangha, a teacher, a school) I've found that it's a process and an exploration. I've tried to be open and as things have meaning for me I explore them more. I try to stay with them. I try not to flit away when it gets challenging or confusing. Some things I've read haven't had meaning for me, YET, i.e., I haven't been ready. I don't consider myself a "mystical" person at all, but I couldn't agree with @karasti more:

    @karasti said:

    ... what you need will come to you. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. You will know it's the place/group for you when you know. There isn't much mistaking it. To find out though, you probably need to spend time with both (or others if you so desire) to know how you feel about them both.

    Also, one thing to consider (but it's a biggie) @SANDYELIZABETHA1 : some people, including noted writers, teachers, practitioners - i.e., knowledgeable people - disagree about whether "Buddhism" is a religion, a philosophy, a world-view, or all- or none-of-the-above. For me, it depends on how you define those terms and it depends on the cultural context and personal intent.

  • shep83shep83 wisbech, cambigshire, uk Explorer

    @SANDYELIZABETHA1 said:
    Hello to all of you wonderful souls,

    I am Sandy from Belgium, and I became interested in the Buddha's Teachings some time ago. I have been practicing meditation and the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo -chanting, which gives tremendous peace and happiness. As you all know; there is so much to learn about Buddhism one can't possibly learn in 1 lifetime. So, I am “exploring” different schools of Buddhism. Today I visited the Tibetan Institute in Antwerp. It was a beautiful and inspirational guided tour in the Temple. During the speech however, it was mentioned that they didn't encourage anybody to become a Buddhist, even more so, they suggested the people to stay within their own religion. This is also what Richard Gere said during an interview. But this is not how I see it though. First of all; I never felt at home in the religion I was born into (Christianity) nor in the church. Yet I always felt in need of a spiritual way of life but never really found it. Until a few months ago, when I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and my life literally started to change for the better. Buddha's Teachings attracted me and when I read about them, I feel a connection of understanding, of coming home. So much; I want to share my joy and happiness with others. I guess, when we find our way home, it is just matter of time before we reach the door. I have also contacted the SGI in Belgium, and they seem more open for everybody to practice Buddhism with them, because I was immediately invited to join their upcoming monthly meeting (which is in 2 weeks). Now, I don't know which school to turn to for studying Buddhism. I am devoted and feel this is the path to follow, but since there are so many directions it is a bit overwhelming. So, my question to you kind and patient people is; if you want to be part of the Sangha, and find a good teacher to learn from, then what should one keep in mind? And are there people among you who are also trying to find the “right” school? Any experiences to share? Does anybody have something to share about the Tibetan Buddhism or the Nichiren Buddhism, SGI? Blessings and Happiness to you all, Sandy

    Your story reflects my own, I too was born in to a Christian family and although I still very much admire the teachings of Christ I never felt comfortable with the idea of church (if god truly is omnipresent then why go to an old building to be closer to him, why not go for a walk in the woods, or clime a mountain either of which in my opinion would feel closer to god than sitting in a dank, drafty church) anyway I gave up on Christianity but still felt as if I needed to have some spiritual foundation to my life, this is how I found Buddhism, I've been living my life by Buddha's teachings for about three weeks now and although I still have the occasional bad day I felt much more at peace.

    BunksRuddyDuck9
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited July 2016

    @SANDYELIZABETHA1 said: I am Sandy from Belgium, and I became interested in the Buddha's Teachings some time ago. I have been practicing meditation and the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo -chanting, which gives tremendous peace and happiness. As you all know; there is so much to learn about Buddhism one can't possibly learn in 1 lifetime. So, I am “exploring” different schools of Buddhism.

    Welcome to the forum. Some years back I was running a local Buddhist group and heard there were SGI meetings nearby, so I went to one. I came out with mixed feelings. Clearly it's a faith-based approach, but I was concerned about their ignorance of Buddhism generally, they didn't know what the Four Noble Truths were, for example.
    It's like Buddhism is this huge cathedral, and SGI have locked themselves in the crypt!
    Anyway, I would recommend exploring more Buddhism widely, there is a lot of wonderful stuff to see. It really is fine to do this, and if anyone in SGI objects then frankly I would tell them to mind their own business.

    As for the Dalai Lama comment, I really wouldn't worry it. It's your life, so you explore what you want to explore, and practice how you want to practice.

    lobsterRuddyDuck9
  • Best advice. Find a teacher .. older, experienced, skilled and trained in any of the traditions.
    Better if they don't belong to some huge money-making organization like SIG.

    Tibetan Buddhism says it can have a negative impact on your personality if you practice Vajrayana without a teacher (actually, they phrase it, "It will drive you crazy").
    Zen says you need a master to guide you (but doesn't say it harms you to practice it on your own).
    Only Theravadan gives no cautions against a solitary practice without a teacher. But even there, my brother-in-law practiced Theravadan on his own for 10 years, and didn't get the basics of it ... but after a year of weekly classes with a Sri Lankan Bhante (monk in the Theravadan tradition), he quickly start to grasp concepts, and to change inwardly.
    So even there, it is always better to have a teacher.
    There seems to be some sort of osmotic learning that goes on just by observing them .. for instance .. when someone tries to argue with our Lama and tell him he is wrong, presenting their own argument, he looks at them with such sweet patience and then gently replies "You might be right". I mean ... WHO do we know who responds to aggression like that? It is mind-opening to SEE it firsthand.

    lobster
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Take your time. No need to rush. Be very careful when dealing with self proclaimed leaders. Sooner or later you will find the path that is best for you.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Tibetan Buddhism says it can have a negative impact on your personality if you practice Vajrayana without a teacher (actually, they phrase it, "It will drive you crazy").

    As @FoibleFul and others mention, there is a huge difference between the crazies attracted to easy answer Buddhist cults and those entering comprehensive engagement.

    It really is all about discernment, which most of us lack.

    For example I used to work near a Shamballah [sic] Centre that taught a mixture of Zen and Tantric meditation practice. Twice a week I attended these sessions and found them effective and useful. The centre contained people at various levels of insight. I then attended sessions were the 'more advanced' teachings were expounded.
    How can I put this politely and kindly ... Chogyam Trump [sic] teachings are at best spiritually naive at worst deluded wounded personality cultism of an alcoholic, abusive Rinpoche.
    http://opcoa.st/0YKn7

    Fortunately I was aware of the nature of Chogyams heritage and subsequent hagiography. With the Internet, it is perfectly possible to gain insight and discernment into the good, bad and rogues. So I would still be happy to attend should the opportunity or need arise ...

    We all have a responsibility of primary care to ourselves. Just because someone is smiling and welcoming, calm and 'spiritual' means very little. Every snake oil politician, salesman and fish juggler knows how to attract the gullible and needy ... There is no doubt that Trungpaism will be absorbed back into mainstream Tantra. It is too lucrative to be avoided ...

    Learn how to think. Learn how to discern. You will be fine. There are great Buddhist teachers and teachings available. B)

    Tara1978
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited July 2016

    I'm going to close the thread for now, as the OP hasn't been in for a couple of months... Should she return, I will of course, be happy to re-open the thread at her request, and hope her continued presence will add contributions from her and others alike.

    Thanks to all who contributed.

This discussion has been closed.