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Differences Between The Buddhist Schools?

I have read articles on the different schools of Buddhism, Mahayana, Theravada, Zen, etc. But I'd like to hear some personal perspectives on the differences of practice, belief, etc. I know the schools all go back to the Buddha and his basic teachings, but I'm interested in hearing experiences on the DIFFERENCES, as opposed to what we all have in common.

Have you attended Sangha groups or retreats at various schools? If so, what differences did you find?

Do you follow a particular "school" of Buddhism, and if so, why did you choose that path over the others?

I'd really like to hear personal accounts of why you chose a certain path, if you did. Or what your general opinions are on the actual differences between the paths.

Comments

  • I was more interested in how my teacher taught as opposed to a yahoo study group leader, actually two. In one study group we read pali sutras. I thought those were great and the study leader was very warm and friendly. Allowed I broad discussion. But he wasn't a teacher really. I mean he didn't really engage to much with anyone.

    The other group was lead by a guy in the Gelug tradition of tibetan buddhism. I learned some things such as dependent origination and the two truths. And often on how anger was always wrong.

    But my current teacher started with what we already knew. Examining our associations with heart. All the phrases of language and the experiences and thoughts/feelings etc associated. In that sense it was more direct with my experience. All of her teachings were pointing directly at something in the experience. Emptiness was taught as our sense of spaciousness. We were allowed to have any experience in meditation. If it contradicted some theory we weren't 'wrong' and refered to a sutra. All in all with an actual teacher there is less of a party line and more individualized, by that I mean connected to an experience. At the same time we see all of our experiences as not so solid and have a light touch.

    So I was getting these valuable things that are overlooked by the guys on aol who don't really know how to make a cradle for the student in practicing.
  • pineblossompineblossom Veteran
    edited March 2011
    I know the technicality of labels is confusing but when you talk of Mahayana etc you are talking of 'traditions'. Within each tradition there are various divisions which could be further divided into schools and then there are difference in the schools - all very confusing.

    Personally I have had no experience outside the Tibetan tradition so I can offer no assistance in what those 'differences' might mean.

    Of course there are differences. Differences in theology as well as in practice. But much of that difference has to do with the chance of social and historical factors.

    The only reason why I follow the Tibetan path is that a Tibetan centre was the nearest Buddhist centre to where I lived.

    There is merit in following one particular tradition. Swapping back and forth is not good practice.

    In the end you have to realize there is no path. What we call a path is a way of teaching that we can make sense of and which therefore assist us in our practice. In the end, for me personally, unless I am working and practicing for the benefit of all sentient beings then I feel that what I do has little merit.
  • unless I am working and practicing for the benefit of all sentient beings then I feel that what I do has little merit.
    Right there, your last sentence, poses a good question. Is Tibetan Buddhism the only tradition that works and practices to benefit all sentient beings? I know all Buddhism teaches "do no harm", etc., but I have heard that the Tibetan tradition is more "self AND others" oriented, whereas the Theravada tradition (just an example) is more "self" oriented, at least as far as self enlightenment.

    Also, pineblossom's post for some reason reminded me of something that I nearly forgot about. A few years back I went on retreat to a well known center which I later learned practice the Theravada tradition, but I did not know that until after I was there. So on the first day there was some question and answer time with our instructors, then we went on "silent retreat" for the next several days, where we couldn't talk at all, with the exception of a one-on-one meeting with an instructor, where I asked more questions.

    Now, I want to add here that during the several days of silence, I had noticed something. When passing others in the hall, in the dining room during dinner, wherever, I would smile and nod to them, as a "silent hello" of sorts. I noticed many of them were VERY serious, some not even acknowledging me.

    So on the last day in the meditation hall I raised my hand and asked this question, innocently and with sincerity. I said "I noticed during the silent days that others seem very serious. Sometimes I would smile and nod while most around me seemed so serious and almost grim. I was wondering if silent retreat is supposed to be this serious, and why we can't smile and acknowledge each other?"

    The main instructor seemed to take mild offense at this, I could see it on her face and in her tone. She said something like "Well, many people are introspective and looking inward, so they are concentrating on that..." (or something to that extent, but she seemed to not like my question).

    After the Q&A on the last day, we could all speak to each other for the first time, and there was a big display in the dining room with various books we could buy. So people were mingling and talking. One man, who I had seen through out the retreat approached me. He was something more than a newcomer, because I could see him assisting with the speakers setup, ringing the gong, going into the office, etc., but was also with us during meditation. Anyway, he came up to me, placed his hands together and bowed to me, and said "Thank you. Thank you so much for asking that question. I will remember that for a long time", and he said this with a big smile. I bowed back and thanked him and went into the book sale room.

    In that room, several people approached me about my question. At least 3 or 4 different people quietly said to me, "You should look into Tibetan Buddhism". I asked them with interest why, and they all worded it differently, but basically said "It seems more like what you hope for in practice, more open, more fun and outgoing". I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist of what they said.

    So I've been reading about Tibetan Buddhism for several years now, but I still wonder to this day WHY several people said that to me. WHY did they think the Tibetan tradition would be more "my style"? I still haven't found the answer to that.

    Does anyone know of specific differences in practice or Sangha, etc., that would make several strangers suggest that to me?

  • Care to elaborate pineblossom?
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited March 2011
    I know all Buddhism teaches "do no harm", etc., but I have heard that the Tibetan tradition is more "self AND others" oriented, whereas the Theravada tradition (just an example) is more "self" oriented, at least as far as self enlightenment.
    @laurajean, I think Theravada's stance is "enlightenment quickly to help (self and) others" and Mahayana/Vajrayana's stance is "help others as path to enlightenment". They are simply different means, both for the good of all. There's so much misunderstanding and judging people for their choices while we cling to our own, but they'll only come to the choice that reflects the life they've had.

    Buddhism finds us.

    In any case only good can come of enlightenment. What do we think someone does after enlightenment, wait around and die? They spend their lives as a true part of the whole, helping others and wanting naught for themselves. :)
  • Interesting, Cloud. I was under the impression that Theravada was more "enlightenment through self-discovery/awareness, whatever" and Mahayana was more "enlightenment VIA helping others". I wish I could find a good source on this. I have found several sites that chart the differences, but I really want something in plain english, for laymen. Something I can easily understand and implement.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2011
    Vajrayana's whole purpose is to become a buddha more rapidly than other possibilities. You may or may not believe that.

    To help others. The idea is that helping others is a skillful way to overcome the ego. The mahayana is called a greater vehicle because of this vaster scope which according to the mahayana creates more of the conditions (merit or punya) needed for enlightenment.

    In the mahayana you use self-discovery/awareness to ALLOW you to help others. How can you help others when you cannot help yourself?
  • Vajrayana's whole purpose is to become a buddha more rapidly than other possibilities. You may or may not believe that.
    Hmm. I thought it was the exact opposite. I thought Theravada was the "quicker" path, so to speak.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2011
    Not according to the Vajrayana teachers. They call the sutrayana likened to winding around a mountain and vajrayana to climbing it. Vajrayana is faster but it is dangerous and you can hurt yourself particularly if you don't have a teacher to guide you.

    The idea that mahayanas don't become buddhas is bogus. Its the opposite. Therevadans become arhants. Mahayana's believe that they can reach a state where they can liberate all beings...

    I'll find my teacher's discussion
  • Vajrayana is faster but it is dangerous and you can hurt yourself particularly if you don't have a teacher to guide you.
    What do you mean?

  • Lama Shenpen:

    Recently I was asked about what the difference is between Mahayana and Theravada. What I say in the answer below is not a complete answer but it is at least the beginnings of a discussion on the subject.

    I think it is important for this kind of issue to be talked about clearly and sensibly.

    I think the most important point to consider is that in Theravada mostly people don't take the Bodhisattva vow to bring all beings to Awakening. The reason is that they regard the Bodhisattva path as a very special path that only very special beings such as the Buddha Shakyamuni before he was Enlightened could take.

    Other people put themselves into a different category of being who is not able to reach such an exalted state and doesn't even try to - that is why enlightenment for most people means simply to get rid of greed, hate and delusion - it is all they can hope to do - they have no hope of ever having sufficient punya and jnana to become a fully enlightened Buddha with all the Buddha qualities.

    That is what makes the Mahayana so special and extraordinary. Somehow, somewhere the tradition grew up of really believing all beings could become perfectly enlightened Buddhas with all the qualities. Such a belief arises from a deep understanding of emptiness. If the nature of reality is empty then it follows different patterns to those that seem common sense to the way ordinary beings think when bound up by deep seated assumptions about time, space, self and other and so on.

    The Bodhisattva makes the vow to bring all beings to Enlightenment and will not give up until that is accomplished and the Bodhisattva has the power to do that and accomplish that because the Bodhisattva realises the deep meaning of emptiness. I discuss what this implies in some detail in the book of my doctoral thesis 'Buddha Within' that I am beginning to teach at the Hermitage this year for the first time.

    Theravadins often make the point that in their tradition enlightened beings work tirelessly for the benefit of others so that the Mahayana stereotype of the Hinayana or shravaka arhat does not apply to them.

    Even in Mahayana it is a mistake to think that any kind of enlightened being can be without compassion nonetheless often the shravaka arhant is spoken of as if this were the case. The point I really want to make though is that for a someone to have compassion and work tirelessly for the benefit of others is quite different from realising one has the power to bring all beings - literally all beings - to complete and perfect Buddhahood and committing oneself to doing so forever.

    This is really quite unbelievable to the ordinary person - we cannot even conceive of what all beings might mean and what Buddhahood might mean - so we can just have a vague kind of aspiration and perhaps say 'may we realise what the great Bodhisattvas of the past have done'.

    The real Bodhisattva vow is based on deep realisation of emptiness and this is where true faith in the Bodhisattva path arises from. If a certain tradition is not connected to this realisation it may teach compassion and express compassion but it is not the compassion for all beings and the commitment to bring them all to perfect Buddhahood - in other words it is not Bodhichitta in its fullest sense.

    There is a lot one can say about this and it relates to what I was teaching in Spain last weekend about rangtong and shentong. I was very interested to see how inspiring and helpful everyone found the weekend course and how needed the perspective of shentong was for people's faith and practice. The general sense was that my weekend course on shentong had allowed students to take a leap forward based on a deeper confidence in what their own teacher was doing with them.

    The way that many people in the west think of the Bodhisattva path is quite weak and so they think it's just a psychological trick to make compassion stronger in the heart and mind when they take the Bodhisattva vow. If we do this then there is not really much difference between that and Buddhist traditions like most Theravadins that do not claim to be following the Bodhisattva path. I say 'not much difference' but still one needs to investigate what 'not much' means in this context.
  • A student writes:

    "I've read that Tibetan Buddhism says it's not possible to fully help others until you are Enlightened. If this is correct, it suggests a rather limited existence spent only in search of one's own development. Surely trying to alleviate the suffering of others can be a path to Self Realisation/Enlightenment. Could you comment on this?"

    Shenpen replies:

    The answer to your question is in the word 'fully'. Obviously, if we could fully help others without being Enlightened, there would be no need for Enlightenment!

    There is also a bit of a problem with the word Enlightenment (or Awakening, I am using the words synonymously here). We refer to various levels of realisation as Enlightenment and some of these are stages at which we still cannot fully help others.

    The point is that 'fully' is referring to a difference between Enlightenment and full Enlightenment, which can be compared to the difference between an atom and all the atoms in space, or better still, a single point and all conceivable points (which is inconceivable and mysterious).

    On the way to the realisation of full Enlightenment there are many levels of liberation from suffering, levels from which there is no falling back, each one of which one could also call 'Enlightenment'.

    Yet, on every level, including that of the most ordinary of beings such as ourselves (or those who are even further away from Enlightenment than we are), we are able to help others in all sorts of ways.

    As you point out, this capacity, will, and all our actions to help others is what actually propels us along the path to Enlightenment. Furthermore, that capacity to help others increases as we progress towards Enlightenment.

    The reason that in all forms of Buddhism (not just Tibetan or not just Mahayana Buddhism, for that matter) emphasis is put on Enlightenment being the only way to fully help others, is because from where we are now it is a difficult concept to grasp.

    It requires a lot of faith to put off rushing around helping people in practical ways now, in order to pursue the good of others through a life of meditation and reflection. That faith comes from a deep understanding of the true nature of reality, of suffering, of what it means to be a human being. As our understanding deepens, our faith deepens and then our sense that it is important to put aside immediate concerns for those around us and concentrate on the ultimate benefit for ourselves and others can grow.

    The problem is that this can become distorted so that it appears to us that leading a contemplative life is a way of escaping the trauma of living in the world. It is important that we turn towards the contemplative life with conviction and deep understanding and not just out of cowardice or wanting to hide from suffering. If one embraces the contemplative life with the latter motivation, it achieves very little of benefit for oneself or others, and one might well argue it would be better to stay in the world and deepen one's understanding of life, until true conviction and renunciation arises.

    It is a chicken and egg situation really. The more you meditate and reflect, the deeper your understanding can go and so naturally your motivation for practice becomes purer. You don't wait until your motive is pure, before meditating, even if we are talking here of just stopping to meditate for five minutes three times a day. The important thing is that we stop and give time to meditation and reflection, because that is what starts off the process of Enlightenment.

    What happens is that in the midst of a busy life, with many demands on our time, there is always the sense that withdrawing to meditate and reflect is somehow turning away from others who are in need of our help. It is important to realise that there will always be far more people out there for us to help than we can cope with. We are just one human being and the beings there are to help are limitless. So the path to Enlightenment always means we have to prioritise what we do. We have to stop rushing around trying to help everyone right now. We have to withdraw from the fray, even if it's just for an hour a day, in order to make progress on the path to Enlightenment.

    Each step of the way, the nearer to Enlightenment we get, the more we can help others. So we have to have the courage to make a stand and say 'No' to the constant busyness of trying to help others now, in order to help them more later. This applies to a busy life where we put aside an hour a day to meditate, as much as to someone who decides the time has come to live their whole life as a hermit.

    So that is why thinking and reflecting on the truth that we can only fully help others when we are fully Enlightened is a very powerful and humbling way to practice.
  • Interesting quotes Jeff. I have to say, I wish Buddhist writing could be a little more clear and simple. It seems like every answer to a question is in the form of some 'riddle', which one must ponder and dissect and interpret and try and boil down. I find myself reading not just your quotes above, but other writings over and over and over again, trying to get to THE POINT.

    I read the above question and answer on Tibetan Buddhism/enlightenment THREE times now and still cannot figure out what the teacher's answer is. :banghead:
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited March 2011
    It means we can help without being enlightened, but not as completely as our ability to help by putting ourselves 100% into the situation with our hearts and minds. Having full clarity of the situation and the best possible intentions.
  • Okay, I got that part of it, lol. I guess I was thinking there was more to it. Perhaps I was over-analyzing.
  • Nice summary though, wish all answers could be that simple!
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    The final stage in Theravadin before Buddhahood is the arhat; someone who can choose not to reincarnate after death. The final stage before Buddhahood in Mahayana is the bodhisattva, who though he/she need not reincarnate, will choose to to experience future rebirths until all humankind is free from suffering.
  • laurajean,

    I would trust the vibes you pick up to a certain extent. I mean people have intuition. And then over time you get a better idea of what the teacher or reading has been saying all along.

    My understanding when reading those quotes has changed over the years. I have not gotten to the 'correct' understanding, but I can still deepen my reflection on these things. My own beliefs as well as understanding Lama Shenpen's words.

    It is challenging. Remember Sano's lute string. Not too loose and not too tight. I need to remember that one! It seems like I am too loose in some ways but overall too tight. If I would loosen up a bit I could probably get the balance to tighten up just right.

    Do you know what I mean by loose and tight. Like balancing.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2011
    "The final stage in Theravadin before Buddhahood is the arhat; someone who can choose not to reincarnate after death. The final stage before Buddhahood in Mahayana is the bodhisattva, who though he/she need not reincarnate, will choose to to experience future rebirths until all humankind is free from suffering."

    Therevada and Mahayana have a different understanding of Nirvana. The highest state in Mahayana is a fully enlightened buddha. Padmasambava is (widely) believed to have been a buddha. For example. In Mahayana a buddha can continue to manifest in this world. The reason is that emptiness pervades all space. Emptiness is not nothingness. When grasping ceases the buddha qualities such as love emerge. A buddha is in 3 natures. Dharmakaya, samboghakaya, and nirmanakaya.

    The dharmakaya is the nature of truth to emerge but it is obscured in unenlightened beings. Nonetheless it pervades all space. Although it is obscured no being is higher or lower than another. And all beings have a connection to the buddha thus by opening to that connection all may be enlightened.

    Some of the extraordinary beliefs in the Mahayana come about because the practioners are open to more ideas than their culturally conditioned ideas as part of the 21st century in the west.
  • Yes, I do know the Lute string story. I guess my strings are too tight, because I read into everything and struggle to understand it, and I'm a pretty intelligent person. I just wish the writings were simpler, more to the point.

    I want to "hurry up and understand" which I know is not the Buddhist way, lol, but I can't help it sometimes.

    I wish I could just ask what the differences in the traditions are and have someone spell out X,Y and Z. I have yet to find a simple explanation of the differences that are worded in a modern way that I can comprehend.

    Below is a link to the simplest comparison I can find, and even still I don't know what a lot of it is referring to. I want a version of this, explained in a simple way that I can understand (I mean, I get the gist of this link, but I still want a clearer, more modern explanation, if that makes any sense.

    http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/snapshot02.htm
  • Its like trying to express the differences between the south and the north. It doesn't really tell you anything. I mean it tells a little bit. But it doesn't give 'the answer'.
  • Yeah, good point. My instinct leads me toward one path, but of course that path seems SO much more complicated! Why, oh why would I lean toward the more complicated path when all I want in my life is simplicity?!

    Rhetorical question, guess I'm just talking out loud at this point, sorry.
  • Perceptions.
  • pineblossompineblossom Veteran
    edited March 2011
    Care to elaborate pineblossom?
    What I am suggesting is that if others have made certain comments to you about you and Tibetan Buddhism and you have some feeling for that tradition it may well indicate that you have some experience of Tibetan Buddhism in a past life.
  • Care to elaborate pineblossom?


    What I am suggesting is that if others have made certain comments to you about you and Tibetan Buddhism and you have some feeling for that tradition it may well indicate that you have some experience of Tibetan Buddhism in a past life.
    I know this may be helping the thread go a little off topic, but I sure hope that's true, because that creates the hope that we're headed that way in the next life too.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited March 2011
    If you want to understand the differences, all you have to understand is the desires that drive mankind. Look in front of you, look at your life, look at everything coming and going. This is just the way things are. People want otherwise, and there is their suffering. People want to believe otherwise, and they'll find a way to make it true. To tell themselves it's true. To not have to deal with what's really here. The further you pull away from the realities of life, the further from what the Buddha saw and taught.

    Leaving this world [enlightenment] is detaching from delusional thinking and knowing your true place in nature and what you are (entering the world of Dharma), not truly leaving. Coming back to this world as a Bodhisattva is helping others in the delusional world (world of delusional thought, speech and actions) to see the Dharma as well, choosing appropriately to act selflessly for the good of all, not necessarily being reborn in other bodies. One can exist in both worlds at the same time, and does at that point, though not as a separate unchanging/permanent self.

    The question is what are your intentions now? To awaken? To help others awaken? Both? That's all that matters.
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Chasing the elusive Dinsdale Veteran

    Some of the extraordinary beliefs in the Mahayana come about because the practioners are open to more ideas than their culturally conditioned ideas as part of the 21st century in the west.
    I think a lot of these "extraordinary beliefs" result from the historical adaptation of Buddhism to different cultures, eg soaking up aspects of the indigenous Tibetan Bon religion.

    P
  • edited March 2011
    For me the choice was simple maybe because I didn't know much at the time. Varieties of Tibetan Buddhism sure looked to me as if they were worshiping deities. Prayers, bowing, images of deities. For me all that was distasteful.

    Theravadans may have a cosmology, but they keep it to themselves. They focus on insight which, of course, gives insight into our relationships. No woman is an island.

    That said, I think it is essential to have insight into the truth about ourselves. Otherwise, how can we help others to have insight about themselves?
  • "I think a lot of these "extraordinary beliefs" result from the historical adaptation of Buddhism to different cultures, eg soaking up aspects of the indigenous Tibetan Bon religion."

    Thats certainly true. My teacher studied in Tibet and one of her teachers was telling a story and part of the story was that mount Meru is at the center of the earth.

    One of the students told him that it was not true. That no one had found a mount Meru. He asked "is this true?" And a student must have confirmed it. He said "oh" and didn't make a big deal about it.

    I hope I got the meaning of the story at least a little bit and I hope you do too.
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    Please forgive my overly simplistic, neophyte noob view on this, but if one is guided by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, does all this COPIOUS man-made stuff really matter that much? If I try my best to live by the above, and if I never hear another thing about sects, traditions, schools, or what have you, will that somehow lessen my chances of attaining enlightenment? It seems to me that all this discussion and (often) bickering about the technicalities of this or that is just muddying the waters of the ultimate truth of the very most basic tenants of the dharma. I don't have the luxury of having a teacher, so I'm having to go at this all on my own, and honestly, all this extra baggage is more intimidating and obstructive to me than anything else.

    I'm not the only one who feels this way, surely?
  • edited March 2011
    , but if one is guided by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, does all this COPIOUS man-made stuff really matter that much? If I try my best to live by the above, and if I never hear another thing about sects, traditions, schools, or what have you, will that somehow lessen my chances of attaining enlightenment?
    Not in my opinion. We've had threads on a similar topic, in fact. (Like the one on "Is Study of the Scriptures Necesesary"?) Lots of people practice just the way you do, including one of our mods. Carry on, by all means!

    But that's not the purpose of this thread. The thread was started so that newbies could understand the difference between the traditions/schools. I haven't noticed any bickering here, I thought it was going quite well.

  • I think buddhism is simple enough to understand to have no need for any sort of school at all.
  • You're not the only one who feels this way @Mountains.

    That being said, I think the aversion to superstition and such in Buddhism is most likely due to the aversion to the same superstition many feel in their own religions.

    Having come from a family of very mixed religious views (Pure Land Buddhism, Chinese Folk Beliefs, Islam, Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Baha'i, just to say a few), I notice that at the end of the day, how we as a family come together and interact is not on our religious beliefs, but how we carry ourselves as family members. In family gatherings we try to go vegetarian, or go for Halal food (the Muslim kosher) so everyone can be included in the feasting. We try not to drink, or even if we do, we try to accommodate those who cannot drink for religious reasons or otherwise. And we make accommodations for those who drink too much and pass out!

    So basically, dogma and superstitions are just not really important. Just like the differences between the different Buddhist schools. So long as all of us practice the 4, the 8 and the 5, nothing else really matters.
  • Just to re-clarify, my question was about what the differences between the schools are, not whether or not there should be a difference and not what the similarities are.
  • pineblossompineblossom Veteran
    edited March 2011
    Please forgive my overly simplistic, neophyte noob view on this, but if one is guided by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, does all this COPIOUS man-made stuff really matter that much? If I try my best to live by the above, and if I never hear another thing about sects, traditions, schools, or what have you, will that somehow lessen my chances of attaining enlightenment? It seems to me that all this discussion and (often) bickering about the technicalities of this or that is just muddying the waters of the ultimate truth of the very most basic tenants of the dharma. I don't have the luxury of having a teacher, so I'm having to go at this all on my own, and honestly, all this extra baggage is more intimidating and obstructive to me than anything else.

    I'm not the only one who feels this way, surely?
    No - you have fellow travellers.

    I also do not have the luxury of having a teaching and I to had to nut it out on my own.

    It was not until I sat down and realized what I was doing that things started to change. You see, I was addicted to the process of 'becoming'. I had to 'become' this - then I had to 'become' that - and then to 'become' something else.

    What you and I have been saturated with is the message that we are never to be satisfied. We should never happy with out lot in life, with our present home, with our present car, with our present beliefs, we our present education, with our present religion - and we are NEVER to be satisfied with ourselves.

    Once I gave up the idea I had to 'become' something things started to fall into place. But the hardest of all was to accept that while I certainly could do with some education, I did not have to 'become' anything other than who I am.

    We are contaminated by world opinion. Divorcing ourselves from that is neither easy nor satisfying as we are also a reminder to the world that one need not conform. Is this not what the Buddha taught?
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    Thanks Pineblossom - good to hear. I didn't mean to belittle anyone's beliefs, but I just find it all too much sometimes. Pineblossom is right - we're expected and taught to become something else, no matter what we are now. Improvement is the norm. That's fine for things like my professional life, where I do hope to become an excellent clinician. But I don't need to prove anything with a big house, a fancy car, or carrying on about how steeped I am in this or that school, or who my teacher is, or why this one is better than that one (not accusing anyone here of that, but I've seen it elsewhere a lot). I just laugh at the unconsciousness of it all :)

    Meantime, I'll just plod along on my course.
  • edited March 2011
    For me, trying to tough it out on my own is tough. I have the sense that more experienced people could help me avoid time-consuming and frustrating dead ends. For example, I've finally settled into a sitting meditation style that works for me, but only after months of trying. It didn't happen until I read that one should vary one's method of breathing until one found the best one for them. If I were getting instruction, someone could have told me that 6 months ago. Trouble is, if I want to study with someone or even take classes beyond the most basic, I need to choose a school of Buddhism.

    Besides, I think it's good to know where one is at. I met a young man on the train last week. I was reading a book that couldn't be identified by its cover as Buddhist. He said he had read the book and liked it. He's from Sri Lanka. He asked me what type of Buddhism I practiced, and we were both delighted to find out we shared the same school. We had a great conversation.
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