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Have any of you ever tried working directly with other people on their suffering? From the 4NT and our own experience we know that we all suffer, but most people in the western world seem bent on ignoring it. They try to "think themselves happy".
But I've had some luck confronting people directly with the question, "what is the root of your suffering?" Some people find it easy to put their finger on at least an aspect of it, but everyone finds it interesting to think about.
My first encounters with Buddhism were through Osho. I spent some years in my youth in Osho communes, and sitting in the great hall with fifteen thousand people we would chant the gautchami's. Then Osho would lecture on Zen or on Ikkyū, or on the Dhammapada or the Heart Sutra. There was a lot of Buddhism included, as well as Tantra, Sufism, Tao, philosophy and other subjects.
For much of my 20's and 30's I wandered in the deserts of materialism, chasing work. It was only recently that I reclaimed my spiritual inclinations. I started listening to Osho again, and was intrigued by some of what he said and what i read elsewhere to make a study of Buddhism. I started on the internet, with YouTube lectures by Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Amaro and others. I read a lot of Wikipedia articles and quite a bit of access to insight, and I joined here.
I've also spent time with a local sangha, there is a Tibetan Buddhist centre of the Gelug school nearby where I have been studying with a local monk. However, he is just teaching from a text by the Dagpo Lama Rinpoche Jhampa Gyatso, which is a basics course in Buddhist concepts which has also been taught at university. It's interesting, like an orientation course, but quite dry.
As far as books are concerned I can recommend Thich Nhat Hanh's The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, which covers most of the highlights of Buddhist lore without going into the 84,000 sutra's in detail.
Someone should invent tv-watching meditation, I'm sure it would be a great hit!
My first serious encounter with Buddhism was via Osho's lectures, first when I was young and more recently a couple of years ago when I listened to a long series on the Dhammapadda. That convinced me to make a more serious study of Buddhism.
I started listening to talks on YouTube, from Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Amaro, Ajahn Brahm. I joined here. I've been reading books, the most influential so far being TNH's The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching. Though people call it unreliable I've found Wikipedia's articles on Buddhism a great help. I've read quite a bit through Access to Insight. I've been studying with a local sangha, who I found on the internet.
So you could say most of my access to Buddhism has been mediated through technology, augmented by some old-fashioned techniques.
Not only that, but as you shed desires, greeds, sources of anger and hatred, you will find that the construction of the "I" weakens further. All these things which drive our day to day behaviour give us personality.
A lot of the rest is vows we have taken on, unconsciously, or views we hold about ourselves which we could change at the drop of a hat. There are very few things which are core and truly essential.