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Buddhist Schools

edited July 2006 in Buddhism Today
For those of you that know I teach, no, i am not letting the chillens run wild today. I have the day off which has allowed me to catch up on reading.

I am still learning about the three major schools of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

I understand the main differences. I see great things in all. I would like to pick one and focus on it, perhaps join a local sangha...though I would have to drive 1.5 hours!
I am curious about your experiences and attractions to your choice. I know many are following Zen.

What holds me back is: I like Dzogchen ( I have read many of Lama Surya Das's books). But I am fascinated with the Theravada history, Pali. I have read that Tantric practices are kept from those not initiated. So am I missing out on stuff?

confused.....:scratch:

Comments

  • edited May 2006
    I might have it wrong, but I believe that Dzogchen is in Zen as well...just got at differently.

    The thing about Vajrajana is the devotion to guru. Are you interested in viewing another human being as a diety as a practice to realize your own inner guru?
  • edited May 2006
    Dzogchen is linked to Zen...but as you said, different.

    To answer your question, no...I would like to have a teacher, but not a guru.
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited May 2006
    I just emailed ZenMonk about this yesterday. How does one decide which school to follow?
    I am reading one of Lama Surya Das's books right now - but am still undecided about which path is right for me.

    Maybe we can figure this out together.

    Namaste,
    Michelle







    edited for spelling
  • edited May 2006
    Michelle wrote:

    Maybe we can figure this out together.

    Namaste,
    Michelle

    I would love that!
  • edited May 2006
    I kinda think the path picks you. ;)

    No guru...no Vajrayana. That leaves the other two schools.

    Zen is Mahayana, and really 'appealed' to me...until BAM!...I ran into my root teacher. Up till then, the links to Zen and martial arts and Japan...it was where I was researching. BUT I could not seem to make headway. The harder I pushed to contact a Zen priest, or find a space in my life to get to sangha...the harder it got to connect.
  • edited May 2006
    harlan wrote:
    I kinda think the path picks you. ;)

    No guru...no Vajrayana. That leaves the other two schools.

    Zen is Mahayana, and really 'appealed' to me...until BAM!...I ran into my root teacher. Up till then, the links to Zen and martial arts and Japan...it was where I was researching. BUT I could not seem to make headway. The harder I pushed to contact a Zen priest, or find a space in my life to get to sangha...the harder it got to connect.


    Right...I ruled Vajrayana out...hene my ?'s regarding the other two.
    I like the Tibetan stye so far...not really into the Asian..(other than decor for my house, lol).
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited May 2006
    Sharpiegirl,

    I wouldn't automatically rule out Vajrayana just because of the "guru" issue. What you may be experiencing is fear based on your ego fearing that it may be destroyed! Yeah, people do often feel a lot of fear at giving up what they consider to be their "independence" and "freedom". But that's just ego talking. What you need to do is follow your heart and let it choose the path (or as Harlan says, quite correctly, let the path choose you). In other words, you have to get your ego out of the way as it will, as it always has from time out of mind, lead you in the wrong direction.

    I would suggest as an aid to finding your path that you read the book "The Myth of Freedom" by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It might help you get over some of these issues you're experiencing. And I might add that, based on my own experience, fear should be a guidepost to lead you to what you fear the most. Fear is like a big red light that says "this is what you need to work on the most". So please keep that in mind as well. That doesn't mean that I think Vajrayana is the one and only way, just that I think you should keep an open mind about everything.

    Best wishes!

    Palzang
  • edited May 2006
    Thanks, Palzang...I nevered connected it with a fear.
    I was thinking more along the lines of: there aren't any Buddhist Sangha's locally where I am.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited May 2006
    That's a good point, Pal.

    I think I would definitely have a hard time having a "guru". I have a lot of distrust for people in positions of leadership and authority. I'm sure it's my ego.

    But, I don't worry about it and go along slowly trying to peel away all the layers of "me" I've acquired through the years.

    -bf
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited May 2006
    I would love that!

    Me too! I thought I was the only one that happened to be a bit confused.

    I stood in front of the books on Buddhism at Border's today and had no clue what to get.

    Namaste,
    Michelle
  • edited May 2006
    Don't buy any of them. Come talk to me. :)
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited May 2006
    Don't buy any of them. Come talk to me. :)

    It would be my pleasure :).
    After standing in the Buddhism section for 30 minutes and not deciding on anything, I made my way over to cookbooks - an area I am much more comfortable in. Anyone for dessert?

    Namaste,
    Michelle
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited May 2006
    What's a root teacher?
  • PadawanPadawan Veteran
    edited May 2006
    harlan wrote:
    I kinda think the path picks you. ;)


    I agree with this. As I've said in other threads, I came to Buddhism through reading books on Theosophy, and these have a distinctly Mahayana slant to them, so I guess my take on everything was influenced by this. When other members took the faith quiz elsewhere on this forum, I decided to do the same to see if my opinions and beliefs had any bearing on the result. It confirmed what I suspected- that I tend towards the Mahayana tradition.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited May 2006
    Brigid wrote:
    What's a root teacher?


    It's one who teaches you about onions, potatoes, carrots...

    No, actually, one's root teacher is the teacher with whom you have formed a teacher/student relationship. I've had many teachers, but only one root teacher. It's the one you make a bond with, a sort of contract where the teacher pledges to return again and again to samsara until you are led to enlightenment, and you in turn make the pledge to do your best to do what your teacher asks you to do to make that happen.

    Many people in the West have a problem with this concept. It's only natural. We've all read lots of stories about self-proclaimed teachers who have led their trusting students down the garden path. Kool-aid anyone? But this is different. This is more like AA where you have a sponsor who does essentially the same thing. In AA you're taught not to trust your own mind because it is so deluded that you can't trust what it's telling you. Instead you trust the sponsor who's already traveled the road to sobriety.

    In the teacher/student relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism it's exactly the same thing. You can't trust what your mind is telling you because it's too deluded to be able to tell what to trust and what not to trust. It's addicted to samsara, you might say. Therefore you trust the teacher who's already traveled the road to enlightenment and who can guide you and help you bypass the obstacles you yourself can't see (at least until it's too late!). You're not really giving up anything by entering this relationship (other than your delusions), but you stand to gain everything.

    Palzang
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited May 2006
    Thank you, Palzang. Beautiful description.

    I'm looking forward to the day that my root teacher and I find each other.

    I can also see why one would have to remain on guard.
  • edited May 2006
    Thanks, Palzang. That cleared up a lot for me!

    Genyru...I wish I was here a year ago before I spent a small fortune on Buddhism books!
    However, the ones I bought on instinct, hae been very helpful.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 2006
    Michelle wrote:
    It would be my pleasure :).
    After standing in the Buddhism section for 30 minutes and not deciding on anything, I made my way over to cookbooks - an area I am much more comfortable in. Anyone for dessert?

    Namaste,
    Michelle
    :lol:

    Providing it's extremely fattening, decadent and I can have seconds - I'm in!!

    What if you find your root teacher, but neither s/he nor you realise they are.....?

    What if you miss the Golden Opportunity?
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited May 2006
    federica wrote:

    What if you find your root teacher, but neither s/he nor you realise they are.....?
    What if you miss the Golden Opportunity?


    Bad Karma!

    Generally speaking, if you make wishing prayers to meet your root guru, you will when the time is right. The 7-line prayer (an invocation to Guru Rinpoche) is an excellent way to accomplish this.

    Sharpiegirl, buying books "on instinct" is an excellent way to do it. Your instinct is your best guide, I think. You will find the path that most naturally attracts you this way. Read books, try going to different Buddhist temples and so on, see what fits. I remember when I was searching I went to Shasta Abbey in California, even though I was living in Chicago, just to see if that was right for me because I really got to like Zen when I was in Japan. I found out that that lifestyle wasn't really right for me, so I kept looking and eventually wound up in Tibetan Buddhism, which feels right for me. So I think that's the advice I would give, just try everything and see what fits!

    Palzang
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited July 2006
    Hi SharpieGirl,

    I've just made my way back to this thread - I seem to be reading posts lately and not posting much.

    How are you doing? Have you reached a decision on a particular path? I'm still a wanderer for now, but am looking forward to feeling more like I have found the 'right path'.

    I hope all is going well for you.

    Namaste,
    Michelle
  • edited July 2006
    Michelle wrote:
    Hi SharpieGirl,

    I've just made my way back to this thread - I seem to be reading posts lately and not posting much.

    How are you doing? Have you reached a decision on a particular path? I'm still a wanderer for now, but am looking forward to feeling more like I have found the 'right path'.

    I hope all is going well for you.

    Namaste,
    Michelle


    Hi Michelle! It's nice to hear from you!

    I too have been reading here and there, but keeping quiet. I don't feel at this point I am knowledgable of each of the different paths to pick one...though I seem to be attracted to Tibetan and Dzogchen.
    I wish there was a sangha around where I live. But the closest is an hour and a half! So I keep reading and reflecting....

    Metta back to you!
    Marybeth
  • edited July 2006
    Michelle wrote:
    Hi SharpieGirl,

    I'm still a wanderer for now, but am looking forward to feeling more like I have found the 'right path'.
    Apratistha - To settle down where there is no settling down. "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath nowhere to lay his head". "Having no place to stand or abide"
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited July 2006
    Hi Michelle! It's nice to hear from you!

    I too have been reading here and there, but keeping quiet. I don't feel at this point I am knowledgable of each of the different paths to pick one...though I seem to be attracted to Tibetan and Dzogchen.
    I wish there was a sangha around where I live. But the closest is an hour and a half! So I keep reading and reflecting....

    Metta back to you!
    Marybeth

    Hi Marybeth,
    It's nice to hear from you,too. Our paths seem very similar - I'm attracted to Tibetan, hoping to find a close sangha, and reading & reading.

    I feel the same as you, that I'm not knowledgable enough at this time to choose a particular school. I attended a Vipassana meditation group this evening and it was really nice.Something I would definitely do again.

    For now I will do as you are doing ....read & reflect :).

    Namaste,
    Michelle
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited July 2006
    Apratistha - To settle down where there is no settling down. "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath nowhere to lay his head". "Having no place to stand or abide"

    Thank you, Genryu. I hope you are doing well and healing.

    Namaste,
    Michelle

    p.s. I didn't know you are in Georgia now. We were there on vacation the end of June - it would have been great to see you.
  • edited July 2006
    You might be surprised when and where I pop up lol, but yes, it would have been great to see you guys.
  • MichelleMichelle Explorer
    edited July 2006
    You are fortunate to be in such a beautiful state. I know the circumstances that got you there aren't great - but it is a wonderful place to be.

    It sure would have been great to meet you - maybe you'll make it back to Michigan someday.

    Namaste,
    Michelle
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