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Buddhism In America

jhodgeyjjhodgeyj New New
edited June 2015 in Faith & Religion

Hello everybody! I hope you are all well today and free from the grasps of Anger and Fear. I am new to this site, not much really for chat forums, however something has been concerning me for many years now. Since this is my first post here, I would like to tell you a bit about myself, and these concerns.

I am a 24 year old male living in the United States, born and raised. Never really a Religious person, and i have many personal problems with Christianity, which is dominant here. I discovered Buddhism about 10 years ago, in the form of books written by the Dhali Lama and instantly knew that This is what i believe in. "This is the Sword with which I will vanquish and degrade feelings of Rage and Material Desire. It is easy to feel these things, and harder to remove them. It is my desire to improve the life somehow of anybody I may encounter." This was, and still is, something I try to live life by....however in practice it doesn't always go that way.

Living in a capitalist society such as the West, alot of the things that are Taught to us in Buddhism can not be truly followed. Its such a Culture difference. Here we are supposed to be ruthless, uncaring, self motivated Automaton and yet we wonder why we are becoming morally bankrupt. (and actually bankrupt.)

Even myself, I got fired and started work as a Bail Bondsman. So many people are happy for me and like "oh thats a good job thats awesome good for you" and things like that. Personally I hate it. It brings me much Guilt, and generally a feeling of dread or Evil almost. I just feel like that sums up perfectly what im trying to say. Bondsman or Buddhist. Its hard to be both... even though i have the best of intentions and i dont price gouge people like many others do, I feel like its the source of constant Moral Dilemma.

Is it truly possible to live a productive life in the West and still be a good Buddhist? To truly reject all desire for material happiness, when our existence here depends on these material things? So many conflicts. Such infinite time will have to be endured.....

Cinorjer

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran


    jhodgeyj Bail Bondsman...Tough Job for sure!

    But either way...

    Can you practice for one second, or two or a minute as a Buddhist?

    Is there any real existence outside of this one present nano second of effort?

    Is infinite time really any more expansive than this present nano moment of attention?

    jhodgeyj
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    Don't assume that in the "old world" Buddhist countries that things are necessarily any less capitalistic. There are more Buddhists in Thailand than any country in the world. But it is far more capitalistic than here in the United States.

    What is bad (in terms of Buddhism) about being a bail bondsman?

    lobsterjhodgeyj
  • Thank you to those who have responded, and in advance to those who have not yet. It is so nice to have what im saying be finally understood by people, and not just look at me like im insane! I have some thinking to do now. Thank you

  • genkakugenkaku Veteran Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Welcome @jhodgeyj. Hope you find something useful here.

    It might ease the Buddhist load a bit if you simply found a practice -- meditation is useful -- and then practiced it. The vast virtue that can rise up off the page or spring from some exalted teacher's mouth may be useful, but useful things are not carved in stone and they never stand still. It is up to individuals to make their own way and that way is hardly ever as back-lit and pyrotechnical as the dreams they can dream.

    Take your time. You've got all the right tools.

    howlobsterjhodgeyj
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2015

    B)

    Great advice guys <3
    The mahasiddha of Tantra practiced in their very present being, some as thieves, liars etc
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasiddha

    This is where you start. Dukkha. The situation. I see only a potential Buddha, nothing more, nothing less.

    :)

    jhodgeyj
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Veteran Vermont Veteran

    "Is it truly possible to live a productive life in the West and still be a good Buddhist?"
    -Yes...

  • 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 June 2015

    @jhodgeyj said: .....and i have many personal problems with Christianity, which is dominant here.

    What kind of 'personal problems'...? It is better and more Skilful to practise Compassion and acceptance, rather than harbour and nurture 'personal problems'...

    I discovered Buddhism about 10 years ago, in the form of books written by the Dhali Lama

    DALAI Lama... affectionately referred to here, as HHDL..... ;)

    .... and instantly knew that This is what i believe in. "This is the Sword with which I will vanquish and degrade feelings of Rage and Material Desire. It is easy to feel these things, and harder to remove them. It is my desire to improve the life somehow of anybody I may encounter." This was, and still is, something I try to live life by....however in practice it doesn't always go that way.

    Why not....?

    Living in a capitalist society such as the West, alot of the things that are Taught to us in Buddhism can not be truly followed.

    Such as....? (THis is the firt time I've heard anyone practising Buddhism declare this...)

    Its such a Culture difference.

    Well, Buddhism seems to have survived 3000 years of all manner of cultural differences, so far....

    Here we are supposed to be ruthless, uncaring, self motivated Automaton

    No we're not.... Where did you get the idea that this is what we are SUPPOSED to be....?

    ....Even myself, I got fired and started work as a Bail Bondsman. So many people are happy for me and like "oh thats a good job thats awesome good for you" and things like that. Personally I hate it. It brings me much Guilt, and generally a feeling of dread or Evil almost.

    Why...?

    I just feel like that sums up perfectly what im trying to say. Bondsman or Buddhist. Its hard to be both...

    Well, we have had people here in the Army and fighting forces, and the Police Force practising Buddhism.... It may be hard, but it's not impossible...

    even though i have the best of intentions and i dont price gouge people like many others do, I feel like its the source of constant Moral Dilemma.

    Sorry, genuinely don't know what you mean by 'price gouge'....

    Is it truly possible to live a productive life in the West and still be a good Buddhist?

    Yes.

    To truly reject all desire for material happiness, when our existence here depends on these material things?

    Does it really? In what way?
    They're tools, not necessities....

    So many conflicts. Such infinite time will have to be endured.....

    Nah. We can work this out together pretty quick, and still have time for a nice cup of tea....

    VastmindvinlynBunks
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2015

    Bullshit is everywhere. It's your choice whether you buy into the hype. Here or anywhere else. Are you going to buy into the American dream BS? Are you going to buy into the "everything is better in a Monastery" BS? Are you going to buy into.... fill in the blank.

    Who told you bondsman and Buddhism don't go? You are helping people with their money situation/problem....and then if you have to...you collect them or the money. Their criminal details really have nothing to do with you.....your just the money man...no? Price gouging/taking advantage of people happens in all fields. Don't do it no matter what service your selling. And don't worry about what the other ones do...worry about you...helping people and being honest about what you charge and how you collect.

    lobster
  • shadowleavershadowleaver Veteran Veteran

    Following a spiritual path, any spiritual path, is tough "in the world", as "the world" in many ways is anti-spiritual, as you say above. And that is by no means an American phenomenon or a new phenomenon. The Bible, written long before the West even existed, talks at length about the ways of the world and the ways of the spirit.

    I think that in order to keep and cultivate spirituality outside of a closed society like a monastery, it really helps to practice in a group. My Sangha, for example, has some great role models of people who are fully engaged with society and yet find ways to let Buddhist practice and teaching inform their lives. It is nearly impossible to see how that can be done by relying solely on predominantly monastic Buddhist literature.

    Also, being a bail bondsman, seems tough on one's morale and that has nothing to do with one being a Buddhist, Christian or something else. Yet in any occupation, one can see people who relate to it better and are more helpful to those they interact with. I think Buddhist practice is about doing one's best in the situation one is actually in, no matter what that situation is- not embodying some ideal found in a book or one's musings. Of course, if the situation can be changed to one that would enable you to do more good and feel better about yourself, such a change should be pursued.

    lobsterJeffreyjhodgeyj
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2015

    Well said @shadowleaver

    Simon Bishop: Okay... What I do is, I watch. Ever watch somebody who doesn't know you're watching them? An old woman sitting on a bus? Or kids going to school? Somebody just waiting, and you see this flash come over them. And you know immediately that has nothing to do with anything external because that hasn't changed. They're just sort of realer and more alive. You look at someone long enough, you discover their humanity.

    That is a quote from the American film 'As good as it gets' with Jack Nicholson.
    If you only watch one film about Dukkha, this would be the one ...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Oh, it most certainly is possible. There are a lot of American Buddhists, and several of them on this site who are hanging in there pretty well! Just because we live in the US, doesn't mean we have to buy the whole deal hook, line and sinker. One of the nice things about living here is that we are free to set our path and follow it. People might say strange things to you, but you are completely free to be a Buddhist and live your path! That's a great thing! You get to choose. It doesn't matter what others say about your life. You are the one that has to figure out if you can make it work with your beliefs or if you feel a need to change something. Most jobs you can certainly find a way to help people, to be kinder and more compassionate. You can do that in every single thing you do. In lucky for us, in America there are a lot of opportunities to practice, and teachers at every turn! ;)

    jhodgeyj
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    that's very true, @Lobster (about that film)

  • 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

    It's car-crash tv. It's an abysmal programme, and the direct opposite to much of the sensational TV America is capable of producing. It's at the opposite end of the spectrum to such brilliance as Blacklist, Hannibal and Suits.

    But I remember seeing a couple of episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter (I know, I know.... right?) and say what you will about them, They practise their profession with an underlying and supportive impetus of Christian Brotherhood. Before they begin to hunt a scum-of-the-earth worthless, drug-taking, wife-beating degenerate low-life, they pray. Together. For their own well-being and that of their intended target.

    I don't really engage with them as individuals. They don't float my boat, if anyone were to suggest I keep their company, and I probably wouldn't add them to my Christmas card list any time soon. But whatever you might think of them, or the programme, it's just a small example of how one can practise a distasteful and trying profession and still maintain a level of Spiritual detachment and devotion.

    Vastmindsilver
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2015

    ^^^ Yes..I was thinking of Dog also!!!! I agree with all your comments. going both ways. I always liked how they tried to reach the people in the car on the way to turn in. As much as his wife scratched my eyeballs...hahaha... But they really made it an intention to first get them...but then try to reach out/listen/talk/try to drop some sense and often came across as very caring towards people...

  • @federica

    @jhodgeyj said: .....and i have many personal problems with Christianity, which is dominant here.

    What kind of 'personal problems'...? It is better and more Skilful to practise Compassion and acceptance, rather than harbour and nurture 'personal problems'...

    -Ok so I cant disagree with something? Who said i was ever hateful or generally mean spirited towards, or even Dislike Christians as people? I simply do not fully agree with the concept. If others want to, I believe they should follow that. However, its not for me. That is all i was saying, that doesn't necessarily mean "nurturing personal problems."

  • Also does it REALLY matter if i misspelled the word "Dhali" ? Why so does that matter so much to you? Is it not the ideas we should be following?

  • 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

    Well that escalated quickly..... :lol:

    Calm yourself dearest. As others will vouch, I am sadly the forum Grammar & spelling nerd... I fear few have escaped my well-intentioned amendments to some errata in their posts...! :D

    I suppose it would matter only as much as if someone kept spelling your name, Joe-Gee... Just trying to help... for example, I have difficulty always remembering Thich Nhat Hanh's name and spelling - so to expedite matters, we tend to refer to him as TNH....

    I never mentioned the words hateful, mean-spirited or dislike... That is your assumption, not mine.
    It's very common for an awful lot of Buddhists to have come from a previously Christian/religious background, and to carry some kind of issue with them.

    I was brought up R.Catholic, and for a while, was distinctly uncomfortable, perhaps even a little resentful of my experience.

    But actually, I didn't have all that bad a time of it.

    Others, however, have not been so fortunate, and may actually have good cause to experience strong feelings of antipathy.

    As I said, it's not in the slightest bit uncommon.
    I merely mentioned it to help, not to criticise....

  • Apologies, i suppose that did come off as mean eh.....

    I really did not intend for it to be mean, i just did not want to be misinterpreted. I suppose my choices of words earlier could be easily interpreted as other things, and i really do appreciate your response. It gave me much to think about. As has everybody's in some way or another. But in thinking about it, i ended up with more questions to ask....

    Looking back on it even some of what i said doesn't even make sense to me. lol.....and im the one who typed it. I guess you could say im guilty of ranting a little bit. But its so nice to talk to people who dont consider me "insane" or "weird" or whatever for talking about these types of things.

    I really do appreciate everybody here. Thank you again for hearing me, and taking the time to respond to a messed up persons messed up thoughts.

    silverlobsterhow
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