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TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

Hi Everyone,

I am curious to hear everyone's experiences in Buddhism, whether it be a cup of coffee with another Buddhist, visiting a temple or just having a conversation with a monk. If you havn't done either of these, maybe how you got into Buddhism. I was talking to my partner yesterday about how great it is to have this forum because other than everyone on here I don't know of any other Buddhists (or I am not aware of it). My partner is Catholic and can pick up the phone anytime and speak to a friend or family member about their beliefs and faith.

I have also been looking at excursions where I can live in a Buddhist Monastery like "Monk for a Month". Has anyone done anything exciting like that, I would love to hear about it. Please include pictures if you can :-)


  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Also, please list any great books you have read. Right now I am reading "The Mind and the Way" by Ajahn Sumedho

  • 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

    I was a good Roman Catholic girl from the ground up, straight from the get-go. I was born into an RC Italian family, so every single relative was a good church-going Catholic. I was baptised, had 1st Holy Communion, I was confirmed, and educated at a convent.
    I subsequently married in a Nuptial Mass, and baptised both my daughters, and educated them in Catholic schools too.
    So you'd think I had a pretty solid, unshakeable grounding in Catholicism.
    Hmmmm.... nope.
    Not a bit of it.
    see, my Parents raised me to be Curious.
    And being Curious means you ask questions.
    And curiosity is only rewarded and satisfied, when the answers are rewarding and satisfying.

    Well, maybe I was a bit rebellious at school, and maybe I DID ask a few too many awkward questions for the nuns' liking....But it never really took off with me, not 100%.

    I mean, give me credit, I tried. Honestly, I DID try. Heck, I tried so hard I was even nominated two terms running (2 years each) as a Parent Governor at my daughters' RC Primary school. So yeah, I really did try.
    But, as they say, ..."some fell on stony ground"... and I never stopped having this...'niggle', at the back of my mind that something just didn't seem right. Genuine. Real. Practical. Acceptable. BELIEVABLE. Try as I might, it just wouldn't gel.

    Then, as everyone here knows, A Holy Miracle happened. :D

    My wonderful Roman Catholic Mother sent me a book, with a note explaining that "I might find this interesting..." And wham. That did it. I was immediately and inexorably drawn to Buddhism. It was as if this book had been written exclusively for my eyes, and was simply waiting for me to discover and to read it.
    I decided to highlight all the passages that resonated, but gave up after three pages - because there was more highlighted than not.

    The book?

    The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.

    And the rest, as they say, is history.
    To cut a long story short - here I am....!

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Amazing story @federica! Thanks for sharing. I also grew up Roman Catholic and also felt something that didn't really allow me to be in it whole heartedly

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Oh, and I am compiling a good list of books to read since unfortunetly I can only read one at a time :p

  • KannonKannon NAMU AMIDA BUTSU Ach-To Veteran

    I wasn't raised in a very religious household, the last time I went to church with both of my parents was around 8. During junior high I became mentally ill and self harmed and it got worse over the years. Halfway through high school I hit rock bottom and wanted to find something that could help me b/c nothing else did the trick. So I looked up Buddhism. It's core messages spoke to me and I've always admired Eastern thought. Though the practice isn't as "easy" as I thought it would be, it fits for me.

    I've never been to a temple or spoken to another Buddhist in person, monk/nun or lay practitioner, save for one guy I met last summer, talked to for 15 minutes, and never saw again.

    I went to San Francisco last summer and something about the trip was very spiritual for me. I had just recently bought a book of Eckhart Tolle's at a thrift store and read it on the trip. Then halfway into the week I found a Buddhist shop and got a new book and some other things. Even though I didn't really do much soul searching or anything super exciting, the city had an energy to it that I could viscerally feel. Also, it was LGBT Pride weekend, so there was a heartfelt communal vibe too.

    Once I experienced that I really knew Buddhism was for me.

    Books I love:

    Living Buddha, Living Christ

    Living As a River (six element practice)

    A New Earth: Awakening Your Life's Purpose

    Buddha by Deepak Chopra

    I will try to find the book I got in San Fran and post it here. The author wasn't as well known.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Thanks for sharing eggsavior. Happy to hear that Buddhism helped you with your difficulties/sufferings. The practice isn't as easy as I thought for me either but I'm loving it and it makes me feel good.

  • @federica said:

    To cut a long story short - here I am....!

    here = sandittiko
    I = ehipassiko
    the wee bit missing is now = akaliko

    see how closer you are to Dhmma itself?

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    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.

  • Sogyal Rinpoche - one of my Gurus!

  • TNH -another!

  • The various artistic works of William Blake

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Wow! Very interesting story, thanks for sharing @Kerome

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited January 2017

    @Tigger said:
    Wow! Very interesting story, thanks for sharing @Kerome

    I still think the combination of Osho and Buddhism is a very interesting one. Osho's perspective on many religions was quite special, he had a lot of insight into the heart of things, and a lot of time spent with Osho lectures will give you a very modern look at the broad scope of spirituality down human history.

    What Buddhism brings is a very long path which most people can walk, and feel like they are getting something out of it. A lot of sannyasins could learn a lot from keeping the precepts, focusing on right speech and kindness in more agitated moments. Many of them are very nice people, partaking of a spiritual life, but they sometimes lose themselves in the emotion of the moment. This is why I think they are complimentary.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    I still think the combination of Osho and Buddhism is a very interesting one. Osho's perspective on many religions was quite special, he had a lot of insight into the heart of things, and a lot of time spent with Osho lectures will give you a very modern look at the broad scope of spirituality down human history.

    Thanks Kerome, I will check it out

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 2017

    The first time I saw and heard a monk was in the main house where this temple is presently in mourning for the King of Thailand, whose official London residence hosts the temple in its back garden/grounds. I had organised a trip for about half a dozen of us school kids.
    A monk gave a talk in Thai, which had to be translated and then we meditated and were given tea.

    We had not been taught meditation, so it was strange. We sat in chairs and somone at the back was snoring loudly. To me it seemed no different to a Church service - maybe more exotic.

    Here is a pic of the temple which I also visited a few days ago, lighting candles and incense whilst doing walking meditation around the temple. I have gone to walking and sitting meditation classes here, eaten with the Theravadin monks etc.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Thanks for sharing @lobster. The temple looks beautiful, it must have been an amazing experience. I don't know if we have temples like that in Toronto from what I have seen but I wanted to take a trip east and visit one.

  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran

    Hi @Tigger, I have Schizophrenia and was going psychotic after eight years of stability. I met a guy on a mental health forum who was going on about psychosis being a spiritual emergency/emergence (in my case it wasn't it was just looniness). So I thought I try spiritual practice to augment my psychiatric treatment I heard meditation calms the mind so took it up. Here I am still now stable five and a half years later. I usually meditate a couple of hours a day in thirty to forty minute sessions.

    Some good books - The Sound of Silence Ajahn Sumedho
    Don't Take Your LIfe Personally Ajahn Sumedho
    Being Dharma Ajahn Chah
    A Still Forest Pool Ajahn Chah
    Zen Mind, Beginners Mind Shunryu Suzuzki
    Not Always So Shunryu Suzuki

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    I'm glad that it helped you @Lonely_Traveller and thanks for the list of books. I am getting a very good list know which should keep me busy.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Share your experience

    The mid 90s was when the run of the mill crap that normally happened (ie, shit happens) became a severe case of Dukkha diarrhoea, the world that "I" had been conditioned to, began to collapse.....

    However a karmic seed had been sown into the subconscious many moons ago, whilst travelling around the Indian continent and other parts of South East Asia , visiting the Buddha's old haunts so to speak, ie, Buddhist temples, monasteries etc ("I" was just a backpacking tourist...not a spiritual tourist seeking enlightenment, as were the many Westerners travelling around India at the time, that I came across) However this seed didn't germinate until the mid 90s .... it's been nurtured ever since... (with Tender Loving Karmic Care) ...

    And when it comes to the somewhat vast array of Dharma teachers from different schools/sects of Buddhism, (and thus have I the good fortune to have heard)....I have found...The finger/teacher (regardless of which hand/school/sect) can only point in the direction of the moon/Dharma, the rest is up to the flow of awareness that the student's karmic patterns produce :)

    "Great Faith and Great Doubt are two ends of a spiritual walking stick. We grip one end with the grasp given to us by our Great Determination. We poke into the underbrush in the dark on our spiritual journey. This act is real spiritual practice -- gripping the Faith end and poking ahead with the Doubt end of the stick. If we have no Faith, we have no Doubt. If we have no Determination, we never pick up the stick in the first place."

    ~Sensei Sevan Ross~

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited January 2017

    As @federica lock-stepped her way through Roman Catholicism, I lock-stepped through intellectual stuff... very smart, very savvy... and in the end, like other lock-step stuff, however well-camouflaged, very full of shit. In the end, what felt like the in-your-face lash of "full of shit" came around for me: For example, the idea of being a six-month monk at a Zen monastery foundered on the rocks of reality ... I ain't no monk. I went; I stayed a bit; I flunked out. But instead of sinking my Buddhist ship altogether, the realization (and I can't say I liked it at the time ... I was très holy, dontcha know)... built a fire under my butt and encouraged me to stop pretending I could understand all the dainty corners of spiritual life.

    Flunking out of a monastery was one of the best things that ever happened to me. This is not to say I feel like some kind of 'success,' but rather, perhaps, that I got a small taste of the pie. Overall, my experience was one of creeping up on spiritual life until one day, spiritual life whipped around and bit me on the butt. Yes, Virginia, there is a spiritual life and his/her name is not Santa Claus. Belief and hope only reach so far. At some point, it's time to get to work.

  • I very much liked @Lonely_Traveller story. Others have mentioned the process of being broken as part of their journey. There has to be a motivation. A dissatisfaction or realisation that the path one is on is not facilitating understanding.

    After my visit to the temple, I continued my study of available options. Joining a Gnostic Christian group. Practicing and teaching yoga. Studying wizardry and believing with sufficient effort I could make a break through ...

    Of course it is not effort but right effort in the right way that is important.

    Cavorting exciting gurus were easy to see as self deluded frauds, narcissists or unable to solve their own problems. I am assuming alcoholism in Trungpas case, or nitrous oxide addiction and narcism is a problem ...

    Eventually I had to ask, 'what is useful?' ... B)

    Here is a book you can read for free that I found useful:

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Thanks @Shoshin, seems like a really interesting story. I am hoping to visit that area myself.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Thanks for sharing @genkaku. It looks like a lot of the people on here had a great journey either personally or physically

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I very much liked @Lonely_Traveller story. Others have mentioned the process of being broken as part of their journey. There has to be a motivation. A dissatisfaction or realisation that the path one is on is not facilitating understanding.

    Yes, I can see the trend there. I too felt dissatisfied with what I thought was important and chasing things I did not need only for my own pleasure which never really gave me true pleasure. When hate rose and showed its ugly face during the election last year I knew I needed something better. I am new but the benefits I have already seen are priceless. Thanks again for sharing =)

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    ' be a cup of coffee with another Buddhist, visiting a temple or just having a conversation with a monk. ....'

    Does tea and meditation with TNH count?! B) ....Right before his stroke, he came to my home monastery, and I attended a day! Not to mention laying guided meditation lead by Sister Chan Khong. It was a nice experience....the building was small...maybe 50 max inside. o:)

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