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Out of curiosity; what school do you follow?

Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer
edited January 24 in Sanghas

Like the title says, I'm curious about the School you follow, why so, and I wonder if you've looked into others. Also what your religious upbringing may have been.

I'm certain this has been discussed before, but this will identify active members better to other active members.

My own upbringing is sporadic doses of protestant Christianity, Pentecostal at times. After adulthood I ran the gamut; atheist at times, seminarian at others. It was while listening to the Bible on CD that I suddenly, simply could not bring myself to believe it. Within two months I had lost my mother AND my savior god. I took a pretty good tailspin from there, to the point where I was obsessing so badly that I couldn't function. Couldn't eat. Couldn't sleep. Couldn't work. I was convinced that I was witnessing my own descent into insanity. In desperation I set up a candle in a dark background, and sat and stared at that candle. I, like many others, thought that meditation meant to stop thinking. Well, that didn't happen, but at the end of the three to five minutes that seemed an eternity I did feel better. So I did it a few more times. I also erroneously thought that the Buddha invented meditation, so I determined to look into Buddhism.

(For those of other schools, please don't take offense, nothing I'm about to say is intended as an insult. I firmly believe that a) your school chooses you, or b) you were happy with your first school and saw no reason to look elsewhere.)

The first Temple I found was a Won Buddhist Temple (a semi-obscure sect of Korean Buddhism). To this day it's my favorite temple and probably the nicest people. But the doctrine didn't reference the Buddha, or even depict him. I then looked into Zen for awhile, but it left me cold for some reason. I moved to Tibetan Vajrayana but the focus on rirual reminded me too much of Catholicism. In the end I looked online. I discovered two quizzes under 'which school of Buddhism is right for me'. Both came up with Zen, or Thai Forest Theravada. Well, Zen was out (although I did try again), so I looked into Theravada and appreciated it's focus on the Early Buddhist Texts and meditation. Yes it has it's flaws, but much like Islam, it's main flaws seem to be more cultural than doctrinal (although the doctrines are flawed as well).

To be frank, my departure from Buddhism as a whole is the chanting. I understand it's function, but I take issue with chanting things I don't believe (some of the supernatural aspects) in a language I don't understand.

Anyway, that's my story...

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    And a well-written background piece it is... regular forum followers probably know my story, but I make no secret of it and don’t mind summarising it again.

    My parents grew up grounded in the Dutch Reformed Church, but they rebelled around the time my father went to university, the first member of our family to do so. Their rebellion took them through the flower power era and after a while they joined Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s movement, I was seven at the time. So although my early childhood was pretty normal, i later on was a ‘commune kid’, and ended up travelling the world before I was aged 15. I got a solid grounding in all kinds of religious directions from Bhagwan’s lectures, learning about sufism, zen, Hindu mysticism, people like George Gurdjieff and many others.

    Later I went to university and had a career in IT, during which I was largely atheist. Spirituality wasn’t very much on my horizon, until a serious health issue reignited my interest. I first started listening to Bhagwan’s lectures again (he is now called Osho), and eventually decided to investigate some things first hand. What I most resonated with was Buddhism.

    My health forced me to take a prolonged period off work, and I used the time to do a lot of reading and investigating, Thich Nhat Hanh especially appealed. But I got in touch with a local Tibetan Buddhist temple of the Gelug tradition, and did a number of courses with them. Eventually I found it difficult to integrate with the community, and the Gelug emphasis on learning and not meditation led me to set it aside. I had a good look at other streams, and spent a long time looking into the Thai Forest Theravada.

    In the end I consider myself only half a Buddhist, i listen to a diversity of spiritual material, Osho, Advaita Vedanta. I am not really in favour of official affiliations, I believe that everyone walks a unique path. But the Buddhist influence has gone quite deep, and I have learned much from it.

    Rob_V
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    Currently, I'd say that I'm a perennialist of sorts in that my religious views combine aspects of Buddhism, Catholicism, paganism, and various philosophical systems into a single spiritual practice reflecting my belief in a universal truth which underlies the foundation of all spiritual traditions in some shape or form. But the traditions that I primarily follow and look towards for guidance are the Thai Forest tradition of Theravada and Christian contemplativism such as can be found in works like The Cloud of Unknowing, The Philokalia, etc. In the past, however, I've studied and practiced in multiple Buddhist traditions (Vipassana, Sakya, Zen, Chan), have interests in Platoism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, etc., and spent time in multiple pagan and naturalistic groups. If truth is the moon, spiritual traditions are the fingers pointing towards it, and our personal practice is our attempt to look in the right direction. But once it's seen, then the finger is no longer needed.

    Rob_VlobsterJeffreyKerome
  • I started out practicing in a city outside of my own home town as I was away for graduate school in chemistry in Florida. After my first year I developed a mental illness of schizoaffective disorder and meditation helped me recover from the shock and disruption of that illness. I was in Florida though for six more years and ended up getting a masters degree and completed a year of pharmacy school, but had my first taste of academic failure in pharmacy school because when I was symptomatic it was impossible to study in a regular way because of delusions about hidden messages (everywhere!) in words.

    I hadn't done much practice with a group but just several times in a Korean Zen sangha and I liked that. I left Florida when I got my degree and I left a relationship with a woman who was not good for me because of her drinking and 'man-izing'.

    I came back to Michigan hometown to figure things out again and restart and have more family support. I tried a local pan-religious group who held meditations but it seemed a bit odd because they were like a mixture of every religion and I read online that most of their focus was on the word of the Bible although they were unconventional Christians.

    Next I found an online learning opportunity in a group with a Lama who had formerly studied as a nun in northern India and had been approved/asked by her teacher to move back to the west and start teaching the dharma in her own language of English. She was taught in the Mahamudra tradition eventually and you can read her memoirs of her experiences learning from some great teachers who fled to India since the invasion of Tibet in the book: "Keeping The Dalai Lama Waiting & Other Stories: An English Woman's Journey to Becoming a Buddhist Lama" by Lama Shenpen Hookham.

    She teaches a beginners course though it is from a Mahamudra perspective. When I took the course it was called Discovering the Heart of Buddhism. She has connections to the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. I slowly took the course over the years completing 4 workbooks in maybe 10 years that could have been done easily in 4. I also joined the transcribing team and so heard more dharma talks than I would have just on my own motivation. And I've read for years Lama's answer to student questions highlighted in weekly public responses from questions of students.

    Right now I'm reading a book by a sangha mate about making meaningful relationships with people who have dementia and I'm finding I can compare it to my experience with mental illness. I'm also (before taking more courses with sangha) tackling my stash of pan-Buddhist books and by pan-Buddhist I mean from all different Buddhist traditions. I've read: Not Always So by Suzuki and Zen Keys by Thich Nhat Hanh in the fall and I've read a book by HHDL about modern times what to do. Currently I'm reading a pan-Buddhist dictionary my brother gave my years ago and I am in the S section.

    lobsterRob_V
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Rob_V said:
    Like the title says, I'm. curious about the School you follow, why so, and I wonder if you've looked into others. Also what your religious upbringing may have been.

    Schools I follow:

    1. Theravadan - I love the simplicity, groundedness and culture around it.
    2. Pure Land - I love the chanting and the faith aspect.

    Religious upbringing - none

    Rob_V
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited January 24

    @Bunks said:

    @Rob_V said:
    Like the title says, I'm. curious about the School you follow, why so, and I wonder if you've looked into others. Also what your religious upbringing may have been.

    Schools I follow:

    1. Theravadan - I love the simplicity, groundedness and culture around it. I enjoy meditation.
    2. Pure Land - I love the chanting and the faith aspect. The idea I can be born in a land after this life that assures my enlightenment is very appealing. As a lay person, I don't think my chances of becoming enlightened in this lifetime through my own steam are very good.

    Religious upbringing - none

    I flirted with Zen and Tibetan but didn't appeal although I do like various aspects.

    Rob_V
  • @Kerome said:
    In the end I consider myself only half a Buddhist

    I try not to consider myself but fail more than half the time.
    The rest of the time I like to spend free of labels.
    However my favourite schools are fish schools o:)

    BunksKeromeRob_Vyagr
  • Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer

    @lobster said:

    @Kerome said:
    In the end I consider myself only half a Buddhist

    I try not to consider myself but fail more than half the time.
    The rest of the time I like to spend free of labels.
    However my favourite schools are fish schools o:)

    Fish probably meditate better than I do...

    lobsterKeromeBunksShoshin1
  • ajhayesajhayes Konchok Dondrup Zopa Northern Michigan Veteran

    I was raised Roman Catholic.

    I started with studying Soto Zen. Now I study Tibetan Buddhism, Drikung Kagyu school. I felt like an imposter in Soto Zen, though I love the simplicity of it.

  • Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer

    @ajhayes said:
    I felt like an imposter in Soto Zen...

    Why is that, if you don't mind the imposition?

  • yagryagr Veteran

    I would not refer to myself as a follower of any school, unless truth is a school. To that end, I'm not following it as much as uncovering it. I am making an effort to eradicate beliefs rather than add more.

    DavidlobsterShoshin1how
  • ajhayesajhayes Konchok Dondrup Zopa Northern Michigan Veteran

    @Rob_V said:

    @ajhayes said:
    I felt like an imposter in Soto Zen...

    Why is that, if you don't mind the imposition?

    I wish I could put my finger on it. I enjoyed the practice and benefitted from it, I just never "felt it."

  • The "School" that I embrace and practice is SGI Nichiren Buddhism.

    Alex
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    @ajhayes said:
    I felt like an imposter in Soto Zen, though I love the simplicity of it.

    I felt at home in Gelug Tibetan Buddhism, more or less. It was learning from texts, which my academic background had well prepared me for. But it still wasn’t the right stream for me, training the mind wasn’t what I was looking for.

    Just to say, sometimes what immediately feels right isn’t the most beneficial.

    ajhayeshowAlex
  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Veteran
    edited February 21

    I was raised as an atheist. My parents paid little attention to spirituality and religion. They classified it as simply "nonsense" used by humans to explain material phenomena which they could yet not understand. However, my mother was very interested in Jodorowsky ,Tarot cards, and Osho books. But it didn't go or develop into anything.

    I do recall praying to a Buddha my mother had as an incense holder in an attempt to emulate Anji (a warrior monk from the series Rurouni Kenshin).

    At age 16 I read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. My timid atheism had become a much more determined and harsh Militant Atheism. And it would not be until 2018 that I
    would begin to pay attention to spirituality / religious practice. First, through the Vedas, Hare Krsna, and the Upanishads. And a year later through Shambhala Buddhism.

    Currently, I'm following a mix of Zen and Theravada. For some reason both schools appease me and I find it hard to decide which path to take. From the Theravada I enjoy the chanting, the study of Pali and the Abhidhamma. But from Zen I like the idea of shikantaza. I practised this with a fellow NB member for the first time and, quite surprisingly for my heavily intellectually-driven mind, it was quite liberating and natural.

    howChoephal
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    I try to live the Dzogchen path. Not because I think it is superior, which I only mention because some Dzogchen people really give that impression, but because having tried several others, and also being completely ecumenical, I find that having a focus saves me a lot of time and energy.
    I am undisciplined by nature and was constantly digging up the seed bed I had planted because something else had caught my eye and I wanted to include it.
    Focused, but not narrow, is my aim.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    Well, that’s a great question !

    I practice :-

    • Samatha meditation (derives from Theravada tradition) and I join with a Sangha around this

    • Plum Village UK sangha - Thich Nhat Hanh-inspired lineage, lovely meditations and discussions

    • Pure Land - I attend some services online with a Sangha, with some Nembutsu chanting, etc.,

    I sometimes attend online Zen services too. I’m drawn to Zen conceptually, I find some aspects a bit more ritualistic than I seek, albeit I have many friends in Zen and I like to show my face sometimes.

    I’m still a seeker, as you can see. Different practices suit me in different moods. I’d like to trim down and find somewhere firmer to land, but that hasn’t yet shown itself yet, or I haven’t revealed it to myself.

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran
    edited February 22

    @Alex said:
    I’m still a seeker, as you can see. Different practices suit me in different moods. I’d like to trim down and find somewhere firmer to land, but that hasn’t yet shown itself yet, or I haven’t revealed it to myself.

    I totally sympathise, I’ve been in that space for about five years. Although I would say that I have drifted somewhat away from the purely Buddhist path in recent years as well, and so maybe have gone further afield. I was never able to find a tradition of which I could say that the core values coincided with my own.

    In the end I think it was Osho’s saying, that one should not become a member of one religion but instead learn from the teachings of all, which convinced me that it was not the right path for me to choose one tradition.

    It does make me wonder if a longer time spent adhering strictly to the discipline of one tradition might not have been better. It appeals to the disciplinarian in me, although I realise he is not a very good spiritual exemplar. But then I look at Stephen Batchelor and his Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist and I see where twelve years of monastic discipline got him, which is not really closer to being enlightened.

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    @Kerome it’s an interesting thing to consider. I remember reading Osho, he was reminding the reader that Buddha was not a Buddhist, Jesus was not a Christian, Mohammed was not a Muslim. All those religions came afterwards, based upon the teachings and messages. There’s some merit in enjoying the best aspects of many traditions and faiths and that’s what I do now and probably will do until such a point one in particular stands out as ‘the one’ ! It would certainly be less stress to stick to one path I think, but as you say, I’m not sure it is for everyone, or even the best way. Certainly, some looking over the wall at other traditions would likely to continue to occur and that’s no bad thing.

  • 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

    school...? I don't even feel I have left kindergarten, at times... not sure which school I follow, or that I would even presume to say I follow Buddhism, much less call myself Buddhist...
    As things stand, I feel I am clutching at mist in a darkened room... I feel deep down this to be a temporary hiatus, though... the phrase "You can take the Girl out of Buddhism, but you can't take Buddhism out of the girl!" seems to be an apt one in my case.

    Call me a weary-to-the-bone traveller... I'm just sitting on a rock, by the path... taken my backpack off, and am enjoying a quiet cheese sandwich and a cold root beer... I'll catch up, by and by... As Richard Dreyfuss said..."Don't wait for me!"

    AlexKeromeyagr
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    @federica it’s nice to see you back again ;) However there is a certain ambiguity in saying that you wouldn’t call yourself a Buddhist, and then later responding that you can’t take Buddhism out of the Girl. I feel all at sea from the turns of phrase.

  • 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

    what I mean is, once you've been affected by Buddhism, it sticks like velcro... It's like an onion. it can't shed it's skin and not be called an onion....

    AlexKerome
  • As things stand, I feel I am clutching at mist in a darkened room...

    let it go o:)

    It is a difficult but good place to be.

    Things to do there:

    • light a candle
    • pray for what is impossible
    • beat the hell out of bread or similar
    • shine
    AlexfedericaTara1978
  • 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

    good advice, as ever, @lobster. even when it isn't... ;)

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    @Alex said:
    @Kerome it’s an interesting thing to consider. I remember reading Osho, he was reminding the reader that Buddha was not a Buddhist, Jesus was not a Christian, Mohammed was not a Muslim. All those religions came afterwards, based upon the teachings and messages.

    Yes that’s right, that is a point he made regularly, these various enlightened teachers arose out of the environments of their time, and it is not necessarily by following what their disciples made of their teachings that you can duplicate their efforts. Osho called Buddha ‘an Everest of consciousness’ and to reach that summit is not a certain thing.

    There’s some merit in enjoying the best aspects of many traditions and faiths and that’s what I do now and probably will do until such a point one in particular stands out as ‘the one’ ! It would certainly be less stress to stick to one path I think, but as you say, I’m not sure it is for everyone, or even the best way. Certainly, some looking over the wall at other traditions would likely to continue to occur and that’s no bad thing.

    Have you ever done any reading into comparative theology? It is a whole academic field, the comparison of religion.

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    @Kerome I haven’t read into comparative theology, that’s something I should look into. I’m currently reading more Thich Nhat Hanh, I find him hugely comforting and speaks from and to the heart.

    Tara1978Kerome
  • Tara1978Tara1978 UK Veteran

    None at the moment, a free floating semi buddhist. Spent 5 years involved with a cultish, chinese school before seeing sense. At the moment reading TNH and figuring out which direction to head once lockdown is over.

    KeromeShoshin1
  • ShimShim Veteran

    After a bumpy road I follow a mishmash of different schools and a fair amount of non-Buddhism, I've drifted to the western versions of Zen (including occasional TNH). Simplicity and openness in practice. Belief-wise I'm definitely a heretic so I focus on the practical side.

    KeromeShoshin1
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    It’s good to see that Thich Nhat Hanh stays such a popular figure, despite that he himself is no longer touring and teaching.

  • 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

    @federica said:
    school...? I don't even feel I have left kindergarten, at times... not sure which school I follow, or that I would even presume to say I follow Buddhism, much less call myself Buddhist...
    As things stand, I feel I am clutching at mist in a darkened room... I feel deep down this to be a temporary hiatus, though... the phrase "You can take the Girl out of Buddhism, but you can't take Buddhism out of the girl!" seems to be an apt one in my case.

    Call me a weary-to-the-bone traveller... I'm just sitting on a rock, by the path... taken my backpack off, and am enjoying a quiet cheese sandwich and a cold root beer... I'll catch up, by and by... As Richard Dreyfuss said..."Don't wait for me!"

    Well there you go...
    A heated discussion between 2 moderators in a Group chat room on Facebook looked like escalating into a real humdinger of a verbal fisticuffs... at one point, I had both of them on separate PMs, having a good old rant and jibe at one another..... and over the period of about an hour, I managed to pour oil on troubled waters... so much so that during the afternoon, they were laughing and joking like old buddies... and it occurred to me that I had utilised a lot of Buddhist skills to soften the blows, clear furrowed brows and set Minds at ease.
    Both people, at separate times, referred to me as wise, although I was quick to put this down as just senility trying to keep up... a learning curve for all... a glad moment of realising that every day I can say "Well, there's something I didn't know yesterday...!"
    But it gladdened my heart that at least, some of it stuck and took root, it seems.
    So maybe there's life in the old girl yet, and I'm not as far off the path as I thought myself to be...
    It felt nice to see two people relate to my words, and leave them happy with the outcome....

    JeffreylobsterShoshin1
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