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What are your 'wow' moments in Buddhism?

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

So what realisations made you sit up and say "wow" in Buddhism? What things really made you look at the world in a new and different way?


  • 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 not easy, on the spur of the moment, to think of any one specific "Ahaaah!" lightbulb situation, although I'm sure there have been a few, and I may even have mentioned one in the past...
    Unfortunately, they have mostly been triggered (to my recollection) by pithy, succinct and pertinent one-liners, rather than long prosaic passages of Wisdom, tailored to the legion readers of a particular book....

    However, in the interests of nostalgia, and because I really, really miss him so much, here is a (lighthearted) look at one member's angle on a 'lightbulb' moment....

    My heart goes out to @Simonthepilgrim.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    One I would add to the list is hearing Thich Nhat Hanh explaining the interrelatedness of all things, what they call "interbeing". In short, it is the fact that in a flower here on a table you can see the sun, the earth, the rain, the clouds, the hand that picked that flower... without all of those things the flower would not be here, and in a way all those things are still present within the flower.

    It is a beautiful concept, and related is what TNH calls 'looking deeply', the habit of looking in detail at what something is, where it came from and what feeds it.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    TNH is awesome. The first book of his I ever read was Living Buddha Living Christ. However Lama Surya Das is the teacher who gave me my light bulb moment in understanding the 4 Noble Truths.

  • For me some powerful meditative experiences over the years, the strongest ones were outdoors, sitting on the top of hills.

    Also hearing the Heart Sutra for the first time, both profound and beautiful.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    I was sitting out in the woods one day. The wind blew and the trees moved back and fourth. Then a bird chirped!

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

    Not to be a wet blanket, but of my own wowser moments I remember and cherish and can retail from time to time, perhaps the most compelling was the recognition that arose after the wowser. It was then, in the quiet after-space, that I realized I was compelled to integrate what was knock-me-on-my-ass special into a life I had previously considered somehow un-special or ignorant or brush-my-teeth ordinary.

    Special stuff lights my fire, warms my heart, encourages and propels me, perhaps, but who is this critter who assumes there is a time without fire. So ... after having had my socks blown off (honestly-- yummy!), there was also the time to put my socks back on.

    Oh well ....

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    One of my first wow moments in Buddhism was when I read the first lines of the Dhammapada.
    The fact that the ethical quality of our mind determines our dukkha or sukkha, and that there is a cause-effect relationship between our thoughts and our experience of reality, struck me as a huge turning-point from theistic religions.

    "Mental states are preceded by mind,
    have mind as their ruler,
    are created by mind."

    Acting or speaking with an impure mind perpetuates the cycle of dukkha.
    Acting or speaking with a pure mind creates sukkha.
    And through the development of right view, we could pass from the former to the latter.

    Chögyam Trungpa's quote seemed to me to add to that feeling of personal responsibility:

    "It is easier to put on a pair of shoes than to wrap the earth in leather."

  • yagryagr Veteran

    I think the realization, while doing the dishes maybe twenty-five years ago, that I was truly present a moment before the realization and that the experience cleared up so much theory.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    There is nothing in Buddhism that has that effect.

    Well, I wouldn't know for sure, since my knowledge does not encompass all of Buddhism. But I think there are some stories which, when you really take them in, drastically change your inner world. Take for example the story of King Milinda and the Venerable Nagasena discussing the nature of the chariot, which shows you that all objects we think we know are merely composites and empty of a true nature.

    You could say, chemistry and physics teach us the same thing, that all things can be decomposed into smaller and smaller particles... but thinking immediately about molecules, atoms, protons and quarks does not give you the same insight as Milinda and his chariot. The latter is a human scale representation of the principle.

    Or perhaps for some people it's their first experience of the deeper grounds of meditation. Many of those techniques are also based in Buddhism. Similarly I think the whole scope of it, the idea of enlightenment, of a virtuous cycle of ethics to meditation to wisdom, of a path that takes lifetimes to follow, has proven its power to entrance generations of asiatics.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Sitting in the present reading what's on screen-
    Not wondering what comes next nor where "I" might have been

    Wow moments are many, far too many for this "I" to count-
    Counting moments that can Wow..Wow ! there's a phenomenal amount

    Being in present mindedness, each moment is a Wow-
    And there's no time like the present ...(Is there anywhere apart from Now ? )

    Thanks for nothing Buddhism :)

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I think learning that a lot of things that stress you emotionally somehow if even physically I learned that you could just let go of that and over the long haul a lot of 'problems' will just go away eventually particularly when you have let go. Some examples are nicotine addiction which doesn't go away overnight but it's like something that eventually you realize you have turned the corner and will likely have the cravings get smaller and smaller. Another idea in that line was therapy where a realized at least for my therapists they were just going to listen to me and maybe ask questions to clarify but it wasn't like 'do this then do this and do this' to be at the mountain top. No it was just a time to express myself and meet with my 'cheerleader' counselor. The third example was for me I had intrusive voices talking to me all my waking hours of each day mostly maybe 80% of the time. And the realization was that they were 'empty' voices and I didn't have to make them go away, I didn't have to say anything to them, and I didn't have to understand what they said to me. They were just empty voices. And finally a fourth thing but not in this idea of letting things dissolve I have learned I think some 'right effort' or 'virya paramita' or in other words I could develop energy to do the things and choose the things I felt were necessary in my life. So kind of like I can make 'to do lists', but there is more to it than that.

    The Profound Definitive Meaning ~ Milarepa

    For the mind that masters view the emptiness dawns
    In the content seen not even an atom exists
    A seer and seen refined until they're gone
This way of realizing view, it works quite well

    When meditation is clear light river flow
    There is no need to confine it to sessions and breaks
    Meditator and object refined until they're gone
    This heart bone of meditation, it beats quite well

    When you're sure that conducts work is luminous light
    And you're sure that interdependence is emptiness
    A doer and deed refined until they're gone
    This way of working with conduct, it works quite well

    When biased thinking has vanished into space
    No phony facades, eight dharmas, nor hopes and fears,
    A keeper and kept refined until they're gone
    This way of keeping samaya, it works quite well

    When you've finally discovered your mind is dharmakaya
    And you're really doing yourself and others good
    A winner and won refined until they're gone
    This way of winning results, it works quite well.

    translated by Marpa Translation Committee

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @lobster said:
    _A Zen Master lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain.

    Reminds me of another little zen story. :)

    A monk asked a master, "I just became a monk and would like to know how to enter Buddhahood."
    The master said, "Do you hear the waterfall?"
    "Yes I do" replied the monk.
    Master said, "Enter there."

    I also found this little tidbit interesting!

    The most famous cultivation techique in the Shurangama Sutra is the method reported by the Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin, who used hearing to realize the self-nature. Using hearing, she was able to enter samadhi and ultimately attain complete enlightenment. Manjushri, who is the Buddha of Wisdom and teacher of the other Buddhas, said that this technique surpassed all the other dharma doors in existence.

    A cultivation saying runs, "Whoever hears the sound of water without using the sixth consciousness for thirty years will achieve Kuan-Yin's all-pervading wisdom." So in this practice, you let sounds come to your ears without trying to distinguish them. Remaining natural, relaxed, and detached, you spontaneously know what the sounds are without trying to recognize them or deliberate their meaning. Eventually you will find you can hear quiet as well as sounds, and will discover that they are both the same thing—sounds and silence are both objects of hearing, they're both phenomena. Sounds, and the state where they're absent, will still exist but will start to seem more and more separate from yourself. Since now they have less to do with you, they won't bother you so much anymore and you can detach from them both to enter into samadhi.

    A famous individual who used this technique was the Chinese Zen monk Han-shan, who practiced Kuan-Yin's method of hearing on a bridge next to a noisy torrent of water. Han-shan reported that at first the noise of the water was quite audible, but in time it could only be heard when his thoughts arose, and not when they ceased. Then one day, his practice improved such that he did not hear the sound of the water any longer: sounds and noises vanished completely.

    When describing this method in the Shurangama Sutra, Kuan-Yin said:

    I entered into the stream of the self-nature of the sense of hearing, thereby eliminating the sound of what was heard. Now procceding from this stilllness, both sound and silence ceased to arise. Advancing in this way, both hearing and what was heard melted away and vanished. When hearing and what is heard are both forgotten, then the sense of hearing leaves no impression in the mind. When sense and the objects of sense both become empty, then emptiness and sense merge and reach a state of absolute perfection. When emptiness and what is being emptied are both extinguished, then arising and extinction are naturally extinguished. At this point the absolute emptiness of nirvana became manifest, and suddenly I transcended the mundane and supra-mundane worlds.

    In this method, you listen to and gradually detach from both sound and silence. When there's no sound, we call this silence, and we conventionally say there is no hearing. But that doesn't mean that the nature of hearing has ceased. It's simply that the function of hearing now recognizes a state of no sound, or silence. Since the nature of hearing can ascertain the state of sound and no sound, it's easy to use this method to realize the nature of duality and then to detach from both existence and non-existence. That's the method of practice.

    Excerpted from Twenty-Five Doors to Meditation: A Handbook for Entering Samadhi by William Bodri and Lee Shu-Mei.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Think, see, hear, do. Wow.

    Seems like a plan.

    'Do' of course is the hard part. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to see, hear or thunk!

    What is that Milerepa? You can hear The Ocean ...

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @lobster said:
    What is that Milerepa?

    I love Milarepa, @lobster.
    I have this old book which is called "Chants from Shangri-La" (1939).
    The chants are attibuted to Milarepa and his disciples.

    "When we are in
    true meditation,
    reason and hope
    are with us always,
    bringing us peace,
    and we shall find
    that within our minds
    is the one true source
    of happiness.
    If we wish to keep
    this joy forever,
    we must guard
    our thoughts
    with great care
    against agitation
    and stupid doubts
    of darkness,
    until our spirit
    in quiet peace
    can become as
    an individual entity,
    independent of
    our physical self,
    in truth a symbol
    that it does exist,
    and someday without
    material hindrance
    or restraint
    will spring forth
    and live forever."

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2017

    Great quote from Milerepa, Tibets greatest long hiared weirdo, saint and yogi. I think he might have been a Buddhist too ... ;)

    As far as I am concerned that quote could be from any Truth tradition. An important point he makes:

    As you know I sometimes refer to my altar ego (the one that needs sacrificing) in the third person. The True Self, the real being, Buddha nature, our inner 'Spirit', is independent of accidental circumstance and karma.

    In Christian mysticism it is referred to this way:

    "He must increase, but I must decrease.”
    John 3:30

    Always The Plan ...

    These great symbolic Buddhas and inspirers are dependent on their milieu as are other Wowers ...

    That is why we take protection/inspiration/refuge

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2017

    Nice Milarepa quote. I'm finding my inner peace being challenged at the moment, as I've decided to seek regular work again after consulting for a while. This has called forth the memory of work relations with colleagues and superiors which have not always been great which are now rearing their ghostly heads, and challenging my recent meditative calm.

    I'm suddenly finding more stress in my life, even from small things such as managing finances. It's odd how these hidden patterns can come forward, stresses from years ago which had left their marks but which you had thought buried under the passage of a few years and some quiet reflection.

    Obviously I need some more Buddhist wow to keep me going... thanks guys!

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Coming to understand what Buddhism means by suffering/dukkha/unsatifactoriness. It just fit so well with so much of what I felt about life and provided answers to coping with it and accepting it rather than what our US society teaches of pushing all negative feelings away and only grasping for the "happy" ones.

    But I think for me the biggest realization has been to truly understand that "this too shall pass." Impermanence. Of course people in my life always said that, but it was always in terms of "you feel bad now but it'll go away" and never with the flip side of "you feel happy now but that'll go away, too." Once I grasped both parts of it, it changed how I view life. Because the balance for me is content in all things, and learning how to do that has made the biggest difference. That i don't have to react to situations in life with extreme emotional swings and wallow in them just because everyone else does. I have learned how to let emotions be and know I don't have to react to them. I have learned how to observe them, and what is going on on my surface life versus the further depths where living Buddhism resides. It has helped me bring Buddhism into every facet of my life rather than it being a segmented portion like so many people's religious beliefs seem to be.

    And lastly, learning how to investigate everything that arises in my mind. For most of my life, I lived lead around by my mind. It drug me this way and that, and I never felt things should be any different. Buddhism taught me we can train our minds, and that too was a life changer. I didn't have to be a victim of my crazy mind. I could train it to work for me and bring the core concepts of life to the forefront as a result.


    When I read this I could only think....

    CEO , Head of Science and Head of Growth...for a meditation app....


  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I guess as my "Wow" moments come together one by one, they form an orchestra made up of realisations which become the background music as "I" go about the day...

    A constant reminders of "what is"...and depending on the situation/experience, the volume/sound will auto adjust .... putting things into perspective ....

  • upekkaupekka Veteran
    edited June 2017

    @seeker242 said:
    I was sitting out in the woods one day. The wind blew and the trees moved back and fourth. Then a bird chirped!

    there are lots of questions i want to ask about this post but i ask only one.

    how did you know 'you were (I was) sitting'?

    this is not 'overthinking' or not for fun

    whoever read this post can answer to the above question taking it as

    how did he know 'he was sitting'?

  • 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

    How do you know you are asking?

  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited June 2017

    Wow moment for me was to realize that I had a monkey mind that told me a lot of strange and fearfull stories. But the teaching told me I could choose not to follow them and how to get free.

    And also the power of metta and smiling is a wow factor.

    Here you can see TNH he is still full of compassion :)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    TNH is such a lovely human. I was trying to pick up if he was feeling humorous or frustrated when he was flopping his non-working arm around. It still makes me sad he had (and has) to suffer such things, but I have no doubt he does it with grace I can't even fathom.

    Another "wow" moment for me. That no matter how crazy my day is, how rotten or overwhelmed I'm feeling, or whatever else is going on, all I have to do is think about my refuge vows or Buddhism in general, and just doing so brings me peace immediately. I imagine that's not exclusive to Buddhism, lol, but it is a newer experience for me.

  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @federica said:
    How do you know you are asking?

    answer to this is in 'How do you know' thread

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