Introduction (and in need of some advice)

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Ignorant_Fool
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Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:49 pm

Hello everyone,

Long time lurker and first time poster here. This forum is nothing short of amazing. The breadth of knowledge and experience displayed in the discussions (and bickering) here is awe-inspiring. I'm truly humbled.

I'd like to ask for some advice (if that's ok) about studying Buddhism academically - specifically an MA in Buddhist Studies. I believe such a qualification would be beneficial to me in a number of mundane ways such as job opportunities, career advancement, etc.

However, my main apprehension (besides the tuition fees) is that I fear an overly intellectual study of Buddhism might be more of hindrance to my understanding and embodiment of Dharma - especially when it's presented in this modern academia setting. I'm not saying that Buddha Dharma is anti-intellectualism (maybe, kinda?) but unlike the great Nalanda masters, I'm definitely not one who is able to use logical reasoning to form a concrete path of practice and realisation.

I'm not sure what I'm asking here but I guess I'd like to hear about your experiences with this and how it has (or hasn't) helped in your Dharma journey.

Apologies if this is inappropriate in any way whatsoever - feel free to bin this post if it is, mods.

Thanking you all in advance.

Miroku
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Miroku » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:42 pm

Hey welcome! As the least experienced memeber around I am going to answer your question. :D

My experience with Buddhist studies on University is that it is quite often just a western perception of buddhism seen through lens of western philosphy. That is what I felt like when I had my courses on buddhism at my Uni. Maybe real program dedicated to a study of buddhism will be different. But these are my 5 cents.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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KathyLauren
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by KathyLauren » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:58 pm

Welcome!

My feeling is that over-intellectualization can be a hindrance. Practise is better.

Not that there is anything wrong with pursuing an academic degree in Buddhist Studies. I worked on a BA in Eastern Religions (the nearest thing that university offered to Buddhist Studies) years ago. You will gain some fine knowledge and possibly even some skills. But, while it will make you better at arguing Buddhist trivia on discussion forums, it won't make you a better Buddhist.

I don't regret taking the courses I did. The only reason I quit was because I ran out of evening courses and would have had to finish the degree taking daytime classes that would conflict with my work. It was an interesting diversion.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Ignorant_Fool
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:12 pm

Miroku wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:42 pm

My experience with Buddhist studies on University is that it is quite often just a western perception of buddhism seen through lens of western philosphy. That is what I felt like when I had my courses on buddhism at my Uni. Maybe real program dedicated to a study of buddhism will be different. But these are my 5 cents.
Thank you for your input, Miroku. This is what I fear too. As non-sectarian as it may aim to be, the course may be presented with a western bias, even if it's unintentional.
KathyLauren wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:58 pm

Not that there is anything wrong with pursuing an academic degree in Buddhist Studies. I worked on a BA in Eastern Religions (the nearest thing that university offered to Buddhist Studies) years ago. You will gain some fine knowledge and possibly even some skills. But, while it will make you better at arguing Buddhist trivia on discussion forums, it won't make you a better Buddhist.
Part of what attracted me to this particular MA was the Pāli language module but I guess I could learn that without going through an entire MA. Thank you, Kathy. Plenty for me to think about.

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Grigoris » Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:44 pm

The FGS Buddhist studies course in Taiwan (for example) also has a practice component.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:59 pm

Welcome to DharmaWheel!
:anjali:
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TharpaChodron
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by TharpaChodron » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:23 pm

In my humble opinion, I say stick with it. I thought the same way and I believe I missed out now. Whatever confusion and internal conflicts you have can be resolved in practice while you enjoy studying something that you are passionate about. It may seem like the academic approach kills the passion, but I think that's a temporary hurdle that you can overcome (IMO).

Ignorant_Fool
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:44 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:44 pm
The FGS Buddhist studies course in Taiwan (for example) also has a practice component.
Much obliged. Will look into this.
Admin_PC wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:59 pm
Welcome to DharmaWheel!
:anjali:
Happy to be here!
TharpaChodron wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:23 pm
In my humble opinion, I say stick with it. I thought the same way and I believe I missed out now. Whatever confusion and internal conflicts you have can be resolved in practice while you enjoy studying something that you are passionate about. It may seem like the academic approach kills the passion, but I think that's a temporary hurdle that you can overcome (IMO).
I've thought along these lines as well. Perhaps if I'm a bit more vigilant, I could avoid those pitfalls I'm afraid of. That and developing a some better practices. Thank you for the advice.

passel
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by passel » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:58 pm

I’d say study and practice as much as you can. Whether graduate study is a good idea or not is a largely financial decision. I have a BA in Asian Studies and an MA in Eastern Classics, and making a living has been difficult. I did blue collar work for years then lucked into a high school/middle school teaching position with no obvious relation to anything I’d studied in school. Now I’m in law school at 42. I’m fortunate not to have debt except for what I’ve taken out for my current project, but I’m single with no dependents. Study hard, practice hard, but you’ve got to make a living in order to do either of those.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:37 am

passel wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:58 pm
I have a BA in Asian Studies and an MA in Eastern Classics, and making a living has been difficult.
This worries me too. While the whole cost is somewhat reasonable, it's still well in the upper regions in terms of affordability. I'll probably have to take a loan to cover part of it. Job opportunities post MA is definitely a concern for me. Thank you for your input.

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Dan74 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:19 pm

Hello Ignorant_Fool from a fellow ignorant fool :hi:

As far Dharma practice and study go, I think it's a matter of balance. Study should inform practice, it should be relevant to the here-and-now. Otherwise it becomes just another thing to cling to, a source of more proliferation, the sort of stuff that binds us.

_/|\_

Ignorant_Fool
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:25 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:19 pm
Study should inform practice, it should be relevant to the here-and-now. Otherwise it becomes just another thing to cling to, a source of more proliferation, the sort of stuff that binds us.
Hey Dan74! Thanks for your advice. I guess this is what I'm struggling with - finding a balance between theory and practice. Most of my own studies have been theoretical with very little actual practice, and this is definitely causing some issues already. :juggling:

passel
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by passel » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:59 am

Ignorant_Fool wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:37 am
passel wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:58 pm
I have a BA in Asian Studies and an MA in Eastern Classics, and making a living has been difficult.
This worries me too. While the whole cost is somewhat reasonable, it's still well in the upper regions in terms of affordability. I'll probably have to take a loan to cover part of it. Job opportunities post MA is definitely a concern for me. Thank you for your input.
I don’t mean to dissuade you from any particular choice, just offering a perspective on what additional factors you may want to consider. In the meantime, and beyond, study! Practice!
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:35 am

Ignorant_Fool wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:12 pm
this particular MA was the Pāli language module
Which particular MA? where?

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:44 am

Ignorant_Fool wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:49 pm
Hello everyone,

Long time lurker and first time poster here. This forum is nothing short of amazing. The breadth of knowledge and experience displayed in the discussions (and bickering) here is awe-inspiring. I'm truly humbled.

I'd like to ask for some advice (if that's ok) about studying Buddhism academically - specifically an MA in Buddhist Studies. I believe such a qualification would be beneficial to me in a number of mundane ways such as job opportunities, career advancement, etc.

However, my main apprehension (besides the tuition fees) is that I fear an overly intellectual study of Buddhism might be more of hindrance to my understanding and embodiment of Dharma - especially when it's presented in this modern academia setting. I'm not saying that Buddha Dharma is anti-intellectualism (maybe, kinda?) but unlike the great Nalanda masters, I'm definitely not one who is able to use logical reasoning to form a concrete path of practice and realisation.

I'm not sure what I'm asking here but I guess I'd like to hear about your experiences with this and how it has (or hasn't) helped in your Dharma journey.

Apologies if this is inappropriate in any way whatsoever - feel free to bin this post if it is, mods.

Thanking you all in advance.

I think that likely only you can answer this question. It's my impression that there are some people for whom academic study informs and enriches their Buddhist practices, others for whom it blocks any progression...and I'm sure every configuration in between. It seems like the most logical thing is to engage in enough study that you can make a more long term decision on it for yourself, after seeing the effects.

If you already feel your practice being messed up by intellectual approaches, then maybe your apprehension has a point...if not, who knows.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by jkarlins » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:22 am

Which job opportunities?

Ignorant_Fool
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:04 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:35 am
Ignorant_Fool wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:12 pm
this particular MA was the Pāli language module
Which particular MA? where?
This is the course I'm interested in. Sorry, should've linked it earlier.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:44 am
I think that likely only you can answer this question. It's my impression that there are some people for whom academic study informs and enriches their Buddhist practices, others for whom it blocks any progression...and I'm sure every configuration in between. It seems like the most logical thing is to engage in enough study that you can make a more long term decision on it for yourself, after seeing the effects.

If you already feel your practice being messed up by intellectual approaches, then maybe your apprehension has a point...if not, who knows.
It's a bit of conundrum, no doubt. I'm trying to understand my motivations for this - which at present is very much worldly. I'm finally at a stage in life where I can entertain the thought of further education and hopefully better jobs. Seeing that I'd like to immerse myself in Buddha Dharma more, I thought I'd be killing two birds with one stone. But not if it's at the detriment of truly understanding and embodying Dharma. I'm also not in the position to blow a few thousand £ only to realise I might have made a mistake. Sorry to bore you with details - just thinking out loud. Thank you for your insights.
jkarlins wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:22 am
Which job opportunities?
Ideally I'd like to be involved in some form of research work, which through my very limited research, seems few and far between. Teaching (academically) might also be an option but again given the current financial climate, a job is no guarantee. At least, that's how my misinformed mind is perceiving it.

Ignorant_Fool
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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by Ignorant_Fool » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:11 am

passel wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:59 am
I don’t mean to dissuade you from any particular choice, just offering a perspective on what additional factors you may want to consider. In the meantime, and beyond, study! Practice!
Not at all! I really appreciate your insight and I'd definitely need to consider all options before making a decision. Every little bit helps. :thumbsup:

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by jkarlins » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:06 pm

I think it's cool and interesting. I'm not sure about how many jobs there are out there.

Jake

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Re: Introduction (and in need of some advice)

Post by DNS » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:29 pm

As others have noted, you could do both. You can both go for the academic degree(s) and do the practice too. The academic part will give you a better understanding of the doctrines, concepts, history, etc which can definitely be an aid to practice.

As far as career opportunities, I think those will be quite limited with an M.A. in Buddhist studies. You could of course teach, be a monk or Buddhist priest or other clergy title, but as far as other mundane titles in the work force, I'm afraid they won't see that degree as much use. You could continue on to a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies and that would open more opportunities in universities, but not much, if anything beyond that.

The U.S. military now has a sizable number of soldiers who are Buddhist, so they occasionally recruit Buddhist chaplains and commission them as officers. The pay and benefits are very good. I think the minimum requirements are at least a bachelor's or master's in Buddhist studies.

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