Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by dolphin_color » Tue May 14, 2019 5:06 am

Hi, Tony. It's interesting to find this here. I've been going through a very, very similar process. I've arrived at a place where I can receive and consider a lot of teachings with openness. I'm not sure when I'll "make the move", or how that could even happen. But I do feel strongly drawn to many other wonders of the Buddhist world.

Please feel free to DM if you'd like to talk directly. If not, best of luck to you!

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by tonysharp » Tue May 14, 2019 12:38 pm

About a year or two ago, I came across a passage from The Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines on emptiness that took me aback, and likely planted the first seeds for my interest in other schools.
If he knows the five aggregates as like an illusion,
But makes not illusion one thing, and the aggregates another;
If, freed from the notion of multiple things, he courses in peace—
Then that is his practice of wisdom, the highest perfection.
In the Pali Canon, the Buddha says that he only uses "I" as a social convention. The theory that all entities are empty social conventions makes sense when the doctrines of non-self and impermanence are taken to their logical conclusions. The Heart Sutra, which, if I read correctly, is in the same family as the Perfection of Wisdom collection, provides a more succinct take on emptiness. It's in my reading list as well.

To get a sense of what various schools are based on, I've approached them through their founding texts. For instance (please correct me if I'm wrong), the Nichiren school venerates the Lotus Sutra, and part of their practice is the recitation of the Japanese title of this text. I've read some of this sutra, and the tone is unexpectedly resolute, which, I'm not sure why, is oddly motivating. It lacks the usual passivity that I'm accustomed to. The Buddha has taken a similarly strong tone in the Pali Canon, but not as consistently.

On second thought, maybe I'm giving myself too much homework. :lol: I could probably get a sense of the schools that interest me (right now it's Zen, Nichiren, and Pure Land) by just reading some modern books.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Simon E. » Tue May 14, 2019 12:57 pm

There is a balance to be struck..or so it seems to me. Some when drawn to Buddhadharma plunge straight in to the first school they become familiar with and stay there. I quite envy that in a way. Others possibly a majority do some sifting, make few false starts and so. For most a clearer view begins to emerge.. this depends on temperament, on experience and on karmic propensity.
It sounds to me as though you are intuiting the way forward best for yourself.
There is a middle way between a fixation on one school on one hand and Buddhist promiscuity on the other.. :smile:
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by tonysharp » Tue May 14, 2019 8:54 pm

I’m taking a closer look at how Theravada and Pure Land intersect. Both schools have a devotional practice that uses a Buddha as an object of meditation. Throughout the Pali Canon, Gautama Buddha instructs lay followers to recollect him as a means to enlightenment (AN 5.179).

Additionally, Pure Land addresses two issues that have puzzled me: How can a quietistic practice be fully reconciled with the material obligations of lay life? And how can flawed beings lead other flawed beings to enlightenment? Pure Land's answer to these questions is basically it's not possible without an act of divine intervention. Whether or not this is the case, I don’t know.

Two other criteria for me are a multilayered practice and a diverse following. I've often questioned how enlightenment could be achieved without supplementary work (study, recitation, virtue, etc). And if a community doesn’t at least loosely reflect the ethnic and gender demographics where it resides, I question whether it’s doing enough to reach out to people. The outreach efforts of Nichiren are particularly impressive. I’ve seen a wide variety of people speak highly of this school. Proselytizing, if done respectfully, doesn’t offend me. In fact, I wish more schools did it. Not everyone will find the teachings on their own. And, personally, I’d feel far more comfortable entering a temple if I was invited.
£$&^@ wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:57 pm
There is a middle way between a fixation on one school on one hand and Buddhist promiscuity on the other.. :smile:
That’s an interesting way to put it. :lol:

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve tried to give fair consideration to every school that I’ve looked up.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Wed May 15, 2019 12:28 am

tonysharp wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 8:54 pm
How can a quietistic practice be fully reconciled with the material obligations of lay life? And how can flawed beings lead other flawed beings to enlightenment? Pure Land's answer to these questions is basically it's not possible without an act of divine intervention
'Divine intervention' is rather a Christian description - but I do see the point. I'm wrestling with the very same issues myself. As a Western-born middle-class householder, I've had a long interest in Buddhism and have been reading and practicing meditation, mainly under my own steam, for about 30 years.

I'm a sixties person - well, born in the 50's - so how I encountered Buddhism was through the popular spiritual books of the 1960's. When I started out, I had the view that enlightenment was like a cognitive shift or change that in turn changed everything else. Actually, I still really do believe that. But the point was, this was to be distinguished from believing - believing was what Christians taught, and enlightenment was not that. Christianity taught 'believing', Buddhism taught 'insight'. I felt there was a clear distinction there.

But over the decades, I have realised that the path of meditation really isn't so simple. Yes, there are genuine shifts and changes that occur - I don't have any doubt of that - but there are deep samskaras - habitual patterns, or just habits, in plain speech - that are really resistant to change. And it was this inconvenient truth that made me reconsider Pure Land. In some ways, it was a parallel, or an analogy, to a fundamental element in Christianity, namely, the understanding that enlightenment is afforded by grace, not solely by one's own efforts. This is in large part because, whatever comes about as a result of effort, is ultimately karmic in nature; it's still all about 'me'. (Hey, great effort, self!) Whereas, the orientation towards grace is that enlightenment arises in spite of your own lumbering and ham-fisted attempts to understand it, not because of them. (Although it's still important to make effort, all the same.)

One Western Buddhist writer who really helped me understand that, is David Brazier. We (spouse and I) had these points printed out and stuck to the wall for quite a few years. I have read a couple of his books and visited his blog. I recommend him.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by tonysharp » Wed May 15, 2019 1:25 pm

My strategy shifted from reading the sutras to reading modern commentaries on the sutras. Teachers may be "flawed" non-buddhas, but they still know far more than I do, so I might as well trust them to introduce me to the texts and practices. I've started Introduction to the Lotus Sutra by Yoshiro Tamura. He gives a powerful endorsement of this text in the preface:

“Soon after entering university in December of 1943, I was sent to the front as a student soldier. I wondered if I were allowed to bring but a single book on the trip, possibly to my death, which would I want to bring. It was the Lotus Sutra.”

The first two chapters effectively set aside the concerns I had about the validity of the Mahayana Sutras, while reaffirming my rationale to leave the Theravada. The pessimistic prodding of the Pali teachings were killing my drive to work, set goals, and engage with the world. Basically, they were killing my will to live, which is why, whenever possible, I strongly advised against blurring the line between the monastic and lay teachings. I thought that, maybe, this was the problem, and I didn't want others to fall into a similar hole. This excerpt spoke loudly to me:

"They regarded the state of awakening (nirvana) to be a return to nothingness by shutting oneself off from this world. Thus they lost any motivation for practical and socially constructive activity, and felt unhappy when they saw active people devoting themselves to such things. In other words, they became a kind of living dead."

So far, this book has been an illuminating, though occasionally heavy, read. The section on emptiness and nondualism are squeezing my brain.
Wayfarer wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:28 am
'Divine intervention' is rather a Christian description - but I do see the point.
You’re right. “Divine intervention” implies a miracle, a surprising and unexplained event. Pure Land practice doesn’t align with this characterization. It has intent and a definite direction.
In some ways, it was a parallel, or an analogy, to a fundamental element in Christianity, namely, the understanding that enlightenment is afforded by grace, not solely by one's own efforts. This is in large part because, whatever comes about as a result of effort, is ultimately karmic in nature; it's still all about 'me'. (Hey, great effort, self!) Whereas, the orientation towards grace is that enlightenment arises in spite of your own lumbering and ham-fisted attempts to understand it, not because of them. (Although it's still important to make effort, all the same.)
Really nice take on Pure Land.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu May 16, 2019 5:55 pm

Regarding divine intervention and the Pure Land schools.

In Mainland Pure Land, such as in China and Vietnam, one's own effort to awaken is joined to Amitabha's willingness and ability to help beings. It's analogous to a student and teacher working together.

In Japanese Pure Land, one's striving towards awakening is temporarily set aside, as one develops confidence in and reliance upon Amitabha.
It's analogous to a mother and her lost child who constantly think of each other until reunited.

Since you have such experience with "Buddho," you're already well acquainted with the power of returning to an object of refuge through recitation.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Motova » Thu May 16, 2019 6:28 pm

tonysharp wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 1:25 pm

The pessimistic prodding of the Pali teachings were killing my drive to work, set goals, and engage with the world. Basically, they were killing my will to live, which is why, whenever possible, I strongly advised against blurring the line between the monastic and lay teachings. I thought that, maybe, this was the problem, and I didn't want others to fall into a similar hole.

Renunciation is still in Mahayana and Vajrayana. It seems like you'd be more suited towards Pure Land practice.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by tonysharp » Thu May 16, 2019 8:39 pm

The Lotus Sutra and I had a falling out. For better or worse, the Tipitaka still strongly influences the way I approach Buddhist texts. While I initially felt emboldened by the “resolute” tone of the Lotus Sutra, I don’t think that, overall, it’s a tone that aligns with my particular temperament.

I read the Heart Sutra next. Of the few Mahayana sutras I've read, the Heart Sutra, in my opinion, is the most accessible. It succinctly and eloquently illustrates a path of selflessness through the doctrine of emptiness. I feel that this is the direction I should take.

What I think I need now is something like an expanded version of the Heart Sutra, a text that provides details on emptiness, Buddha-nature, practical lay advice, and the steps of a practice. I’m going to research the Lankavatara Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the three Pure Land sutras next.
Mönlam Tharchin wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 5:55 pm
(...) Since you have such experience with "Buddho," you're already well acquainted with the power of returning to an object of refuge through recitation.
Thank you for this information.
Motova wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 6:28 pm
Renunciation is still in Mahayana and Vajrayana.
You’re right. But what may distinguish the renunciatory teachings of Theravada and, say, Zen is Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature is an unambiguously altruistic principle that encourages people, including monastics, to look beyond themselves, and act for everyone’s well-being.
It seems like you'd be more suited towards Pure Land practice.
At this point, I’m fairly certain that I’m either going to choose Zen or Pure Land.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and guidance.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Motova » Thu May 16, 2019 9:00 pm

tonysharp wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:39 pm
Motova wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 6:28 pm
Renunciation is still in Mahayana and Vajrayana.
You’re right. But what may distinguish the renunciatory teachings of Theravada and, say, Zen is Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature is an unambiguously altruistic principle that encourages people, including monastics, to look beyond themselves, and act for everyone’s well-being.
One has to completely renounce the desire realm regardless if you are a hinayana, mahayana, or vajrayana practitioner; the difference is the appearance.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by dude » Fri May 17, 2019 5:56 am

tonysharp wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 8:05 pm
After being a Theravada Buddhist for about 12 years, I'm starting to question my compatibility with this school. In the communities I frequent, renunciate practices like Satipaṭṭhāna are heavily emphasized over traditional lay and devotional practices. Furthermore, the mere mention of using the teachings to help others elicits criticism. "We shouldn't engage in mundane affairs. We should focus on eliminating our own defilements." In some Mahayana circles, the Theravada has a reputation for being stifling and selfish. I can't help but wonder if there's some truth to this.

Theravada Buddhism initially drew my interest because it was often framed as rational and secular, something that appealed to my intensely anti-religious sentiments at the time. Thanks to meditation, and study of the Tipitaka, these sentiments have softened, and I’m now open to overtly spiritual teachings and practices. Although such teachings and practices (which, in my view, align better with lay life) exist in Theravada, it's difficult to find support or resources for them.

Frankly, I feel that it might be time for me to find another Buddhist school to follow, but I’m not sure which direction to go. Ideally, I’d prefer a school that didn’t immediately require temple visits (commuting outside of work is an impediment), and would be welcoming to someone of a darker complexion. I’ve started watching a video on the Lotus Sutra, a scripture that’s revered by the Nichiren, Zen, and other schools. It’s quite intriguing.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

It sounds to me like your nature and your capacity would be far better suited to the Mahayana teachings.
You will find your own way, and there are people here at Dharma Wheel happy to offer ideas, as you know by now heh heh.
I am Nichiren, so it kind of goes without saying that I would advise studying the Lotus Sutra above all, and maybe dip a toe in the water of SGI practice.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by 明安 Myoan » Fri May 17, 2019 6:03 am

tonysharp wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:39 pm
At this point, I’m fairly certain that I’m either going to choose Zen or Pure Land.
Check out Ippen, Master Ou-i, or Real-Mark Recitation. The line between Zen/Chan and Pure Land can get blurry.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by dude » Fri May 17, 2019 6:24 am

Reading the later posts, it looks like you're finding some answers, tony. That's great.

"So I would definitely encourage you to seek out flesh-and-blood Sanghas of all different (non-cultish) traditions and also treat the actual experience as practice, including all the emotions that arise."


I think the above is really excellent advice.

I also think that your time spent on Theravadin teachings was anything but wasted. You are not taking a new faith, you are just progressing forward.
ALL the sutras, when understood in their respective contexts, are the Buddha's teachings, and all were preached for a reason.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Simon E. » Fri May 17, 2019 9:20 am

Motova wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 9:00 pm
tonysharp wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:39 pm
Motova wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 6:28 pm
Renunciation is still in Mahayana and Vajrayana.
You’re right. But what may distinguish the renunciatory teachings of Theravada and, say, Zen is Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature is an unambiguously altruistic principle that encourages people, including monastics, to look beyond themselves, and act for everyone’s well-being.
One has to completely renounce the desire realm regardless if you are a hinayana, mahayana, or vajrayana practitioner; the difference is the appearance.
Not so. Much of the Vajrayana and Dzogchen in its entirety is not a path of renunciation as understood widely.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dechen Norbu » Fri May 17, 2019 10:27 am

Renunciation is part of every Buddhist tradition or school, in the sense that if you don't get disenchanted with samsara, you don't feel the need to practice.

If you continue searching for happiness in the wrong sources, you're bound to perpetuate suffering. Renunciation is recognizing which are the true sources of happiness and shifting our focus. We renounce to what brings suffering.

So, you can be immensely rich and still have renunciation. This means that you don't have unrealistic expectations regarding wealth. The same goes for relations and so on and so forth.

Enduring renunciation should arise from insight. By lacking insight and mostly adhering to discipline, you may end up having almost no possessions, yet great attachment. This is tragic.

The main difference might be discipline, emphasis on Vinaya. Theravadins seem to be more strict in the sense that they immediately start acting as if they had that insight, renouncing to objects of gratification, physical or otherwise, from the start, building an environment where insight should arise and deepen easier. Like a fence protecting a sprout before it becomes a tree. Problems may come about if you focus so much on the fence that you forget about the sprout, letting it die. Then you have a really cool iron clad fence protecting nothing. :|

This might be so due to different interpretations of Buddha's teaching that resulted in a few major doctrinal differences regarding the nature of reality. This translated into different methods of practice.

But monastics from Vajrayana and Theravada basically take the same vows. However, lay practice on Mahayana seems to be more valued than in Theravada. The importance they put on Vinaya might justify this, as lay practitioners take much less vows. Gladly, a century or so ago there has been a major revitalization on meditation on a broader level. I think this was important.

Much more could be said and if I poorly depicted the Theravadin approach, for which I have deep respect and admiration, I apologize.

A word of advice though, if you allow me:
Never measure a tradition or school by its lowest practitioners. Instead, pay attention to its best luminaries. There are impressive and, apparently, very attained practitioners on the Theravada.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Simon E. » Fri May 17, 2019 11:33 am

Renunciation as generally understood carries the implication that by giving something up or pursuing an ahedonistic lifestyle insight will arise spontaneously. I see no evidence that this is the case.


Renunciation in Vajrayana /Dzogchen is more about undermining the idea of the person who enjoys/suffers.
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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dan74 » Fri May 17, 2019 11:50 am

£$&^@ wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:33 am
Renunciation as generally understood carries the implication that by giving something up or pursuing an ahedonistic lifestyle insight will arise spontaneously. I see no evidence that this is the case.


Renunciation in Vajrayana /Dzogchen is more about undermining the idea of the person who enjoys/suffers.
My take is different, namely that by embracing some degree of renunciation, one turns away from chasing material, physical and other rewards and devotes oneself to the Dharma. There's also fewer distractions on a moment-to-moment basis, of one manages to truly embrace it. Or more, if it's a continuing struggle.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dechen Norbu » Fri May 17, 2019 12:56 pm

I'll try to help the OP somehow.
tonysharp wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 8:05 pm
After being a Theravada Buddhist for about 12 years, I'm starting to question my compatibility with this school. In the communities I frequent, renunciate practices like Satipaṭṭhāna are heavily emphasized over traditional lay and devotional practices.
This is probably because without it you'll be dead in the water. You need both shamata and vipassana. True devotion comes from realizing how beneficial are the teachings. You can only experience it through consistent practice. Genuine devotion will naturally pour. If, without realizing (not believing) for yourself how deep, meaningful and important is the Dharma, how can you know if your devotion isn't little more than the result of wishful thinking? It's good to listen to our intuition when great joy arises by contacting Buddhadharma, a natural devotion that arises even before gaining significant experience through the three wisdoms, but that alone can easily vanish or be muffled by many factors, so it's not very wise to make it the fulcrum of our path.

However, there are problems that may arise, especially during consistent shamata practice, whatever the method one is using. While some are easily overcome, others require immediately stopping and consulting a qualified teacher. If the teacher us lacking, serious damage can be done. A lot is going on when practice gains momentum. There might be problems. From the start you don't see them coming. So, it's important to have help.

From what I read in your post, seems to me that something went wrong. It may be something benign like just not fitting in a certain group. It may have to do with expectations or, considering you've been at it form 12 years, it may derive from formal practice. Observe what are your emotions when you think about your practice, during the practice itself and after. Is there a sort of a gloomy mood? Do you experience some kind of fisty, tense, rock like sensation on your chest, accompanied by a depressive mood? If so, stop practicing meditation immediately and see a qualified teacher.

If that's not case, a few usual mistakes could explain it.

You may be trying too hard. You won't gain stability just through will power. Improve your relaxation skills. Don't try to grind through it or you may burn out. Don't be too strict with introspection before being really relaxed and only worry about injecting vividness in to the practice after you are relaxed enough. Too soon and you'll create unnecessary tension, worsening your attention due to the increase of gross excitation.

Practice discursive meditation on the brahmaviharas between shamata sessions. This helps countering some feelings of isolation when going through shamata practice. It will be helpful in many ways.

After practicing shamata, go to a place where you can view a distant horizon and stay there for a while, looking far away and enjoying that vast expanse.

What I said above applies whether you practice Mahayana or remain with the Theravada.
Furthermore, the mere mention of using the teachings to help others elicits criticism. "We shouldn't engage in mundane affairs. We should focus on eliminating our own defilements." In some Mahayana circles, the Theravada has a reputation for being stifling and selfish. I can't help but wonder if there's some truth to this.
There's some wisdom in that advice. Even in Mahayana you start by developing bodhicitta in aspiration, meaning that you have an ardent intention to help freeing all sentient beings from suffering and its causes but, knowing your limitations, you postpone your action until you attain enough realization to know what actions are best to take. Otherwise, with this mind so afflicted and obscured, we may end up doing more harm than good. So, even if that genuine maha karuna starts to develop out of insight, allowing us to approach others with kindness and benevolence, we still lack wisdom to know what will truly be the consequences of our actions. Caution is needed.

However, if a feeling of self centeredness and disconnection with other beings results from practice, something is going wrong, whether we're speaking of Theravada or Mahayana. Don't think, for a second, that an attained Theravada practitioner doesn't feel compassion. It just isn't unbearable to the point of him wanting to remain in samsara to help others. Doctrinal approaches also play a role here. For now, let's leave it at that.
Just be careful that you are not overestimating your capacity to help other beings and were given sound advice. Good motivation must be met with enough skill.

It may also be the case that whomever gave you those advertences is a poor practitioner. Who knows?
Theravada Buddhism initially drew my interest because it was often framed as rational and secular, something that appealed to my intensely anti-religious sentiments at the time. Thanks to meditation, and study of the Tipitaka, these sentiments have softened, and I’m now open to overtly spiritual teachings and practices. Although such teachings and practices (which, in my view, align better with lay life) exist in Theravada, it's difficult to find support or resources for them.
Buddha's teachings need unpacking. All different schools are but interpretations of those teachings. Buddhism is not supposed to become a religion in the sense of Judeo-Christian or Islamic religions, neither its purpose is being a philosophy. I'm not really sure what you are looking for, but the simpler the practice, the better the practitioner. Complex and ritualistic practices are there for those who are not suited to a simpler approach. So gouge your skill. Why are you seeking so much ritual and devotional practices? They may be just what you need or the last thing you need. Ponder wisely. Maybe you just need a different group of people to practice with.

Best wishes.

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by tonysharp » Fri May 17, 2019 9:05 pm

“As to the Avatamsaka-Sutra, it is really the consummation of Buddhist thought, Buddhist sentiment, and Buddhist experience. To my mind, no religious literature in the world can ever approach the grandeur of conception, the depth of feeling, and the gigantic scale of composition, as attained by the sutra. Here not only deeply speculative minds find satisfaction, but humble spirits and heavily oppressed hearts, too, will have their burdens lightened.”
—D. T. Suzuki

The Avatamsaka Sutra has been immensely satisfying. I'm surprised it's not more popular in English speaking countries. Only one complete English translation (a great one) has been made, published 26 years ago, and it costs $125. I'm tempted to buy it, but I think after spending that much money on a book, I'd be too nervous to handle it.

My plan was to find the sutra that made a strong intellectual, emotional, and practical connection, then join the school that based all, or part, of their ideology on the teachings of that sutra. This approach, after considering other factors, led me to Soto Zen.

I’m mostly happy with this choice. Only “mostly” because part of me wanted to join Nichiren/SGI for their ethnic diversity. Chances are, I'll be the lone dark-skinned person at the temple I eventually attend. The prejudice I've experienced has made me slightly paranoid. Women can probably relate to this feeling when they're in a room full of men.

Can a practice as undemanding as Zazen lead to enlightenment? I don’t know. According to the Mahānāma Sutta (AN 11:13), the foundation of my Theravada practice, cultivating faith, virtue, and generosity can lead to concentration and a higher rebirth. If this is true, undertaking the bodhisattva vow to liberate all sentient beings could be a strong inward and, more importantly, outward expression of this practice.

Enough research. Now I can sit and breathe.

:meditate:
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Questioning My Compatibility With Theravada Buddhism

Post by tonysharp » Fri May 17, 2019 9:08 pm

Motova wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 9:00 pm
One has to completely renounce the desire realm regardless if you are a hinayana, mahayana, or vajrayana practitioner; the difference is the appearance.
Maybe eventually, but not at this moment.
dude wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 5:56 am
I am Nichiren, so it kind of goes without saying that I would advise studying the Lotus Sutra above all, and maybe dip a toe in the water of SGI practice.
Although I’ve settled on Zen, I’ll likely still visit an SGI community.
Reading the later posts, it looks like you're finding some answers, tony. That's great.
It’s exciting. This is something that I needed to do. It already feels like a weight has been lifted off my chest.
ALL the sutras, when understood in their respective contexts, are the Buddha's teachings, and all were preached for a reason.
Well said.
Mönlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 6:03 am
Check out Ippen, Master Ou-i, or Real-Mark Recitation. The line between Zen/Chan and Pure Land can get blurry.
Thank you. I’ll keep them in mind.
Dechen Norbu wrote:Renunciation is part of every Buddhist tradition or school, in the sense that if you don't get disenchanted with samsara, you don't feel the need to practice.
I agree. But there’s a thin line between being content with only what you need, and not wanting anything. To maintain a job, home, relationship, and children, you’ll need some worldly desire to stay motivated.
Never measure a tradition or school by its lowest practitioners. Instead, pay attention to its best luminaries.
Great advice. Bhikkhu Sujato and Piya Tan are two more of my favorite people.
£$&^@ wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:33 am
Renunciation as generally understood carries the implication that by giving something up or pursuing an ahedonistic lifestyle insight will arise spontaneously. I see no evidence that this is the case.
Honestly, neither do I.
Dan74 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:50 am
My take is different, namely that by embracing some degree of renunciation, one turns away from chasing material, physical and other rewards and devotes oneself to the Dharma.
This seems to be more of an issue of self-control than renunciation. Or maybe there’s not much difference between the two.

Thank you all for your replies.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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