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Interview… With You!!

January 23, 2011

As I stumble, fall down, and slither along this path, it got me thinking a bit about others who practice, and how…

I would love to get a number of comments answering the questions below, afterward I hope to whittle them down for an article to be posted later. So, if commenting, be aware your comments can, and will be, reposted here on this blog at some point. By commenting, you are giving your permission to repost, quote, etc.

So I’m posing a question here… well actually a couple.

You’ve chosen, or maybe not, a specific lineage and or school to follow.

First, why that specific school or lineage?

What is your practice like with said tradition or school (or if unaffiliated how do you practice)?

What is your daily routine?

How do you bring this practice into “real life”, whether that’s at work, the grocery store, etc?

Has this always been your path? As in, did you start with another tradition and switch?

For those that “fall off the wagon” how do you recommend getting back on board? When you’ve fallen off, how did you get back?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jorge permalink
    February 18, 2011 2:40 pm

    I went deep into the “self-improvement” movement. I bought books and followed a myriad of “techniques” that would solve my deepest anxieties and problems. Needless to say, even though I was following the self-help gurus’ advice, I still felt anxious and empty, if not worse because I was not living up to their billing and was not “attracting” wealth, fame and peacefulness.
    One thing lead to another and I started reading basic Meditation books like Jon-Kabat Zim’s, I joined a Shambala group and started to try to practice daily.

    I found that Shambala was not for me and I am not following any lineage for the moment. I agree more with Stephen Batchelor about trying to apply my practice in this modern times without carrying ancient traditions and beliefs that do not make sense to me. I am a sceptic by nature so I find it great to have a practice but I do not follow any school. The path is what matters to me, I do not care if at the end of it I will reach enlightenment.

    I try to be mindful of every moment of my life, I do my best to meditate at least 20 minutes every day and I accept that I have a long way to go in my path. I do my best to be mindful when I am with other people, to respect their presence and cherish the time they graciously share with me. I am learning to see and catch my emotions when they burst without suppressing them but working with them, and let me tell you, I have a long way to go on this one :)

    I hope I made sense in this post, my Buddhist knowledge is very limited but I find the concept of being able to be free from my attachments very liberating and beautiful.

  2. Buddhagan permalink
    February 7, 2011 6:56 pm

    @J Sumitta Hudson – I like the idea of having a daily, weekly, and monthly practice. I really need to do this consistently.

    For now I follow Nichiren Buddhism although I am not officially affiliated with a specific organization. I chant 2x a day and attend weekly and monthly meetings when my schedule allows. Every week on the phase of the moon, I do a tarot card meditation for myself. How do I bring this practice into real life? By thinking about cause and effect. Today’s effects are a result of yesterday’s causes, good and bad. I don’t get as upset as I used to and I take responsibility for what happens to me.

  3. February 4, 2011 9:46 pm

    I dont have a specific school or lineage, but sometimes I get really put off by someone who does – and then I feel the whole school is weird! But I do find great resonance with everything that Pema Chodron says. I like walking around the supermarket, listening to her talks about fearlessness, while I try and decide which beans to buy.

    My crew is the Online Meditation Crew. I ask questions, and listen to what people say. Its a hothouse environment for me. I try and sit everyday with the Crew, maybe 15 mins a day. I also sit with my friend once a week at her place – she has been on the path for years and I can ask her questions, and try out new things.

    I dont know what Im doing really. But somewhere in the core of my being, it feels good. Like you just remembered you have a home to go to, where there will be food and a warm bed, and you are walking there in the rain.

    I grew up as a Christian. I loved God and I loved the fellowship of belonging somewhere. But one day I looked around Church and thought, do i really understand what I am singing? Should I be singing this if I dont understand? There are heaps of people here who dont know what they are singing. Is that kind of lying?

    So I left, seeking a way to be authentic to what I could find out was true. That’s still what I am doing.

    Great question, Nate. Actually as I answered it I learned a little about myself as well.

  4. February 4, 2011 7:18 pm

    Hi, Nate! (did I get that right?) This is a great idea, and I look forward to reading more of your posts! I have two blogs myself ( https://allaboutenlightenment.wordpress.com/ and https://lesleehare.wordpress.com/), and a lot of what I think/believe/experience is there, but I’ll take a shot at your questions here:

    I found Buddhism by accident at a New Age bookstore in 2001, after having gone the route of Deepak Chopra, Carolyn Myss, Yoga, and Toltec Sorcery (in – somewhat – that order). That whirlwind path came on the heels of one of “those” intense meditation experiences… I found myself with many questions and no satisfactory teacher. (I was raised Presbyterian in the South US)

    Having found a teacher, lineage, and tradition with some amazing resources, I dove in and after about 2 years took ordination as a nun (it’s a Mahayana/Vajrayana lineage). Nun-hood (for me) lasted about 4-1/2 years. During that time, I did a lot of formal sitting, chanted prayers (sadhanas – sometimes 6 hours per day), studied, and taught meditation (including to kids, would love to chat with you more about your kids’ dharma tab – fantastic!). At the same time, throughout, I often worked full time, and was a single mom.

    At some point I reached exhaustion and also the realization that my path was tweaking itself. I returned my vows, continued practicing solo for some time, and eventually reached a place of balance between the parts and pieces of my life and formal practice… Which translates into very little formal practice, with lots of integrated practice (mindful living :)

    Almost a year ago, I had another intense spiritual experience, this time involving psychic phenomena. More shifting occurred. I’m still centering, but my goals and role have somewhat settled into focusing on the blogs as a means of sharing my experience. There is a lot of material which could be beneficial to those who feel the same inclination, so my job right now is to get it out there and get on with life.

    I’m voraciously reading and assimilating everything I can pertaining to Buddhism and religion in general, from studying the Bible once more, to whatever else arises. My guidance is literally palpable and “concrete”(while also “illusory”, lol), so that makes things much easier :)

    My daily routine is currently to sit in the morning and evening, and receive information throughout the day, while writing, drawing and working.

    I’ll be happy to share more in detail, or discuss! Thank you for the connection (and I love your blog and theme :)

    Best wishes, Leslee Hare

  5. January 23, 2011 1:00 pm

    I called one center, no one answered. The next place I called, a guy answered. I think it was his cell phone, it sounded like he was washing the dishes lol. He answered, so it was like ok, I’m going to see them now. It took me like a week to really realize it was a tibetan buddhist center. I must have read it on the website but I completely blocked it out somehow. I was just desperate for dharma, any dharma lol

    The people were very nice, very not very pretentious and were really down to earth. I got a really good sense that it was a community effort. After a while I started showing up a lot for their activiies afterwork, then I ended up doing more stuff and ended up being on the center’s board of directors and helping out with activities. I understand karma would be the answer for how this turned out like this, but from my own experience, I feel like I stumbled around innocently and was very fortunate that in my naive state, I didn’t fall into a snake pit lol. I practice tibean buddhism, specifically the gelug tradition

    My daily routine: morning practice, sweep the room, make my water bowl offerings. I do some calm abiding meditation for a while. I also do my other meditations and commitments. In the tibetan tradition we have a practice called ngondro, where someone does 100,000 times an item of practice, like 100k prostrations, 100k a mantra, etc. I’m doing ngondro and will probably do it a long time, so i do that. Afterwards I do meditations on the stages of the path to enlightenment, its analytical meditation on different topics on the path to enlightenment.

    My practice unfortunately is not very good, but its often said that to make practice a part of everyday life, one tries to live wih bodhichitta or the altruistic intention as much as possible. So before any activity, I try to examine my intention. I can’t guarantee my intentions are always virutous but I try

    I’ve never practiced any other path. When I started reading about buddhism, I read therevada and Zen, but when it came to actual day to day practice, its basically been the tibetan tradition

    Will you be answering these questions too? =D

  6. January 23, 2011 12:18 pm

    I think I’ll write an entire blog post in response to some of the questions here, but time being of the essence, I’ll focus on one here: For those that “fall off the wagon” how do you recommend getting back on board? When you’ve fallen off, how did you get back?

    There is no wagon; if I am aware that I behaved in a way that I think is contrary to the vows and precepts, I would be back on the wagon. Yet when I am not aware of how I am behaving when thinking I am behaving in a way in accordance with vows and precepts, I am not really on any wagon.

    Best just to do one’s best moment to moment, and disregard the vehicle.

  7. January 23, 2011 11:59 am

    1. When I was in high school, my family had a lot of exposure to a Zen Buddhist temple. I read lots of Eastern Philosophy, but it never made total sense to me. Throughout the years, I was a solitary practitioner, until one day I came across a video of Ajahn Brahm. His words really stuck a chord with me. I then went to his master Ajahn Chah, and found that his teachings and all of his students were opening my eyes to something new… like walking outdoors for the first time. I then realized that there were many schools of Buddhism and started becoming a serious student. After awhile, I was overjoyed to learn that there was a Theravada temple close to my home (something that is rare this side of the Mississippi). I have been attending once or twice a week for years now as part of my practice. I enjoy the fact that it is a tradition that is pragmatic and focuses on the development of a person as the center of the practice. Reading the original Pali texts are like being in the room with the Buddha when he spoke.

    2. I have a daily, weekly practice, monthly practice.
    a) Daily practice. Each morning, I read some of the sutta. It is also a time when I try to come up with one reflection for the day (normally I share this with my facebook friends as well). At work, I take three meditation breaks for the day. These “mindfulness moments” allow me to see where the friction is in my life and deal with them before they deal with me. I try to mindfully engage in at least one act of compassion and giving and acknowledge that to myself during my meditation at the end of the day.
    b) Weekly practice. I attend group meditation weekly and listen/share in the dhamma. This is an anchor to me. While I may miss a daily meditation, I do not miss my weekly self-imposed mandatory group meditation. I believe that this practice is an anchor to the practice where I reaffirm my commitment to the practice. It also allows me time to speak with my monks and receive instruction.
    c) Monthly practice. I attend our temple’s monthly talks, and work very hard to attend the events of other sanghas. I also make sure I give myself an assignment to write at least one blog post on http://www.appliedbuddhism.com. I used to do more for my monthly commitments, but I am raising children, working and attending grad school. We are all busy. This is why a daily practice is SO important (even if it is a bunch of little Buddhist activities), because the big projects are often so difficult to maintain.

    3) How do I practice in real life? I have developed a good skill of recognizing emotional friction. I am not a saint, but I am aware of the arising of dukkha (even if I can’t wisely identify it all the time). I immediately note those feelings and work to reduce them. I also find that even the smallest act of giving (and sometimes I don’t have the energy to give) is invigorating. Buddhism is like the gym– you just have to keep active in it to see results. If you give in to sloth and topor, or indulge in selfish activity, then you are never going to feel the lightness of being that comes with liberation. I still do almost everything I did before I started my practice, but with a compassionate and happy heart.

    4) Fall off the wagon? You make it sound like Buddhism is a 12-step program. Buddhist practice is like a tree. Sometimes you will get a great rain fall and the tree will grow significantly. Other years there will be a dry season and the tree will grow little. If you were to wait a hundred years, and a bit out of the tree– you will see the rings of good and poor growth. Nevertheless, the tree that stands before you is a mighty tree. Buddhism is a spiritual, but personal practice. Your progress is determined by your effort.

    If I was to give one piece of advice it would be to not try to become enlightened. Try to become as liberated as you can today through compassion, reflection, self-awareness, mindfulness, and patience. Focus on the steps you take today, and not the end of the journey– because this is Buddhism. Nirvanna is a by product, not a goal.

    Those who focus on Nirvanna are doomed to suffer because they will not reach it today. Those who focus on today learn what it means to be present and fully alive.

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