There are many posts in here about finding a Buddhist center/sangha to join, which are almost always met with the assertion that these groups are huge advantages on the path.
I think this is the case for many, but in a general sense, I disagree.
I recently met with a Karma Kagyu Bhikshu who's been practicing for the last 70+ years. I discussed with him my meditation practice and the possibility of joining a Buddhist community. He discouraged me from doing so, saying that they're really no more than "social clubs", with the theme being the shared interest of Buddhism. He did admit they can be beneficial for receiving specific guidance on meditation but said I can simply go into when whenever I happen to have a question. He ensured me that I'd be fine practicing on my own and could join a community if I wished but not to expect it to benefit my practice.
He told me, "You're the one who was born and you're the one who is dying; your experience is your responsibility. No one, not even a teacher, can help you beyond pointing the way."
Now, I will say that I have an extensive knowledge of the Buddhist teachings, having studied them for the past two years, and the monk was well aware of this. But the message I got from him, and which I came to agree with, is that the path is one that, at every step, we must do ourselves. And it is a simple path. Outside of ethical conduct and meditation, there is not much to do. A community may motivate us, may validate our practice, but these are things we must learn to do on our own. I feel as if the attitude often taken towards Buddhist communities effectively results in them being used as a crutch and a distraction from genuine, internal practice. Of course this is avoidable, and of course a community can be of benefit, but I don't think the solitary path should be considered inferior (I think the sutras contradict that idea).
I'm sure many of you will disagree, and I will say that having an awakened teacher would be a drastic exception to this, but just think this should be considered.submitted by mykhathasnotail
I posted in here recently about experiencing extreme stimulation as a result of my meditation practice; the symptoms included teeth grinding, inability to sleep, and increased speech, agitation, and action. It was similar to be on high doses of psychoactive stimulants. Commenters on the post claimed they'd had similar experiences.
Worried I had become manic, I emailed a Karma Kagyu monk who has been acting as my meditation instruction and he confirmed that he'd had similar experiences (teeth-grinding included), that it was indeed a manic state of mind, and, fortunately, gave me an explanation.
In meditation, what is important in the concentration on the object that steadies the mind, is relaxation. Now this may sound odd. There is a saying from Saraha, the mahasiddha, that the degree of concentration is like spinning a thread of yarn: too loose it knots up, too taught it falls apart. It may be that the grinding of teeth (something I too have experienced) was because of the gripping the meditation anchor, the breath. Check to see that you are not involved in anxiously seeking a result. Let go of results and expectations. Meditation unfolds in its own sphere; the conceptual and expectation aspect need to be quieted down to being imperceptible. The manic states comes from over exertion, that is not enough relaxation.
The next day during my meditation I relaxed more and loosened my concentration. I was able to maintain focus for far longer and experienced none of the aforementioned side effects.
Just wanted to put this out there in the hopes that it'll benefit others who may be experiencing anything similar; meditation is quite powerful and proper technique is of great importance.submitted by mykhathasnotail
I am new to Buddhism and have been meaning to go to a sangha; however, upon further research, I found that there is only one in my area. It is not permanently located anywhere, moving nearly every other week.
I'm not sure how to proceed. Can I manage without the sangha? I was hoping to find a teacher who could guide me almost one-on-one, but such a lowly populated area, even lower number of Buddhists, it's hard to find peers.submitted by sundryandsundry
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(I promise all of this is leading up to the questions I wanted to ask.)
When I was just starting to learn more about spirituality, I heard that some within the Buddhist community had concerns about the Western mindfulness movement. I am just starting to understand where those concerns come from.
A couple quotes from a Salon article on this matter:
[...] there is a growing concern that the mindfulness movement has the potential to push to the margins contemporary Buddhism’s dialogue with tradition, diminishing its capacity to serve as a challenge to materialist attitudes and values. The rapid mainstreaming of mindfulness has provided a domesticated and tame set of meditation techniques for mainly upper-middle-class and corporate elites so they may become more “self-accepting” of their anxieties, helping them to “thrive,” to have it all—money, power and well-being, continuing business-as-usual more efficiently and, of course, more “mindfully”—while conveniently side-stepping any serious soul searching into the causes of widespread social suffering.
This is my biggest concern about the mindfulness movement. It does seem that more often than not it does little to actually challenge fundamental human behavior or draw attention to the deeper causes of suffering. I have observed many practitioners of mindfulness on the Internet who advocate continued reliance upon conditioned pleasures derived from feeding into one's ego, hoarding wealth, etc. I don't know whether this attitude is coming more from the mainstream mindfulness gurus, as I'm not familiar with any of them (Sam Harris certainly isn't spreading this particular narrative despite the article's other problems with him, as I've listened to and read what he has to say about spirituality and it's much more in line with actual Buddhism than with Western mindfulness), or more from misinterpretations of the mindfulness movement's teachings by its followers, but it certainly seems to be prevalent within the Western mindfulness community regardless. It's a shame that mindfulness taken out of a Buddhist context seems to be enabling greed and delusion by making them easier to handle. Mindfulness is only one aspect of Buddhist practice, so of course it's not going to magically fix our broken society without the other teachings to go along with it.
As for the benefits of mindfulness, it does seem that there has been some success with its application in stress reduction, but just how much success is still unknown. So far, the limited number of reliable studies indicates that it is no more and no less successful than any number of things, such as talk therapy, or for that matter, taking regular walks. Whether it will make one 10 percent happier, well, maybe. But as most any experienced meditator knows well, meditation can also lead one into some very dark places, and that 10 percent can evaporate in an instant. And what then? Without a framework that sets the practice in a purposeful context — if it is just a metric of happiness — then there is no meaningful way to understand the ups and downs. If it is not providing immediate gratification, then why keep at it?
This is another problem that I've observed both online and in my personal life. It seems that many people who are unfamiliar with Buddhist teachings view meditation as boring, a waste of time, or more harmful than helpful. After all, if the only thing meditation is supposed to accomplish is stress reduction, why not just make other changes in one's life (changes related to diet, exercise, one's career, etc.) in order to make oneself happier? If one finds other ways to deal with stress, what appeal does meditation in particular hold? It becomes just another one of many different ways to cope with a fundamentally unsatisfactory existence. And what's more, it could actually make matters worse (as stated in the above quote) if one meditates for long enough to uncover psychological baggage and then has no familiarity with the other Buddhist teachings that would help them to place those issues within a broader context of human suffering. I recall an article (I will edit this post if I find it) written by someone who had experimented with and dismissed meditation because it made him more irritable when he was expecting it to grant him relief. I'm sure a fair number of people have this experience if they do not understand that Buddhist spiritual practice is supposed to be a difficult and disciplined journey with the end goal of liberation from suffering.
What do others think about this? If you agree with my concerns, what can we do to salvage the mindfulness movement? Can we help it evolve from a coping mechanism to a legitimate challenge to capitalism, greed, corruption, violence, anger, etc.?submitted by true_vibrations
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Today I found this post on reddit and I had been feeling pretty sad previously, not too much. Yet when I saw these paintings, they reminded me of my childhood, and of a time when I used to be just happy and nothing else, even though I know my childhood was not all happiness, they seemed to revive only the good moments.
So when I saw them I got an incredible feeling of peace, I felt that all the worries went away, that all was simply beautiful, things I saw as bad simply seemed to me as part of the beauty of life, I felt as if for a second I became a child again. This is the most peaceful I have felt in perhaps years, I may need to give some back story here.
Basically I fell to depression a year ago, then I learned about Buddhism, since about 8 months ago I have been reading, listening and thinking about the many things Buddhism teaches, I meditated and started to feel much much better, yet I still felt if not unhappy, simply bored. I didn't find much reason to carry on living yet nor did I find any reasons to stop living, I was in a big middle ground.
I got some high moments from time to time, when I felt really happy, but then it went away like a flashing carlight, simply leaving me slightly blind on its way, since after this moment passed an other moments too, but this one even more, I felt a big emptiness, for I know that I may not feel like that again, and that I shall simply carry on with my numb life, yet now knowing that this things I feel are nowhere near the same calm and bliss that I felt then.
I've really started to make some progress now, and I can get to understand various aspects of Buddhist beliefs much better. Yet I wish to be able to attain the same feeling of happiness I used to have and that I just had this morning for something longer than a few hours.
I feel that even though I understand I lack something else, since I can really comprehend the teaching that talks about the dizzying mind and how to be more mindful, yet when I start to feel sad I try to be mindful and calm my mind, yet even in the lack of thoughts I feel simply sad, melancholic.
I feel a big reminiscence of the moment I started to fall unto depression, a big feeling of happiness that fades and leaves me with a big emptiness.
How can I get this same feeling of calm and bliss for some longer periods of time and without the accompanying deep melancholy?submitted by yubyub96
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Well, as the title says, I went to a Buddhist center today, it's just a house dedicated for Buddhism.
They practice the kadampa Buddhism, and they were kinda busy there, turns out today was some kind of a special day and I couldn't just go in there and see everything but a lady told me a lot of stuff e gave me some events fliers.
I want to know from you guys, what do you think about the kadampa Buddhism, what do you guys have to say to me? My mother was there with me, she was curious about it (she is a messianic from johrei, a Japanese religion that has a lot of Buddhism) and bought a CD to listen while meditating, seems nice.submitted by klody25
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I've been meditating for a couple of weeks now and it's helped out a lot. But today I got into repetitive cycle where I lay down and feel like I can't move. It's hard for me to get up and do something.
Are there any Buddhist teachings that can help me get away from this kind of thing?submitted by redditguy001
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I've read quite a few books on Buddhism and keep noticing something missing, and that's fear. I'm finding a lot is said about anger, lust, love and compassion but I don't read much about fear. So I thought fear must be part of anger but after some googling everything I found said anger comes from fear. If that's the case why is anger mentioned so much more then fear?
So the question is does anybody have any recommendations on Buddhist books that talk about fear?
When I mean fear I'm taking about things like fear of being myself (fear of judgment), fear of change, that sort of thing.submitted by islander85
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I have received simply amazing help from this sub, both in understanding myself and others and the intricacies of relationships etc.
You guys and girls have been mostly kind and helpful with everything.
It's great to see that threads pop up that are people wanting to improve the experience even more.
You are all a credit to this community of strangers and you should be proud of yourselves :)
Much appreciated, thank you all very much and best wishes for a long healthy life full of balance, knowledge and love for all things and people :)
Keep it up, yo!submitted by sk3pt1c
Yom Kippur is coming up. I typically apologize beforehand to those closest to me. It's heartfelt and emotional. I usually say something like, "I'm so sorry for everything I've done, or failed to do, that's been harmful. I hope that you forgive me."
I'm taking that last part out this year, because it doesn't feel right, to hope like that. I might say "Please forgive me" instead.
What is Buddhist thought on this? Is there a word or term(s) that sums up an apology and request for forgiveness? A quote from teachers about this?
I think apologizing after a wrong is the right thing to do. I also have always liked the yearly atonement and fasting that comes with Yom Kippur. Just curious about Buddhist thought on all this. Thanks.submitted by sherparent
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I have a question : if some one wants to learn the jhanas when is it time to do so, and how much should he practice a day ? should he have any experience with meditation ? How many years of daily meditation ? Should he do something along side the concentration meditation Like to balance things out ?submitted by whereami47
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There are so many of us out there and I think we could do some real good in the community if we organized politically to lobby for key issues in the spirit of easing the suffering of others.
What are the issues that interest you?
Some things that I think Buddhists could come together on: 1) ending the death penalty, 2) promoting mental health resources, 3) access to Buddhist resources (e.g. pamphlets and community events), and more.
Edit: Thanks to everyone that commented. I asked this question to test the waters to see how much interest there is in organizing to support basic policy stances that would be aligned with Buddhist principles. It seems so far that there isn't much interest.submitted by rootoftruth
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Hi, I understand that this post may be strange or seemingly unecessary. I'm also not very good at explaining myself, but I think you all already get the message just from the title. It seems to me that the majority of comments on this subreddit are all written with a style of English that mimics the translations of texts that we commonly read here for our practices. The mistake maybe being made is that we are thinking that we're somehow an authority of the beliefs we're trying to explain in our comments. It's not a way of commenting that makes understanding the message more clear, rather it's a way of commenting that mimics the voice of the ones who compiled the messages we read... In my opinion, it's an insult to the ideals we hold in this subreddit when we try to mentally bring ourselves to a point of the same authority by trying to speak in the same manner the ones who compiled these beliefs into some crystallized form. If that's not the reason then please go ahead and tell me why we all speak as if we're sages and holy, enlightened minds here. I thought that the idea is that we are all equals and language just happens to be a tool of communication. Bringing flowery language into the comments in a way that directly mimics the authority of the Buddha seems to me, almost clearly, to be a way to feel in command or in a "higher" position, intellectually. It's very hypocritical if that's the reasoning behind it all. Anyway, I'd love to hear your opinions on it and my goal is to make this place less of a pretentious one and more of a humble one. Again, the focus of what I'm talking about isn't the content of the advice that the majority gives here, rather it's the way the sentences are structured literally to mimic the Buddha's (or whatever the author may be) way of speaking after translation...submitted by know_your_path
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