What led you to Buddhism?

I would like to hear from community members about what it was that led you to become interested in and/or begin practicing Buddhism.

I know one man who, after a lifetime of being an "overachiever"—getting straight A's throughout his school years and graduating from an Ivy League university at the top of his class—had a full psychological and existential breakdown, feeling that all the knowledge and skill he had gained was useless because, at a very fundamental level, he didn't even know who or what he was. When he began to study dharma and practice meditation he saw that, "there are some things you just can't learn in school."

I know a woman who once believed that she had nothing to offer anyone but her beauty. She became a successful model but in the process began a long struggle with drug addiction. In the throes of depression and thoughts of suicide, she sought guidance from a Buddhist teacher and, after receiving much instruction, saw for the first time that her life didn't have to be about herself. She said, "Waking up, for the first time, to the reality that I am able to care for and help others was what saved my life."

I know a guy who ate LSD and "saw infinity." Then, when he saw the Buddhist symbol known as the "knot of eternity" he thought, they must know. He sought out a Tibetan Buddhist Sangha to "learn the secrets" and while he didn't gain the mind-blowing metaphysical knowledge that he expected, he did begin practicing meditation and striving to cultivate wisdom and compassion. Regarding his quest for infinity, that last I heard him say about this was, "My discursive mind is infinite enough."

I've read letters from people who practice Buddhism in prison, and have always found it both inspiring and heart-breaking to hear from people who are on the path in such circumstances. I recall reading one letter from a woman that was the saddest story I have ever heard. After a lifetime of unspeakable suffering and tragedy, she had been sentenced just after seeing her boyfriend killed. Yet, this letter ended along the lines of "What else am I going to do while I'm here? I've got to deal with this stuff one way or another." After reading everything this woman had lived through, that she was turning to meditation and requesting reading materials to support her practice was astounding to me.  While reading this month's Tricycle Book Club selection The Heart of the Revolution by teacher and author Noah Levine, I was struck my Noah's recollection of practicing while locked up:

While in jail for my third felony arrest at a young age, at my father's suggestion I began to meditate. That practice gave me the determination and strength to stop taking drugs and drinking. I turned my attention inward and began the process of healing—a process that continues to this day.

Also, in contrast to the people I have mentioned so far, I think it is important to mention that not everybody arrives at the Buddhist path because of some difficult or extraordinary circumstance. It seems that for some, it just happens, no existential dilemma and tragedy needed. I am reminded of this passage by the late great American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck from her interview, "Life's Not a Problem":

I had a fine life. I was divorced—my husband was mentally ill—but I had a nice man in my life. My kids were okay. I had a good job. And I used to wake up and say, “Is this all there is?”

Then I met Maezumi Roshi, who was a monk at the time. He was giving a talk in the Unitarian Church downtown. I was out for the evening with a friend, a woman, a sort of hard-boiled business type, and we decided to hear his talk. And as we went in, he bowed to each person and looked right at us. It was absolutely direct contact. When we sat down, my friend said to me, “What was that?” He wasn’t doing anything special—except, for once, somebody was paying attention.

I wanted whatever he had.

Please feel free to share your own stories! Is there anyone above that you most identify with? What was it for you? As we work with the present and try to build a better future, there is much that can be learned from examining our past.

best,
Monty McKeever
Tricycle

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bills0's picture

I was studying Aikido and the concept of "blending." Instead of fighting your attacker, you cooperate or blend with his energy to defend yourself. I realized I'd been fighting everyone and everything in my life.

I came from a terrible childhood with violence and neglect. It left me with constant anxiety and a sense that the world is terribly wrong and needs to change or I will be killed. I did some good in life trying to improve everything around me, but ultimately had to turn inward to change myself and start accepting more.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting bills0. Aikido is incredible, and indeed, it seems to have much wisdom in it. I'm glad it was such a help to you.

I took an Aikido class years ago. I wish I'd kept it up. I notice that certain things stuck with me. While on the subway I find that I naturally stand in "hanmi," stuff like that.

cjflem01's picture

My family was Southern Baptist so that's how I was raised. Like most teenagers, I became disinterested in religion during high school so it wasn't until I attended a liberal arts college that I became interested once again in "spirituality" by taking world religion classes. Dr. Gupta's class on World Religions was one of my personal favorites in college. Hinduism and Buddhism being the highlights.

During my first two years of medical school, I became frustrated by the position I had put myself in. I only had the time for professional development. I didn't want to know myself only as "a med student" but as something more. I really had no idea who I was as a person.

I had practiced Taikwondo for several years when I was younger and enjoyed meditating during classes. I've always had the upmost respect for the martial arts and their teachings on discipline. When searching for my spiritual path, Buddhism was the obvious choice so I bought my first couple of books, A Still Forest Pool and Mindfulness In Plain English. Achaan Chah's teachings on the Dharma have already begun changing my life. He had such a great sense of humor and a gift for seeing the truth.

So med student by day and Buddhist student by night...trying to find a balance between the two. I'm finding out who I really am and enjoying every second of it.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for replying cjflem01. Your post reminds me of something Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo discussed in her current Tricycle Retreat about the roles we play. I actually transcribed it for the blog not long ago, "We Think We Are Who We Think We Are": http://www.tricycle.com/blog/we-think-we-are-who-we-think-we-are

angelacgunn's picture

I wanted to be responsible for my self, my actions and my life after an abusive relationship in which I let my partner dictate who I was, what I did, how I felt about myself and the world outside of me.
After finally escaping from him I knew that I didn't want to rely on anything outside of myself for salvation ever again. I wanted to regain my own power and be the person I truly felt I was inside rather than the monster I became in my partners presence.
I started listening to Zencasts by IMC in CA, and the teachings spoke to me and gave me a path in which to practice this. I've been following them ever since.
I think I've always been a Buddhist, however, I just didn't know I was a Buddhist and reading about Buddhism never did the path any justice.
Thank goodness for Zencasts!

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting angela. I'm glad you gout out of that relationship! That there is no external salvation is such an important teaching.

stevedwb's picture

Hi,

I'm new to Tricycle but wanted to add my two penneth from the UK.

I had a vocation as a younger man and lived with some catholic priests when I was in my late teens (i'm 49 now) it didn't work out and I entered the normal cut and thrust of life with; family, career, dog and mortgage!

I continued on my relatively normal but essentially neurotic path untill I reached early 40s then I failed to be able to make the normal life compromises any longer! I started to meditate, increased in capacity and eventually wound up as an athiest meditating with a small sangha, one day about five years ago a monk said "an angry mind finds fault", the voice inside my head successfully found fault with the statement and for a split second I realised I was making stuff up, the dissenting voice wasn't actually the only voice or the most important voice although it was the loudest. There was very real choice about what thoughts I took seriously.

It is fair to say that I have always had a very powerful sense of compassion, that seems no more or less involved in my daily life than the period before Dharma.

Steve

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for commenting stevedwb. Greetings from across the pond!

jmhiggs's picture

When I read somewhere that the Buddha encouraged questioning authority I was sold right then and there. As a former punk and lifelong questioner it's the only spiritual path I've found that includes and encourages individual experience and critical thinking as part of the path.

Monty McKeever's picture

Indeed, as a Buddhist and as someone who grew up questioning authority (and listening to punk), I too value these aspects of the path.

audreydc1983's picture

I started zazen for a selfish reason - for a quiet, mind-relaxing time, all to myself - and shortly afterward, I realized that I had stopped grinding my teeth when I slept. So - I continued, because of direct health benefits. :)

I had integrated zazen into my religious practice. I was Asatru then (Asatru is a reconstructionist religion...it attempts to recreate the religion of pre-christian Europe using historical accounts and archaeological evidence). I had been disillusioned with Asatru for some time - it has it's own negative dynamics, most familiar to major religions, but some unique to itself. Ultimately, it was the internal politics of my group that forced me to leave - I was a board member, and I had seen several schisms occur right before my eyes. The experience was ugly, sickening, and wrong - I had no desire to continue the farce that was my involvement in the rituals and board proceedings.

After I left, I continued solitary rituals for a couple of weeks, and then gradually, weeks turned to months, and I finally stopped altogether. I just couldn't believe in many gods, one god, or anything anymore. I wanted to be a clean slate for a while - to just learn, absorb, and BE. Throughout this, I kept sitting. Then, I started reading more about Zen, and Buddhism in general.

That said, I'm still a beginner. I sit because I find peace there - in a religion that is not a religion - peace to experience, to learn, to know myself, to BE.

No strings attached. :)

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting audrey. Sounds good to me.

marla.killough's picture

My daughter led me to Shambhala. Her descriptions of what she was learning in Boulder, CO at Naropa and the example of her life were enough for me. I am a bi-religious person now. I find many similarities with my Christian tradition (UCC) and the Shambhala teachings. It is very energizing to explore and experience new teachings.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Marla. I went to Naropa too! Such a wonderful school...

rms4052's picture

Reading Sharon Salzberg's book "Faith" made me realize how empty my life had been. On the brink of 40 and realizing that the life I had imagined for myself wasn't working out, and all the suffering that was causing me! I was not living the 'American Dream' of 2.5 kids, a husband, two cars in the garage surrounded by a picket fence, and I was so miserable trying to pretend I was! Sharon's simple book opened my eyes that life does not have to be dictated by society. Leaning into Buddhism has helped my move beyond so many things, but my journey has so very far to go. I struggle with focusing on meditation or staying committed - so many aspects of life keep tripping me up. And living in a rural area, it is hard to find a community or a teacher, but I am grateful for the internet and the ease with which we can get information these days.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting rms4052. Sharon is great. In fact, she just commented in this discussion (it;s a few down from here)! I am hoping she is the first of a bunch of teacher contributions.

Monty McKeever's picture

Hi everybody, a few members of the staff just had a little meeting and this discussion came up (everybody is overjoyed with all of this engagement btw), and we are going to ask some teachers to contribute here as well, which I think would be great. In the meantime, our Editor & Publisher James just reminded me of this video where Pema Chodron discusses why she became a Buddhist. She says, with a laugh, "I became a Buddhist because I hated my husband."

stoky's picture

Thank you very much for sharing that video.

What alway strikes me when watching videos of buddhists is this sense of crazyness.
I mean she's talking about hating her husband that betrayed her and she is laughing.
This is crazy, but in a positive overwhelming way. That someone being hurt so bad can actually laugh about it in a relaxed way.

Considering the topic that was always something that kept me interesting in buddhism, this positive crazyness :)

Monty McKeever's picture

Indeed. Maybe it's life that's crazy? Perhaps when we practice and can work with it, appreciate it, and laugh with its ridiculousness.. jsut a thought

BodhiDuck's picture

As a student of Yoga, I've sort of skirted around Buddhism for years, studying and meditating, but never truly taking refuge. I honestly can't remember what it was that held me back. But a few years ago, I developed a chronic illness that causes almost constant physical pain. This caused the existence I had spent all of my time and energy building for years to fall apart, and needless to say, this was devastating for my psychological health. Depression, anxiety, and an eventual diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder left me at the bottom of a great, dark pit with a sensation that there was no way out -- except suicide.

Luckily, I decided to restart my practice of yoga and meditation instead. But more, I began to seriously STUDY the Dharma, to take refuge, and become a Buddhist. All of the medication that I take for my illnesses don't do as much as my studies do, and I am grateful every day to have this precious human life in an era when the Dharma is so easily available, even in an area such as mine where there is no physical temple to speak of.

zenmkotyk24's picture

i can understand your reasoning completely. I've practiced yoga for about 2 years now and have seen alot of similarities between Buddhism and Yoga.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Bodhiduck. I remember a teacher once explaining that study and practice are like two wings of a bird, that in order to really fly both must be strong, and balanced. This teaching comes back to me often when I seem to be gravitating more towards one or the other.

zenmkotyk24's picture

I was raised as a Methodist but I found Buddhism through an interest in meditation and yoga. About 2 1/2 years ago, while doing research, I came across Shunryu Suzuki's book "Zen mind, Beginners Mind" which left a very good impression on me. I have always had a restless spirit; never quiet satisfied with either myself, my accomplishments or my life in general. My life has been spent in fruitless pursuits (women, possessions, popularity) which have always left me feeling hollow inside. I still consider myself to be a new student of Zen Buddhism and while I have often strayed from my path I always seem to find myself back on it. Zazen practice calms the restlessness I feel within myself. It has also opened my eyes to my surroundings and given me great insight into my own life, in general. I feel I am becoming a different person; the one I have always been meant to be. I live about 1 1/2 hrs away from the Mt Equity Zendo in Pennsylvania and it is a goal of mine to visit there.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for replying zenmkotyk24. You should definitely visit the Zendo when you get a chance!

"...I have often strayed from my path I always seem to find myself back on it."
I think it's safe to say all unenlightened beings stray in one way or another from time to time. I think it's the coming back that is important.

iowlum's picture

i finally took action to stop drinking and thought that it was necessary to join AA to do this. or rather, perhaps, i just needed to do something-anything-to address the problem and going to meetings was a confirmation of this desire.

from there, being more clear headed and unable to easily escape my mental habits i became interested in the idea of 'training' my mind to achieve a more happy, healthy life. biggest realisation for me was that my mind wasn't necessarily my friend, that my thoughts, feelings were not objective reality, and that i could actually incline the mind to the places i wanted to take it: less anger,selfishness, jealousy etc, and more positive, constructive states.

in time it became more difficult for me to pay lip service to the idea of a higher power. i just couldn't 'believe' it, or rather couldn't see how it could be necessary. when i spoke of this in meetings and talked about training my own mind i saw that it angered a lot of people.'you don't train your mind, god does the work!' i could understand that many of these people were protecting an organisation that was saving their lives, but i was disappointed that, in common with other groups-obviously religions amongst others-there was a line beyond which a person could tread and feel rejected.

however, by this time i had started reading more buddhist literature and listening to dharma talks online.it was the truth to me, at least what i understood as the core principles. and it put the responsibility onto the individual to come and see for oneself, and questioned the very validity of belief or faith prior to personal experience.

i travel a lot for work, and listening to dharma talks from imc, particularly gil fronsdal, enabled me to be in a more healthy mindset while travelling, an area of life that tended to exacerbate my anger and negative, judgemental thoughts.so gil was the first individual i have to thank, and i still listen to him. then 'beginner's mind' was another inspiration. then thanissaro bikkhu-straightforward, pragmatic.my kind of teacher.

but most important of all i began to meditate daily, using instructions online. i followed the 6 week course with imc to start, receiving teacher support once a week through skype.at this stage i realised that too much reading could leave more confused and doubtful, so sitting and mindfulness became the focus, and i now listen less to dharma talks.

now i am reading the original texts. started with b bodhi's anthology 'in buddhas words' and have the middle length next which i hope to study with the online help of his course.

i'm not out of the woods with the booze. if i ease up on my practice and start to want results to be given by external circumstances and other people then it's not long before i start thinking about taking a break, switching off, and chasing 'happiness' in intoxication. at these times the wish for a supportive local group of AA comes to me. i think the support of a group-the sangha- is vital for any sustained, consistent growth, but i havent been able to keep that. a shame. so the idea of seclusion is something that immediately appeals-it's so refreshing to be on retreat and not fail in the social game, as has been my way-but in fact this is the area i really need to gain confidence in through mindful practice.if i can go home at holidays and feel comfortable and at ease with the family, can feel neither less nor more with my fellows, then i will have found my own enlightenment, and may not need more.

Monty McKeever's picture

thank you for posting iowlum! I wish you the best with your continued work on the cushion and in the rooms.

bjones's picture

I am the product of two families with several generations each of angry, dangerous, alcoholic men and equally angry, cowed, placating women. My mother and father were nominally Catholic and Methodist and decided a good compromise (and socially acceptable place to send the children) was the Presbyterian Church (go figure!). My Presbyterian Sunday school teachers devoted a good deal of rhetoric to denouncing the Catholic Church and this hurt me deeply because my one refuge in our family was my Polish Catholic grandmother. By 13 I was pretty much finished with Christianity.

I found the appropriate 12 step program in my middle thirties. After several years in Al-Anon, I looked for a religious community that would fit with the ideas and beliefs I had learned in the program. I didn't find one.

About fifteen years ago in a used book store I did find a ratty little paperback: "Taking the Path of Zen" by Robert Aitken Roshi. I fell in love with his calm, gentle author's voice and I think that made me sufficiently receptive to begin a meditation practice.

I will probably not ever be a fully mature Buddhist (there is no nearby sangha for me to be a part of) but meditation sustains me. I have responsibility for a small orchard, so I also have plenty of opportunity for a chop wood, carry water practice.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thank you for sharing bjones. I wasn't very familiar with Aitken before working at Tricycle but was very happy to have this corrected. He was/is astounding. Good luck with the orchard! I bet it's beautiful this time of year.

amclellan's picture

I was led into the dharma through chronic illness and looking for a way out of suffering. I bought Jon Kabat-Zinn's 'Full Catastrophe Living' book, started doing the exercises in there and, finding them to be very helpful, went on to explore deeper into Buddhist ideas.
Since then I have met many other people with illness on the path and when I lived in a dharma centre it was interesting to hear the stories which had led to someone knocking on our door. Some experienced profound suffering, some were looking for a sense of peace in their busy lives, others just had a sense that there was 'something more' to life. Older folk often wanted to make sense of their past experience.
It is lovely that you are responding to each of the comments, Monty. I can imagine that it makes everyone feel really heard and appreciated.
Andy

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Andy. I appreciate Jon Kabat-Zinn's work as well. My father has advanced Parkinson's disease and witnessing him work with it in his practice as been....I don't really have a word for it, I'll just say: incredible.

Also, thank you for the kind words. I very much appreciate everyone's contributions and will continue to fully read and comment on every post for as long as this discussions goes. This feels like a practice in and of itself!

LarryYaz's picture

Such a rich sharing. Let me add my story: In the early 1970s I was studying for my Master's in
Counseling at City College of NY (CCNY). There was a small alternate type of 'teach-in' program offering such treasures as: Zen Meditation, Encounter Groups, Feldenkrais Method, etc. I chose Zen Meditation having heard the term zen in connection with Jack Kerouc and wanted to know what 'zen' was.

I was teaching at the time and couldn't attend the intro talk before the classes were to begin. So, I arrived for the first session, and there was a tall young man dressed in black robes who had arranged cushions on the floor. He said, let's begin, and everyone sat down trying to squeeze themselves into a lotus position. It all felt very alien to me, and I became defensive. I asked some question or other to try to establish some sense of belonging and reality. Then we 'sat' for 10 minutes. It seemed like an eternity to me. We did walking meditation, which was much more bearable. At some time during that first session, he taught us and told us to bow. There, my defenses really went up. "I'm Jewish, I don't bow" went through my head. And then I bowed, all the blood rushing to my head. I gave in, absolutely gave in and then sat again.

Well, I continued coming every week and practicing meditation at home. The practice took root. I felt as if I'd come home to my true self. We continued in the second semester, and then he said he wouldn't be continuing. My first teacher's name was, I believe, Jim Lynch. I never saw him again. I owe him a lot. I asked how to continue. He said, read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. I read it and embraced every page, every tidbit of wisdom that was offered. New York was a rich field for Buddhism in the 70s. I attended a Rinzai group and then a Soto group. It wasn't until I attended the Zen Community of New York in Riverdale with Tetsugen, Sensei, Bernie Glassman that I found my Sangha and my Teacher. It was a very rich practice: sitting meditation, buddhist services, dharma talks, sesshins, learning to eat 'oriyoki', chanting,............. I met sensei's teacher Maezumi Roshi. He was impressive.

One thing I found that was a constant in Zen Practice is that change in inevitable. The practice shifted to Yonkers, and social action became the mainstay. More gleanings, more sitting, more transformation, and then the community dissolved.

At that time I met Gurumayi and along with my family became devotees of Siddha Yoga. Meditation continued. Chanting opened my heart even further. My karma also brought me to study with Lex Hixon when he was a Sufi Sheikh. I took hand with Sefer Efendi of the Jerahi Order of Dervishes from Istanbul, Turkey. I had the great, good fortune to attend Zikr ( Celebration of Remembrance) with his Dervishes in Istanbul.

My meditation practice has waxed and waned. I am a lover of the Way. I feel equally at home praying in church, dovining in synagogue, meditating in a zendo, chanting in a hindu temple, and bowing in a mosque. I embrace the words of Baba Muktananda, Gurumayi's Guru who taught, "See God on Each Other"

If I had to choose one religion, it would be Buddhism. Roshi Glassman presided at my father's Memorial Service, and having taken Jukai (vowing to practice the 10 precepts) with Paul Genki Kahn, I hope that he or another Zen Buddhist Priest will preside over my final service.

My life has been diverse. My life has been enriched! Being One with the Buddha; Being One with the Dharma; Being One with the Sangha.

Bowing,

Pinichas Laab, Zoju, Janardan, Abu-Latif, Larry

Monty McKeever's picture

Thank you very much for commenting Larry. Diverse indeed! It is wonderful that you are involved in so many different traditions.

As a teenager, I had the privilege of working at the Greyston Foundation, which I imagine you are familiar with. It was quite an experience and I learned a lot. For anyone who is not aware, Greyston is an organization/network of organizations in Yonkers that was founded by Bernie Glassman, learn more here: http://www.greyston.org/index.php?what_we_do

Ktclarke's picture

When I was in grad school at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison back in the late 70s, the Dalai Lama came to give a talk. I think it might have been his first tour of the US. He spoke in a huge indoor arena, maybe the basketball stadium???? The acoustics were terrible. I couldn't understand 10% of what he said. I was seated so far away, he was a small blurry person in the distance. None of that mattered. I knew for the first time in my life, very profoundly, that I was in the presence of someone special, someone holy. I knew almost nothing of Buddhism at the time, but I had never been comfortable in the Christian church. I was raised Episcopalian, but neither of my parents were very strict about religion. That "meeting" with the Dalai Lama is what started me on the path.
For the last 30 years, I have been in and out of different meditation practices, but have stuck with it steadily for the last 4-5 years. I have read extensively, and taken classes with several different traditions. I made my first trip to Nepal in 1988, fell in love with the Himalayan region, and have been back many times since. I was lucky enough to attend the Dalai Lama's teachings in Dharamsala in 2008. I am still searching for my true teacher, but slowly, slowly coming to the understanding that I may not encounter him/her in this lifetime. And that is ok. The practice is what is important. The path will lead you where you need to go.

Kate
New Mexico

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Kate. I had pretty much the exact same experience the first time I saw the Dalai Lama speak, only it was in central park. He was this tiny dot off in the distance and I could harldly make out any of what he was saying, but it was a powerful experience nonetheless.

groucho27's picture

Well, I've always had a "Zen" sense of self and nature, but I generally kept my Buddhist thoughts and attitudes in a catch-all, miscellaneous file. What really tipped the scale, though, was the stark contrast in examples of personal conduct between buddhist and those professing other paths. Simply put, many non-buddhist I encountered recently just seemed plain mean spirited and negative. Stated differently, an intellectual understanding comparing the history and philosophical tenets was not enough.

Dave M.
Denver

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Dave. While Buddhists certainly suffer from all the same problems as everyone else, I too feel very grateful for the many I know that do in fact conduct themselves in an uplifted manner, that "walk the walk" so to speak.

groucho27's picture

This is a great discussion, but the metaphor of walking is very useful here. Thich Naht Hahn's concept of the Buddha's practice of mindful walking is also a great metaphor for all of the "steps" in our lives that have "led" us "here" to buddhism. I can recall many such "steps;" reading a particular book, an animated lecture in a university course on eastern civilization, an emotional crises in a personal or family relationship, a loss of faith in a previous path, a moment of admiring the beauty of a tree, a quiet moment by a mountain stream. But for each of us, at each step a lotus blossomed under our feet and here we are--all together.
Dave

brandon442003's picture

I was led to Buddhism in quite a different way. I was in a meditation circle with my pagan womyn's group. I saw the great wall of china and a cow walking sideways. We all had a good laugh and I put the thought away. At home I received a notice from a friend who broke her foot and was trying to reach me all day. I went to her and put some herbal washes on her foor and hugged her goodnight. Once back at home I had several posts about Buddha statues and thought I would check a few. After the first one I checked to see what other art forms the person had. To my amazement there was a Jade sculpture of Kwan Yin...The Mother of Compassion. I did some additional reading on her and realized that the connection in my meditation was spot on. Everything that is coming my way lately is leading me closer and closer to Buddhism. I am over joyed because I feel like I am home.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting brandon442003. What an interesting vision! Speaking of Kwan Yin, here is a picture I took of her a few months ago when the staff went and visited Bhikkhu Bodhi and Chuang Yen monastery.

 

katemack's picture

Over 30 years ago, as a university freshman student, raised in the backwoods of eastern Canada (backwoods defined as 1 church town), the university I attended was planning some big splashy honourary doctorate for some guy -- Tibetan? Buddhist? Possibly a Spanish painter...?

"Some guy" turned out to HH the 14 Dalai Lama (and not "Dali" --- my gracious, I was backwoods and then some). I have no idea what he said in his address. All I know is whatever he said, he said it directly to me. Those other 700 or so people that might have been in the room were just props. He was talking to ME. I felt the most indescribable wave of peace and love, absolute unconditional love, something that still makes me go all mmmmmmmmmm inside today.

I still have no idea what "some guy" has but whatever it is, I would like some. In his books, he tells me to meditate and cultivate compassion. I feel better all ready.

Monty McKeever's picture

hahaha, this is a wonderful story. Thanks for posting Kate. The idea just occurred to me that a surrealist artist should paint a piece titled, "the Dali Lama." If done well, it could be pretty interesting (or hilarious.)

caroline_stefanou's picture

It started when I was given a book to read, The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation by Chogyam Trungpa. It made a big impression on me and touched me deeply. And a certain yoga teacher whose kindness and encouragement helped me greatly in difficult times.

Monty McKeever's picture

thanks for posting Caroline. There is actually a copy of Myth of Freedom out on my desk right now, great book

upayin's picture

I am a mexican raised in a very loose catholic family. I was pushed gently by my mother to go to church at least every Christmas. Very early I became interested in literature, so I spent my time reading all kinds of books. I made a bachelor's degree on German Literature, but at the same time I was very much interested in Indian literature, reading Upanishads, Gīta, Vedas and everything I could put my hands into. In that way I became familiar with such concepts as karma, atman, etc. Among the books I could get was a very imprecise translation from the Udana (by Fernando and Tola Dragonetti) which I read from beginnig to end. From that moment I knew the Buddha was a very special being, like no other, and considered him to be a model to be followed. I kept reading buddhist texts (specially theravada) while I finished my degree. Then I decided to devote myself to the practice and academic study of Buddhism. Nowadays I finished my Master's Degree on Buddhist Studies, and currently I am in the second year of my PhD, trying to understand a lot of things, and not always succeding in my personal practice, but trying to do it.

Aleric's picture

upayin,

I would be interested on your take on if deism is compatible with Buddhism? thank you. Aleric

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Aleric, good luck with your studies

Dessertcircus's picture

I became interested in Buddhism two years ago when I was going through Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for a mental disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder. Much of the DBT was Buddhist-based, i.e. Mindfulness, etc. I put my whole heart into it because I wanted to be free from the 25 years of pain and suffering I was in. Those 8 weeks of therapy changed (and probably saved) my life. I have now been self-injury free for 1 year and 9 months and am better able to handle conflict, change, indecision and many other day-to-day trials and tribulations that most people take for granted. Although I still haven't settled into a daily meditation groove yet, I have an inner peace that radiates. I look forward to every day now.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thank you for sharing Dessertcircus! I'm very happy practice was so beneficial for you.

MarkL's picture

I had been a spiritual nomad since growing up in a Christian home. My intellect had problems with the religious beliefs I encountered in each tradition I examined because they did not match what I viewed as the reality of existence. I began reading about Buddhism and, bingo, the ideas of someone who had lived long before me matched some of the my own ideas. Realizing that my study here would only lead to more insights, I settled in. I have no local sanga or teacher, but rely on books and the web. And of course, Tricycle.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Mark! We're honored to be one of your sources for reading and practice material.