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Where I'm At Now


Deva

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I thought I had erased my blog, but glad I didn't because its interesting reading some of it a few years later.

 

My little journey into Tibetan Buddhism has taken a hiatus. I haven't been over to the dharma center in over two months, and the longer I am away, the more I really don't feel like returning. I see my involvement there as escapism from a difficult time in my life. And it actually worked to an extent. The rituals and the beauty, the chanting in a foreign language, is a marvelous escape.

 

The predictable problems arose. I am against spiritual authority, and the Tibetans venerate the lama like a king. I can't reconcile the idea of "the guru is your own mind" (which is true) and bowing and scraping to an actual person, who is also the "guru". If I am also the guru, why aren't people bowing to me whenever I walk by, standing with hands folded until I pass? Why aren't people praying to me?

 

This whole notion of prayer has been mystifying to me for many years. Bottom line is -what is the point? In a religion like Christianity it makes some sense because an almighty being might be capable of answering or helping in some way. I am not saying it works, but I can see theoretically where people could think it would help. Perhaps God likes prayer and so would grant it, even though if he is omniscient, surely he already knows whats going on.

 

In Buddhism, the idea of praying to the lama or praying in general, is very strange. I think maybe the Tibetans had local gods they prayed to before Buddhism came into Tibet and they just continued to pray and just substituted the guru for the name of the local god. Anyway, I can't see the use of doing it. There is a lot of stuff about "mind-to-mind" transmission, and how in some way the lama communicates in some other esoteric way, but I find it hard to believe. There as many things in Tibetan Buddhism that are hard to believe as there are in Christianity, even though I do think Christianity is more repulsive in many ways.

 

I can't see where meditation has ever helped me, although I tried it for years. I don't get this calm feeling or whatever effect it is that other people report. I don't go around with a beatific smile on my face like some of them. I just don't get it.

 

Although I still like the philosophy and overall emphasis of Mahayana Buddhism on compassion, it seems too one-dimensional. I feel it is incomplete. It does include destruction and wrathful looking deities but they are explained away as expressions of compassion, and not really wrathful and destructive deities. I think there IS actual destruction and terrible violence in life, and I don't see too much of that side expressed in what I would regard as an honest way. In that regard I much prefer Hinduism.

 

Participating in a ceremony does not make a person "Buddhist", and I can't really think of myself as a Buddhist, if I do not do any of the practices. Then again, I could just say that maybe I find some truth in it, but not so much in the Tibetan cultural stuff, which is so foreign to me as an American - and still be Buddhist.

 

I can't say if I will ever go back to it, but for right now I'm done with it.

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Hey, Deva, I just necroposted something on Buddhism on one of your blog posts from 2011, that kind of tangentially relates to this here. I think you're right on. Historically, though, even Tibetan Buddhism was pretty violent, although their religious wars were relatively far in the past - that's why there's only one Tibetan Buddhism, today. And, yeah, the whole Dalai Lama thing, because Tibet is as close to a pure theocracy as it's possible to get. I hope you don't mind the long post on an ancient blog entry, but it might help to have some historical context? The history's really my butter zone, and it might be useful. I never could relate to Tibetan Buddhism, philosophically, as well as I do Zen.

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Well, ExC thanks for the comment to my old blog. I actually decided since this post to go back to the Dharma Center occasionally.  i don't consider myself a Tibetan Buddhist, although I am closer to Buddhist than anything else I have heard about.  So maybe I really am a Buddhist.  But I don't go with religious authority such as gurus.

 

There actually are several different schools of Tibetan Buddhism and they used to fight among themselves in the past. The Gelug school is headed by the Dalai Lama, but the others are not. There is the Nyigma, Sakya and Kagu schools. There are differences between them, but I have really only studied the Nyigma and after 7 years I still don't know that much about them!

 

I still like the aesthetic aspect of Tibetan Buddhism.  I am not sure if the guru worship thing is so off-putting that I can just throw it all away on that one problem. Hell, maybe its a  little like a close friendship or a marriage - you don't throw the whole relationship overboard because you don't like one or two things.

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