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Old 03-05-2010, 06:10 PM
 
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I have heard that Zen Buddhism is very strict and difficult to learn. I'd like to know what the different types of Buddism are and the differences between each of them?
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:43 AM
 
Location: California
3,897 posts, read 4,756,951 times
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Originally Posted by elisaa View Post
I have heard that Zen Buddhism is very strict and difficult to learn. I'd like to know what the different types of Buddism are and the differences between each of them?
Copied this from Wikipedia...be sure to go to the link at the bottom.

Schools of Buddhism
Buddhists generally classify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.[166] This classification is also used by some scholars[167][page needed] and is the one ordinarily used in the English language.[168] An alternative scheme used by some scholars[169] divides Buddhism into the following three traditions or geographical or cultural areas: Theravada, East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
Some scholars[170] use other schemes. Buddhists themselves have a variety of other schemes. Hinayana (literally "lesser vehicle") is used by Mahayana followers to name the family of early philosophical schools and traditions from which contemporary Theravada emerged, but as this term is rooted in the Mahayana viewpoint and can be considered derogatory, a variety of other terms are increasingly used instead, including Śrāvakayāna, Nikaya Buddhism, early Buddhist schools, sectarian Buddhism, conservative Buddhism, mainstream Buddhism and non-Mahayana Buddhism.
Not all traditions of Buddhism share the same philosophical outlook, or treat the same concepts as central. Each tradition, however, does have its own core concepts, and some comparisons can be drawn between them.
Mahayana Buddhism shows a great deal of doctrinal variation and development over time, and even more variation in terms of practice. While there is much agreement on general principles, there is disagreement over which texts are more authoritative.

Despite differences among the Theravada and Mahayana schools there are, for example according to one Buddhist ecumenical organization,[171] several concepts common to both major Buddhist branches:
  • Both accept the Buddha as their teacher.
  • Both accept the Middle way, Dependent origination, the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Three marks of existence, in theory, though in practice these have little or no importance in some traditions.
  • Both accept that members of the laity and of the sangha can pursue the path toward enlightenment (bodhi).
  • Both consider buddhahood to be the highest attainment; however Theravadins consider the nirvana (nibbana to the Theravadins) attained by arahants as identical to that attained by the Buddha himself, as there is only one type of nirvana. According to Theravadins, a buddha is someone who has discovered the path all by himself and taught it to others.
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Click on the link below for Buddhist Dharma Centers near you. Try several different ones out. See which one best fits your personality.

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=2
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
680 posts, read 1,167,696 times
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Originally Posted by elisaa View Post
I have heard that Zen Buddhism is very strict and difficult to learn. I'd like to know what the different types of Buddism are and the differences between each of them?
I'm in the early phases of developing a Buddhist practice. My user name, a pair of Tibetan words, translates like this:
"tongpa" is a way of conveying "unknowable" or "inconceivable."
"nyi" is a suffix modifying another word roughly to mean "possibility" or "potential."

Tongpa-nyi is poorly translated into English as "emptiness," a familiar Buddhist concept that has been misunderstood by many in the West. The emptiness of Buddhism is far from being empty; it is an infinite, inconceivable possibility for things to arise, change, and vanish.

If I could choose another name I would, because I now feel as though my user name is pretentious and I never intended that. I only chose it because I love the notion of "inconceivable possibility" so much.

Now, on to the various schools of Buddhism that I've experienced... Most are accompanied by cultural baggage or lovely traditions (depending on your point of view.) I'm especially fond of Zen, out of all the traditions I've tried. It has some ritual but not enough to put me off. It is far from being a difficult path unless we make it so. It's less demanding than the stripped-down meditation practice known in the West as Vipassana or "Mindfulness." But I do like Vipassana very much. I just have a hard time practicing it because it's without any ritual or comfort. It's a direct confrontation with the insanity of ordinary thought and the illusion created in our minds.

Tibetan Buddhism has splintered into many sects, the most appealing to me being Shambala. That is also the most popular among westerners and has adapted nicely to our culture. It has a strong focus on developing compassion and lovingkindness and it is relatively free from the excessive rituals and beliefs of other forms of Tibetan Buddism.

And then there are the various religions of Buddhism that are similar to the more ornate and ritualistic of Christian denominations. Lots of emphasis on outward gestures with little attention paid to quite meditation. Often you will find this type of practice among immigrants who have imported their native form of Buddhism with all the cultural and religious trappings found in such complex religions as Catholicism and the Church of England.

In general, the best western (ha, sounds like a motel chain) adaptations of bare-bones Buddhist teachings are the most appealing to me and to others who are of a Western tradition. There's no point in spending your time paying homage to a lineage of lamas, rinpoches, chogyam this or karmapa that. We honor those who have passed the teachings on to us, enough said. Yet I've been to Buddhist gatherings that consisted of NOTHING ELSE aside from such tributes. They're pointless for developing mindfulness and living in the present without judgment, desire, aversion or anger.
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Old 03-07-2010, 01:24 AM
 
Location: California
3,897 posts, read 4,756,951 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tongpa-nyi View Post
I'm in the early phases of developing a Buddhist practice. My user name, a pair of Tibetan words, translates like this:
"tongpa" is a way of conveying "unknowable" or "inconceivable."
"nyi" is a suffix modifying another word roughly to mean "possibility" or "potential."

Tongpa-nyi is poorly translated into English as "emptiness," a familiar Buddhist concept that has been misunderstood by many in the West. The emptiness of Buddhism is far from being empty; it is an infinite, inconceivable possibility for things to arise, change, and vanish.

If I could choose another name I would, because I now feel as though my user name is pretentious and I never intended that. I only chose it because I love the notion of "inconceivable possibility" so much.

Now, on to the various schools of Buddhism that I've experienced... Most are accompanied by cultural baggage or lovely traditions (depending on your point of view.) I'm especially fond of Zen, out of all the traditions I've tried. It has some ritual but not enough to put me off. It is far from being a difficult path unless we make it so. It's less demanding than the stripped-down meditation practice known in the West as Vipassana or "Mindfulness." But I do like Vipassana very much. I just have a hard time practicing it because it's without any ritual or comfort. It's a direct confrontation with the insanity of ordinary thought and the illusion created in our minds.

Tibetan Buddhism has splintered into many sects, the most appealing to me being Shambala. That is also the most popular among westerners and has adapted nicely to our culture. It has a strong focus on developing compassion and lovingkindness and it is relatively free from the excessive rituals and beliefs of other forms of Tibetan Buddism.

And then there are the various religions of Buddhism that are similar to the more ornate and ritualistic of Christian denominations. Lots of emphasis on outward gestures with little attention paid to quite meditation. Often you will find this type of practice among immigrants who have imported their native form of Buddhism with all the cultural and religious trappings found in such complex religions as Catholicism and the Church of England.

In general, the best western (ha, sounds like a motel chain) adaptations of bare-bones Buddhist teachings are the most appealing to me and to others who are of a Western tradition. There's no point in spending your time paying homage to a lineage of lamas, rinpoches, chogyam this or karmapa that. We honor those who have passed the teachings on to us, enough said. Yet I've been to Buddhist gatherings that consisted of NOTHING ELSE aside from such tributes. They're pointless for developing mindfulness and living in the present without judgment, desire, aversion or anger.
Everyone has their own tastes and personalities. As a westerner, I began my Buddhist practice in Japanese Buddhism 23 years ago. I transitioned to Tibetan Buddhism, in the Nyingma tradition and now I consider myself a Gelugpa. We're all different. That is why the Buddha gave so many teachings and on so many different levels that could apply to people of differing intelligence, etc.

YouTube - The Discovering Buddhism
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:21 PM
 
6,343 posts, read 8,487,860 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elisaa View Post
I have heard that Zen Buddhism is very strict and difficult to learn. I'd like to know what the different types of Buddism are and the differences between each of them?

Bull. Zen is the easiest form of buddhism to learn...well, most buddhist would argue that there is only one form of buddhism any way and all the rest is just gravy. Zen is pretty easy to learn, it is mostly about mindlfulness, or just being aware of what is going on in the present now and clearing one's mind of the intellectual process. The core of zen is zen mediation, or Zazen as it is called by the Japanese. One simply focuses on one's breath and tries to blank out all thoughts. That simple. You don't even have to be successful in being empty minded, it is just the effort that matters (right effort, one of the points of the eight fold path)

Zazen is very easy to do:



YouTube - Introduction to Zen Meditation: The Still Point


I would recommend after doing Zazen for a week or so reading "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunru Suzuki. Great book, but it only makes sense if you practice zazen it''s self. Also I would recommend "Being Peace" by the great Thich Naht Hanh.
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:33 PM
 
Location: Wu Dang Mountain
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Originally Posted by victorianpunk View Post
Zazen is very easy to do:
Easy, hard - all the same.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:31 PM
 
276 posts, read 637,674 times
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I thought Buddhism was a philosophy not a religion?
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Old 03-10-2010, 04:37 AM
 
11,685 posts, read 13,091,702 times
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Originally Posted by elisaa View Post
I thought Buddhism was a philosophy not a religion?
In my opinion that's a question that doesn't, maybe can't, have a clear answer.

To my knowledge the distinctions which we make currently in the West between philosophy and religion were not present as such in the Indian era in which Gotama Buddha lived.

There were rituals and observances connected with the gods and derived from the Vedas, but there were a few people at this time who tended to withdraw from society and practiced various ways of life less involved with these practices. One among these various groups was Gotama Buddha and the followers he attracted.

If one accepts that "religion" means (at least in part) the belief in a supernatural god/s who is able to influence the affairs of humans for good or ill, and who may be approached - and perhaps influenced - through ritual and petitionary prayer; then Gotama Buddha, judged from the information in the Nikayas was not teaching a religion.

Whenever he was approached with a question pertaining to religious devotion, he unfailing took the questioner's terms and then used them metaphorically to explain his own teachings. For example, a man once came to him with questions about venerating the eight directions of the compass. And in typical fashion, the Buddha replied yes this was a good idea, but then his explanation was not about the veneration of north, south, etc., but rather he said something to the effect that first one should honor the direction of one's parents, next one should honor the direction of one's teachers, friends, etc, etc.

Questions about God, an afterlife, etc. he put aside commenting that these topics had been talked and talked about already, and they were not conducive to leading a happy life nor were they what he was teaching about.

Furthermore, his explanation (and use of the concept and word) karma, put him very far from the religious teachings of his time. Traditionally one had preordained types of social conduct which one had to observe as a result of being born in a certain station of life as well as ritual obligations in regard to the gods. If one failed to do these things, or did them incorrectly, even by accident, one made bad karma for oneself, which is to say that one could expect a negative impact in ones life as a result.

Gotama Buddha said that karma was actually something much different. He said karma was cetana, i.e. volition, willed action. The senses of the body and mind perceived the world, judgement and desire brought about a willed action and that action had good, neutral or bad effects, and these would redound back upon one. So, in his teaching karma became the process of willed action and its results, and was not punishment or reward to keeping or breaking - even by accident -divinely imposed rules. [This, of course, had the effect of saying that caste observances and religious ritual observances requiring bramanical supervision and participation were essentially irrelevant.]

I suppose, in very modern terms, he was teaching something like cognitive psychology perhaps. His teachings, by and large, were about why people were unhappy and how their physical senses, including the brain, perceived the things in the world which motivated them to actions...which might make them happy or unhappy.

After his death, over time, as his teachings spread all sorts of very complicated speculations about them developed, and other cultures were encountered and these influences (Tantra and Taoism among them) in many cases caused schools and sects to arise in which the Buddha (or his teachings) came close to being conceived of as a divinity.

And some less educated, and unsophisticated Buddhist lay people do see him as that.
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Old 03-10-2010, 05:22 PM
 
276 posts, read 637,674 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevxu View Post
In my opinion that's a question that doesn't, maybe can't, have a clear answer.

To my knowledge the distinctions which we make currently in the West between philosophy and religion were not present as such in the Indian era in which Gotama Buddha lived.

There were rituals and observances connected with the gods and derived from the Vedas, but there were a few people at this time who tended to withdraw from society and practiced various ways of life less involved with these practices. One among these various groups was Gotama Buddha and the followers he attracted.

If one accepts that "religion" means (at least in part) the belief in a supernatural god/s who is able to influence the affairs of humans for good or ill, and who may be approached - and perhaps influenced - through ritual and petitionary prayer; then Gotama Buddha, judged from the information in the Nikayas was not teaching a religion.

Whenever he was approached with a question pertaining to religious devotion, he unfailing took the questioner's terms and then used them metaphorically to explain his own teachings. For example, a man once came to him with questions about venerating the eight directions of the compass. And in typical fashion, the Buddha replied yes this was a good idea, but then his explanation was not about the veneration of north, south, etc., but rather he said something to the effect that first one should honor the direction of one's parents, next one should honor the direction of one's teachers, friends, etc, etc.

Questions about God, an afterlife, etc. he put aside commenting that these topics had been talked and talked about already, and they were not conducive to leading a happy life nor were they what he was teaching about.

Furthermore, his explanation (and use of the concept and word) karma, put him very far from the religious teachings of his time. Traditionally one had preordained types of social conduct which one had to observe as a result of being born in a certain station of life as well as ritual obligations in regard to the gods. If one failed to do these things, or did them incorrectly, even by accident, one made bad karma for oneself, which is to say that one could expect a negative impact in ones life as a result.

Gotama Buddha said that karma was actually something much different. He said karma was cetana, i.e. volition, willed action. The senses of the body and mind perceived the world, judgement and desire brought about a willed action and that action had good, neutral or bad effects, and these would redound back upon one. So, in his teaching karma became the process of willed action and its results, and was not punishment or reward to keeping or breaking - even by accident -divinely imposed rules. [This, of course, had the effect of saying that caste observances and religious ritual observances requiring bramanical supervision and participation were essentially irrelevant.]

I suppose, in very modern terms, he was teaching something like cognitive psychology perhaps. His teachings, by and large, were about why people were unhappy and how their physical senses, including the brain, perceived the things in the world which motivated them to actions...which might make them happy or unhappy.

After his death, over time, as his teachings spread all sorts of very complicated speculations about them developed, and other cultures were encountered and these influences (Tantra and Taoism among them) in many cases caused schools and sects to arise in which the Buddha (or his teachings) came close to being conceived of as a divinity.

And some less educated, and unsophisticated Buddhist lay people do see him as that.
This is what I thought but I have no real knowledge to back up as I have not studied. I would like to study the teachings of Gotama Buddha, without the religious aspect.

I don't believe in heaven, hell or reincarnation in an after life. However I believe in reincarnating here on earth in the sense of changing who we are or reinventing ourselves.

Would you happen to know where I can get a hold of the teachings? Thanks and in the meantime I'll search.
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:12 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
680 posts, read 1,167,696 times
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Some books I find very useful and accessible (easy to understand) include the following:

The Joy of Living - Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Buddhism Is Not What You Think - Steve Hagen
A Path With Heart - Jack Kornfield

Another approach is to study the essence of Buddhist teachings through non-Buddhist texts such as Eckhart Tolle's works (e.g. The Power of Now) or J. Krishnamurti (e.g., Think On These Things)

The Dharma (the path of insight as illuminated by the Buddha) can be found in many teachings. I find that the poetry of Rumi is exceptionally powerful as a means of bypassing my analytical and judgmental mind, pointing directly to what is.
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