Hello from a grad student

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Hello from a grad student

Post by totan » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:38 am


I am a 25 year old female from Louisiana, and I am studying to get my Master's degree in cultural anthropology. Although I grew up Catholic, I have always had an interest in Buddhism and have taken several classes on various forms of Buddhism throughout my undergraduate studies.

I am currently collecting information on Buddhism for my Master's thesis, but I need a relavent and compelling topic to research. That's why I've joined this site: I want to hear from fellow members who practice Buddhism what is important to them and what topics they think are overlooked or down-played.

Feel free to message me with your ideas or feedback. Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your time.

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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by pilgrim » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:53 am

welcome...hope you get lots of ideas here

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James the Giant
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by James the Giant » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:47 am

Two exciting things happening in Theravada Buddhism at the moment are:

The ordination of bhikkhunis (nuns) in the west, and the backlash from the conservative [male] traditionalists back in Thailand... and in some western monasteries too. Big debate, big excitement, a real development/evolution/schism in Western Buddhism. There's a huge thread here on Dhammawheel about it.

And the other really interesting thing happening in the past few years is also a western phenomena.
I'm not sure what to call it. Based around western meditators taking Buddhism and
...stripping away dogma and unhelpful taboos, people sharing with each other in ways that are down-to-earth, helpful, and pragmatic, and the vision that it can be done, rather than a dharma world that is mysterious, artificially heirarchical, dogmatic, and secretive.
* pragmatism over dogmatism: what works is key, with works generally meaning the stages of insight, the stages of enlightenment, jhanas, freedom from suffering in what ways are possible, etc.
* diligent practice over blind faith: this place is about doing it and understanding for yourself rather than believing someone else and not testing those beliefs out
* openness regarding what the techniques may lead to and how these contrast or align with the traditional models
* personal responsibility: you take responsibility for the choices you make and what you say and claim
* a lack of taboos surrounding talking about attainments
* the assumption that the various aspects of meditative development can be mastered in this life
* the spirit of mutual, supportive adventurers on the path rather than rigid student-teacher relationships and the notion that the collective wisdom of a group of strong practitioners at various stages and from various traditions and backgrounds is often better than following one guru-type.
Just a caution, some people (well, okay, a lot of people) think Dan Ingram is a bit of a loon. Which may be true. But many other people are also involved and doing the same stuff as him and getting results, so he can't be all wrong.

Also related to Dhamma Overground and Daniel Ingram's project, is Chicago's Cheeta House and the Dark Night Project. There's a woman there Willougbhy Britton, who is doing some interesting work on the more uncomfortable stages of insight... http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/09/bg ... of-dharma/

Willougbhy Britton studies neuroscience at Brown University, which has an awesome faculty "a branch of the Brown University Contemplative Studies Initiative in the Warren Alpert Medical School that focuses on the clinical aspects and applications of contemplative practices."
http://www.brown.edu/Faculty/Contemplat ... nitiative/

Those are the areas that spring to mind when considering what might be interesting to write a masters thesis on.

Oh, one more thing, if you like matters relating to minorities and racial issues, is looking into the reasons for the lack of Black and Hispanic faces in western dhamma communities and practise groups. It tends to be disproportionately white middle-class folk.

Best wishes, and do drop back in when it's (A) decided, and (B) finished. Show us what you wrote!
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by Ben » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:16 am

Greetings totan and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
kind regards,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:17 am

Welcome Totan! May you find what you're seeking here!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by bodom » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:09 pm

Welcome totan!

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5

"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by totan » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:47 pm

Thank you everyone for your kind words of welcome and feedback. I will definitely keep everyone updated on the status of my thesis and the various topics I am researching.

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Site Admin
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by DNS » Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:11 am


Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!


Perhaps you might find some ideas to expand upon from some of the modern developments listed here:
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _Theravada" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Kim OHara
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Re: Hello from a grad student

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:35 am

Welcome, totan, and all the best for your studies.
James' suggestions are two that I might have mentioned if he hadn't gotten in first. Another is the cross-fertilisation of the historically separate Buddhist schools since about 1950 when transport and communications were suddenly good enough that people could see the differences and similarities.


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