How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

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How did you come to Buddhism? (see post for elucidation)

1) Through meditation
25
31%
2) Through Dhamma
49
61%
3) I can't say I adopted Buddhism as a religion
6
8%
 
Total votes: 80

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Zom
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How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Zom » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:57 pm

Hello everyone,
It is interesting for me to gather some statistics on the topic. If you are not a Theravadin, but a follower of another Buddhist branch, you can still answer. But please read carefully before you answer:

1) Through meditation

You didn't know anything (or almost anything) about Buddhism, but you heard/already knew something about "meditation" (buddhist version or not), you wanted to know more about "meditation" (or you already meditated for quite some time), and so it happened that you came to a certain place to learn (or/and to practise) meditation - let it be a Buddhist center, a Retreat center, a lecture of a visiting teacher (or maybe even it was a talk with a new friend), etc. Over there you learnt about such thing as a Buddhism (Dhamma/Dharma), where the meditation is only a part of it. So you embraced (at once / eventually) the doctrine with its beliefs and dogmas. Doesn't matter if you continued/started to practise meditation since then or not.

2) Through Dhamma

You had no particular interest in any kind of meditation (doesn't matter if you knew about such thing as "meditation" or not) and you didn't know anything (or almost anything) about Buddhism (Dhamma/Dharma) as well. Somehow you learnt about Buddhism first (from articles/books, from a friend, from a lecture, from a monk/teacher, from your own parents/relatives or local community - whatever) where the meditation is a part of it. So you embraced (at once / eventually) the doctrine with its beliefs and dogmas. Doesn't matter if you started to practise meditation since then or not.

3) I can't say I adopted Buddhism as a religion

You learnt about Buddhism somehow, however you don't accept core (one or some) Buddhist dogmas (as they explained canonically):

- Rebirth,
- Kamma/karma,
- Buddha's full enlightenment and his superhuman knowledges,
- Jhanas/dhyanas,
- Other planes of existence (which we don't see).

However, you still like certain wise or/and psychological aspects of Dhamma/Dharma (including meditation) which bring benefits to your/other people's life. Doesn't matter if you meditate (or meditated before) or not.


Thanks in advance :namaste: 8-)

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Zom » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:29 pm

PS: If you like, you can share your story how did you meet Buddhism for the first time in your life.

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Ben
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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Ben » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:41 pm

Well, the first time I encountered Buddhism was when I was nine years old and through the agency of my mother who was a devout Catholic. My mother praised the Buddha and it inspired me to look up the entry in the family's encyclopaedia brittanica. As I was growing up I was fascinated so I continued to hunt down books and I read about Buddhism up until my early 20s.
However, I indicated 'through meditation' because it was through the experience of attending meditation retreats where I first took refuge formally. And over the decades I have continued to practice meditation under the guidance of SN Goenka. It was really after my visit to Myanmar in 2010 that I felt inextricably connected to the lineage from which his teaching originated.
“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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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by FutureBhikkhu » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:46 pm

When I was 16 and studying A-level philosophy, I failed my paper on Islam. I retook the exam, but I decided to study a religion unfamiliar to me -- leaving Buddhism & Sikhism -- and I chose the former. Seven years later I'm now in robes. I'll leave the moral/s of the story up to the reader :) :stirthepot:

Zom, how did you come into contact with Buddhism? :sage:
Keep on developing the causes of the Ultimate. Moreover, use your ingenuity to find novel ways to do acts of Goodness.

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by daverupa » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:09 pm

(long version; short version:)

When I was interested in meditation, I examined Zen teachings alongside a slew of New Age practices and Xian contemplation and so on, and frankly it all felt like versions of a mystically masturbatory daydream. So I set all that junk aside.

Later, I was intensely studying all manner of philosophies & religions to find a cohesive, integrated life orientation that didn't require wacky epistemological exceptions, and the early Dhamma of the historical Buddha was the only thing that fit the bill.

Then, of course, it became very, very important to understand exactly what sort of meditation was suitable within the Dhamma, and which was off-target, and so in this sense I refused to approach via meditation, given my previous experiences. Eventually, as the gradual path rolled along under my feet, meditation came back around as a practical engagement, this time with growing understanding & effort underlying.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by bodom » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:50 pm

There's a saying that those who come to Buddhism come through suffering. I was actually first introduced to Buddhism when locked up in jail due to a drug addiction. I knew that the solution to my problem was a "spiritual" one so I began looking into all the different world religions.

When I came across Buddhist teachings on the cause of suffering which was said to be craving and self centered desire is just clicked with me. I had seen the suffering I was experiencing as a result of the insanity of craving for drugs and alcohol, the selfishness of my actions that had landed me in jail, and I intuitively knew that the Buddha's path was the one for me. That was over 15 years ago and I haven't looked back since.

:namaste:
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 no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Zom » Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:02 pm

Zom, how did you come into contact with Buddhism?
My story is quite intriguing one. First time I heard the word "buddhism" when I was 15, in a funny context though. One guy said he was going to pretend that he is a buddhist because this way he wanted (somehow) to escape a conscription (perhaps appealing to ahimsa idea). Don't know if he succeeded though )) The second time I heard something about Buddhism in the University when I was (I think) 19 - however, I didn't pay attention and the only thing I remembered is that there were some "trance stages" (these were probably jhanas) and so called "4 truths", but at that time I paid no attention and couldn't even say with what topic these "truths" were dealing with.

However, "one lovely day", some 5-6 years later, I was sitting in my room and a really obsessional idea suddenly came to my mind: "The way you live your life is incorrect, you must find the way which is correct". This was a bit weird, because you know I was not Angulimala or something. I lived like all other people around me did. However the power of this single thought was so strong that the second thought came after: "If I'm to find the way, I should direct my attention to a religion, because it is this area which deals with such things". Internet was on hand, so I googled a bit. Before googling I realized that the only thing I knew on the topic - is that I don't believe in God so no need for me to look for Christianity. It was not that I had been a Christian before, actually I had never been interested in a religion at all - any religion. Just the very idea of God seemed unrealistic to me. On the other hand I recalled someone speaking about "eastern wisdom", so I decided to try that direction and googled for Hinduism - only to find something about "Krishna love" and "repeating mantras". I didn't like what I found so I switched to Buddhism - and the first information on the first page I found were just these Four Noble Truths - explained not in details though but just in some sentences - one per each Truth. I read these four lines and was thunderstruck. I was like --> :shock: I even remember that the next morning after that I awoke in fear that it was just a dream - all these "four truths", etc.

That's it - from this moment I immersed myself deep, full and wide in gathering any information I could find about Buddhism. I read a lot, every day, many many books, and this everyday reading continued for several years (we had almost nothing on Theravada at that time - only some Mahayana books and a lot on Vajrayana). So it took some time before I met Theravada and (later) before I could draw a difference between the schools. My wife at first was a bit frightened, because she saw something had happened to me - probably I was shining with a blissful neophyte aura :D Many years have gone since then but I'm completely satisfied and glad with what I've found. But, looking back - that was a weird day, a weird moment. There was no special event or smth for this to happen - but it did happen, suddenly and unexpectedly.

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by DC2R » Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:59 pm

Through the teachings and philosophy of Alan Watts, despite the differences that I now see.
"May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha always be firmly established in your hearts." ―Ajahn Chah

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by JohnK » Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:15 pm

This thread has triggered some thoughts about this. When I was in graduate school (late 1970s) studying sociology, I was drawn to a perspective that could be called "the social construction of reality" (influenced by phenomenological philosophy which I did not study) -- the rough idea being that the world we inhabit as members of a society, which we take to be reality, is actually the result of existing in a particular society and our situation w/in that society. I even did some recording and analysis of real conversations between kids and parents where that reality was being communicated to the kids. At a museum for example, "They don't wear clothes because there are no stores in the jungle." Apart from the obvious cultural assumptions being communicated, what you can't see here is that the figures being discussed did have stuff on their bodies (not to be classified in this reality as "clothes," and the depiction was of grasslands Africa -- no matter, "jungle" applies. To become competent members of the society, kids have to learn in a rather haphazard fashion what constitutes reality for that group. Of course, I was not only studying sociology, but was also a member of society beginning to recognize that my assumptions of the world I live in may be pretty sketchy -- where is the solid ground? Is there any? I was seeing the construction activity everywhere.
So, around 1988, I find Allan Watts' The Way of Zen, and discover that there is a "way" that operates from a similar perspective. View is conditioned and obscures. Is there in fact a ground? Is it a groundless ground? Can that be? I especially remember "the man of no rank" -- not buying in to the constructed various ranks/roles of a society, being "crazy" when viewed from w/in the taken-for-granted reality. So I started reading more books on Buddhism, getting some meditation instruction at a Zen center, attending a few Zen "retreats," and eventually becoming a student in what I guess can be called the lay Western Vipassana tradition. (Oh, and then just recently I find from Stephen Batchelor's writing that others have made the connection between phenomenology and the Dhamma -- even a sub-heading here at DW -- what do you know!)
Edited: I see Allan Watts showed up while I was typing! (and it just might be that "experimentation" as an undergraduate gave me the suspicion that things may not be as they seem -- that there may another way to be in the world).
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Nicolas » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:47 pm

First was an interest in the mind, along with a bedtime relaxation practice I came up with in childhood (mindfulness of the body and mindfulness of the breath, essentially). Then an interest in philosophy. Then an interest and experimentation with psychedelics, then after certain "mystical" psychedelic experiences, an interest in meditation and spirituality (from Advaita Vedanta to ayahuasca shamanism and New Age ideas), then an interest in Buddhism after reading Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, then an interest in Theravada Buddhism with the Pali Canon, and the rest is history.

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:59 pm

I turned up at my local Wat at an unhappy time, mostly to learn more about Thai culture and language. Seeing how helpful and happy the monks and lay people where I wanted to be like that. I had little idea of what Buddhism was about. I hung out, did chanting, helped with the garden etc for several months before there was a monk there who could teach meditation in English. It was only after I'd done some short retreats that I learned much in the way of theory. The Dhamma then became a distraction to my progress in Thai language...

:anjali:
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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by jweyek » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:14 pm

I read Alan Watts books in the early 1970s. That led to Daisetz Suzuki, which led to Shunyru Suzuki. Which led to Chogyam Trumpa. That led to Thich Nhat Hahn. Which led to Joseph Goldstein, etc. Which led to the internet and Access to Insight, which led to now.

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Jim1 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:51 pm

Well I've been doing meditation off and on since about 1988.. then in the mid 2000's(around 2005) I read "Being Peace" and "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh and really connected with those books. Oh, and I've been a vegetarian since 2001.
"He who walks in the eightfold noble path with unswerving determination is sure to reach Nirvana." Buddha

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by JohnK » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:16 pm

bodom wrote:There's a saying that those who come to Buddhism come through suffering. I was actually first introduced to Buddhism when locked up in jail due to a drug addiction. I knew that the solution to my problem was a "spiritual" one so I began looking into all the different world religions.

When I came across Buddhist teachings on the cause of suffering which was said to be craving and self centered desire is just clicked with me. I had seen the suffering I was experiencing as a result of the insanity of craving for drugs and alcohol, the selfishness of my actions that had landed me in jail, and I intuitively knew that the Buddha's path was the one for me. That was over 15 years ago and I haven't looked back since.

:namaste:
I LOVE this. Down to earth. Right to the point!
Concise, real life poetry -- metaphorical to teach others: jail, addiction.
:bow:
And glad to see you made it through! (Many benefit.)
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: How did you come to Buddhism? (poll)

Post by Stiphan » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:29 pm

Although I remember seeing a documentary on Buddhism as a kid, and later when I was 16 'posed' for a photo with young Buddhist monks on the Acropolis in Athens, I didn't give Buddhism much thought (actually any thought at all) until I read a National Geographic Magazine article called BUDDHA RISING, Out of the monastery into the living room (link) in December 2005 when I was 17 years old, and still living in my hometown in Bulgaria.

To be honest, as soon as I read the word "Buddha" in the title Buddha Rising, I felt something profound -- faith -- even though I hadn't yet learned what it was about. When I actually finished reading the article, I considered myself a Buddhist. In fact, I was astonished because everything that I read somehow seemed perfectly true! Not only that, at the time I was reading it, I thought that I had already known some of this stuff (impermanence, suffering, craving as the cause of suffering, to name a few) that I just never put into words myself. I really thought I was reading my own views about the world skillfully formulated that I had always known yet never expressed. Some of the things were of course quite new to me, but it all made sense. The things that struck me most were probably the four noble truths and the three marks.

So then I got onto the Internet to investigate further. I remember I came across the Buddhanet site and later a Buddhist (now-defunct) forum called E-Sangha. The more I read the more sense it all made. I accepted things like rebirth and other realms as soon as I read about them, even though I hadn't believed in rebirth before (I hadn't really thought about it at all actually).

So that's how I got into Buddhism. I never investigated other Buddhist schools much other than Theravada simply because everything I was reading happened to come from the Theravada tradition and I just stuck with it.

Now my plan is to ordain (for life) within 5 years, at most 10, depending on how my lay life pans out.


P.S.: I don't know what made me buy that magazine issue, I almost never purchased magazines; but this exception changed my life for good.

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