Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Akashad
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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Akashad » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:20 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:43 pm
I agree.
I hardly go to a temple, because I can't see the purpose of going there unless I want to look after the monk by helping them and giving Dana. The problem is you find those distractions even in a Dhamma discussion forum. That is why some people do not like Dhamma forums either.

Same here,my only purpose of going to temples is to offer food and necessities to the monks.I don't think i care anymore about getting good merits and being reborn in heaven or being protected from harm. I used to make this worldly wishes of success like getting good grades at school and i got them yes exactly how i made the wish,same with metta practice when i do it i get all these happiness and protection but i realised it's this cause and effect chain that i have to keep supporting and it's really tiring because it never stops.and i have to keep doing it to sustain the effects.

So as one monk passed me and i offered my rice to him and instead of doing My wishes.i wished for him to attain nibbanna.

I imagined him in the future maybe as this monk maybe some other being i imagined this being attaining liberation i imagined that moment maybe in a different life,where release happens and i put all my aspiration into that one spoon and i genuinely wished that this spoon of rice will contribute to that final release and it filled my eyes with tears that i quickly blinked away.It was like warm joy bubbling from deep inside when you wish for other people's happiness and its something i'm not used to as i can be really selfish and self absorbed.And it think that's the moment i knew i would always come to monasteries and visit temples and support teachers regardless if there's 100,000 rude dhamma police on patrol.I want them to succeed man.And not because of merit or because i want to be reborn in the brahma realm i want them to succeed because i want them to be happy.

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Akashad
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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Akashad » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:21 pm

sunnat wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:10 pm
Akadshad. Why do you use this emoticon: :anjali:?
:anjali:
because it looks pretty.

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Antaradhana » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:34 pm

Hi, Akashad.

Practice at home, come to the monastery to give food to the monks and listen to the Dhamma. There is no need to participate in the rituals, if they do not inspire you, but rather cause despondency.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Akashad » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:39 pm

Antaradhana wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:34 pm
Hi, Akashad.

Practice at home, come to the monastery to give food to the monks and listen to the Dhamma. There is no need to participate in the rituals, if they do not inspire you, but rather cause despondency.
Thanks,i will follow your advice. :anjali:

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Antaradhana » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:45 pm

Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:39 pm
Antaradhana wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:34 pm
Hi, Akashad.

Practice at home, come to the monastery to give food to the monks and listen to the Dhamma. There is no need to participate in the rituals, if they do not inspire you, but rather cause despondency.
Thanks,i will follow your advice. :anjali:
But still, it is necessary to develop faith in order to inspire and please the mind, so as not to fall into skeptical doubts, and for this purpose, the Buddha recommended practicing remembrance of the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, his own good deeds, generosity and deities https://suttacentral.net/an6.10/en/sujato
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by SDC » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:37 pm

Akashad wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:29 am
I'm not sure if buddhism with all the bowing and chanting and rituals is for me.I use to be very self reliant on inner qualities like my own virtue and kind deeds but now tried to go to external things and don't feel authentic. I don't feel really inspired when I visit temples or monasteries.
As someone who has never taken up the act of physically bowing to statues, I do understand where you are coming from. But a word of caution: if you are going to develop inroads to the goal of the practice, you have to set up the devotional framework. Not for there to be a mode where you give to these inanimate objects, but the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha have to be prioritized in your understanding in order for there to be movement in that direction. I understand that many of the common devotional practices look like some form of external worship, but the point is to set those things up in a position of reverence. Those things have to be upheld. The mind has to be inclined towards them. So just make sure that in defending yourself from those ritualistic pitfalls that you aren’t missing out on the crucial development.

On another note, like many have said, go to the monasteries in order to support the community of monastics whose lineage is the foundation for the teaching remaining relevant. If for nothing else, do it for that reason.

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Akashad » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:44 pm

Antaradhana wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:45 pm
Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:39 pm
Antaradhana wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:34 pm
Hi, Akashad.

Practice at home, come to the monastery to give food to the monks and listen to the Dhamma. There is no need to participate in the rituals, if they do not inspire you, but rather cause despondency.
Thanks,i will follow your advice. :anjali:
But still, it is necessary to develop faith in order to inspire and please the mind, so as not to fall into skeptical doubts, and for this purpose, the Buddha recommended practicing remembrance of the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, his own good deeds, generosity and deities https://suttacentral.net/an6.10/en/sujato
Thanks.I am not equating having faith with bowing a burning incense.Those two are not the same to me.I just said people with devotion or faith temperament meaning they would benefit the most from bowing to statues because it inspires their mind while meditating inspires my mind.

I have no skeptical doubts about dhamma such as karma or the four noble truth or jhana or previous life I was not given the luxury to doubt that coming into this birth.I have more faith in three characteristics of nature and karma then I do stories in the suttas.i also don't doubt merits acquired cause I see them plain as day take effect what I'm saying is I don't necessary care about what merits I acquire.For example,take the boddhisatta he doesn't just look for worthy people,noble field of merits, to give dana, he is just generous to Everybody because he's goal is not to reap merits he just maximising his parami.

I have absolute faith in my meditation object I have no doubt it can lead to concentration.I do contemplate my own sila and dana.I have faith in devas cause by a stroke of luck when I lost consciousness and had one those typical nde or obe and perhaps I was hallucinating but it kind of established faith in them,also through the help of 100 buddhist telling me they exist and through inference.you know I believe my karma caused me birth in the human realm therefore their karma caused rebirth in heavenly realms etc.

I do recollect and think of the Buddha mostly his struggles as a boddhisatva I find deeply inspiring because he didn't really have that let let let go options stream winner focused folks talk about.Like we have the luxury of saying let go of the five aggregates,anatta, cause a supreme Buddha already gave us a hint but he didn't.He had to Drag what he believed as him SELF to develop the Paramis through determination and that is INSANE.so this is what is relatable to me most about All Buddhas.I also have faith in his teachings the problem is I can boil them down to sila,samadhi and panna and leave out the rest like circling a statue and which arm to put down first.

I don't do recollection of the sangha at all.I just basically just want to provide for them so they can practice well without worrying about food or shelter.I don't care if the sangha are arahants or sottapannas or ex painters.Anybody who chooses to leave home i will always support as best I can I don't care if brings great or little merit.

So please don't equate bowing to statues and lighting incense as me not having faith in the Dhamma most importantly.It's not possible I wouldn't be doing this practice without faith in the Dhamma.I have faith in the buddha and the sanggha it just doesn't have the strongest effect than me seeing Dhamma in the here and now.Like I don't know if the Buddha was born with marks in his body but I Do know if I did something mean to some one intentionally today I'd face the consequences sooner rather than later just because its a pattern I've observed even before I became a buddhist which is why I know karma doesn't care if you are buddhist or not, so I have faith in that aspect.Do I have faith in bowing to statues and burning incense?No I do not.In that respect you are absolutely right.

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Antaradhana » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:08 pm

Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:44 pm
I am not equating having faith with bowing a burning incense.Those two are not the same to me.I just said people with devotion or faith temperament meaning they would benefit the most from bowing to statues because it inspires their mind while meditating inspires my mind.
This is normal. The image of the Buddha in the form of statues is a rather late phenomenon. Initially, it was a symbolic image: either an empty throne or foot prints on the ground, emphasizing the emptiness of the Tathagata.
I just basically just want to provide for them so they can practice well without worrying about food or shelter.I don't care if the sangha are arahants or sottapannas or ex painters.Anybody who chooses to leave home i will always support as best I can I don't care if brings great or little merit.
Your motivation is good. I think you will be interested in this sutta about the types of motivation for donation https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Akashad » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:14 pm

SDC wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:37 pm
Akashad wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:29 am
I'm not sure if buddhism with all the bowing and chanting and rituals is for me.I use to be very self reliant on inner qualities like my own virtue and kind deeds but now tried to go to external things and don't feel authentic. I don't feel really inspired when I visit temples or monasteries.
As someone who has never taken up the act of physically bowing to statues, I do understand where you are coming from. But a word of caution: if you are going to develop inroads to the goal of the practice, you have to set up the devotional framework. Not for there to be a mode where you give to these inanimate objects, but the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha have to be prioritized in your understanding in order for there to be movement in that direction. I understand that many of the common devotional practices look like some form of external worship, but the point is to set those things up in a position of reverence. Those things have to be upheld. The mind has to be inclined towards them. So just make sure that in defending yourself from those ritualistic pitfalls that you aren’t missing out on the crucial development.

On another note, like many have said, go to the monasteries in order to support the community of monastics whose lineage is the foundation for the teaching remaining relevant. If for nothing else, do it for that reason.
Thank you.Yes it is the OUTWARD mode or orientation of inclining the mind that troubles me about rituals.I am 100% sure the Buddha cannot save me.I have to save myself by practicing meditation and contemplating three characteristics.if I harm someone say cut somebody and then go do bowing and lighting incense I'm telling you just from personal observation that is not going to stop the effects of my previous karma I have tried that.

I don't feel safe putting my trust in external things because i could have just saved myself that problem by practicing restraint or sila instead of bowing and lighting incense.

I'd like to internalize the Buddha,Dhamma,Sangha instead of orienting the mind outwards.I feel I can do that with Dhamma and I equate Buddha with Dhamma it's just the Sanghha that I don't have formal chants for.I'm more focused on providing necessities.Also when you said support sanggha to keep the lineage or teaching going if nothing else do it for that reason.

you know what It's actually hit me that's Not the reason I make dana.I am only thinking about the actual monks and nuns and lay people practicing and I'm doing it out of compassion for them.I want them to succeed. I'm not thinking about to preserve a lineage.I do it out of compassion not to keep buddhism alive if it lasts it's good that's not the main reason.This is like when you feed a hungry person and say "I'm doing it for world peace".Well yeah ...but the main reason is that person's needs food.I'm sure it will impact world peace is someway but no way Is that "THE" main reason and if anything else do it for that reason.

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by SDC » Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:05 pm

Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:14 pm
Thank you.Yes it is the OUTWARD mode or orientation of inclining the mind that troubles me about rituals.I am 100% sure the Buddha cannot save me.I have to save myself by practicing meditation and contemplating three characteristics.if I harm someone say cut somebody and then go do bowing and lighting incense I'm telling you just from personal observation that is not going to stop the effects of my previous karma I have tried that.
Of course it isn’t. I do not recall where I heard this, but a monk was giving a talk about erring on the side of caution when it comes to aspects of the Dhamma that cannot be immediately verified. Instead of blindly believing that devotional practices and gained merit would offset pending vipaka, or believing that rebirth is real 100%, or any other questionable idea, that a practitioner should make an educated guess. In a sense, “Well, if these things do happen to be real, wouldn’t it just be in my best interest to live in a way that is in accordance with that understanding instead of rejecting the prospect due to lack of evidence.” With most things, that does make sense. Still, you don’t need to take it to the point where you are doing things that aren’t helping you develop practical and useful devotion, but you also don’t want to promote a stigma of impedance with any aspect that may be useful to others.

That is an issue that has been creeping up over the years, especially emanating from the west, is the rejection and aversion to those more ritualistic aspects of the practice. Aspects that may or may not be more rooted in the culture rather than traceable in scripture. Be that as it may, it really isn’t a battle that either side needs to take up. If merit making practices are of a personal benefit to people who perform them: all well and good for them. If people from the west feel the need to be more culturally western in their approach, i.e. if they feel the need to be more pragmatic and reserved: all well and good. The point is that the goal remains one and the same. This tendency to reconciliation between the east and the west is troubling, and the common goal of the practice is getting wrapped up and obscured as a result. If anyone is telling you that you are wrong for questioning these devotional practices it is very unfair, just as if a westerner were to demean the merit making practices in the east would be equally unfair. The heart of the practice remains with its availability. It is alive if it can be actualized. And the Buddha spoke of many ways to actualize it. Reducing it to one, does not simplify the practice, it complicates it.

While I do understand what you mean when you say the Buddha cannot save you, if you don’t prioritize and uphold what he did, you may not have an appropriate enough notion about what he accomplished. That goes back to “measuring the task”. It is critically important to understand your current position in reference to the position you are attempting to actualize. Obviously you cannot imagine it accurately (if you could you would be an arahat), but there has to be a very tangible notion of just how great that accomplishment is, what it would be in your current situation. Sometimes, in order to create that notion, you have to have an idea of the Buddha that is not only supreme, but relatable. And in order to do that, you have develop and uphold that notion to a sufficient degree in order for it to take hold. As long as you are able to do that without certain devotional practices, that is fine. But if your idea of the Buddha is compartmentalized in order to protect personal preference, just make sure you develop provisions for that. Otherwise "you" will always come first. There needs to be a relationship there – with the triple gem in general. Sometimes you have to be a bit creative in order to do it.

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:11 pm

Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:14 pm
Thank you.Yes it is the OUTWARD mode or orientation of inclining the mind that troubles me about rituals.
Any kind of practice will have an external expression. This can be in the form of acting in line with the precepts, so that other people can see, for example, that one doesn't drink alcohol. It can also be in the form of expressing gratitude for the Buddha's teachings. Etc.

When some of these expressions are formalized within a community, they tend to look like rituals.
But it is not necessary to engage in them with a ritualistic mindset. One can engage in those practices (bowing etc.) without a ritualistic mindset.

It's similar to when you feel grateful for something someone did for you and you say the words "Thank you" to that person. Saying "Thank you" is a formalized, socially agreed-upon external expression of gratitude. If one feels grateful to someone, but doesn't say "Thank you" (or any other of the formalized, socially agreed-upon external expressions of gratitude), then how can one express gratitude? Can it even be said that one feels grateful if one would not use any of the formalized, socially agreed-upon external expressions of gratitude?

Conversely, saying "Thank you" doesn't make this expression of gratitude shallow or ritualistic. It's true that one can see and hear the expression "Thank you" in all kinds of places (like a sign on a public lawn "Thank you for not littering") and often said by people who probably don't mean it (like bank tellers or customer service clerks). So "Thank you" seems overused, shallow, emptied of all meaning, disingenuous. But that doesn't mean that everyone who ever uses "Thank you" means it disingenuously, nor that this is the only way that it can ever be meant.

If the Buddhist so-called rituals feel foreign or strange or purely external, this can be primarily simply because as a Westerner, one is simply not used to them. They feel awkward and unnatural just like speaking a foreign language that one is not fluent in feels awkward and unnatural.

If the people who are fluent in Buddhist "rituals" cannot or will not explain their meaning to an outsider, this could be because they don't have a degree in religious or social studies and so simply don't have the words with which to explain things. Similarly as native speakers of a language don't automatically make good teachers of a language.

I'd like to internalize the Buddha,Dhamma,Sangha
When one is participating in communal "rituals", one _is_ internalizing the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha -- just that one is doing it in the company of others. Admirable friendship, as it was meant to be.

Akashad wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:29 am
What do you think do you think I can leave out all the religious stuff and just stick to practical things like keeping precepts and meditation and succeed in this path?
I don't think so.
There has to be some kind of communal aspect to one's practice.

For Westerners and other people who were not born and raised into a Buddhist culture, this tends to be harder, because they have to figure out some things that people who were born and raised into a Buddhist culture take for granted. And for this, they have to be prepared to get neither sympathy nor empathy from those who were born and raised into a Buddhist culture (and Western Asian Buddhist supremacists).
This is a tough situation to be in, but still no reason to give up on the communal and mutually intelligible in terms of the Practice.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:45 pm

Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:56 am
Dan74 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:02 am
Akashad wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:52 am


Yes i honestly find it meaningless.

Its a statue.

Is it just me that sees this.

Its like when people buy diamonds and get excited about it.
its a damn rock.

I think the best way to show respect is to practice meditation or keep precepts not bowing down to statues. I'm sure it's the thought that matters but it doesn't fit my temperament if i force myself to do that i'd be faking it and i'd rather not live that way. :anjali:
The physical act of bowing and prostrating effect changes in the body-mind.

When you say "it doesn't fit my temperament" I get that of course and taking it is not the answer. But fitting the Dhamma practice to your temperament isn't the answer either. Hopefully eventually the temperament will begin to 'bend' (bow?) to the Dhamma too.
I don't think the Dhamma belongs to Buddhism or Religion or Rituals.I think it's part of Nature regardless if we bow down to statues or not.

For example the law of karma doesn't care if you believe in the Buddha or not.Its not your dharma or my dharma it's just Dharma.Karma doesn't depend on us believing it exists or not.

So when you say "But fitting the Dhamma practice to your temperament isn't the answer either" i'm not sure what Dhamma that is.Is it the Dhamma that burning incense and bowing to statues will lead you to nibbanna. Because that's not my understanding of Dhamma. Its not the act of bowing down or burning incense that's purifying the mind it's the Intention behind it,how is it that my meditation practice which is done with the purest intention somehow inferior to people burning incense and bowing some of which if we are being honest are done mechanically and how is it people can bow down and chant and still manage to be rude to me in a meditation hall of all places.Like its just mind boggling i could never finish chanting and bowing and be mean to someone in a meditation hall,i mean jesus just the fear of karma actually rebounding back to me is enough to stop me. They clearly value religion and rituals more than good intentions.if that's your dhamma then i don't want it.I think too many conflicts have been caused by religion and its really taking the essence away.


The Buddha taught 40 meditation objects to suit people's temperament.Its because people have different temperaments.Some are more faith based or devoted and others like me are not. Some people attain nibbanna by contemplating impermanence others by contemplating anatta and others dukkha. Its not a only my dharma is the right dharma so you should bend towards my dharma.I am not asking religious people to stop chanting,lighting incense and bowing, i'm just saying i don't wish to do that.

I have complete faith in the Buddha and i respect him by practising what he taught.If a Buddha or a Boddhisatva or noble person appeared in front of me i would bow down because i know i would be doing it sincerely out of the bottom of my heart,but i'm unfortunately i can't do the same when i'm bowing down to a statue. That's 15 minutes of my time i could be using to meditate.

I understand some people use bowing and chanting to centre the mind and that i can actually understand and receive better than people bowing out of mechanical ritual or appearing pious,but i don't need that in my own personal practice just because of the force of habit of returning attention on the object over and over again has made it easier to just establish connection so to do things like chanting and bowing would actually derail it as it's making my object less clear.

I think the Buddha is the Dhamma and Dhamma is the Buddha.my way of showing respect is practising meditation and keeping precepts and making dana to support the sangha. But i think the Dhamma is more important i'm sorry im just gonna be real for a second we talking about let go let go let go and Nibbanna.I don't think we are going to take The Buddha or the Sangha with us,The Buddha has already passed into Parinibbanna,i have my mind set on Dhamma practice and less on rituals and bowings.I don't need anymore of that.I'm officially done with religious rites.
Let go, you said. What about letting go of your preferences? Your likes and dislikes?? Are they so precious to you?

There is a story of a monk who went to a holy mountain which was said to be the abode of Bodhisatta Manjusri praying and fasting and mediating for 7 years. He never saw Manjusri. But in the end when he was getting to leave, he saw an old dying maggot-ridden dog. Stricken with pity, he sucked the maggots out and took the dog to carry it town, when it transformed into Manjusri. But when he brought it to town, only one old woman saw it for who it was and bowed. Everybody else was revolted by the smelly old dog on top of a filthy monk's back.

Preconceptions rule the roost. Temperaments, preferences, the lot. A dying dog, a statue..

Let go, as you say.
_/|\_

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by chownah » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:26 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:11 pm

When some of these expressions are formalized within a community, they tend to look like rituals.
But it is not necessary to engage in them with a ritualistic mindset. One can engage in those practices (bowing etc.) without a ritualistic mindset.
When some of these expressions are formalized within a community, they tend to look like rituals....that is correct.....they look like rituals because formalized expressions is in fact actually a ritual.

But it is not necessary to engage in them with a ritualistic mindset. One can engage in those practices (bowing etc.) without a ritualistic mindset.....that is correct.....if one engages in a ritual without a ritualistic mind set and because of this is of the view that "this is an empty ritual" then the buddha advises to not indulge in empty rituals.....this is an important point.....I believe that it is one of the criteria used in discussions of stream enterers.

If someone is of the view that a ritual is empty then they should abandon it.
chownah

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Srilankaputra » Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:53 am

Ven Saripitta was not a Buddhist when he became a sotapanna. There were no Buddhist statues until some centuries after the blessed ones parinibbana.

For my self, if I go to a temple and an old grandma told me to do something I would do it. Temple is a place to leave the ego behind like we leave the shoes at the entrance.
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Akashad » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:47 pm

chownah wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:26 am
If someone is of the view that a ritual is empty then they should abandon it.
chownah
Thank you jesus.Empty.That's the word I was looking for.

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