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558RE: [Buddhism_101] New Member and Questions

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  • Alan McCoy
    Nov 3, 2003
      => It seems to me that there are many different types of
      => Buddhism. How do I determine which is right for me? I have
      => been invited to a weekly meeting at a member's home this
      => Wednesday, and hope that it will be appropriate for me to
      => ask questions at that time.

      Great question and one I had to ask myself when beginning my Buddhist
      studies.

      In our area we have a few different flavors of Buddhism represented. There
      is a Tibetan group of lay practitioners that meets once a week and is
      affiliated with a monastery in Phoenix, AZ. There is also a Thai monastery
      where a handful of monks live, practice, and hold several prayer and
      meditation sessions during the week. And there is a Vietnamese temple that I
      haven't had a chance to check out yet.

      My son and I (he is 9 and has chosen to study with me) have taken our refuge
      vows with the Lama (Garchen Rinpoche) from the Tibetan monastery in Phoenix
      and have been leaning more toward the Tibetan Drigung Kagyu lineage in our
      studies.

      But this doesn't prevent us from attending services and meditation classes
      at the Thai monastery. As one of the monks there put it, "Buddhism is like a
      house with many windows." He then pointed to the large Buddha statue in the
      middle of the meditation room. "This statue is the goal. The Zen Buddhists
      may come through this window. The Vietnamese Buddhists may come through that
      window. Of course, the Tibetan Buddhists would have to come through the door
      because they wear the very large hats. <g> But we all have a common goal."
      Practices, traditions, and even the way you sit when meditating may be
      different, but the destination is the same.

      The best thing I can recommend is to read, read some more, and then read
      even more about all the different types of Buddhism you are interested in.
      Talk to practitioners from the many schools of Buddhism. Join email lists
      (like this one!) for the different paths. Buddha himself said, "Do not
      blindly believe what others say, even the Buddha." There are many wonderful
      teachers out there, but there are also many who practice for their own
      gains, rallying "followers" to boost their own egos.

      Whichever path you choose, take the time to explore it "fully" --
      wonderfully and truthfully.

      Alan
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