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Buddhists/What Buddhism is about?

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Question
Overly the last couple years I have been searching for spiritual answers, although I do not believe that any one faith is the right or wrong path to blissfulness in this plain and the next. I had atheistic views for several years but now I believe there is alot out there that science has not answered a natural part of us and our link to the universe.
What I see in Buddhism and why I am interested in knowing more. I do believe that the path to happiness is finding inner peace and that is by shutting out things such as want and possessiveness. To learn patience and understanding. It is easier to find out answers in my area to questions on Christianity or Islam, but neither seem to have what I am looking for. I want to learn meditation, how to open up my chakras, (not to mention learn more about them), and also visibly see my aura, and possibly others. I want to really open up my spirituality. Can you please give me a little bit of insight into Buddhism and if this is the right direction for me?

Answer
Dear Matthew,

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question.

I applaud your desire to study and learn Buddhism. I too went through a similar path. I started out Buddhist and got burned out by the customs and traditions. I tried Christianity (in a need to conform), but it didn't work out for me. I never had a chance to try Islam but I learned many religions (through reading, not practice). In the end, I felt they were all to structured and polluted by faulty persons. So I decided like you to be atheist for a while. But I felt that was too much denial of things going on around me. Things bigger than me.

I got really lucky. My mom found a teacher who helped inspire her to change and become a better person. This was the first person who was able to help my mom actually change. Other teachers told her to pray. She did. Then she went back to acting the same after the prayer wore off (memory of the prayer).  Some people told her to practice meditation, which she had been doing for over 20 years. After she meditated, she would go back to her old ways. She would only be calm during the short period after she meditated. It never lasted. And trust me, she trained with all the world famous teachers of Thailand. But her last teacher was different. He taught her to use reason and analysis. He taught her to observe the results of her actions. To observe other people and see the results of their actions. He taught her to use her anger as evidence of her misunderstanding. After her failings, she would search to find a cause and observe the effects of her actions. Then she would find a way to plan for a different outcome in a future case. Overall it made her into a more result-conscious person. After a few more times, she began to stop. After she stopped, a new side of her came out. It changed my life and the life of my sister. It made me want to go find out what magic made my mom into a better person.

Through his techniques, I learned to grow as a person. To learn from my past mistakes. To learn how not to repeat them. I learned to stop judging other people and myself. I learned that mistakes were here for us to learn from. I stopped being negative and stopped being positive and became a realistic person. I didn't worry any more, I knew that outcomes were not limited and anything was possible, therefore worrying would not influence the outcome in any way. It became pointless and unnecessary. This all came from observing and collecting evidence in my own life and the life of others. Once the evidence was overwhelming, there is no way not to believe. Once you believe, you have to stop. There is no other choice.

This is the Buddhism I found. Away from traditions and meditation. I did all those things and could not achieve a lasting result. I found that the Buddha taught truths. That all things that lead to suffering has a cause. That cause is within us. It comes from a misperception of the truth. We do not need to hold on to this misperception. Once we learn that we are holding mispercetion, we can let it go. Upon letting go of the misperception, we need to replace it with the right perception.

Example.

We are mad at someone for answering our phone and taking a message instead of getting us. We might blame them or criticize their action, in which we might be right. However, all suffering comes from us. What is the source in this situation?

We want to speak to the person calling, therefore we are upset we didn't get to. But even with this person, do we always want to speak to them? In every case?
What if the person calling was a debtor, or a solicitor, or a abusive ex? Would we still want to answer and talk to this person? If that same someone took a message, instead of being mad, would we instead be thanking them?

In these two cases, we see that our desires and expectations change constantly, we can hardly keep track of them. How can we possibly expect that someone to be aware and cognizant of our constantly changing demands? Of course we can't. After we realize this, we realize that we are being silly to expect this from other people. It isn't their fault, it is ours for expecting something that cannot be expected.

This is Buddhism. That practice of fixing oneself and not others. Through solving and re-evaluating one's problems we achieve a fuller understanding of ourselves and the workings of our minds. At that point, we achieve oneness with yourself. You know yourself. You observe yourself. You understand yourself. You teach yourself. All using truths. Real experiences. Real evidence. Undeniable.

So as you can see, I might not be as eager to introduce you to meditation, as I took that path to no avail. However, if you wish to meditate, I have over 10 years of experience which I can tell you. I learned alongside my mother from all those great masters of meditation. I would not be against telling you the techniques.

However, I feel it would be disingenuous to not tell you how I actually practice.

I hope this has helped you.  

Buddhists

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Anandapanyo Bhikkhu

Expertise

I can answer questions about Buddhist practice, Buddhist understanding and how to apply Buddhism to daily life. I can help analyze Buddhist sayings and teachings. In addition, I can help with questions Buddhism stories, fables and Vinaya(rules). I have meditated for over 10 years and can help you start with meditation. In addition, I can help provide insight into what to do when you feel that you have hit a wall with your meditation. My main area of expertise is how to think in accordance with Sammaditthi (the right view - and number 1 in the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. If I cannot answer your question, I have many able teachers with over 20 years experience to help me, so chances are I will be able to find an answer for you.

Experience

I have been practicing Buddhism since I was born, but as a serious practice since 2003. I started studying under various famous Thai Theravada masters. Finally, I met and studied under Phra Acariya Thoon Khippapanyo who has recently passed away on Nov 11, 2008 and is widely accepted as a great Arahant (fully enlightened) teacher of our time. In addition, I have personally read and studied much of the Buddhist scriptures and popular literature available. I have recently undertaken the ordination vows and have become a Buddhist monk in the theravada forest monk tradition. I reside at a temple with many dedicated practitioners and great teachers. I have been practicing training my mind to be aligned with right view (sammaditthi) for over 10 years. I have also been meditating for over 10 years. In my time spent with Acariya Thoon, I learned many things and was able to incorporate them into my life. In addition to practicing Buddhism within temples and my home, I used to own two restaurants and managed commercial real estate. I had to deal with many different and problems. I learned how to use Buddhism to fix my problems, both externally (my environment) and internally (within me).

Organizations
San Fran Dhammaram Temple KPYUSA - a non-profit religious organization

Publications
none

Education/Credentials
Electrical Engineering Degree from the University of California Santa Barbara MBA from San Francisco State

Awards and Honors
none

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