Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Buddhism or Yoga

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Buddhism or Yoga

    Dear monastics,

    I have been practising Buddhism for about 2 years now and have had the great fortune of being in Buddhist monasteries in the UK. Now, I am living in Colombia where there is no monasteries of the Theravada tradition. I only found a group for Vipassana meditation and I have been there sharing in the sitting. I have since a while been interested in oriental spiritual practices, mainly in Yoga and Buddhism. I don't know much about Yoga but I really like the idea of it not being a religion but something that can be practiced no matter what religion or non-religion one follows. It seems to me to be very open: like the yoga sutras of Patanjali don't speak about faith in a master being important, and rituals are not needed.

    Somehow, I have started to feel uncomfortable about rituals and having faith in the Buddha and questions about rebirth and it being important in Buddhism. I would like to keep it very simple, but then I feel part of a very complicated movement where I start to see limitations and doctrines.

    I have a great respect for Buddhism and it was this teaching what I consider to have "saved my life" in moments where I felt completely lost and hopeless. Therefore it feels very weird to be doubting it. And on the other hand I ask myself whether I am attached to it and cannot let it go.

    Now, I think that following a definite path is very useful because the way we learn is through constant practice and repetition, therefore I feel I need to choose one of the two. And I would like to ask you for advice as to how to choose, which criteria to use, what to look for, how to test the path and test myself. And also, what do you think and "Buddhism" thinks about not choosing but embracing two ways.

    Many thanks. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    All the best,

    Ciro

  • #2
    Dear Ciro,

    I agree that it is useful to follow a clear and consistent path, but it is also important to make the right choice. If you are uncertain, it is not wise to force yourself to make a choice. Just wait: the answer will normally come by itself if you are patient. In the meantime, you can dabble a bit in both traditions. There is no problem with this from the Buddhist point of view. As you grow in understanding, it will eventually become clear to you what you should do.

    Please also keep in mind that Buddhism is not really about rituals. Rituals are useful only to the extent that they further your practice. For many people a little bit of ritual can be helpful to put them in the right frame of mind for meditation. But if it doesn't work for you, don't do it.

    As for faith, or perhaps better confidence, in the Buddha, this is something you cannot force. It either does or does not happens as you come to understand the Buddha's teaching. Often, when you see the wisdom of the Dhamma and you experience it's efficacy for yourself, it is natural for confidence to grow. Just reading the word of the Buddha in the suttas can be a powerful experience. But it must be real confidence; there is no point in faking it.

    As for rebirth, this certainly is an important part of the Buddha's teachings. But, again, you cannot, and should not, force yourself to believe in it. Rather, just consider it carefully with an open mind. You may find that on reflection the idea of rebirth seems less alien to you, and eventually you may even come to see it as a reasonable hypothesis for how the world works. There is a lot of solid scientific evidence for rebirth, such as the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson. You may be interested in having a look at his writings. If you find that you have to reject the idea of rebirth, so be it. We have to be honest with ourselves.

    Good luck in your search!

    With metta.

    Comment


    • #3
      Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

      Thank you very much. I remember that being patience has worked well to find some clarity in my life. I think I will do that. After writing this post yesterday I have been reading Ajahn Buddhadasa's books NO RELIGION and THE NATURAL CURE FOR SPIRITUAL DISEASE. They helped me remember the important teaching of the Buddha: the four noble truths. Then I continued to read the Maha Satipatthana Sutta and it felt so right to follow this path. I think the problem in my mind starts when I look at all that has been created by humanity around these teachings: things that to me, seem to complicate it all. And I think that even though rituals, beliefs and stories might help some people, these same instruments distract people from the goal. But again, I guess it's really hard to have a completely effective method of education.

      As for having an open mind, that is a capacity that I highly value and try to practice: it is hard sometimes. And sometimes I wish all phrases in the Suttas seemed to me to be following this principle of open-mindedness. I feel sad and confused when I read something that appears to me, however slightly, not to be open-minded. Like in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta at the end "Bhikkus, this is the one and only way for the purification (of the minds) of beings, for overcoming sorrow and lamentation, for the cessation of physical and mental pain, for attainment of the Noble Paths, and for the realization of Nibbana. That only way is the four satipatthanas". And in the version of this sutta that I am reading, in the notes, it explains that the sixth fetter (which bind one to the rounds of rebirth) is "the belief that there are other paths and practices that can lead to happiness and liberation besides the Eightfold Noble Path". I feel that to be closed-minded and ask myself: what about all other spiritual practices and religions people have developed in many other parts of the world? What about people who don't have the opportunity to learn about Buddhism? Or the people who ardently practice in other traditions?

      On the other hand Ajahn Buddhadasa says in NO RELIGION: "Those who have penetrated to the essential nature of religion
      will regard all religions as being the same. Although they may say
      there is Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, Islam, or whatever, they will also
      say that all religions are inwardly the same. However, those who have
      penetrated to the highest understanding of Dhamma will feel that the
      thing called "religion" doesn't exist after all."

      I think this will solve my doubts as to which path to follow, and I could even follow both, but I still have the doubt about how genuinely Buddhist this thought of Ajahn is. Is it something that Buddha would have agree with?

      Hehe, I think the mind is too active these days.

      Thanks very much for the good wishes Ajahn.

      All the best,

      Ciro

      Comment


      • #4
        Dear Ciro,

        I feel Ajahn Buddhadasa goes too far when he says that "Those who have penetrated to the essential nature of religion will regard all religions as being the same". Religion includes an incredible variety of practices and it seems impossible that they should all lead to the same result. Does someone who just performs rituals achieve the same as someone who practices virtue and meditation? Is just believing in a god enough or do your actions count for something?

        It seems to me that different paths must generally lead to different result. The eightfold path is one such path. But it doesn't matter what we call this path, or who practices it: the path will lead to the same result regardless. Perhaps this is what Ajahn Buddhadasa really meant. In other words, the label is not important, only what you actually do.

        With metta.

        Comment


        • #5
          Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

          I think I understand better now. Yes, that label shouldn't matter. I think that's what Ajahn Buddhadasa meant. What's important, I think, is how we live our lives.

          Many thanks and all the best,

          Ciro

          Comment

          Working...
          X

          Debug Information