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Thread: Just a few questions

  1. #1
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Just a few questions

    Hello! I'm very new to all this, but I really want to understand things, so I figured I'd come here to ask a few questions that I had while studying Buddhism. I'm sorry if any of these questions come off as ignorant!

    1) I'm part of a minority (LGBT), so of course I know there's a ton of people out there who wish me ill will or even death and horrible things like that because of this. From what I understand, Buddhism teaches to show compassion for these people despite this, and I sort of get it? But I'm not sure I fully understand how to do this. I've always been taught that anger and resentment towards these feelings and people are valid, but now I'm learning that letting go of these feelings is better in the long run. Is this true, or am I misunderstanding? How do I let go of my anger towards people who hate me and wish bad things upon me? I feel like I'm brushing these issues aside when I should be angry about them, you know? Such as when I'm discriminated against or harrassed, or when I see others being treated in this way. Or also when I think about murderers or pedophiles or etc.. Like...I feel like it's very hard to just dismiss the bad things people do and say to me or others in the name of compassion. Any help with this matter? I feel like I don't understand this very well, but I really want to because I feel like it will improve my attitude and life very much.

    That's honestly the main concern I have!

    2) When meditating, my mind is all over the place. I have a few mental disorders so I guess this is normal for me lol, but is there anything I can do to help ease my mind while meditating? I've read that focusing on being aware of my breathing is the key, but is that all I have to do, or is there more?

    3) Is there any special thing I must do to start practicing Buddhism? I know I must take refuge in the three jewels, but is there a ritual to this that I'm missing?

    4) Do I have to eventually give up my material possessions to truly practice? I've read that I don't necessarily have to give everything up and change my lifestyle completely, I just have to realize that these things don't bring true happiness (for example my figurines bring me joy but I recognize that they can also bring me suffering if i lose them, break them, have them stolen, etc.). Anything on this matter would be appreciated!

    All the information I've gotten so far has been from reading online articles and websites, but I've not been able to reach out to anybody who's knowledgeable on the subject for help so far, which is why I joined this forum. I have some anxiety, so that's part of why :x I'm afraid to go to a temple even though we have one near here (partially due to anxiety and partially because I don't want to intrude on the people that already go there since they seem to be Thailand-based and I'm as white as you can be; I know Buddhism is open to all cultures, though, so maybe my fear is unjustified in that sense? <:/a idk). Sorry if this is a lot or hard to understand, I'm very nervous!!

    I hope I posted this in the right category also lol
    Last edited by Dan Saiyan; 06 Feb 19 at 19:18.

  2. #2
    Hi Dan,

    Firstly I'd like to say that I understand how you feel. Please don't worry, just take one step at a time, you're learning to let go of your feelings of resentment...and that's really good!

    When I feel angy about anything myself, I can also feel my body and mind tensing up, so its such a relief if I can just relax for a while, focus on my breathing and gently let the tension go with the outbreaths.

    This 12 minute video in our Zen forum might be helpful:

    "How can I let go of anger"

    https://www.buddhismwithoutboundarie...et-Go-of-Anger


    You could also try doing loving-kindness (Metta) meditation for a few minutes every day.

    Here's a 5 minute video instruction with Ajahn Jayasaro:




    As far as Refuge in the 3 Jewels is concerned, you can do the repetitions formally with a teacher, or a monk or nun at a buddhist centre or monastery, or you can do it by yourself in front of a Buddha image or statue.

    This article about Refuge pinned at the beginning of the topics in our Discovering Buddha's Teaching forum might be useful:

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/bds.html

    Finally, as you are a lay practitioner, you don't have to give up your possessions.

    I hope that helps a little.


    With lots of good wishes,

    Aloka

  3. #3
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Thank you so much!

  4. #4
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    Hello Dan,

    Thank you for asking these questions. I hope that the comments you read on this website will give you some nudges in the right direction. You won't find any ill will directed towards you here.

    We don't have formal teachers of Buddhism, so anyone's post will be based on their own understanding of what Buddhism offers. We do, however, point members towards the words of recognised teachers, as Aloka has done in post #2.

    From what I understand, Buddhism teaches to show compassion for these people despite this, and I sort of get it? But I'm not sure I fully understand how to do this.
    You might find this is a difficult place to start from. Once you have absorbed more of what Buddhism teaches, and once you have started to involve yourself with metta practice, you might find compassion arises without effort for those people. I suggest you start with yourself. Deal with other people later.

    When meditating, my mind is all over the place.
    Yes, me too. It takes time to settle the mind. It takes time each time I sit to practice meditation, and it's taken time in the sense of taking many periods of meditation. Every time my mind wanders, I notice it wandering and bring it back to focus on the breath. Be kind to yourself, because I've got nowhere when trying too hard.

    Aloka has given you good answers about Refuge and possessions.

    The Thai temple near you might have introduction classes for Westerners. Even if it does not, don't assume that they won't want to see you. I've heard the Thai people are generally very hospitable and welcoming. Have you looked at their website to see what activities are listed?

    Please do choose a day to go along and check them out for yourself. And whatever response you get, please do come back here and share your experience with us.

    Woodscooter.

  5. #5
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Thank you for replying!

    I'll try to muster up the courage to visit the temple one day. I hope it's sooner rather than later! But I will share my experience if/when I do visit.

  6. #6
    Forums Member KathyLauren's Avatar
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    Hi, Dan. Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Saiyan View Post
    1) I'm part of a minority (LGBT), so of course I know there's a ton of people out there who wish me ill will or even death and horrible things like that because of this. From what I understand, Buddhism teaches to show compassion for these people despite this, and I sort of get it? But I'm not sure I fully understand how to do this.
    I, too, am part of an LGBT minority, so I understand your position. The doctrine of karma teaches that when you do good, good things result from it, and when you do harm, bad things result from it. So, when people express hatred towards you or others, they are eventually harming themselves, as well as numerous other bystanders. The compassionate thing to do is to stop them from harming themselves and others.

    The actions in stopping them might be the same, whether your motivation is anger or compassion. But stopping them in anger creates more problems for yourself and others, whereas stopping them out of compassion reduces problems. Either way, they have to be stopped, but motivation in this case is everything.

    2) When meditating, my mind is all over the place.
    Welcome to the human race! The good news is that this realization itself is progress. I have been meditating for over 40 years, and my mind still starts out all over the place. On a good day, I might get it to settle down a little. Many days, I don't. But the effort is wholesome. The main goal of basic meditation is awareness of the functioning of the mind. So realizing that it is "all over the place" is a success.

    3) Is there any special thing I must do to start practicing Buddhism? I know I must take refuge in the three jewels, but is there a ritual to this that I'm missing?
    There are rituals that one can perform for taking refuge, typically led by a qualified teacher, but the important part about refuge is that you take refuge in your own mind. If you truly feel in your heart that the only refuges from suffering are the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, then you have taken refuge, whether there was a ceremony or not. And if you do not feel that way, then you have not taken refuge, even if there was a ceremony.

    4) Do I have to eventually give up my material possessions to truly practice?
    I sure hope not! No, only monks and nuns have to do that. Lay people do not. However, it is skillful to learn to be aware of your relationship to your possessions, and how having attachments to them can cause you suffering.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy

  7. #7
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Thank you, Kathy, that actually makes a lot of sense, especially the first part. That cleared up a lot! Thank you so much!

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