Thread: Hello!

  1. #1
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Hello, I joined this forum yesterday, and good manners, and forum etiquette, seem to demand that I introduce myself. I suppose that, after a certain point, one's age is quite a relevant factor, so here goes — my age is eighty-six. I'm British.

    Having been very fortunate in life (in the most important matters, at least), I came across Buddhist teaching in my thirties, after years of being in a kind of mental wilderness. This was because the beliefs in which I had been raised had been smashed to pieces at the age of twenty-four. A long period of reading philosophy, reflection and prayer led me eventually to Buddhism.

    However, though writers such as Emerson and others gave me a hope that there was meaning to life (that it was not just the play of blind forces, a materialists think), what I had come to understand of Buddhism made it seem to be very negative, even though I became convinced that it was the true way to follow. I thought that the goal of the Buddhist was a kind of peaceful extinction (Nirvana being the blowing out of the flame). What I read about the "Void" seemed to support this view of things. It seemed like a kind of holy pessimism (even though what it promised was no return to other births — I had no desire for that).

    I am sure that many will sympathise with this view, when Buddha is quoted as saying things like: this whole mass of suffering can be put down, and no birth will ever happen again (if you are holy enough). I even read a book on Buddhism, which stated that Buddhism is a life-denying religion. And don't get me started on its seeming attitude to sexuality. I was a young married man that now felt that, in addition to its demands and burdens, the married life was something rather dubious, since it involved sexual activity.

    Having been brought up in sectarian Christianity, I had already been made to feel that any interest in the opposite sex was rather dirty (or at least, not respectable). And here (it seemed) was Buddhism saying much the same thing! The arahats of the Pali Canon seemed, to me, to be very holy people, but it also seemed as if they had been denuded of their humanity, and turned into something like holy zombies. Well, for someone of my age, this is no longer a problem. However, If I were a young man again, it certainly would be a huge problem!

    Anyway, after a not-very-long period of being given instructions in meditation, there was a kind of enlightenment experience. What this was that, while deep in sleep, there was a kind of muffled explosion in my brain. I woke, sat up, and realised that I had seen the "nothing" that Buddhists talk about. I had gone to bed after reading a riddle in the "Observer" newspaper (even the name of the paper seems to have been coincidental). The riddle went like this:

    It was there before the beginning
    And will be there after the end.
    The deaf hear it, the blind see it.
    Endlessly, men write of it,
    For its excellence abounds.

    To me, it seemed to have the flavour of a Zen koan, or something that a Taoist might have written. If the answer was as mundane as "nothing", as I suspected it must be, how was it that "men write endlessly of it" (as they indeed do, since zero is a circle), "For its excellence abounds"

    The last phrase set me pondering, as I drifted off to sleep that night. And then, it happened — there was a momentary glimpse of something as small as a grain of dust. And it felt as if something or someone had given me an almighty PUNCH in the abdomen.

    I was elated when I woke next morning. However, later in the day, a terrible dread had seeped into my being. On my way home from my work, there were all kinds of anomalies (example, a face, on an advertising hoarding, seemed to be that of a corpse, even though it was a most mundane picture advertising some product or other). A workmate remarked to me, "We all knew that something had happened to you, but we didn't know what." The next several days were subject to fits of terror (however, I shall not elaborate — many other "supernatural" things happened over the next few days).

    I now think that what had occurred was a kind of "Kensho" (enlightenment) experience, but that it had arrived too soon and too suddenly.

    Years passed, and everything became as mundane and as dull as it had been before. I lived in quiet despair. Still, I had seen things that the great mass of people would never dream of, and I felt that, by some means, I needed to make spiritual progress.

    After what, for many people, is half a lifetime and more, things have begun to happen in connection with my meditation practice (such as it is — I sit for half an hour a day, at home, and follow the rise and fall of the abdomen, as does my wife). The only changes that have been wrought in me are those that the simple process of ageing has brought. I don't think that, by nature, I am an more "spiritual" than I was, but I am a little wiser.

    With regard to following a genuine spiritual path, I feel that I am a complete fraud, in spite of being a non-drinker, a vegan, and abstaining from much (or most) of what the world regards as pleasure. Nevertheless, things have happened in my meditation.

    That seems to be about all that I can say about myself. I shall be posting elsewhere in this forum, in due course.

    I hope, very much, that my posting of all the above will not be a source of regret, later — I am a very private person. Anyway, here goes.

    With kind regards,
    Last edited by Aloka; 19 Jul 19 at 15:03. Reason: Creating spaces in text.

  2. #2
    Hello Ig,

    Thank you for introducing yourself and I hope you enjoy being a member of the group.

    With metta,


  3. #3
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    London UK
    Hi Ig,

    Welcome to Buddhism Without Boundaries!


  4. #4
    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Buckingham, Virginia
    Hello Ig, and welcome to Buddhism Without Boundaries! I look forward to reading your posts.

  5. #5
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
    Under the Bodhi Tree
    Welcome Ig!

  6. #6
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Hi, nice to meet you and thank you for such a detailed introduction.

  7. #7
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    Hi, ig. Welcome.

    You immediately have earned my respect, because of your confessed age, 10 years my elder, and 1 year older than my father when he died.

    You give me hope and inspiration.


  8. #8
    Forums Member KathyLauren's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Nova Scotia

    Om mani padme hum

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