Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gratitude 9/25/07

As always, I am grateful for the Buddhist dharma.

So, in the spirit of that gratitude, I'd like to try to answer John's question about how I am to be a Buddhist.

I came to Buddhism through a long and erratic route. My first exposure came as a teenager when I read Jadoo, by John A. Keel. In the book, Keel traveled widely though the Middle East and Asia debunking various magicians. When he got to Tibet, he couldn't debunk some of what he saw from the Buddhist monks. My interest was raised, but I didn't pursue it.

Years later, in college, I took several comparative religion classes, and having been raised Catholic and left the Church, only Buddhism -- of the many religions we studied -- made any sense to me. Around the same time, I read my first Ken Wilber book, The Atman Project. This is when I began to be interested in Buddhism, but I still wasn't practicing anything other than occasional meditation.

Two and half years ago, I took the Bodhisattva Vow, just for myself, not with a formal teacher. I am a Buddhist in that I meditate regularly, try to follow the Eightfold Path, and practice compassion as much as I am able. I have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, even though I don't attend any specific Sangha on a regular basis.

However, I don't practice many of the traditional Vajrayana Buddhist methods -- I identify myself in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition brought to America by Chogyam Trungpa, a westernized version of Tibetan Vajrayana. In this respect, I am a secular Buddhist.

As far as John's question about when it's OK to call yourself a Buddhist, I'd say that anyone who accepts the Four Noble Truths and endeavors to follow the Eightfold Path is sufficiently Buddhist.

I am grateful for the dharma -- What are you grateful for today?

P.S. I'm also grateful for the amazing shooting star I just saw.