Hello, New People to the Treeleaf Sangha,
Please post a little introduction here. Welcome and make yourself at home!
Hello, New People to the Treeleaf Sangha,
Please post a little introduction here. Welcome and make yourself at home!
I found the main Treeleaf site some months ago when looking for an online meditation timer. I'm currently in grad school and in grad student housing where I can't burn incense and found the graphic format, the chanting, and everything about the online zendo/timer at this site to be elegant, comforting, and useful. I finally just in the past few days thought I'd explore some of the rest of the site. I haven't yet watched the talks but expect I will soon. The main thing that's struck me about the site is the honest and heartfelt quality of it and the people who come to it. I look forward to engaging in many of the ongoing discussions here, and perhaps starting some threads of my own.
About me: I'm currently in grad school for social work in New York City and will be a quarter-century old in a few weeks. I first became interested in spirituality and Buddhism in high school, but encountered meditation (in yoga classes I took) before I encountered Buddhism. Over time, as I entered college, my interest and curiosity grew to the point where I determined to begin a daily meditation practice in 2003. I bought my first and only zafu and zabuton set that year and have been sitting regularly (with occasional lapses) since. I have participated in several sanghas, as I have moved around a lot geographically (went to undergrad in California), but the majority of my sangha experience has been within the White Plum / Maezumi lineage. I have also participated within this (Nishijima) lineage via sits with Brad Warner, but I've ultimately become somewhat disillusioned with him. I've done a handful of sesshin and have found them extremely valuable experiences and hope to do more in the future. Did a week-long solitary retreat last summer that was also very powerful.
Right now, I'm in the midst of something of a "spiritual crisis," though "crisis" may be too strong a term. I was really excited about being in New York because of the proximity I would have to sangha. But I've slowly become disillusioned too with my experiences with Fire Lotus Temple here. And not because of anything about the teacher, lineage, ideas, etc.--I find the talks and the atmosphere for zazen there very useful--but because I am really hungry to find spiritual community and fellowship and just did not find it there. Don't know if it's something "fault-able" to anyone, but I felt and continue to feel alienated there, and am currently too disappointed to "try again" with another group/sangha, especially since I like the teacher and lineage. I keep going back, and it may "click" eventually in terms of me finding the support and connection I'm looking for there, but I'm not expecting it to happen.
I also have been going through something of a "crisis of faith" with Buddhism as a whole. I have been devoted to Buddhist study and practice for years now and it has been a central part of my life, and it has been very painful to feel my faith and dedication slip away. I am not any less dedicated to the practice of zazen, but I now question so much of what I used to believe. Buddhism claims to be a vehicle to the "truth," and now I am not sure I can believe that, due to the myriad ways I've seen myself and others (including teachers) turn the tradition into something harmful or dishonest. How do you know you're not just caught up in some group delusion on the part of what Freud would see as neurotic, unbalanced individuals?
I also strongly resist the "anti-worldly" leanings of the religion as a whole, as I have come to firmly believe that delight in the senses is linked to wisdom. I do know from personal experiences that detachment and awareness of the impermanent and illusory nature of sensory stimuli is important, but I believe that any path that dismisses the human experiences of love and pleasure as impure or in need of "overcoming" is wrong-headed. That's one thing that really struck me about this virtual sangha, which also seems to be a reflection of the lineage and of Soto Zen as a whole, that all of life is embraced in a way that does not dismiss the importance of our universal human experiences as social, sensory-based creatures.
It may be hard to discern from the above, but in a lot of ways I feel heartbroken and lost right now. I used to be able to believe that there were people out there who had the "truth" and under whose guidance I could find it for myself. Now I'm not sure I believe that any more. I've seen all too clearly how people use spirituality and religion to entrench their neuroses and encourage those neuroses in others. Because of the power of the confirmation bias, I'm not sure I can believe that even the most eloquent and joyful Buddhist teachers really have access to some "great Truth." Maybe they've just numbed themselves out with a lot of zazen and tacked that onto some projected notions of reality that "feel" like truth.
And I suppose I can accept a good practice that brings peace, calm, and happiness to some extent, but it still feels like a consolation prize in comparison to what I really want, which is to know "the truth." But not only do I despair of finding others who seem to know it, I despair of if it even exists at all. I find great and deep emotional and spiritual satisfaction in the work I am doing in grad school, and can commit to serving others as the best way to live, but I still yearn to know that it is connected somehow to something more than the contingencies of material existence. In other words, I know how I want to live, but often I am not sure what I am living for. I mean, I live for love, but sometimes it is hard when I feel like that love may just be a fleeting feeling unconnected to anything but a bleak existential void and the biological ability to feel and experience it.
One thing I do know is that I cannot do this on my own. I need the support of a community as I struggle through this spiritual desert, this "desert of the Real." And while I continue to look for that in "flesh life," I hope I can at least draw some comfort and support from--and make my own positive contributions to as well--the community here.
Well, that turned into quite a novel, didn't it :lol: That's how it often seems to go with me ops: Anyway, I am glad for this place and look forward to participating in more discussions here.
Please hit the "reset" button on all those judgments, assumptions, expectations and past experiences and come sit with us for awhile here at Treeleaf.
Gassho, Jundo - Chief Neurotic and Leader of the Group Delusion
Jundo--if I didn't have the ability to reset those assumptions somewhat, I wouldn't be here! And if I was able to reset them completely,I think I'd have to be enlightened, and I'm not even sure I believe in that :wink:
Either way, sorry that there was so much negativity in my intro post. For some reason, I felt compelled to lay out all of my baggage last night. The morning after, not so sure it was a great idea :lol:
I think I should add though that zazen practice has been a huge positive in my life, as has Buddhist teaching, and continues to be. It's given me a lot of peace and joy and the ability to appreciate and embrace life more fully, even the painful stuff, which is a rare gift.
Thanks for the welcomes, all.
Welcome Stephanie, from another newcomer. I think we have come to the right place.
Thanks to everyone else for my warm welcome.
Hello Harry from Belfast and thanks for the Norn Iron greeting especially the Giant's Causeway photograph (I just live a few miles from it).
I see part of of it (according to today's paper) is due to slide into the sea by 2050 because of global warming. Impermanence!
By the way I play the Irish whistle, (or tinwhistle) - but not as well as you do.
Hi Al! Look forward to hearing from you. Jundo is starting a for beginners set of videos, and today's is truly lovely.
Hi Jenny! Goodness that is the view from your backyard? Welcome.
Stefanie, around here TL promises nothing and delivers. I hope you come to enjoy the place.
Hello and Welcome Jenny.
And Stephanie, that was a mighty heavy first post. I suspect you will fit in nicely...
...I'm not sure you will find anyone here who claims to know the "Great Truth", but more and more I begin to suspect that the "Great Truth" is overated, and the present is underated.
Hey Stephanie (& Jenny, again),
Welcome to Treeleaf!
Thanks for the warm welcomes, everyone. I am heartened and encouraged to see that so many here seem to have had similar experiences. That's one of the mysteries of being a human being, I guess, that knowing that one is not alone in something makes one feel better.
HezB, your Tai Chi saying makes me think of one from Chogyam Trungpa: "Disappointment is the best chariot to use on the path of the dharma."
I'm a regular barrel o'laughs, aren't I? :lol: ops: :roll:
Anyway, also hello to you Jenny--I agree we seem to be in the right place--and other new folks. It's cool to see people from so many locales.
Been reading through some of your posts. WOW! Like a hungry tigress on the hunt.
Best of luck to you.
Thanks, Rev! ops:
Sometimes this "hungry tigress" wonders if she's just chasing her own tail...
Our old golden used to chase his own tail, then catch it in his mouth and do somersaults. Looked painful sometimes, but he seemed to enjoy it :lol:
I feel so fortunate to have found this site, and am looking forward to learning and growing with such a diverse group of people. A brief history; Iíve been interested in Buddhism since I first started exploring it in high school, I havenít actually considered myself as ďpracticingĒ until recently. I attend the local (Soto) Zen Center when I can, and very much enjoy Zazen, Kinhin and the Dharma talks. Since I canít attend regularly, I plan to utilize this site as much as possible and incorporate Zen practice into my daily life.
Thatís enough about meÖ
Welcome Jenifer from a "nearly-new comer". I am also Jennifer but with 2 Ns.
I stumbled onto Treeleaf around the turn of the year and felt immense relief and gratitude upon doing so. I've been practicing meditation since the late 1980s and am most familiar with Zen tradition, though I have some fondness for certain Tibetan teachers and practices; unfortunately, though, I've rarely been near a Buddhist community. I currently live in South Dakota, USA, and to my knowledge am the only practicing Buddhist within hours of this small city. It has been very difficult to maintain practice with neither a local community nor ready access to a teacher. Hence, my reaction upon stumbling onto Treeleaf and Jundo.
Must confess that I've never been one to spend a lot of time communicating in cyberspace, whether by e-mail or forum or whatnot. I spend much of my day composing music and writing prose at computers, so in my free time I would rather get away from (yes, escape!) technology. But I'll do my best to participate in the community.
Thank you, Jundo, for your vision and action to implement it on behalf of folks like myself who are remote. I look forward to learning from/with you, as with the rest of the circle....
Phyllis Cole-Dai (or simply PCD)
ops: i missed some people in here too
Hiya to all the Jen*s in the house and PCD
Welcome PCD! At your invitation I dipped into your wonderful website and think Treeleaf will be enhanced by your presence.
Welcome PCD! And thanks everyone for the warm welcome!
I am new in every sense so please excuse my naÔvetť at times.
Al, I attend the Nebraska Zen Center Heartland temple when I can. I am a single mother and they do not have accommodations for children. So it is difficult to attend as often as I'd like.
Stephanie, I originally found Treeleaf when I was searching for a meditation timer too! I was just going to create my own, but figured someone else had probably done it, so why reinvent the wheel?
Jenny, it's a little strange to only have one "n" in my name, but apparently my mom wanted me to be a little "different". She just didn't know I'd be THIS different...
Holy Moly, look at all these new folks! Hi everyone. Welcome to the gang. Jundo's the head homie. Make sure you kiss up frequently. You'll see we all do that. :wink:
Wow! Welcome everyone. I'm fairly new too and this really is a great group.
...and...it's another newbie. i heard about treeleaf through the buddhist geeks podcasts a few weeks ago and decided to check it out. i have really enjoyed reading the posts and have learned quite a bit.
i became interested in buddhism in high school when i read a book on zen for a class. i spent the rest of my teen years experimenting with other ideas/religions, but the first noble truth always stuck with me. other philosophies promised rewards in the afterlife, and somehow hearing that life is what it is, both cruel and wonderful, made more sense to me. i found myself being drawn back to zen and the focus on meditation, but my mind just could not sit still back then so i abandoned it.
in my late twenties 4 of my friends died (2 in the same week). one person in particular (my best friend) was the glue that held my social network together: some friends dealt with this by turning to Christianity, others turned to drugs, others left the state...most of us (like myself) medicated with alcohol and kept the party going. Everyone I know is a musician so there were always gigs to go to and the alcohol just flowed for several years, enveloping us all.
by late 2005 i was coming out of my fermented stupor and decided to cut back on the drinking, exercise more and focus again on buddhism. i finally 'got' meditation after years of trying to sit. i could finally 'just sit'! it has really been transformative.
i also read Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner around this time and things just started falling into place for me.
i work and go to school full time, and all of us musicians still play on a regular basis, so i don't have a lot of time to fight the traffic in dallas to get to a center.
i tried going to a tibetan temple here. on my second visit, someone asked the lama a question: if there is no self, how can we be reincarnated? the lama became irritated and literally told the person posing the question to 'go read a book' because the question was 'too basic' for him to answer. so, yeah...that wasn't the place for me.
there is a zen center here as well, but one of the teachers there is a jesuit priest and the other person is trained in theology, so while i have not been there i don't think that is my cup of tea.
so i try to sit daily, usually i can just squeeze in 10 minutes. in between semesters i read, but i feel like i am at a stand still with my practice (not so much the sitting, just obtaining more knowledge about zen) and felt i would benefit from this website.
i promise i am not usually this wordy! just wanted to get this stuff out of the way. and i am glad to be here and read the posts. there is some great stuff here. can't wait to learn more.
No where near enough! :twisted:Originally Posted by TracyF
Welcome again to everyone.
I am extremely new myself but everyone here is very nice, open, and friendly!
8) Glad to have you join us other newbies Penney. I'll be away from the computer for 2 weeks, so if anyone else joins meantime - consider yourself welcomed! :
Hello everyone. My name is Jim Bastiaanse and I am really looking forward to being a part of this community. I have been practicing for a few years off and on and have decided a more committed approach is necessary. Hopefully this will help me on my path.
Welcome Penny and Jim!
I hope you both enjoy our little forum and find what your looking for.
Cheers and Gassho,
Though I am not a particularly new member of this sangha, I just wanted to send a greeting to all you old and new leaves nevertheless. I sit every day, enjoy reading your posts and think it's great that so many new leaves have appeared. I currently don't feel like writing anything, no idea why, after years of splitting hairs I feel I have no questions and answers left in me. That sounds a bit odd, I know, but I mean it in a positive way. I consider myself to be a very happy man.
Even when I am not posting anything, I am sitting as a leaf.