That's very honest of you, and I think it's a problem we all tend to have. Would you recommend any material in particular? I'm starting to understand of the many different forms of dharma. You'd think once we'd learned the basics, we would have sort of our own of twist of dharma.
We're discussing dharma here, not some silly bullshit philosophical topic. I'll play around with other issues, but not this one. That we are lucky enough to live in an age where the dharma is taught is a blessing - that we live in an age where this scripture is available to millions of people in an instant is nothing short of a miracle. I cannot stress enough how lucky we are to be able to hear the dharma.
Yes, I do have some recomendations. The first is a book, "Inner Revolution" by Robert Thurman. This is the best introduction to Buddhism I know of, and I recomend it to everyone. The book is a must read.
Karen Armstrong's biography of Shakyamuni Buddha was a good read, simply titled "Buddha". But, if you're going to buy just one book, get the Thurman.
Here you will find a number of great resources:
Ron Epstein's Online Educational Resources
The more you learn about Buddhadharma, the less you will wonder about having your own twist of dharma. Not that you will, not that you wont, but you wont wonder.
You can also find some wonderful videos on youtube and that sort of thing. Can't really go wrong listening to HH the Dalai Lama speak. His lectures are a good place to start. There is a nice series that youtube has available - Thurman does the introductions. You'll know it when you find it.
I would have to agree that it is more than an intellectual understanding. When you mention how it begins with an understanding that all sentient beings suffer, and of the nature-I assume your talking about the Law, correct?
Yes, it is more than intellectualizing. I really don't address Buddhist principles as Laws or anything like that. Maybe we could, but "Law" doesn't seem to capture the meaning. Law is some mandate - these are not mandates, but self evident truths which you can/will discover on your own if you look deeply.
In this particular instance, understanding that all sentient beings suffer, this is something that you experience. I'm no monk, so dont take me too seriously, but in my own life, it's watching people gleefully shopping at the mall for things they do not need, and knowing that they are perpetuating their suffering. And it's seeing deeply into the nature of your own suffering - realizing that your desires, even when fulfilled, only perpetuate your own suffering.
While I haven't read much about Buddhism, it does seem relative to what I've read in other material. I tend to believe this as well: that if we only see negative, it plays a major role in our everyday lives. I have heard the expression like attracts like and so forth.
Going back to the example about believing that all men are inherently selfish, period.
That sort of world view cultivates strife between people. If we instead believe that all men suffer, and that we should respond to that suffering with compassion, we have a worldview that cultivates love.
Make any sense?
Yes, I'm starting to realize that. I actually have the Tao Te Ching in audio format and found it very enjoyable. I'll have to refresh on that a bit.
The problem with Taoism is that the Chinese language, much less the ancient dialects, are not rooted in the Indo-European tradition - sanskrit and English are derived from the old Indo-European languages.
I think I'm beginning to understand what you're saying. It's sort of like eyes of another angle so to speak.
You have heard all of these things before - and last you heard them, your instructor was probably more qualified than I am.
Now by thoughts of renunciation, I assume that would mean not wanting / desiring earthly things, because we obviously cannot abstain from these things completely-at least most of us anyway.
Yes: The middle way.
Right View is the cognitive aspect of wisdom, Right Intention is the volitional aspect. Renunciation is not total abstinence from the physical world, nor even some wild asceticism. Renunciation is resistance to the pull of desires. It's nonattachment to sense pleasures. Sure, you need to eat, but you do not need to eat a whole gallon of ice cream.
Right View should provide the perspective we need to properly cultivate Right Intention. RV helps us investigate our desires, find their root, and learn the way the influence us and others. RI is the commitment to practice RV in the real world.
Does that help some?
Now, Dustin, you come from the Christian tradition, so belief is probably not something you cringe to think of. However, there is a book called "Buddhism Without Beliefs". I cant recall the author, and I've not read the book. However, I have it on good authority that the text is wonderful. The title is self-explanatory.