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Offlineegghead1
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Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings
    #4150680 - 05/08/05 06:35 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Usually, when people say something like "The problem with such and such religion is" its never the religion that's at fault, but the misunderstanding that that person holds about the religion or spiritual tradition which is incorrect, i have found this to be true, time and time again, especially with regard to Buddhism because its such a vast religion which has manifested itself in so many forms within so many cultures, that its almost impossible to pin it down and say "This is Buddhism" other than to state the Four Noble truths and the 8 fold path which is common to all Buddhist traditions.However, since i am a practitioner and have some understanding of the essence of Buddhism, i feel obligated on this forum, where so many misconceptions about Buddhism are repeated time and time again, so shed some light on the basic levels and differences in practice related to the Buddhist path.

To start with, in Buddhism there are three main levels of practitioner (Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana), and within each level, there are many different forms, traditions and lineages of practice, which are all related to the individuals capacity to learn, understand and apply the teachings of the Buddha. In the Hinayana level, all the passions are renounced and many vows are taken to abstain from certain negative behavior which causes suffering to oneself and others,and to help control ones existence of body, speech and mind to help realize the wisdom mind. The meditations are  Shamata (Calm) practice and Vispassana (Insight), these two are practiced together to give rise to the realization for the benefit of the practitioner alone (in Hinayana leve; that is), this kind of practice is not without compassion but for the Hinayana practitioner there is this attitude of "I am suffering here in samsara, here is the path, I'm getting out of here", in this way the pratcioner attain the level of an Arhat (Foe destryer) who attan liberation fro suffering.

The next level of practitioner is Mahayana, these practitioners have the attitude of "I am suffering, but everyone else is also suffering, I'm going to get out of here, and take everyone else with me", as you can see this attitude is much more open, and requires a greater capacity, there meditation practice is Vispassna and Shamata, but they also practice the six perfections or paramitas, which are patience, diligence,  meditation, virtue, generosity, and wisdom to overcome ignorance and the passions associate with the negative karma's to reduce conflicting emotions.Shamata (Calm) practice and Vispassana (Insight) are used throughout all levels of practice. At this level the practioner becomes a Bodhisattva, attaining liberation for the benfit of all beings, helping  beings to be free from suffering. At this level the passions are not renounced as such, but are understood and remedied through the six perfections.For this level it is necessary to have a Spiritual Friend as a guide.

Next is the Vajrayana practitioner, which has the greater capacity to realize that Samsara and Nirvana are both two sides of the smae coin , and that everything is just the magical display of non-dual wisdom, as it is. The passions are not renounced but are either instantly or gradually transformed into their respective wisdom's, and all experiences are integrated into the state of enlightenment. For this level of practitioner it is of utmost importance to have a fully qualified enlightened Guru as a guide. This level of practioner attains complete Buddhahhod within one lifetime which enables the practioner to help beings on a limtless, infinte scale, e.g omnipotence.

So this is just a brief outline of what Buddhism presents, of course their is oceans more to it than this. At all levels, meditation is used to reveal the true nature of reality, as the cosmic dance of awareness, both movement and stillness aspects are uncovered nakedly. Its not just sitting quietly and observing, but taking part and dancing with life as well. In Buddhism the only limits to work with are within oneself, the religion doesn't impose any limits upon you, you just apply whatever teaching relates to the capacity of the individual to learn and apply a given teaching and practice. There are infinite methods within Buddhism to work with all the infinite situations in life, to discover our nature and bring us home back to who we are.

I hope this has cleared up a few misconceptions that people have about Buddhism in general. I would love to answer any questions related to this subject, or hear any views people have about it. :smile: :heart: :sun:


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All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 04:44 AM)


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OfflineAlan Stone
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4150790 - 05/08/05 07:41 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Well, from reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead I remember that Hinayana, Mahayana and Varjayana are three different schools of Buddhism, rather than levels. Each with their own views of what is needed to attain enlightenment, akin to for instance Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic christians.

So, in your opinion, does every Buddhist have to go through all three levels? Or are they "sects"?

Edit: How about drugs and Buddhism? I assume, since you frequent these boards, that you occasionally dose. Are they compatible with the principles of Buddhism?


--------------------
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

- Aristotle


Edited by Alan Stone (05/08/05 07:43 PM)


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: Alan Stone]
    #4152439 - 05/09/05 04:41 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Alan Stone said:
Well, from reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead I remember that Hinayana, Mahayana and Varjayana are three different schools of Buddhism, rather than levels. Each with their own views of what is needed to attain enlightenment, akin to for instance Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic christians.

Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana are not schools of Buddhism but levels of practice. There are many school's within Buddhism so ill focus a little more on the Tibetan schools which I'm a little more familiar. In the Gelugpa School they practice is mainly Mahayana Sutra with a little emphasis on gradual Vajrayana (Tantra). In the Kagyu School they have a yogic tradition of Vajrayana practitioners although they also place some emphasis Monasticism with emphasis of Mahayana Sutras. In the Sakya School both Vajrayana and Mahayana are given more or less equal emphasis. In the Nyingma school great emphasis is given to the Vajrayana teachings with less emphasis on the Mahayana Sutras although they are seen as the basis and foundation for the higher teachings. As far is the practitioner is concerned its ones intention and attitude which suggests whether one is practicing Hinayana and Mahayana.

In order to practice the Vajrayana teachings you must have some basic foundation in the Mahayana practice and attitude. The Indian schools practice mainly Hinayana and Mahayana Sutra as do the Japanese and Chinese practitioners although the emphasis with Chinese and Japanese Buddhism is mainly on the non-gradual Zen practices which do not rely solely on the gradual accumulation of merit and wisdom but points toward non-dual emptiness from the beginning. The deference between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism is that in Hinayana the emphasis is upon rules and vows, whereas in Mahayana the emphasis is on ones intention and less upon strict discipline and vows to guide ones practice. Hinayana practioners are manily found in monestaries where they have something like 250 vows to follow and so on, but this does'nt mean that they arent practiing Mahayana or indeed Vajrayana teachings as well.


So, in your opinion, does every Buddhist have to go through all three levels? Or are they "sects"?

In my opinion a Buddhist does not have to go through all of the different levels progressively, it depends alot on the capacity of the practitioner. But in my opinion order to practice the Mahayana teachings one has to have some foundation of discipline within the Hinayana practices and to practice the higher Vajrayana teachings one has to have a some foundation of practice in the Mahayana teachings. But this isn't to say that one has to follow each level to the logical conclusion before progressing to the next, again it depends alot on ones capacity to learn and apply a teachings and to make the leap to the next level of teaching. But in all levels Shamata and Vispassana practice although sometimes called by different names are utilized within the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist teachings. With Zen the emphasis is non-gradual.

Edit: How about drugs and Buddhism? I assume, since you frequent these boards, that you occasionally dose. Are they compatible with the principles of Buddhism?

This is a tricky one, in Hinayana practice i would say no (alkthough it depends alot on the individuals pratice). In Mahayana i suppose it would depends on ones intention and in the Vajrayana teachings it depends on whether one can keep there awareness and pure vision whilst under the influence of the substance. For me i use magic mushrooms infrequently, and every-time it has kicked my butt into the meditation room, and shown me how my practice is and how much progress i still have left to make.






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All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/11/05 04:40 AM)


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OfflineAlan Stone
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4152468 - 05/09/05 05:03 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Cool. Do I understand correctly if I say the strict rules of Hinayana are no longer necessary to evolve spiritually once one is ready for Mahayana practice?

Up for another round of Q&A?

Q: Does Buddhism have holy books? Are they unique to Buddhism?
To be more elaborate, is there any required reading if you want to become a Buddhist?

Q: Can you be both Buddhist and another religion?
So, is Buddhism a religion or a way of life?

Q: What deities does Buddhism have?
Does Buddhism have any real deities? Or are they considered archetypes of your own mind?

Q: Is vegetarianism required to be a Buddhist?

Q: What concepts should I know if I want to understand Buddhism?
Is there a glossary of terms?  :cool:


--------------------
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

- Aristotle


Edited by Alan Stone (05/09/05 05:05 AM)


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: Alan Stone]
    #4152487 - 05/09/05 05:32 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Alan Stone said:
Cool. Do I understand correctly if I say the strict rules of Hinayana are no longer necessary to evolve spiritually once one is ready for Mahayana practice?

Thats correct, but most Mahayana practitioners who have gone through the Hinayana discipline, although they don't retain the stricts rules, keep the precpets of Buddhism pretty strictly, unless a situation directly calls for them to be broken in the service of benefitting others. But as i said before, in reality whether one is practicing Hinayana or Mahayana does'nt depend upon the rules aspect but more on ones intention toward practice.

Up for another round of Q&A?

Q: Does Buddhism have holy books? Are they unique to Buddhism?
To be more elaborate, is there any required reading if you want to become a Buddhist?

All Dharma books are considered holy, there are many many Buddhist scriptures, alot of which were smuggles out of Tibet during the Chinese takeover. It nessasery to read and listen to the Dharma at all levels of practice, but specificly if one is following Mahayana and Hinayana practice then the Sutras (words of the Buddha) are a must!

Q: Can you be both Buddhist and another religion?
So, is Buddhism a religion or a way of life?

For some Buddhism is striclty a religion, for others its a philosophy of life, for others its a psycology of mind that can fit into any religion or tradtion, for the ones with eyes fully open its just a pure and simple spiritual path to full awakening. I know a Chistian practitoner who practices mindfullness meditation in her daily life, and considers it a godsend for her religious practice, so the general princples of Buddhism specifically the ethical, moral and practical aspects can in theory be praticed by anyone regardless of whether they consider themsleves to be a Buddhist or not. I personally believe that there is a middle way in all relgions.

Q: What deities does Buddhism have?
Does Buddhism have any real deities? Or are they considered archetypes of your own mind?

Buddhism has many many deities (some say there are infinite enlightened wisdom dieties) .In general Buddhist deities are considered to be manifestation of the subtle levels our minds. They are utilized in Vajrayana practice for the transformation of the passions into the wisdom of enligthenemnt. The deities are considered to be as real as anything else, as in Buddhism everything is considered to be like an illusion, like a dream, like a cloudland, like a mirage, like the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water,.

Q: Is vegetarianism required to be a Buddhist?

In the Hinayana level its 100% required,(But there are some excepts for monks if the meat is offered), even in the Mahayana it is strongly advised, but in the Vajrayana practice nothing is rejected. But HH Dalia Lama suggests vegetarianism for all people who lack the capacity to place direct causes for liberation of the sentient being, being eaten (which is pretty much everyone). So in theory you should be a vegetarian until you have a very high capacity for benefiting sentient beings.






--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 05:51 AM)


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: Alan Stone]
    #4152567 - 05/09/05 08:20 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Q: Does Buddhism have holy books? Are they unique to Buddhism?
To be more elaborate, is there any required reading if you want to become a Buddhist?


There isn't a book, like the Bible, that is required reading or the word of God, etc. There are a lot of reading materials, Sutras, that hold wisdom... but they are not a set of rules or laws that must be followed.

I can only speak for the Zen Center of Denver. They have a two day retreat once a quarter for people interested in becoming a Buddhist. During the retreat, which is during the day only, they teach you the basics of the Buddism, the idea behind the ceremonies, and talk about why they do what they do. They also have an open sitting every wednesday evening for the public.

Q: Can you be both Buddhist and another religion?
So, is Buddhism a religion or a way of life?


It is more of a philosophy than a religion. I know a priest that is also a Zen monk.

Q: What deities does Buddhism have?
Does Buddhism have any real deities? Or are they considered archetypes of your own mind?


None. The Buddha was a man and never claimed to be anything else. There is symbology to represent the different aspects of life (and death), but these are not considered Gods or anything special.

Q: Is vegetarianism required to be a Buddhist?

No, a common misconception. Many do practice vegatarianism, but it is not required. I know more than one monk that eat meat.

Q: What concepts should I know if I want to understand Buddhism?
Is there a glossary of terms?


Just like any religion, Buddhism has lots and lots of flavors. Shop around until you find one that you like. The basic idea is the same for all, but the path they take to get there can be very different. Also, remember that a Buddhist monk is no different than you or I... not some kind of saint or holy person... but a person with wants and desires and the capacity to make mistakes.

Most of the teachings I know are from the Zen school and may be a bit different than what others think. As I said... many flavors. If you want a good introduction, try reading "The There Pillars of Zen"... ([url]http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385260938/104-9924923-3419127?v=glance[/url]) it contains both descriptive text along with example 'case studies' that can help explain a lot. Another good book is "The Accidental Buddhist" ([url]http://www.randomhouse.com/boldtype/0299/moore/excerpt.html[/url]) which cronicles the travels of an American author as he tries to discover what Buddhism is all about.


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4152605 - 05/09/05 09:06 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

the three levels of practicioner is an innaccurate viewpoint.

everyone is at the same level (but in different places) and each method can be pursued to the same intensity of realization.

the three schools or branches of buddhism are merely cultural distinctions but at the same level, as ideas of the path yet each temple and stupa has its distinctions.

early on one may shop for features or robe color, or a particular teacher or chant may be appealing - to whom are these aspects appealing?

the simmilarity of these paths is of essence.


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: Seuss]
    #4152753 - 05/09/05 10:37 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Seuss said:
Q: Does Buddhism have holy books? Are they unique to Buddhism?
To be more elaborate, is there any required reading if you want to become a Buddhist?


There isn't a book, like the Bible, that is required reading or the word of God, etc. There are a lot of reading materials, Sutras, that hold wisdom... but they are not a set of rules or laws that must be followed.

I can only speak for the Zen Center of Denver. They have a two day retreat once a quarter for people interested in becoming a Buddhist. During the retreat, which is during the day only, they teach you the basics of the Buddism, the idea behind the ceremonies, and talk about why they do what they do. They also have an open sitting every wednesday evening for the public.

This is true, although in the Hinayana vehicle their can be many vows and rules, but one takes them upon onself to see which ones apply to their own condition. Id say the precepts are pretty much a standard pracice throughout, althought there is always room for many mistakes and its not like someone is imposing rules upon you, its more that you take the precepts when you understand the pricnicples of non-violence and use them as a guideline for your daily life to support your practice.

Q: Can you be both Buddhist and another religion?
So, is Buddhism a religion or a way of life?


It is more of a philosophy than a religion. I know a priest that is also a Zen monk.

To some people its more of a religion than a philosophy, you cannot generalize in such a way and call it more of a philosophy, when to some it is purely a relgion and to others it is something else

Q: What deities does Buddhism have?
Does Buddhism have any real deities? Or are they considered archetypes of your own mind?


None. The Buddha was a man and never claimed to be anything else. There is symbology to represent the different aspects of life (and death), but these are not considered Gods or anything special.

You are only comming from the viewpoint of Sutra, Mahanyana and Hinayana vehicles. In Tantra their are many wisdom deities, but these are not worshiped, but utlitzed to quickly develop the capacity of the practioner. The symbology represent the gross and subtle aspects of the awakenined energy of the Buddha Mind and its many manifestations.

Q: Is vegetarianism required to be a Buddhist?

No, a common misconception. Many do practice vegatarianism, but it is not required. I know more than one monk that eat meat.

There are certain exceptions in the case of monks. But generally throughout all of Buddhism, it is advised that one should eat a vegetarian diet




--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 03:36 PM)


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: redgreenvines]
    #4152765 - 05/09/05 10:42 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

redgreenvines said:
the three levels of practicioner is an innaccurate viewpoint.

everyone is at the same level (but in different places) and each method can be pursued to the same intensity of realization.

the three schools or branches of buddhism are merely cultural distinctions but at the same level, as ideas of the path yet each temple and stupa has its distinctions.

early on one may shop for features or robe color, or a particular teacher or chant may be appealing - to whom are these aspects appealing?

the simmilarity of these paths is of essence.




You are correct and now i see that i used the wrong wording, i should have said vehicles instead of levels. Each school has differences on how they approach the essence of the Dharma. Some emphasise a more gradual approach, some non-graudual, others emphasis both equally and cooperativey. There are many differences between sects and traditions, but the essence is always the same.


--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4152886 - 05/09/05 11:49 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Keep in mind there was alot of competition and debate over which "school" or "branch" or "vehicle" of Buddhism was the most correct.


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: Vvellum]
    #4153011 - 05/09/05 12:40 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Thats right. But really, if there is any debate, all that has to be done is to go back and check up what the Buddha said, this ususally settles the matter pretty fast. But its best not to get involved in such meaningless debate at all, as all this does is shows how well you've understood the Dharma 'intellectually'.In essence there is no debate, there is nothing to say, if you have real understanding, words are just words and you know that all sounds die in silence.


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 03:37 PM)


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4153438 - 05/09/05 03:06 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

my new vehicle is using less gas, and is less intimidating to look at.


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: redgreenvines]
    #4153533 - 05/09/05 03:47 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)



Is this your chosen vehicle by any chance? It uses no gas, its not in the least bit intimidating, and as an added bonus, its a stylish, snazzy and reliable Mercedies SL. You must be the envy of all your friends at playtime :lol:


--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 03:54 PM)


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: Alan Stone]
    #4153693 - 05/09/05 04:39 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Oh yeah, and as far as drugs are concerned, Guru Padmasambhava gave a discorse in which he stated 6 negative energies that can block ones prgress in spiritual practice. I think they were as follows, Tobacco, Cannabis, Opium, Cocaine, Khat, and i cant for the life of me remember the last one  :blush: sorry!  Ill have to ask my teacher next time i see him, but im sure that none of the major hallucinogenic substances were mentioned.  :grin:  :mushroom2:


--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 04:54 PM)


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4153709 - 05/09/05 04:46 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

The problem with such and such religion is... that it's just another system of control, and one that is self-centered rather than life-centered... "What can I do to stop my suffering?"


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: moog]
    #4153732 - 05/09/05 04:53 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Well, the Mahayana idea is more of "What can i do to relieve my suffering so that i can relieve the suffering of all sentient beings who are in this infinte ocean of samsara". I mean how can we help other sentient beings to be free form suffering, if we are not free from that condition ourselves? The problem with your view of religion is that maybe you see it as some kind of external force impsoing some system of control upon you. In Buddhism the idea is to be free, completely free and open, you have to apply whatever methods you need free yourself and eventually help others toward that freedom also. Its not as if there is some kind of rule that is applied to everyone, that is not the Buddhist way, you first have to look at yourself with open eyes and discover what works for you, free yourself from suffering, and then you will be free and have the cacpcity to help others discover the same situation of inner freedom and happiness. :heart:


--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 05:11 PM)


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4153736 - 05/09/05 04:54 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

egghead1 said:


Is this your chosen vehicle by any chance? It uses no gas, its not in the least bit intimidating, and as an added bonus, its a stylish, snazzy and reliable Mercedies SL. You must be the envy of all your friends at playtime :lol:



nahh, that was one of the intimidating versions, i could not use it without causing a stirr. I like the hat tho


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Offlineegghead1
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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: redgreenvines]
    #4153769 - 05/09/05 05:02 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

redgreenvines said:
Quote:

egghead1 said:


Is this your chosen vehicle by any chance? It uses no gas, its not in the least bit intimidating, and as an added bonus, its a stylish, snazzy and reliable Mercedies SL. You must be the envy of all your friends at playtime :lol:



nahh, that was one of the intimidating versions, i could not use it without causing a stirr. I like the hat tho




:lol: What about this one? Im sure this one is more up your street. Its certainlty less intiminating and its a well made german car. :wink: :sun:



--------------------
All you need is Love! Really thats it! Infinite Unconditional Love! Just develop that and all else will fall into place perfectly!


Edited by egghead1 (05/09/05 06:02 PM)


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4154358 - 05/09/05 07:27 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

yes
I'm much more inclined to the yellow bug school of buddhism


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Re: Buddhism Overview to correct Misunderstandings [Re: egghead1]
    #4154535 - 05/09/05 08:21 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

egghead1 said:
Usually, when people say something like "The problem with such and such religion is" its never the religion that's at fault, but the misunderstanding that that person holds about the religion or spiritual tradition which is incorrect,




I stopped reading right their. :tongue:

Let archaic beliefs die. Their is a problem if it is so misunderstood and interpreted to such a wide degree isn't it? :yesnod:

I don't see the need to base my life on old doctrines of human conduct that are used by those that require a direction and a schematic for their life.... :shrug: Odd that people have seemingly forgot how to live without others telling them how to.


--------------------
"Their is one overriding question that concerns us all: How can we get out of the fatal groove we are in, the one that is leading towards the brink?" Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
"We may not be capable of eradicating the corruption of reason, but we must nevertheless counter it at every instance and with every means." Dan Agin
"Politics is the best religion and politicians are the worst followers."
-It's ok to trip as long as you don't fall.
-Substance over Style.
-Common sense is uncommon.


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