Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

In the nearly two years since my break from Theravada Buddhism initiated a search for new spiritual mentorship, I have researched five branches of Buddhism, ten branches of Hinduism, and even the three principal Abrahamic religions. I was desperate for peace of mind that was compatible with the science that I had already accepted.

The focus of many spiritual paths could fit onto a grid with dualism and non-dualism at the left and right and devotion and secularism at the top and bottom. Theravada Buddhism sits in the non-dual secular quadrant with a heavy emphasis on renunciation. …

Palm-sized Gita from

It’s been over a year since I attempted to undertake the Sanatana Dharma path. It didn’t take long for me to get sidetracked, falling back on old traditions, and researching new ones previously overlooked. Following a discussion on my recent relapse back into Theravada Buddhism, knowing precisely the spiritual course I wanted to take, I summarized my next goal: I wish to perform selfless action not rooted in selfish needs.

Having settled on Theravada again, I finished cataloguing laity-friendly discourses from the Tipitaka for practice. Looking through these texts, I asked myself if there was a means to achieve my…

Image by Bhikku Amitha from Pixabay

I was raised Christian. My faith was always weak. In my late teens, I turned to atheism. Later, as a young adult seeking purpose, I turned to Theravada Buddhism where I remained for the next twelve years. Theravada sharpened my focus and calmed my ego, but the incessant pessimism of the teachings left me feeling isolated and unmotivated.

As I grew older, still seeking purpose, and growing increasingly aware of social degradation, I sought paths better suited for motivating personal growth and cultural outreach. …

Whereas Western intellectuals seek the essence of Buddhism in its doctrines and meditation practices, the traditional Buddhists of Asia absorb the ideas and values of their spiritual heritage through its rich narrative literature about the Buddha and his disciples. The most popular collection of Buddhist stories is, without doubt, the Jātakas. These are the stories of the Buddha’s past births, relating his experiences as he passed from life to life on the way to becoming a Buddha.
— Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Jataka tales have somehow garnered an undeserved reputation in English speaking countries as fairy tales unfit for adults…

(Originally posted 2019.09.07)

Pocket edition Gita from Swami Nikhilananda

I was an atheist for most of my teenage years. By my mid-20s, I turned to spirituality to find purpose and stability. I settled with Theravada Buddhism, which was proselytized as a “godless religion”, because it appealed to my lingering secular sentiments. After 12 years of Vipassana and Buddhānussati practice, I made great progress cultivating equanimity and a devotional mindset. Nevertheless, the renunciant leanings of the Theravada eventually left me feeling stifled and isolated. I pursued two other Buddhist lineages, Zen and Pure Land. Both made a strong initial connection, but, to my disappointment, this connection was only fleeting. I soon realized the futility of relying upon intermediaries. To find the Truth that I sought, I needed to surrender my ego to the highest authority. I needed to seek the voice of God.

Image by David Kerkhoff from Pixabay

It is a mistake to disregard the distinction between the teachings addressed to renunciants and lay followers in the Early Buddhist texts. Given their tone, the renunciant practices could potentially discourage householders from fulfilling essential family and social duties, and paint the practice as incompatible for seekers who value such duties, consequently discouraging them from looking further into Buddhism.

The Buddha himself highlights this distinction throughout the texts. In the Dhammika Sutta (Snp 2.14, …

Tony Sharp

Multimedia • Bibliophile • Herbivore • धर्म

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