Buddhism Newbie

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to Buddhism in so far as I have developed a keen (and sincere) interest in it, but I have no practical knowledge, no training, no teacher to help guide me.

I went to the home of a Tibetan Buddhist yesterday who said that there are 84,000 paths of Buddhism and once I choose the one that's right for me, then that will be the path I commit to: one teacher, one guru, one path.

That's very intimidating information. 84,000 - and only one path. I don't know where to start, or who to talk to, or even what questions to ask: All I know is that I want to learn.

I'm based in Calgary, Alberta and there seems to be a few (not many) options in terms of groups of temples. I've started emailing some to see if I can come in for a chat and to ask questions. Beyond that, I'm not sure what else to do.

Any advice? There's so much information out there, especially online, I really don't know how to determine which of it is reliable.

Thank you so much!

With Gratitude,


Understanding and Fear

The real healing from fear, comes from understanding, from recognizing fear and its many forms within the mind and the body. It's about being clear what fear is, not intellectually, but in the sense of recognizing it as it arises, and not mistaking fear for anything else, and not mistaking the effects in the mind and body that comes from fear as coming from fear, and not coming from anywhere else. It is that kind of clarity and understanding that is necessary. And you can do it, but every so often you have to be brave and not shy away too far from your fear and its effects.

You have to first do your research, so you can get a good mental picture of what your fear or panic is, and know its various effects in the body and mind. Study panic and anxiety and its physical and mental effects. Really do a lot of study of this, as this kind of understanding goes a long way to removing doubts when you are actually faced with fear and its effects. You need to be clear in your mind which thought-patterns and feelings, and which physical sensations are coming from fear/panic, so you can be clear that these feelings are not an indication of anything other than fear itself.

You need to know, you are not having a heart attack, you are not going to die, you are not losing your mind or your self. Recognize these thought/feelings/sensations are merely symptoms of fear, and fear/panic/anxiety and its symptoms can not do you any real harm, and they do not lead anywhere, they are simply as they are and that's all that they are. They are part of a circle. Fear creates the symptoms and then we become afraid of the symptoms, which in turn gives more of the symptoms. But if you get to understand this and over time you really see this to be the case and really believe it, then the symptoms have no fuel. Instead of reacting to the symptoms with more panic, with only fuels them, you simply do not react, as you know you cannot be harmed by them, so you don't panic or react, and they subside naturally.

It is like a paper tiger. You thought it was a killer when you first saw him, but after you realize he was made of paper all along, you no longer react to seeing him. You always thought he was about to bite you, as his teeth seemed very sharp, but now you know that will never happen. There will only ever be the teeth, but never the bite.

It's a tough battle, and it can seem that all existence is a nightmare, but this is only a reflection of the mind of fear. Don't trust it. Remember that life has been beautiful in the past, because at those times you weren't seeing life through the mind of fear. Overcome the fear, and you see a very different picture. So wait out on that. Don't do all your contemplating from within the mind of fear, as all those thoughts will be tainted by the fear. Come outside of it and then see what you think.

This is my own story-in-progress, so thought I'd share in case there are others struggling with fear as well.


From the Vimalakirti Nirdesa

Below is a rather long excerpt from the Vimalakirti Nirdesa.

"Thereupon, the venerable Sariputra had this thought: "There is not even a single chair in this house. Where are these disciples and bodhisattvas going to sit?"

The Licchavi Vimalakirti read the thought of the venerable Sariputra and said: "Reverend Sariputra, did you come here for the sake of the Dharma? Or did you come here for the sake of a chair?"

Sariputra replied: "I came for the sake of the Dharma, not for the sake of a chair."

Vimalakirti continued: "Reverend Sariputra, he who is interested in the Dharma is not interested even in his own body, much less in a chair. Reverend Sariputra, he who is interested in the Dharma has no interest in matter, sensation, intellect, motivation, or consciousness. He has no interest in these aggregates, or in the elements, or in the sense-media. Interested in the Dharma, he has no interest in the realm of desire, the realm of matter, or the immaterial realm. Interested in the Dharma, he is not interested in attachment to the Buddha, attachment to the Dharma, or attachment to the Sangha. Reverend Sariputra, he who is interested in the Dharma is not interested in recognizing suffering, abandoning its origination, realizing its cessation, or practicing the path. Why? The Dharma is ultimately without formulation and without verbalization. Who verbalizes: ’Suffering should be recognized, origination should be eliminated, cessation should be realized, the path should be practiced,’ is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in verbalization. "Reverend Sariputra, the Dharma is calm and peaceful. Those who are engaged in production and destruction are not interested in the Dharma, are not interested in solitude, but are interested in production and destruction.

"Furthermore, reverend Sariputra, the Dharma is without taint and free of defilement. He who is attached to anything, even to liberation, is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in the taint of desire. The Dharma is not an object. He who pursues objects is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in objects. The Dharma is without acceptance or rejection. He who holds on to things or lets go of things is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in holding and letting go. The Dharma is not a secure refuge. He who enjoys a secure refuge is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in a secure refuge. The Dharma is without sign. He whose consciousness pursues signs is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in signs. The Dharma is not a society. He who seeks to associate with the Dharma is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in association. The Dharma is not a sight, a sound, a category, or an idea. He who is involved in sights, sounds, categories, and ideas is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in sights, sounds, categories, and ideas. Reverend Sariputra, the Dharma is free of compounded things and uncompounded things. He who adheres to compounded things and uncompounded things is not interested in the Dharma but is interested in adhering to compounded things and uncompounded things.

"Thereupon, reverend Sariputra, if you are interested in the Dharma, you should take no interest in anything."

Clear Calm Light Emptiness

The basic nature of the mind is an empty awareness which is similar to a calm clear light illuminating everything.

While in Tushita heaven, in Avici hell, or while you are caught in a traffic-jam or queuing at the cashier while you shop at Walmart (believe me friends, Buddhists do shop at Walmart too), remember that your mind is basically luminous, empty, calm and aware.

When sad or joyful, in pain or experiencing pleasure, angry or contended, being born or dying; your mind is empty, calm, full of light and aware.

This clear calm light projects upon all phenomena, whether internal (mental), external (material objects) or the ones in between the inside and outside (sensations).

This clear calm light is empty of self because it is always illuminating the projected world and is ever moving, while at the same time remaining unmoved.

It is the information-energy of the Mindstream.

This is the Buddha nature, the Womb of the Tathagatas, the Refuge!

It is the Mind-King and the Silent Watcher.

If you don't believe me, just stop for a second, look at your mind and you'll see it for yourselves!


In gassho.


Edward (Ted) A. Burger's new documentary project about Chinese Buddhism

Greetings friends,

I would like to share something beautiful.

It's a movie by Edward (Ted) A. Burger.

Ted is the author of Amongst White Clouds documentary about modern Chinese Buddhist hermits.


His new series of short documentaries (The Dreaming Buddha project) are devoted to the Chinese Buddhist monastic communities.


If you're interested, you can read an interview with Ted here:


In Gasho.

  • jayyy

On the Nature of Rebirths

Since some people were asking about the nature of rebirth, I will share.


Today at the gym, I thought about an old friend who I could barely recall: his face, his manner, his relationship to me.

After the gym, walking home, I stopped and ate at a pizza shop.

A girl came up to me, asking if she could eat her lunch with me. I obliged and we small talked.

Half-way through, I was looking into her soul (the eyes, that is) and I realized: this girl was the same person as my old friend.


On the way in the heavens, you will be joined by the recollections of your past lives. In Christianity, it is friends and family.

God is Great.

God Bless,