Thank you for sharing your journey of learning dhamma.
From my early years, I wanted to “get to the bottom” of any subject, and thus I read everything I could get my hands on. I think that mindset led me naturally to specialize in physics. I came to the United States for graduate studies and have been here since then. I worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory after getting my Ph.D. and taught a few courses at the close-by University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
I have inclination like you too , Lal. I thought I could find the answers to questions of life, existence, purpose, meaning and suffering through physics. I will finish the bachelor’s degree in physics in few months.
I searched for answers widely for many years, but all worldviews failed to incorporate all the
different facets of life and existence.
I sought transcendence from mundane existence. Initially when I came across dhamma, I was sad for while, because, I wanted some sort of higher purpose and meaning to life and existence. But, well, obviously there is none.
There were lots of contradiction and lack of clarity and facts in many worldviews that I explored.
Only buddha dhamma is ultimate theory of literally everything, which is 100% self consistent.
Ofcourse, we can only say that with faith emerging from removal of dukkhā.
Even though I liked doing research, I was getting “burned out” with administrative responsibilities and keeping up with environmental compliance activities. So, I took early retirement. I started reading widely again and naturally started thinking seriously about Buddha Dhamma. I had the essential background, but there were many “unanswered questions.” Thanks to the internet, I could listen to discourses by many prominent bhikkhus in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
Lal, It is great to see the work you have done despite your age.
Very Inspiring to read that you plan to write double of what you have already wrote so far on website.
One must have an interest in pursuing any subject. If someone is not interested in Buddha Dhamma, that is because one does not have the necessary background. It takes effort to set up that background, especially in the Western world. When engaged in the “rat race” trying to experience maximum sensory pleasures (and how to pay for such activities), there is hardly any time left to investigate issues like the “meaning of life.”
Very true, Lal.
I highly recommend taking notes while reading or listening to Dhamma.
– I have done it from my school days (on any subject). Even if I may not read some of them, just writing down what one learns helps get it into “long-term memory.” I have accumulated a pile of notebooks from Waharaka Thero’s discourses. I recently glanced through them and saw that I had taken notes of the same discourse a few times in some cases (unknowingly.) But the interesting point is that my latter notes are much better; they were taken with a better understanding.
Yes, I take lots of notes in different forms too. I tried mind maps, but, it became overwhelming. Nowadays I just draw flowcharts and take plain written notes from Desanas, Reading posts, sutta, essays, tipitaka etc.
Many people don’t really understand the power of taking notes. Taking notes is very efficient way to expand RAM (working memory) of our CPU (brain).
With notes, one can hold many facts simultaneously in mind.
Also, it is very very interesting to hear about “Piles” of notebooks made from sermons of thero. This is the real temptation for me! :)
There is always room to improve. Only a Buddha knows everything perfectly. But it is an exhilarating experience to advance on the Path as things become clear more easily. Now I can read an earlier post of mine or a sutta translation by another person and see the flaws right away, in most cases.
Yes, It is really exhilarating experience. I am confident in your ability that you can explain many concepts of dhamma from many many different POV.
As you have said at few places,
Once the fundamentals are strong and clear, buddhda dhamma learning journey can be really exponential.
Learning and realising dhamma seems almost impossible feet to achieve, considering the timescale of saṁsāra and odds of so many variables aligning in suitable way. Thanks to you many have accomplished this almost impossible feet!
Thank you for very detailed reply, Lal.
Thanks to Seng Kiat too for maintaining forum, for ebook compilation, website etc.
Many merits to both of you and may blessings of noble triple gem be always with all of us.