Registered: 1 year, 11 months ago
There is not much that I can say about my life before I took the path of the Buddha, which seems insignificant now. Once learning the teachings of the Buddha, like Siddhartha Gotama, I have left that world behind. I have originally took my precepts at a Zen Monastery, where I received my Dharma name, which is Thich Minh Dang. According to the seminal work: "Buddhist Literature: A Proposed Scheme Of Classification And Cataloguing Of Works On Buddhism-Modeled On The Buddhist Collection At Van Hanh University Library, 1964–1999, written by the Venerable Dr. Thích Như Minh, its chief librarian, Sanskrit scholar and current abbot of the oldest Vietnamese temple in the United States, writes: "Regarding Buddhist names in Vietnamese tradition; because all monastics take the word “Thich”, a shorten form of “Thich Ca” which means “Sakya”, as their surname to indicate that they are “sons of Sakyamuni the Buddha”, and belong to the same family clan named “Thich”, we have to honor this practice. That is to accept “Thich” as a surname and record as such in the cataloguing process." Eventually I switched traditions from Zen (Mahayana) to Theravada. After doing so I was assigned a Pali Dhamma name which is Dipobhasadhamma or Depabhasadhamma, which in the Pali language and means दीप ; dīpa: a lamp, ओभास ; obhāsa ; light, धम्म ; dhamma ; truth. This Pali name has the same meaning as the Zen Vietnamese (Mahayana) name Thich Minh Dang. The study and daily practice of Buddhism is paramount in my life. The most important thing to me is the realization first of the Sotapanna stage of development. Over the last several years I have worked at shedding the material attachments I have accumulated over the course of some 40+ years. The reason for this is simple. Being utterly temporary and of little value for awakening, there is nothing that this world can offer. This is not nihilistic thinking. Understanding, believing and accepting the truth that nothing in this world is permanent is the most liberating experience I have ever encountered. As a human being I wish simply to be valued for my actions. There can be no question that I have not given due and proper consideration to the Christian God, to Jesus, the Bible and Christianity. I have a rather intimate knowledge of Christianity. During my time at several Catholic and Protestant seminaries, I have studied such works as the Vatican Manuscript 1209, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Masoretic texts. learned to read Koine Greek (the ancient Greek language that was used to write much of the bible), of which I have forgotten most of. I have also studied many works from the great apologists in history such as Augustine, and others. Among my focus, was the study of the meaning of words through the discipline of etymology. After having experienced Catholicism, entering Our Lady of LaSallette seminary in Enfield, NH, St. Josephs and Holy Cross in Dartmouth, MA, with the goal of becoming a Catholic priest, I then switched directions and went on to the Bangor Theological Seminary in Bangor, Maine with the intent of becoming a Protestant Baptist minister. After marriage I dabbled in Pentecostalism (Assemblies of God) and Congregationalism eventually making nearly a full circle in the Christian religions by being baptized a Jehovah's Witness. I have attended the Bethel AME (African Methodist Episcopalian) church along with Episcopalian then briefly studying Judaism, a bit of Islam and dabbling in Mormonism. Needless to say I have a broad education in Christianity. Combined with my University education of ancient history, archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, law, among others, I have come to learn the historic of Christianity, the development of it, and the causes of it. This has led me to the conclusion that Christianity is less of a religion than it is a culture. There truly is no "one" Christianity, but many Christianities. Considering the latest research of Christianity and its origins, I have since learned that the New Testament was likely written by a group of ancient writers, including Pliny the Younger, Seneca, and the wealthy Italian Piso family, under the direction of the Roman Emperors, Vespasian and Titus, to name a couple. Also, as science begins to catch up with religion, it is increasingly more more difficult for Christianity to conceal certain facts (murderous history such as the Inquisition, the Crusades, and so on) along with the true origins of their beliefs. There is also much evidence that Jesus likely did not exist; that the Gospels were not written by the Apostles; that Moses was actually Ra-Mos-Es from the Egyptian court of the Pharaoh Akhenaten (a relative of Tutankhamen); that the basis for the Christian religion likely has its origins in Ancient Egypt and that Christianity was honed and developed as a Roman political tool for the purpose of subjugating Jews and the territory of Judea after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. At the Council of Nicaea, the biblical texts that existed at the time, would become what is known as the Bible, written several hundreds of years after the proposed death of Jesus. The Council of Nicaea served the Romans as a political means-to-an-end in order to reign in and control all of the various religions practiced in Constantinople under one state religion. I can therefore, confidently say that not only do I understand that Buddhism is NOT a religion in the larger definition of what the world accepts to be "religion," but that Buddhism is the only philosophy that requires the follower to be responsible for one's own actions; providing sensible answers to life's questions, and does not worship any god-like deity who judges humankind. Learning what I have with regard to religion in general, the mere fact that Buddhism pre-dates Christianity by at least 1,000 historical years was, in part, what led me to become curious about it. I have approached Buddhism with the same skepticism that I had developed about Christianity and have come to appreciate that the Buddhist philosophy is the closest thing mankind has to a common sense way of living one's life, and at least provides humankind with a reasonable explanation of how life ought to be lived. Additionally, the Pali texts remarkably have not changed in some 2,000 years. Finally, I have learned that there is only one peace of mind that can be had, regardless of where you live, how you live or what you believe is true, and this is to understand yourself. This world and the Age in which we live, has adopted the philosophy that we are what we own. People's personal perception of themselves seems so detached from who they actually are or what their outward personality appears to be, which is developed by a deformed self-perception of what they wish others to believe they are. In any case, the four most important things I believe any human being should know are: 1. Acceptance that suffering exists no matter what kind of life you have. This is the truth about suffering. 2. Accepting the truth that the cause of your suffering most likely stems from you and your actions. 3. Accepting the truth that there can be a cessation of suffering: its up to you. Start where you are. 4. Accepting and understanding a path that one must take which leads to the cessation of your suffering. Ultimately I had to consider the question: When would "now" be a good time to begin seriously changing my life in order to address my own suffering, and gaining an understanding of whatever it might be that causes suffering in my life? It can only begin with one thing and that is brutal self-honesty to see yourself as you really are. I have created a philosophy of my own making that states basically: The quality of life has nothing to do with how you live it, but by how well you react to the life you have now.
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