Autobiography Spiritual JourneyTerm Paper

Pages: 10 (2975 words)  |  Style: n/a  |  Bibliography Sources: 10

¶ … Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, I experienced a car accident that was instrumental to my spiritual awakening. Although the spiritual path I took diverged considerably from Trungpa Rinpoche's, I have also been steeped in Buddhist traditions. Trungpa Rinpoche was born in Tibet and fled the region during the same time that His Holiness the Dalai Lama did. Trungpa Rinpoche also helped his fellow monks find freedom across the Himalayas in India.

Reading the fascinating life story of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, I become aware of the many similarities and differences that characterize our spiritual journies. Like Trungpa Rinpoche, I was born into a specific religion. In my early childhood I was taught about Christianity, but later discovered that it was not a suitable faith for me. Buddhism, however, remained an important part of my heritage. My mother has been a member of the Hsi Lai Temple for many years, and serves as the program director for the local branch of an international Buddhist social service organization called the Tzu Chi Foundation.

I initially discovered the core tenets of Buddhism from the grounded perspective of social service. My mother had, since I was a young child, encouraged me to help out at the Tzu Chi Foundation whenever possible. Doing so seemed natural, and I did not associate the work with any kind of religious faith. In fact, as I learned more and more about Buddhism it became clear to me that Buddhism was not so much like a religion as a way of life.

When I had my car accident in 2006, it shook my mind as much as it did my body. face-to-face with death, I perceived a clarity of being that I had not before experienced. The ground I walked on felt different. Soon thereafter, I understood that the Christian dogma was not working for me. Christianity was not the way I was going to find truth or enlightenment. For one, I do not believe in a creator God or the creation story the way that Christians teach it. The stories in the Bible tend to be recited as if they are truths and it is considered unacceptable to challenge them. With renewed clarity of mind, I began to explore Buddhism in more earnest.

The tools with which to explore Buddhism were readily available and at my disposal. For one, my mother offered easy access to the dharma via both the Tzu Chi Foundation and the Hsi Lai Temple. I joined the former, and automatically felt drawn to attending services at the Hsi Lai Temple too. This way, I interacted with other Buddhists and came into contact with books and texts including the writings of the Hsi Lai Temple founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun. I also encountered core Buddhist sacred texts including the Heart Sutra and Diamond Sutra, which addressed challenging concepts such as emptiness. Through my study of Buddhism, I also discovered the work of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

One of the first Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche books I read was called Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. This book had a tremendous impact on me, as I completely understood how people use meditation and spiritual discipline as a means to feel superior to other people. This form of egotistical spiritual pursuit is deeply hypocritical and missing the point of spiritual practice entirely. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche calls this phenomenon spiritual materialism, which is basically a form of self-deception.

I also became conscious of the main difference between Christianity and Buddhism, which is the concept of God. Yet I did not at any moment feel like Buddhism was antagonistic towards other religions. Quite the contrary, Buddhism seems to have a universal appeal. As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche states in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, "Although the Buddhist way is not theistic, it does not contradict the theistic disciplines," (p. 4). This is indeed one of the reasons why I was so readily able and willing to embrace the teachings of Buddhism: there were no serious mental or emotional obstacles in my way. It is just as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche states: "According to the Buddhist tradition, the spiritual path is the process of cutting through our confusion, of uncovering the awakened state of mind," (p. 4). I had yet to experience what I believed to be Enlightenment, but I had taken those first valuable steps towards clearing away the mental cobwebs -- the clouds that obscure the sun.

My mind paved via the jarring experience of a car accident, I dove right into both the social service aspect of Buddhism and the meditation practices. At the Tzu Chi Foundation, I trained myself on being an effective leader. I pointed out to the organization the need to restructure, diversify and become more active in certain areas of our society. I noticed the need for more fund raising activities in our community. This brought to mind what my parents had always taught me about success in business: "If you think, then you will be prepared. If you are prepared, then you will have no worries."

Working at the Tzu Chi Foundation became an extension of my self, and all aspects of my life seemed well-integrated. The sense of unity that pervaded my daily existence built upon itself, helping my spiritual practice to blossom. Because of this, I truly believe that at least for me, service to an organization can awaken spiritual states of mind. It may be because social service sets aside the ego, at least temporarily. We get out of ourselves. Like being in a near-fatal car crash, helping people who are in need removes mental and emotional obstacles to reveal the natural clarity beneath. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche presents Enlightenment not as a goal to be achieved but as a natural state that is re-discovered. This made complete sense to me; as the author states in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism: "It is not a matter of building up the awakened state of mind but rather of burning out the confusions which obstruct it. In the process of burning out these confusions, we discover enlightenment," (p. 4). Moreover, Enlightenment is a permanent state; it is our ego life which is the impermanent, illusory one.

The emphasis is on the process of spiritual development and not on the finality of obtaining some goal that is out there, beyond me. I am the goal. These Buddhist teachings led me deeper into my meditation practice, to contemplate the concept and expeirence of emptiness. Emptiness and co-dependent origination are concepts that cannot easily be intellectualized because they are ineffable. Instead, we experience them directly in the meditation practice. When we experience emptiness and understand co-dependent origination, that state of mind becomes more natural.

In November of 2009, I officially become a member of Hsi Lai Temple. The act of becoming a member solidified my commitment to help others -- both in the sense of social service which is delivered devoid from any spiritual teachings and also in the sense of directly helping others to find their spiritual path. Because of my leadership experience in the Tzu Chi Foundation, combined with personal Buddhism practices, I have received the Refuge Certificate from the Temple. This solidifies my commitment to living by the ten Precepts as well as the Six Rules of Conduct of the Order. I am in the process of continually developing my character and shooing away ego arisings. I know that in the future I will serve the needs of the Buddhist Community, via mindfulness practice.

Thanks to the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, I remain aware of the dangers of the "Three Lords," which include the Lord of Mind, the Lord of Speech, and the Lord of Form. In Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, I could see how easily it is for the ego to reassert itself. We must be continually on guard to prevent such things from clouding our mind and judgment.

At the beginning of 2010, I took yet another step on my spiritual journey. First, I started to read more writings from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche including his seminal work Shambala: Sacred Path of the Warrior. I learned about the Naropa Institute and read other books written by authors of the Shambala Press. At the same time, I wanted to learn more about Taoism. An important aspect of Chinese faith, Taoism is such a subtle teaching that it can readily make its way into Buddhism seamlessly. Like Buddhism, Taoism is non-theistic and is about process, harmony, and balance. I read the Tao de Ching to find the source of Taoist teachings, and have easily incorporated this into my faith.

The principle of emptiness is one of the main spiritual concepts that Taoism and Buddhism share in common. In the state of emptiness, the mind is devoid of desires, which are the root of human suffering. To empty the mind is to take the step towards spiritual Enlightenment. The mind is free of the Three Lords, and there is no tendency to feel negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or paranoia. Often… [END OF PREVIEW]

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