Colorful Practice

I have come to have an incredible respect and appreciation for the variety in Buddhist practice, something I feel comfortable describing as an element of vibrant color. It seems there are so many colors of Buddhism, from the quiet and reflective Theravada practice to the seemingly less orderly and amazingly mystic Tibetan form. Each seems to display its own splendid character, and it is hardly fitting for me to deny my interest in seeing more of it for myself.

The last two Sunday’s have taught me a lot in this respect as a result of my attendance at a Vietnamese Buddhist temple about 20 minutes from my home. In exploring this new experience, I’m not only learning another format for chanting/prayers but dabbling in yet another language.

As some may recall, I have been practicing chanting in Pali for a couple of months now and can recite from memory and understand about 30 minutes worth of chanting, assuming the speaker is not going through them too quickly or speaking with an accent I’m not familiar with. For an independent study project with minimal time invested, I feel like there is a lot of progress.

So now I’m trying to dig up resources on learning some Vietnamese, and I’m hopeful to get a copy of the chanting book used at the Temple so that I can start learning the pronunciations and properly translating the text because, quite frankly, there don’t appear to be a lot of Vietnamese-to-English sources available — it looks like I’m going to be doing a lot more research on my own.

And of course, all of this goes to the source of my own colorful practice, one that is continually taking on a lot of different cultural bits and sorting through them. It is an amazing process, and fun really — it is not like “work” but it can be more challenging.  Ha!

This particular Temple has adopted some Pure Land practices, which I’m not very familiar with and have only now started to read about, and seems to follow the Mahayana tradition in general. Readers may recall that I’ve spent most of the last year focusing on the Theravada school — and I’ve come to realize that this may be because, aside from Tibetan, the Theravada is the most accessible to me when considering the language barriers I’m coming across in studying Mahayana. There are a number of American and Australian monks practicing Theravada and they are particularly active online, producing all manner of Pali-to-English chanting literature and Dhamma talks on Youtube, but my experience so far with Mahayana monastics and texts is rather well lacking.

In other words, I think this coming year will be spent focusing more on the Mahayana traditions. This is not because I’m dissatisfied with Theravada, mind you, but simply because it is interesting, and because I can. Assuming I continue regular attendance with this Temple, it only seems fitting that I expand my knowledge in this way, and it really doesn’t change anything I do from day to day.

I will continue to share my thoughts and progress along the path as I continue to learn, and I doubt anyone reading will really notice that an idea of mine has an origin from one school or the other — unless I state it as such.

Thank you all for reading, friends. While you may not realize it, your comments here have all been encouraging and helpful as I mature on the path, and I really hope that my posts have somehow benefited you as well.

Be well and at peace, and I will write again soon.



  1. Dennis Beyer · · Reply

    I’d like to compliment your dedication to exploring a different religious practice than your family and friends, especially one that tends to have a negative connotation to more closed-minded people.

    Not that I’d have any doubt that Michelle and Dalton would not be supportive, but it still can’t be easy. The changes that embracing a different point of view have made in you are 100% for the better and were one of the motivating factors in getting me back to being more involved in my own faith. I feel like I am a happier person from this as well. So I guess I also owe you a bit of thanks as well.

    1. Thank you for saying so, Denny. It hasn’t been without its challenges, but you and I both know that things that are worth doing are rarely easy.

      I’m really glad to hear that I’ve somehow helped reinvigorate your fath as well. That’s been part of my reason for blogging in the first place — to help others through the sharing of my experience in a sort of no-pressure way.

      As for those pesky “closed-minded” folk, I’ve been surprised at how few of them I’ve encountered in the last year. It is almost as if the air of confidence I’m putting off must be so overwhelming that no one feels like arguing.

      Of course, I wouldn’t argue anyway, and maybe that’s the real point — no one gets anything but stress from pushing one’s views on others.

      By the way, we really ought to petition our wives to set up an evening for us all to hang out. It has been a while and you all are certainly welcome here sometime.

      Be well, Denny. 🙂

  2. Isn’t that the beauty of dharma – that our thoughts/ideas across traditions are not easily identified as such 🙂
    I’m assuming you’ve listed to Ajahn Brahm online (from oz); you could also search Rev Heng Sure for mahayana..
    I don’t understand the above comment ‘negative connotation’ – what is negative about Buddhism?

    1. Yeah, I’ve listed to Ajahn Brahm, although I haven’t heard of Rev Heng Sure until now so I’ll be looking him up today. Thank you very much!

  3. Thanks for this interesting post. Spirituality is something so important that I can fully understand your decision because I was in the same situation. If you stick to a teaching that is not true to yourself you will arrive at a dead end sometime. It has nothing to do with Theravada or Mahayana, because both traditions point in the same direction. But the teachings are different, like there are so many different types of people, and so you may feel more comfortable with one or another tradition according to your Karma, education, traditions and social conditioning. That’s what I did too always keeping in mind to check thoroughly the authenticity of the teachings and the teacher I was following.

    1. How true! Thank you 🙂

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