Venerable Nima : Janet Taylor
I have been studying and practicing Buddhism for over 25 years with Lama Surya Das, an American Buddhist Lama who trained for 20 years with many of the greatest teachers from Tibet. My initial decision to practice the Dharma was first a selfish one. I was stressed out. While I was successful in my career, my personal life was a disaster. I was looking for something to help me live a more meaningful life. Maybe that is your motivation as well, or perhaps your motivation is different. It’s important to be clear about why you might want to practice the Dharma, because the path is not always easy, and you’ll need clarity to stay on course.
Over time, my motivation has changed. I did find some relief indirectly, although early on the path can be challenging and actually make you feel worse instead of better. What is this enigmatic Dharma path you might want to explore?
At its simplest, Buddhism is about maintaining a passion to seek the truth in each moment.
There are many past experiences that have created our life up to this moment. The past often shrouds us in a heavy coat of habits and concepts about ourselves, about others, and about how life works. Dharma practice is designed to cut through these habits and concepts to get to the heart of each moment. In the heart of this moment, is the opportunity to discover your innate goodness.
It helps to start by reading and listening and examining the Buddhist path. For some people, that is enough. For others, there is a yearning for a deeper knowing, a deeper commitment. For those who want more insight into the teachings, a guide is helpful. While some find the truth on their own, most of us need some support from a person who has been on the path for awhile. Only you know what is in your heart, but a good teacher helps you find the truth within you.
About My Dharma Name
My Buddhist name was given to me by my teacher when I took my monastic vows for three years. Nima (or Nyima in Tibetan) means sun, and my teacher’s name, Surya, means sun in Sanskrit. Urgyen is the name of our lineage. Some people feel it’s important to trace your teacher’s lineage back to the Buddha (which Lama Surya Das is able to do), but if you look closely, many of the teachers listed in any lineage received their teachings from their own discovery, which is the birthright of all beings. Regardless, I feel deep gratitude for all the teachers in my lineage.
Some would say my name fits me well — I have a sunny disposition most of the time, and am even irrationally exuberant periodically. I have a deep passion for the Dharma and the transformation it can make in one’s life. You don’t need to be a monk or nun to benefit from these teachings. They are available to everyone, and I enjoy sharing my passion for the teachings with anyone who wants to learn more about them.
About My Perspective
In the original writings (the Pali Canon), the Buddha emphasized to NOT take his word for anything he said, just because he said it. Instead, he encouraged everyone to try the practices out for themselves and determine if it works. Buddhism is more about behavior than beliefs. There are some traditions where the Buddha is worshipped as a “god” (an anthropomorphic being who watches over everyone and grants answers to prayers). However, the original teachings do not uphold this worship of the Buddha as a deity.
The story is told that the Buddha met a Hindu priest on the road, and the man saw this being who had a special quality to him. The man asked the Buddha, “Are you a god (deva)?” The Buddha said, “No.” “Are you a trickster?” The Buddha said, “No.” “What are you then?” He simply said, “I am awake.”
In other parts of the original writings, the Buddha emphasizes that we all have innate Buddha Nature within (this innate goodness we can tap into), and that each person has everything needed to awaken in each moment. My perspective is that awakening is NOT a one-time event (ie. before: never awake, after: always awake), but rather an ongoing process of waking in each moment, again and again, with practice and persistence.
Awakening to the truth of each moment is not easy. However, these practices enable us to face the sometimes uncomfortable truths we have created in certain moments (at least that has been my own experience). These practices can help us respond differently by learning to train our thoughts and actions towards loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and wisdom. I hope you will join us in this endeavor to make the world a kinder, more compassionate and wise place, by beginning with our own thoughts and actions. We can transform our lives and the lives of others when we learn to harness the power of our minds.