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Buddhism as Process
Many people describe their relationship with Buddhism as an ongoing process. Temple member Quy said that, although she has been practicing Buddhism since her childhood, she has a lot to learn. “It’s a lifetime practice,” she said, and explains that, despite attaining a law degree and much education, “I’m very low in understanding.” Outside of the Dharma talks and other weekly practices, Quy reads Buddhist texts on her own in order to further her understanding. In addition, she says she can learn from Su and the other monks just by observing them. “I [learn by] the way he walks, the way he connects with people,” she explained. Yet Quy said that the process is not easy. “The more I learn, the more ignorant I find myself,” she explained.
Huong, who started practicing in 2012, likewise characterized Buddhism as a “large body of knowledge,” and said she doesn’t know a lot. She explained that she comes to the Temple in part to learn from the monks, but she also tries to learn from other sources as well. Like Quy, Huong also studies on her own, outside of the Temple, as a way of expanding her understanding.
"The more I learn, the more ignorant I find myself."-Quy Dang
Similarly, Lam reads many books to figure out more about Buddhism, and he is working to develop his meditation practice at home. Echoing other descriptions of Buddhism as a process, Lam explained that Buddhism is “a journey without a destination.” He says that there is no pursuit in Buddhism, and that once people begin to identify a destination, their practice loses its purpose. “You can’t even become attached to the idea of becoming enlightened,” he explained. “It’s difficult.”
"Everyone has to find their own way."-Lam
In all of these descriptions, Quy, Huong, and Lam ultimately presented Buddhism as an individualized journey. “Everyone has to find their own way,” Lam explained, saying that people can’t just absorb whatever the monk tells them, but must work to understand things themselves. “Each person has its own karma,” said Quy, explaining that everyone approaches Buddhism differently. Though they all look to the monks as resources in their practices, Quy, Huong, and Lam explained the ways that they take ownership of their own learning.