Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Thursday, July 07, 2022

Local Buddhists share culture, practices of religion

Editor's Note: This is the third of a three-part series profiling Gainesville's diverse religious community.

With back straight, head tilted slightly and hands in "bear paw position," with the thumb between the middle and ring fingers, he picked a spot on the floor about three feet in front of him, closed his eyes slightly and concentrated on his breathing.

No other thoughts should enter the mind at this time, Greg Jones later said when discussing meditation.

As the teacher of the introductory meditation class at Gainesville Karma Thegsum Choling, Jones, who practices Tibetan Buddhism, said meditation has many outcomes.

"You are able to build a little bit of space and take a step back from the situation," he said.

The Sunday classes' five-minute meditation sessions begin and end with the chime of a gong.

Baptized as a Methodist when he was younger, Jones said Christianity never fit him.

After exploring many religions, including that of the Cherokee Native American tribe, Jones found Buddhism five years ago, which he said made his life more centered.

"I used to be known to fly off the handle and I'm also a bit ADD," he said. "But now I'm able to focus on my tasks."

Jones said he is now able to watch what is going on around him and ask himself, "Is this really how I want to act? What I want to do?"

Jones said it is an active process that builds mental muscle.

There are many branches of Buddhism, with each culture practicing slightly differently and "adding their own twist, turns and color."

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

But they all believe that when a person dies, their spirit is reincarnated, Jones said.

"You know the saying 'been there done that'?" he said. "Well, we'll be there, and we'll do it again."

Lama David Bole, resident teacher at the Center, earned the title "lama," which means teacher, by completing a three year and three month meditation retreat in Woodstock, N.Y.

He said that more than 25,000 years ago, Siddh'rtha Gautama, born as a prince in northern India, founded Buddhism. Gautama, known to his followers as Buddha, resisted pressure from his father to take over the kingdom of Lumbini, and decided to become a spiritual leader.

Bole said that in the beginning, Buddha's practices were self-torturing, but later in his spiritual journey he created Middle-Way Buddhism.

"It is in the middle of being overly ascetic and extremely hedonistic," Bole said. "Being in the world, but not of it."

Karma is also a main component of Buddhism.

"The Law of Karma is as straightforward as Newton's Law of Gravity," he said. "It is a natural outcome."

Buddhists believe that for each action, one receives karmic seeds. If one does good deeds, he or she receives good karmic seeds, and bad deeds merit bad karmic seeds.

"Some people think that Karma is set in stone, but that's not true," he said. "We have our own free will."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.