As a Buddhist living in Texas who also happens to be Vietnamese-American, I find that I often get asked if my work and approach are “Buddhist informed.” I am asked this about the trauma therapy work, mentoring, and spiritual work I provide to others.
This question always amuses me, because I’m ACTUALLY a Buddhist. “Buddhist informed” is language I often see used by people who actually don’t know anything about being a practicing Buddhist who want to give their presentation an exotic, Easternized “shine.” It’s very much a dipping your toe in the water kind of languaging that has nothing to do with real Buddhism or understanding the values, tenets and practices of Buddhism.
So. I’m a trained Buddhist in the Karma Kagyu lineage. My root teacher is Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, one of the world’s most eminent Tibetan Buddhism scholars and teachers (www.Rinpoche.com). I’ve taken vows and teach meditation in the Karma Kagyu style in which I was trained.
To be clear, Tibetan Buddhism is an atheist path that does not ascribe to any notion or belief of a Christian God. We do not believe that there is some big guy in the sky pulling strings to make things happen. We DO believe that the world is a complex, dynamic interaction of cause and effect and energetic levels and forces that we only partially see and understand, which is where vajrayana Buddhism links to shamanism.
We practice meditation. We study. And, importantly, we debate vigorously and search empirically for answers. Buddhism is a very reality-based approach. And it is not a path that disallows questioning or debate; in fact, it encourages it, because we believe that you have to do the work to walk the path, and asking questions and testing hypotheses is a HUGE part of that walk.