Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to start

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Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to start

Postby katehollinshead » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:43 pm

Hello,

I'm Katie, i come from the UK, am 17 and am considering converting to buddhism. I am a complete novice when it comes to exploring buddhism and so would love some direction.

I have heard the best thing to start is to read, read and read. However, I am struggling to find the best books and texts to read, as of course everbody suggests different. I understand this is because buddhism is open to our own interpretation and it completely depends upon what texts reach out to you, however I wish to learn the basics and also need some guidance in following buddhism.

There aren't any local temples near me, however in the near future this is something I can look at, depending on money to get there.

I have recently ordered the book "Old path, White Clouds" by Thich Nhat Hanh. From my research, my understanding is that this book will teach me about buddha himself and the teachings of buddha, but will it give me any direction in how to practice buddhism?

I understand meditation is a massive part in buddhism but i am also completely new to this. Is there a specific way to do it? Is there a guide that many people here use to help them practice it right?

I am looking for any information that you are willing to provide, preferably quite detailed on how I can begin to follow the buddhist way of life.

Thank you so much
Katie.
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby Seishin » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:52 pm

Hi Katie, welcome to the forum. Where abouts in the UK are you from?

I think you're on the right track already which is encouraging. Buddhanet http://www.buddhanet.net/ has a lot of great stuff for beginners to read I'd start here http://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks_g.htm and work your way down.

With regards to meditating, try this informative yet whimsical video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csyCrcpDs58

Gassho,
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby Tara » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:05 pm

Hi Katie, :smile:

I would like to suggest starting with the Four Noble Truths:
The First Noble Truth
The Second Noble Truth
The Third Noble Truth
The Fourth Noble Truth

Followed by The Noble Eightfold Path.

These form base from which all Buddhadharma stems from. :buddha1:
It's not a competition. It's a choice.
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby LastLegend » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:17 pm

Keep 5 precepts
And take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
And practice the way of the Buddha
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:24 pm

Welcome Katie! :hi:

Take a look at this short, but classic introductory book about Buddhism.

http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_Walpo ... Taught.pdf

The 6 Paramitas are also good to know about.

http://www.rinpoche.com/teachings/paramitas.htm
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:54 pm

How to Practice by the Dalai Lama

or any other book by the Dalai Lama really
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby riverflow » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:05 pm

Hello, Katie,

Thich Nhat Hanh is a great way to start-- and of his books as a "Intro to Buddhhism 101" I highly recommend his book, The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings.

Also Steve Hagen's Buddhism Plain and Simple is just like the title says. It is a more nuts-and-bolts approach but Hagen explains things very clearly and without getting too bogged down in Buddhist terminology (not that there is anything wrong with that, but initially it can seem like too much).

After that, I think looking into things in more detail becomes easier. At least that is how it was for me when I first explored Buddhism.
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby philji » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:17 pm

I think it is difficult to suggest books for newcomers to Buddhism, some may be off putting, some not understandable..... Depends on your karma and present understanding I guess.
Yes study is important and also adopting a simple meditation or mindfulness practice...try to keep it up regularly.... Maybe 5 mins a day.....
The are Buddhist centres around the UK which are worth a look but unfortunately me or two to keep away from...google and you will discover what I am talking about...
Best of luck from Phil in Wales.
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby shaunc » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:06 pm

Tara wrote:Hi Katie, :smile:

I would like to suggest starting with the Four Noble Truths:
The First Noble Truth
The Second Noble Truth
The Third Noble Truth
The Fourth Noble Truth

Followed by The Noble Eightfold Path.

These form base from which all Buddhadharma stems from. :buddha1:


This is a great answer.
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby shaunc » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:07 pm

LastLegend wrote:Keep 5 precepts
And take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
And practice the way of the Buddha


And this is a great answer also.
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby kirtu » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:07 pm

katehollinshead wrote:I have recently ordered the book "Old path, White Clouds" by Thich Nhat Hanh. From my research, my understanding is that this book will teach me about buddha himself and the teachings of buddha,


Hi Katie -

Yes this is the lifestory of Shakyamuni Buddha as interpretes by Thich Nhat Hanh through mostly Pali suttas. IMO all Buddhism should begin with a kind of relationship to the lifestory of Shakyamuni Buddha.

but will it give me any direction in how to practice buddhism?


Not itself but it depends on what you take away from the story.

I understand meditation is a massive part in buddhism but i am also completely new to this. Is there a specific way to do it? Is there a guide that many people here use to help them practice it right?


There are many kinds of meditation even within Buddhism but in Buddhism meditation is divided between calming the mind and cultivating insight. So initially your meditation would be calming the mind. This has many benefits and also you can do many different kinds of calming meditation.

Westerners tend to focus on meditation from the start. But the start of Buddhist practice is actually kindness and morality although you can begin with calming meditation too - many people do.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:18 pm

My advice, as far as texts, is to get a copy of the Dhammapada and read it through. I got my first copy from the library and read through it several times before it was due back. It is simple, yet profound enough to get the gears in the mind turning on the Dhamma. I'm not sure if it was intended for this purpose, but I think the Dhammapada excels as a Buddhist primer. :smile:
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby randomseb » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:15 am

Old Path, White Clouds will tell you much you need to know, with simple and elegantly straightforward writing.. Good choice!

Meditation - simple.. sit in your most comfortable position (if you can do full lotus, all the better, but the goal is not dependent on the condition of sitting in any particular position, or sitting period), and don't do anything at all. Don't try to calm your mind, don't think fancy visualizations, just sit and observe your own mind - this is a good place to start, as your own mind is all you actually ever experience anyway

What you do from there is up to what you need in order to understand and how fast you can understand.. Some people need whole convoluted dogmatic religions with worship, ritual and steps to follow to build up to the goal, some can do so directly and need nothing more than observing their own mind, and everything in between.. No one can tell you what in particular you will need, you'll just have to see what you can see by reading texts, listening to teachings (lots on youtube for example), and so on.

Here's an ancient text that might confuse you, or might make you go Hmmmmmm!

The Song of Mahamudra by Tilopa
Mahamudra is beyond all words and symbols,
But for you, Naropa, earnest and loyal, must this be said.

The Void needs no reliance; Mahamudra rests on naught.
Without making an effort, but remaining natural,
One can break the yoke thus gaining liberation.

If one looks for naught when staring into space;
If with the mind one then observes the mind;
One destroys distinctions and reaches Buddhahood.

The clouds that wander through the sky have no roots, no home,
Nor do the distinctive thoughts floating through the mind.
Once the Self-mind is seen, Discrimination stops.

In space, shapes and colors form
But neither by black nor white is space tinged.
From the Self-mind all things emerge;
The Mind by virtues and by vices is not stained.

The darkness of ages cannot shroud the glowing sun;
The long eons of Samsara ne'er can hide the Mind's brilliant light.

Though words are spoken to explain the Void, the Void as such can
never be expressed. Though we say "the Mind is a bright light,
" it is beyond all words and symbols. Although the Mind is void
in essence, all things it embraces and contains.

Do naught with the body but relax;
Shut firm the mouth and silent remain;
Empty your mind and think of naught.
Like a hollow bamboo rest at ease your body.
Giving not nor taking, put your mind at rest.
Mahamudra is like a mind that clings to naught.
Thus practicing, in time you will reach Buddhahood.


The practice of Mantra and Perfections, instructions in the Sutras and
Precepts, and teaching from the Schools and Scriptures will not bring
realization of the Innate Truth. For if the mind when filled with some
desire should seek a goal, it only hides the Light.

One who keeps the Tantric Precepts yet discriminates, betrays the
vows of Awakening,

Cease all activity; abandon all desire; let thoughts rise and fall as they
will like the ocean waves.

One who never harms the Non-abiding nor the Principles of non-distinction,
upholds the Tantric Precepts.

He who abandons craving and clings not to this or that,
Perceives the real meaning given in the Scriptures.

In Mahamudra all one's sins are burned; in Mahamudra one is released from
the prison of this world. This is the Dharma's supreme torch. Those who
disbelieve it are fools who ever wallow in misery and sorrow.

To strive for liberation one should rely on a Guru. When your mind receives
the Guru's blessing emancipation is at hand.

Alas, all things in this world are meaningless; they are but sorrow's seeds.
Small teachings lead to acts. One should only follow teachings that are great.

To transcend duality is the Kingly View; to conquer distractions is the
Royal Practice; the Path of No-practice is the Way of the Buddhas. 0ne who
treads that Path reaches Buddhahood.

Transient is this world; like phantoms and dreams,
Substance it has none. Grasp not the world nor your kin;
Cut the strings of lust and hatred; meditate in woods and mountains.
If without effort you remain loosely in the "natural state,"
soon Mahamudra you will win and attain the Non-attainment.

Cut the root of the tree and the leaves will wither;
cut the root of your mind and Samsara falls.

The light of any lamp dispels in a moment the darkness of long eons;
The strong light of the mind in but a flash will burn the veil of ignorance.

Whoever clings to mind sees not the truth of what's beyond the mind.
Whoever strives to practice Dharma finds not the truth of Beyond-practice.
One should cut cleanly through the root of the mind and stare naked.
One should thus break away from all distinctions and remain at ease.

One should not give and take but remain natural, for Mahamudra is beyond
all acceptance and rejection.

Since the consciousness is not born, no one can obstruct it or soil it;
Staying in the "Unborn" realm all appearances will dissolve into the
ultimate Dharma.

All self-will and pride will vanish into naught.
The supreme Understanding transcends all this and that.
The supreme Action embraces great resourcefulness without attachment.
The supreme Accomplishment is to realize immanence without hope.

At first a yogi feels his mind is tumbling like a waterfall;
In mid-course, like the Ganges, it flows on slow and gentle;
In the end, it is a great vast ocean,
Where the lights of Child and Mother merge in one.


:buddha2:
Disclaimer: If I have posted about something, then I obviously have no idea what I am talking about!
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Re: Interested in becoming buddhist, not a clue where to sta

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:34 am

Beginning Buddhist practice starts with practicing morality. Start with the Five Precepts and practicing charity. If you want a meditation practice, samatha meditations are a good place to start. I'd personally suggest metta bhavana. If you want to start reading Buddhist scriptures as well, start with the Dhammapada.

Start reading beginners guides from a Theravada perspective. This is where Buddhism starts. Get a good handle on the basics. Also, start reading up on the various schools, and see if any grab your attention or are particularly inspiring. Then start reading on texts from that particular school.

If you decide you want to practice Zen, a good book to read would be "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki. And if you ever have any questions, this forum is a good place to ask.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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