Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

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Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Luke » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:47 am

If you could give one piece of advice to newcomers to Buddhism, what would it be? What mistakes did you make when you started Buddhism?


I'll preface this by saying that I still think of myself as a beginner when it comes to Buddhism and I can't boast of having any great knowledge, but I have practiced with different Buddhist groups over the past several years, and I've learned a few things along the way.

My main piece of advice would be for them not to cling to their own views and feel that they've already "figured it all out." So many westerners start out as "nightstand Buddhists" and spend many evenings reading beautiful ideas in Buddhist books and then mix these ideas with their own pre-existing knowledge and ideas and create their own highly attractive personal interpretation of what they think Buddhism is which they cling to intensely--and then defend intensely.

For example, when some of these new people come onto a forum like this and get answers from Buddhists which are different than what they are expecting, they get very angry at them and act like "No, damn you! That's not how I see things at all! You can't be right! Only my personal interpretation of Buddhism can be correct!"

As for the second question, the main mistake I made when I first began practicing with a Buddhist group was being too tense and overenthusiastic. It's much better to relax and to do things at a slow, natural pace without trying to force anything to happen. Tense, self-centered effort doesn't impress Buddhist teachers.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Hickersonia » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:58 am

Luke wrote: not to cling to their own views and feel that they've already "figured it all out." So many westerners start out as "nightstand Buddhists" and spend many evenings reading beautiful ideas in Buddhist books and then mix these ideas with their own pre-existing knowledge and ideas and create their own highly attractive personal interpretation of what they think Buddhism is which they cling to intensely--and then defend intensely

This is huge. It really shouldn't have to be huge, but it is. Think about it -- we come to Buddhism for a variety of reasons, but ultimately because it helps us answer something we couldn't answer on our own. It has the answers, not us. It is a conceit to assume that we can "figure it all out" in a single life (or less) when the Buddha (according to the Suttas) spent numerous lifetimes trying to get it right.

This goes directly to my response to the original post: Drop your preconceived notions. Learn something new. Don't judge it good or bad, just learn it. As a beginner, you can afford to take in two opposing viewpoints, learn them both, and figure out which one is "right" later. And then, when you decide which one is "right", don't assume every view that opposes yours is wrong. Think of the simile of the elephant and never assume you can possibly perceive the whole world.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby plwk » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:20 am

I dunno Luke.

The Kalama Sutta comes to mind, the real one that is, not the misquoted social media versions...
Some say to come like an empty cup, leave the brimming tea at the doorstep.
Others say try not to be like the three kinds of vessels: upturned, filthy & cracked.
Yet others say buyer beware...

I guess the above advice is not limited to a religious pursuit alone but all aspects of life as well...
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Seishin » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:17 am

From my own experience when I first started my Buddhist journey and from other new comers that I've met, my advice would be to;
1. Take your time.
2. Try not to kick yourself for not understanding everything all at once.
3. Try not to believe you know everything after reading a handful of books.
4. Try not to judge others for not living up to your view of what a Buddhist "should be".
5. Try not to kick yourself for not being a perfect meditater after one week.
6. Keep an open mind - Buddhism is an ancient religion and will make you question your understanding of the world, try not resist it.
7. Practice.
8. Practice.
9. Practice.

Gassho,
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Nothing » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:30 pm

Luke wrote:If you could give one piece of advice to newcomers to Buddhism, what would it be?

The task ahead of you is to remove the deluded self, only thereafter and not any moments before, one is technically blind!.....A blind man cannot lead a blind man out of the forest!.....But you are not going to listen anyway!
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby maybay » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:42 pm

Don't give up your day job. And if you're a knowledge worker—which we all are in a way—watch out for overidentification with ideals: Spiritual Narcissism. The society of the spectacle, and the commodification of everything, including religion, has happened so quickly we've barely had time to adapt to it all. Don't expect Buddhism/Buddhists to provide all the 'answers'. Don't give up learning about the mundane world just because you've found Buddhism. There are a lot of very wise non-Buddhists. Expect the unexpected. Look within. Cultivate a private, inner life, which you don't reveal to anyone. Intimacy is not a panacea for every social ill. Get used to living a contradiction. Get used to walking alone, and unplugged. Authenticity is the first thing you'll hear from modern Buddhists, but its a long way off. Become comfortable with the idea that the problem with being ignorant is you don't know it, and that enlightenment is going to take a long time. So pack your sandwiches, and keep coming back to these three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Study widely, travel with discrimination, and learn how to play with appearances. Keep an open mind, but don't volunteer yourself for every bit of work. Choose your battles—especially on Internet forums. Dalai Lama says "Know the rules well so you know how to break them." Rules are the result of a lot of previous life experience, so don't blow up the tire factory and then try to reinvent the wheel. Learn each tradition on its own terms. When you've mastered them, then guide others. Be a lamp for yourself and the world.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Jikan » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:55 pm

Seishin wrote:From my own experience when I first started my Buddhist journey and from other new comers that I've met, my advice would be to;
1. Take your time.
2. Try not to kick yourself for not understanding everything all at once.
3. Try not to believe you know everything after reading a handful of books.
4. Try not to judge others for not living up to your view of what a Buddhist "should be".
5. Try not to kick yourself for not being a perfect meditater after one week.
6. Keep an open mind - Buddhism is an ancient religion and will make you question your understanding of the world, try not resist it.
7. Practice.
8. Practice.
9. Practice.

Gassho,
Seishin



:good:

From my own experience, I would add:

*Relax and try to have a sense of humor about all this. Lighten up, Francis!
*Be ready to do some things you might not like to do, like trust people, travel, skip meals, &c
*Focus on the heart, not the head
*Listen carefully to your teacher's instructions and explanations
*Practice hard, all day long
Thanks to the help of generous sponsors (most of them from DharmaWheel), I'm doing a Vajra Armor (Dorje Kotrab) self-retreat this summer. May the merit be yours!
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby justsit » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:51 pm

maybay wrote:Don't give up your day job. ... So pack your sandwiches...


Excellent! Also excellent, Seishin. :twothumbsup:

I would only add, Don't forget your towel. :alien:
And definitely keep your sense of humor.

Oh, and remember the joy.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby invisiblediamond » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:19 pm

If time will allow, find a siddha guru. There are so many points of Buddhism in contention from one tradition to the next. Your mileage will vary. So find a Buddha, and follow her/him.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby kirtu » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:54 pm

People are coming from so many different perspectives that it is difficult to generalize.

invisiblediamond wrote:... find a siddha guru.

Daily give up samsara totally.
Sincerely practice lovingkindness and compassion for all beings.


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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Punya » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:34 pm

maybay wrote:Don't give up your day job. And if you're a knowledge worker—which we all are in a way—watch out for overidentification with ideals: Spiritual Narcissism. The society of the spectacle, and the commodification of everything, including religion, has happened so quickly we've barely had time to adapt to it all. Don't expect Buddhism/Buddhists to provide all the 'answers'. Don't give up learning about the mundane world just because you've found Buddhism. There are a lot of very wise non-Buddhists. Expect the unexpected. Look within. Cultivate a private, inner life, which you don't reveal to anyone. Intimacy is not a panacea for every social ill. Get used to living a contradiction. Get used to walking alone, and unplugged. Authenticity is the first thing you'll hear from modern Buddhists, but its a long way off. Become comfortable with the idea that the problem with being ignorant is you don't know it, and that enlightenment is going to take a long time. So pack your sandwiches, and keep coming back to these three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Study widely, travel with discrimination, and learn how to play with appearances. Keep an open mind, but don't volunteer yourself for every bit of work. Choose your battles—especially on Internet forums. Dalai Lama says "Know the rules well so you know how to break them." Rules are the result of a lot of previous life experience, so don't blow up the tire factory and then try to reinvent the wheel. Learn each tradition on its own terms. When you've mastered them, then guide others. Be a lamp for yourself and the world.


:good:
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby maybay » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:38 pm

Actually I wouldn't tell all that to a newbie. The first thought about someone walking in the door is that he's a Buddha. If not, then he's a messenger from the Buddhas come to teach me, or he's an island of merit who I can make offerings to, or he's a protector come to audit my Sangha, etc.
Of course if he asks for it, then he'll get the story.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby lobster » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:24 am

Keep asking questions. There are no stupid questions. Just less skilful replies . . . :rules:
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:01 am

Be kind.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
~Arthur Carlson
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby porpoise » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:55 am

My handy hints:

1. Do your practice regularly even when you're not in the mood.
2. Keep an open mind.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby PorkChop » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:50 pm

The Noobie 8 fold path.
1. Find a teacher. See what's available locally and see who you get the best vibe from.
2. Research. Read up as much as you feel you can digest.
3. Evaluate. See if what you understand of what you've learned encourages behaviors that others praise, behaviors that help you cope with suffering, and/or behaviors that make you a better person.
4. Apply. Take what you've learned and apply it to your thinking, manifest it in your day-to-day activities.
5. Practice. Set up a good practice routine that you can stick with in addition to practice off the cushion. You're a work in progress.
6. Gravitate towards those aspects that seem to speak to your situation. Don't feel pressured to jump straight into advanced philosophy if you're still trying to incorporate basic ethics. Find what works for you.
7. Don't buy into polemics. Anything that's survived this long has to have some value. Don't be afraid to be out of step with what seems to be popular. If something is working (reducing suffering, making you a better person), stick with it, ignore the naysayers.
8. Don't get into arguments. Don't disparage others on a different path and don't fight it out with folks who disparage you.
Last edited by PorkChop on Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby rachmiel » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:25 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Be kind.

A Tibetan Buddhist nun I know was asked what -- after her 30 years of practice -- lay at the heart of Buddhism for her. Her response was not emptiness or dependent origination or karma, rather: kindness.
gone gone gone
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby jonaz108 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:24 pm

Surrendered service to the teacher/s and association with experienced buddhists.
Since I live in Portugal, I can only answer to posts between 9:00 and 20:00 (0º UTC).
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby Nemo » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:58 am

An ascetic life is infinitely easier when you are young.

Become useless. If you get a good job, become sexually desirable and gain self confidence the world will never let you go. Someone will always want you, desire you, need you. Oh to be useless and young. Now I must wait till I am useless and old.
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Re: Advice you'd give to new Buddhists?

Postby dakini_boi » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:36 am

Don't throw out everything you've gained through spiritual searching up until that point, because it's "not Buddhist."
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