Hello, I’m very new to the boards so I apologize in advance if I have placed this thread in the wrong section.
I was raised in a home that was very staunch “religion X”. I have officially resigned from this church and am looking for enlightenment in Buddhism. Does anyone on the boards know anything about it? Are there any Buddists out there? Do you sign up somewhere? Do get ‘baptized’?
I’m a little confused. I’m new in town and haven’t met many people yet.
I have been recently exploring Buddhism myself. My interest stems from reading two books by the Dalai Lama, “The Art of Happiness” and “How to Practice The Way to a Meaningful Life”. I found both books to be fascinating insights into Tibetan Buddhism.
For me, it is the emphasis on compassion that I find appealing. I also like the fact that it appears to be far less judgemental than some of the other paths. There is no “You should join us because we are better” campaign. I like that. I also find that I logically agree with what I have read so far without any great leaps of faith required.
Having said this, I do need to add that I am very very new to the whole thing and am certainly no source for information.
As far as where to go from here, most cities have some form of Buddhist Center, where one can go to meet others, learn how to meditate, and become educated on the history and practice.
I think it’s fair to say that the variant that most exactly matches the teachings of the Buddha is Theravada Buddhism.
Theravada Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths that the Buddha explained: That life is inherently full of suffering; that the cause of this suffering is attachment to sensual pleasures; that the way to end suffering is to free yourself from attachments; the way to free yourself from attachments is to follow the Eight-Fold Path.
The Eight practices are: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. By practice of these, you may achieve freedom from attachments and end your cycle of rebirth.
There is a guy on www.nightly.net named ckarib/darken ishvar that hangs out in the ‘lyceum’ that is becoming very well versed in budhism. I just can’t get on the site myself anymore for some reason…but tell him Eos of the Eons sent you if you come across him there.
And tell him to get over here so he can contribute to this thread!!
To become a Buddhist you can study Buddhism and join a Buddhist order and become a Buddhist priest … or you can look into it a little and decide … “Hey, I’m a Buddhist.”
That’s the great thing about religion (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear myself say), you can claim any one of them as your own if you so choose.
I’ve read a little on Buddhism, and the thing about that attracts me is the aspect of dealing with life right now. There is no god to pray to and ask for things. There is a way that will help you toward enlightenment. If you choose to follow that path … it’s all on you. But you have to do it right now, because it’s the only now you’re gonna get.
Buddhism seems to be a very responsible religion. That is, all the responsibility for “enlightment” lies with the individual, not the “church” or any “leaders” or blahbidy-blahbidy-blah. I’ve found I’ve had a very Buddhist view of religion before really knowing what Buddhism was all about (at least a little bit, anyway).
One of the better “Buddhism-in-a-nutshell” books I’ve personally seen is Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching.” The formulation of Buddhism he writes on is particularly humanistic and focused on inclusiveness.
As has been said before, there are many different kinds of Buddhism. The earliest, Theravadan, has been mentioned above. Next is Mahayanan, translated as The Great Vehicle, which is a little less strict than Theravadan and emphasizes compassion. Then there is Vajrayanan, which is the one of the latest incarnations, which is very open in it’s interpretations, and it often uses visualizations in meditation. Fitting in somewhere in between is Zen or Chan Buddhism, which focuses on eliminating thinking through meditation practice.
There are many varieties of these and many more ways to practice than you can imagine. Personally, I like to pick and choose. My religion is just that, mine. Nobody else’s. I walk my own path but I take guidance from a bunch of wise people. So just live your life like you want to. You can be Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, Christian, Islam, miscellanious whatever. Or any combination there of.
Buddhist does seem “peaceful”, but it’s definetly lacking something. Jack Betty mentioned it- there is no god to pray to and ask for things. That’s true. Also, there is “no God” that loves you and cares for you and wants the best for you, and… oh my… this is getting quite depressing.
You choose your own path. Do you realize that your path and choices might not be the best for you? If you let a Higher Authority (God Himself) guide you, your life will have more meaning than some religion could possibly ever give you. I have no religion, but I do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and it’s way better than going along through life all by myself. If you chose your own path, there wouldn’t be anyone to permanently guide you. There are wise people, but they won’t ALWAYS be there when you call them. Talk about lonliness!!
I’m not dissing Buddhism, because in the beginning it may seem cool and all. I don’t know what they think about drugs, sex and all that stuff. But I’m telling you, when you are in the last moments of your life, and you are still Buddhist, you’re probably going to think, “I missed something in life…” Then bam, you’re dead, and you’re standing in front of the God you didn’t think exsisted. How about that?
Actually, I have two friends who live in Australia. They are Buddists. They seemed very content within their own religion. They seem happy with it. Best of all, they weren’t trying to force me to join their religion. In fact, they seemed alright knowing that I was agnostic and didn’t see that as their cue to convince me to be religious.
Also, I read somewhere (maybe on the BBC website) that Buddhists live longer (something to do with meditation and being less stressed than others, yaddah yaddah). That made me curious. Not so much that it guaranteed long life, but that it caught my attention enough to go from link to link and read on…
I guess I’m trying to fill a void. I was raised on fire and brimstone and I feel burned by it. My parental units preach on and on about their religion but they are two of the most unhappy hypocrites on the planet. I’m sad for them. I want to be satisfied in life, think more positively, become more open-minded and not default to the errors my family has made in their lives. (Oh, and being less judgemental would help, too.) I want to see my version of “God” as an ally, a friend and not someone who judges and damns. Not to mention that when you see the Ho Tai version of the Laughing Buddha, you just got to smile yourself. I like to smile.
Like Jack Batty, I think I have some of the qualities in me that are basically Buddhist.
Drastic ~ The inclusive nature of Buddhism attracts me the most. Everyone should feel a sense of belonging in society, but that isn’t always the case. We judge, we label… I’m guilty of that too.
This has been very helpful to me. I also went and bought a book yesterday called “Buddhism: Plain and Simple” by Steve Hagen. It’s pretty good so far.
I’m by no means an expert (on anything, really, but in this case Buddhism), but I’ve done some research into it. If I had to label myself with one particular belief, I’d probably label myself as a Buddhist.
Background: I was raised in a quasi-observant Jewish household, and somewhere around middle school, it stopped making sense to me. I (under my parent’s command) kept attending religious school, and eventually had a serious falling-out with the head rabbi over several issues. This falling-out started from my asking questions - I’m a martial artist (TKD, if it matters), and developed an interest in eastern religions as a whole.
Anyway, I ended up doing some reading about Buddhism, and deciding that of all the organized religions out there, this one made the most sense to me. Things that attracted me to it:
It’s not a theistic religion. This is bad for some people, it happens to suit my beliefs quite well.
There’s no attempt to convert people. Nor is it a “If you don’t believe this you’ll rot in hell” religion, which pisses me off.
It’s accepting of all, and there is no complex ritual for converts. No one’s approval is required to accept the beliefs as an ‘official’ buddhist.
There’s a strong focus on both inner and outer peace. Many religions have turned me off by being dedicated to saving yourself, worrying over ‘original sin’, being afraid that a deity will mark you off for not praying correctly, etc. Buddhism is more along the lines of ‘find what works for you and embrace it.
Similar to you, Lupin, I was raised in a quasi-‘fire-and-brimstone’ household. My mother was raised catholic but embraced judaism (my father’s religion from birth). This resulted in the paternal side of my extended family ‘tsk-tsk’-ing at my mother and the fact I wasn’t raised to be mindlessly observant, while my maternal side of the family tried to convert me to Catholicism. When that failed, I became one of those ‘poor souls’ to pray for. Then there’s the aunt who isn’t so much Catholic anymore but a follower of the Cult of Jerry Falwell, but that’s a different tale.
No wars have been started over Buddhism. Again, no one says you’re going to go to hell if you don’t share their beliefs in Buddhism. Your soul cannot be condemned. It’s (IMO) the most tolerant religion out there, and that’s VERY important to me.
Of course, all of the above are basically opinion, YMMV, etc. Good luck with it, though.
I have been interested in Buddhism for a while, although I would not call myself a Buddhist. I don’t practice at all, and practice seems to be the heart of Buddhism. I may check out a Zen center one of these days, but I’ve been saying that for a couple of years now. (I didn’t grow up with a religious tradition and I don’t really feel like I’m missing all that much. That could change, of course.)
I link to it here because it’s an interesting, skeptical take on Buddhism that doesn’t come from an opposing religious standpoint; it doesn’t necessarily jibe with my opinion of Buddhism (which is an awfully large subject to have a single opinion about, actually).
Refrain from the use of intoxicating agents. Refrain from engaging in sexual misconduct and immorality. I’m a little unclear on what may be meant by “all that stuff,” but I suspect that makes at least two of us–the other three main precepts (various monastic vows involve further ones depending on formulations they adhere to) involve refraining from stealing, killing, and falsehoods. The reasons to avoid these things isn’t rooted in or-else! theology (although some forms of Buddhist thought and cosmology feature really, er, creative hells), though.
While the existence of God is not an element of Buddhism, it goes beyond that–it’s not even germane. An old Buddhist metaphor is about a man who’s been struck with an arrow, with slow but sure poison coating it. The arrow has to be removed–a tricky operation–or that man will die in agony. It has to be removed now, not later. But the man says, “wait. I need to know about this arrow. Who was the archer who fired it? Who is his family? Was he ordered to fire it by a great and secret enemy? Was I shot because of some wrong I have committed against the archer? What was the style of bow used to fire it? What was its draw? What is the provenance of the feathers on the shaft? What plants was the poison drawn from? What where why why how what where?” All those questions are, right here, right now, irrelevant to the surgeon. The arrow has to come out, and that’s all. Everything else can be asked and learned when that’s done.
It’s a stance that’s a little baffling to folks steeped in “Western” religion–the most superficial formulations of which amount to the surgeon refusing to save the dying man until that dying man hears and believes one particular explanation of why he was shot.
But, “what now?” What now, this:
"Hello, God. You know me. You know me through and through. You know the atoms that made my body, You know every particle that was ever part of me. You know the air that first filled my lungs, and know every lung and every plant that took in the last breath my body exhaled.
"You know every moment of doubt I have had. You know every moment of suffering, every moment of clear sight. You know every choice I have made, every vow I have kept, every one I have stumbled and fallen short of.
"I have strived to speak correctly, avoiding falsehood, trying for clarity. I have tried to act in compassion and in love, to bring joy and to reduce suffering, but there are many times when I have done–sometimes in malice, sometimes in impatience, sometimes without even realizing it until days or years later or even ever–exactly the opposite.
"I make no excuses, because You know the truth of all that I am. But if you are Love, in my own way I have striven to know You and let You fill my deeds and life. If You are not, then what will be will be.
“Judge and damn me, if that is who You are. Teach me, if that is who You are. I pray You, show me now.”
That’s how about that.
If the basics you’re studying continue resonating for you, check out a translation of the Lotus Sutra sometime. Once you correct for some of the warts in it (there’s some sad spots of misogyny–products of the time), it’s one of the most relentlessly optimistic religious narratives I’ve ever personally read–it was also central, in its own way, to a realization that grew into coming to peace with Christianity for me–which I’m hazarding a guess (but only a guess) is part of what you’re looking for as well.
It sounds like you’re interested in the meditative and philosophical aspects of Buddhism, but not so much in a lot of the supernatural aspects of religion. I would suggest reading some books on Zen. The afore mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh is very good, and i would suggest another book called The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. Zen is pretty much a clean, non-doctrinal philosophy which is largely based on pure meditation. Hunt around and see if you can find any temples close to where you live, or if you can find anyone to talk to or meditate with.
The way I have seen Buddhists practicing their faith or religion, it is all about asking favors from the powers that be, whatever their professional teachers advocate about being other-worldly. These professionals themselves are not exactly other-worldly either.
I have this one negative thing about the Dalai Lama. He goes about preaching other-worldiness to Westerners, but peoples don’t seem to notice that he is the head of a hierocratic system in Tibet and wants to restore it there. What I can’t accept is why the monks in Tibet have got to be governing the peoples of Tibet; and Dalai Lama is the epitome of that system. Good for the Tibetans, they have been under a purely secularistic Chinese government. But China should give more liberties to the Tibetans, hand in hand with developments for the modernization of Tibet.
For those of you who plan to learn meditation or other-worldiness from Buddhist masters, here is an anecdote:
A Yankee signed up with a Buddhist master from the Far East stationed then in New York to learn meditation and other-worldiness. In his first meeting with the master, he got the order for him to bring him a cup of hot tea from the kitchen. On handling the tea to the master, the master splashed the tea in the face of the student. He was instructed to get another cup of hot tea. And he got splashed with it again. Then also another order for a third cup of tea. This time the student brought the tea to the master and splashed it in the face of the master. What happened? Master expelled student from discipleship but kept the money.
Beside the fact that all those words put together don’t exactly jive (I’m not exactly picking on your grammar, it just isn’t very clear), Buddhists practice their faith most prominently by meditating and seeking enlightenment within themselves. Where do you get the asking favors thing? I really don’t get what you mean.
As far as your anecdote goes, it doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense either. Unless you offer the anecdote as a condemnation of Buddhism. If that so, it makes about as much sense as offering an anecdote of a molested choir boy to condemn Christianity.