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What makes you Buddhist?

newlotusnewlotus Australia Explorer

I have had this question a few times now.
My husband has asked, so are you buddhist or what? A co-worker has seen my buddha necklace and asked if I'm Buddhist.
In truth, I'm not sure really! I don't really know what makes someone Buddhist.

I went to a Christian school and it seemed that going to church meant you were Christian. I myself wouldn't call them Christian - they did not practice what they preached so to speek. Yet in buddhism you dont go to churches.
So while I read numerous text on buddhism, and practise the noble truths, meditate. Is this enough?

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Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    This will help clarify things....

    dhammachick
  • ShimShim Veteran

    Nothing makes me a Buddhist.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited January 28

    I'm as much of a Buddhist as I say I am, and choose to be. Anyway I hang out on NewBuddhist so that means I must be a Buddhist right?

    All joking aside, there is much I like about Buddhism, much I have learnt from it. But there are also things that give me pause. The patchwork nature of Buddhist traditions, for instance, where each teacher is working with slightly different material, and which requires a teacher to almost be a scholar. Generally I'm not a fan of scholars as spiritual teachers, they tend to be too much in the mind.

    So I'm not unreservedly 100% Buddhist, I'm more like a 50% buddhist. But I walk the path of the spiritual seeker, I'm here to learn, while slowly working on deconstructing the ego and the pride in self-sufficiency that I've built up over the years.

    Tigger
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Steve_B said:
    But when I look internally I do notice that I have turned out rather Buddhish.

    Buddhish - I like it :+1:

    Steve_BTiggerAjinjustushobbits
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    What do you think a Buddhist is @newlotus? Are you hesitant because you aren't sure, or are you hesitant because you aren't sure how the people asking will react? With similar things in the past, I have hesitated myself because to me saying so meant no going back.
    It's easy to get caught up in definitions. Whenever we take on something new, we wonder what it takes to GET there, or to BE that. But Buddhism isn't like that.

    I decided I was a Buddhist when I read the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path and knew that they were true and would work for me. It wasn't until later I was comfortable telling others I was Buddhist. I still don't go around telling everyone, just because it's a private part of my life, a kind of wonderful secret I only share with people I know who can benefit from discussing it rather than arguing about religions. But I also knew once I started talking about it with those close to me, that they'd have questions. I didn't want to answer poorly and give them the wrong impression of Buddhism so I kept it to myself for a little while. Eventually I learned Buddhism speaks for and stands on its own. It doesn't need my protection :awesome:

    Bunks
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I have noticed that people who like to label themselves can create a path to obviate thinking. If I would join the Green Martian movement and label myself, and immerse myself in the movement's literature, then whenever I need an opinion all I would have to do is look up the Green Martian position on the matter, and adopt that as my opinion; no actual thinking required on my part. I believe this happens commonly. Obversely, if I merely study their literature because I'm curious but don't buy the T shirt, I can learn, I can ponder, and I can think.

    I tend not to be one who needs to drink the Koolaid. No yard signs, no necklaces, no crosses or saffron robes. I prefer dialog to polemic. So if I don't burn incense in a little bronze Buddha in the conference room, is that a disservice to the cause? If conquest of territory or conquest of minds or converting my quota of new inductees is the goal, then maybe. But those are pretty far from my goals. It's not that I'm hesitant, it's not that I'm refraining. I can delve into Buddhism, or astronomy or gastronomy, without the pompoms and megaphone, and still find the fulfillment, equanimity, and reflection that I seek.

    karastilobsterTorperson
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    I try not to get caught up in identity or needing to have a certain identity.

    Bunks
  • 33_333_3 Veteran

    Because I Am =)

    Steve_B
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Yesterday, I went to get my smog certificate for my van and the guy asked me as I got out of my vehicle if I were a Christian, and I said why - he'd noticed the ankh I was wearing, and I said oh, this? He said yes, I said I thought it was an Egyptian thing and that it was given to me, and didn't know it meant the same as the Christian cross. I said yes, I am Christian but I do study Buddhism a lot and have gotten a lot out of it and it has helped me a lot. Not exactly a short answer, but is the truth for me.

    I'd like to say that I'm just simply a human...being. <3

    Steve_B
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 28

    @Shim said:
    Nothing makes me a Buddhist.

    Tee Hee.
    I am fickle. So I am between 10% and 90% label free. However on occasion, when circumstances demand I am:

    • Not-Buddhist (usually amongst 'Buddhists')
    • Satanist (Jehovah Witnesses never call any more - thank Odin)
    • Atheist (when amongst evangelicals)
    • Budddhist (for the moment)
    • Catholic by baptism
    • Muslim by conversion
    • Taoist by inclination

    Yep fickle! Maybe if I practice, get out of the naughty corner, I can aim for budding Buddhist ... O.o

    TorpersonAwakeningWisdomwojciech
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    There seem to be a lot of people who are circumspect with labels, lol.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @lobster That's so true. Among everyday people I'm sure I seem a lot like a Buddhist. Among the "true" Buddhists, I'm a secular, unbelieving, spiritual hedonist. Atheist where appropriate, a new age cook in other circles.

    For myself I feel like I'm Buddhish enough to qualify as a Buddhist.

    lobsterwojciech
  • eggsavioreggsavior Dagobah Veteran

    I agree with @federica. Calling myself Buddhist consistently reminds me of my practice and prorities, and aligns me with our worldwide sangha. I have taken refuge in the three jewels. I have dedicated myself to the dharma. Why not identify myself as such? I am not "a" buddhist. I'm just buddhist.

    lobsterfedericaTigger
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 28

    You make yourself a Buddhist with your intention to follow the eightfold path. Whether or not you wish to call yourself one is up to you.

    Tigger
  • Well said @eggsavior

    It seems people are making their own mind up. Bravo Daughters and Suns of Ye Olde Shakyamuni Buddha ...
    I think I might reach for my industrial Sangha strength mala and do a bout of mantra for the indecisive, new age, cooking and the well done ... o:)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited January 28

    @Steve_B said:
    I have noticed that people who like to label themselves can create a path to obviate thinking. If I would join the Green Martian movement and label myself, and immerse myself in the movement's literature, then whenever I need an opinion all I would have to do is look up the Green Martian position on the matter, and adopt that as my opinion; no actual thinking required on my part.

    Such behaviour and attitude is actively discouraged I believe. Hence the frequent reference to the Kalama Sutta...

    I believe this happens commonly.

    But not as commonly as you believe...

    Obversely, if I merely study their literature because I'm curious but don't buy the T shirt, I can learn, I can ponder, and I can think.

    Oh, an 'Armchair Buddhist'. All knowledge but no implementation.
    Yes, seen a few of those too.

    I can confidently state I fall into neither category, thanks.

    I tend not to be one who needs to drink the Koolaid. No yard signs, no necklaces, no crosses or saffron robes.

    I don't know anyone here who does that. Though plenty of people have Buddhas in their gardens and living rooms because they're decorative, trendy and 'lend an atmosphere'...

    I prefer dialog to polemic. So if I don't burn incense in a little bronze Buddha in the conference room, is that a disservice to the cause?

    No, why would it be? You don't have to be Buddhist to do those things, and it doesn't make you Buddhist to do those things. Slight 'smoke and mirrors' argument here, I'm thinking... :confused:

    If conquest of territory or conquest of minds or converting my quota of new inductees is the goal, then maybe. But those are pretty far from my goals. It's not that I'm hesitant, it's not that I'm refraining. I can delve into Buddhism, or astronomy or gastronomy, without the pompoms and megaphone, and still find the fulfillment, equanimity, and reflection that I seek.

    That really doesn't answer any question as to why you wouldn't call yourself Buddhist.

    If you're married, you're a husband, if you have children you're a father, if you're behind the wheel you're the driver, ... or do you shun those 'labels' too?

    But actively following a particular philosophy is still not an adequate reason to call yourself 'Buddhist'....? I see..... not......

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I have read that once we take refuge in the Triple Gem we are Buddhists.

    I am proud to call myself a Buddhist!

    lobsterdhammachickDhammaDragon
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What makes you Buddhist?

    Dharma practice makes one a Buddhist, or one can simply buy the T shirt...

    On special for just $84,000 ...free delivery :)

    lobsterSteve_B
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    I have read that once we take refuge in the Triple Gem we are Buddhists.

    I am proud to call myself a Buddhist!

    That's better...it's more Buddhish :wink:

    Bunks
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    Do Hindus, Muslims or Jews who practise their faiths with intelligence, dedication and interest - even for only 50% of the time - not call themselves Hindu, Jewish or Muslim?

    As a Jew I'm guilty of this. This is a very true point. Thanks for the reminder.

    I think any Christian, Hindu, Jew or Muslim who practises their faith in a good and dedicated way, would also admit to not being the perfect Christian, Hindu, Jew or Muslim.

    Isn't that why they call it a 'practice'....?

    Again, spot on. I remember reading the term JuBu in Awakening The Buddha Within as Lama Surya Das is also Jewish. I used to call myself a JuBu, but stopped when I decided to seriously commit to the Dharma. Still, it sums up my practise well.

    Thanks for reminding me @federica :heart:
    _ /\ _

    lobsterBunks
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    So while I read numerous text on buddhism, and practise the noble truths, meditate. Is this enough?

    Just continue practising diligently, and the need for labels will drop away along with the strong sense of a self that needs labelling :)

    In a sense it's just a way of life/living ones life :) Nothing special.... labels are optional

    lobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    Practicing compassion and mindfulness, observing the precepts, accepting the 4NT's and the 8fold Path, and practicing no-self as best I can, per my understanding of it.

    lobster
  • "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world." - Buddha

    dhammachicklobsterSteve_Bnewlotus
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited January 29

    (Which as you probably know, @IronRabbit , is not what the Buddha said at all....) ;)

  • ShimShim Veteran

    I love labels. Labels are my everything. But I still don't call myself a Buddhist.
    I left Buddhism but because it's the philosophy I'm the most familiar with, I still dabble in it every now and then (+ I kinda like this forum). So this question of a Buddhist identity and labeling myself as a Buddhist has been a huge thing for me because I do want to have a label. Not because it looks nice (which it sure does!) but also because it gives me a framework from which to practice whatever it is I choose to practice. With it comes also the responsibility, which imho is a good thing. If I'm going to call myself a Buddhist at least I have to try to act like one. (Both for the sake of itself and for the sake of PR.)

    I actually find this entire idea of labeling yourself as a Buddhist/Christian/Democrat/Nacho aficionado quite fascinating. It tells a lot about the person, doesn't it? Not necessarily the label itself but how and why the person has chosen to use it.
    But I do wonder if Christians really have this much conversations about their Christian identity...

    BunkslobstersilverSteve_B
  • newlotusnewlotus Australia Explorer

    Thanks guys!
    I think its a bit of my own clarity and for others. Im still trying to work out who I am. I like the Buddhish....and Trying to be Buddhist. I believe in it all and I'm trying to practice it always, so I guess that makes me Buddhish!
    Some people know this, but the majority dont. It feels to personal. There are only a few people that know really and I'm fine with that. Because people often don't understand Buddhism (not saying I do) and I don't want to be judged because of their ignorance.

    Steve_B
  • @Shim you might be a Bad Buddhist, part time Buddhist, partly Buddhist but [lobster engages name calling] but you are a Buddhist. So there! :p
    http://badbuddhistradio.com

    newlotusShim
  • newlotusnewlotus Australia Explorer

    @lobster you made that very simple! lol

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @newlotus you are not responsible for the judgemental ignorance of others, you can only hope - as Mindfully and Skilfully as you can - to Wisely correct their mistaken perceptions, as appropriate.

    I was once participating in an argument, online, in another forum, which got quite heated. At least, on their side (and ok, probably a bit on mine, too!). I made every effort to keep my composure (ha ha), but in any case, the person with whom I was arguing, eventually came out with the classic "I thought [you] Buddhists were supposed to be a calm peaceful lot, and not have angry outbursts?!"

    To which I responded, "Oh right - unlike you Christians who are happy to go on Crusades oppressing and conquering people, torturing them and bending them to your will...? That's right, isn't it? Telling me what Buddhists are 'supposed to be', is as ignorant and uninformed a concept as my "impression" of Christians, isn't it? I thought Christians had to spread the Love of Christ and love their enemy as themselves? So how's that working for you?"

    A bit of back-tracking on their part ensued....

    "You see" I continued, "I have the advantage over you. I spent 40 years as a Roman Catholic Church-goer, so I'm actually quite well-informed on many aspects of Christianity and Worship. However, you - and many like you - who practise Christianity to the wilful exclusion of any other premise, can only therefore speak about other callings from a base of zero knowledge and misinformation, and make assumptions based on scant and inaccurate snippets.
    If you'd like to expand your mind and learn more about Buddhism, we can continue this discussion via PM. The choice is yours. I'll await your message."

    Needless to say, the person fell silent, and the PM never came.... but I'm sure it gave them food for thought.

    Now that's a bit of an extreme example, but you get the gist. We can reside in the knowledge that what we practise, we practise with Right Effort.
    What others presume, is their issue to deal with, and they can either take an interest, or not.
    If they ask, inform, to the best of your knowledge and ability.
    If they don't ask, let it be.
    If they are derisory and disrespectful in their comments, it's often disarming to just smile, and say nothing....

    (Admittedly though, it's hard to convey that particular response on the internet.... :D )

    dhammachicknewlotus
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    @newlotus said:
    Thanks guys!
    I think its a bit of my own clarity and for others. Im still trying to work out who I am. I like the Buddhish....and Trying to be Buddhist. I believe in it all and I'm trying to practice it always, so I guess that makes me Buddhish!
    Some people know this, but the majority dont. It feels to personal. There are only a few people that know really and I'm fine with that. Because people often don't understand Buddhism (not saying I do) and I don't want to be judged because of their ignorance.

    It's a journey. Speed not needed. Go at the pace you like, and enjoy the scenery; there's plenty of time.

    Buddhish is good. Don't worry about making announcements, or labeling yourself, or whatever labels others might concoct. Externalities are superficial. The real magic is within. Enjoy the journey.

  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited January 30

    What makes you Buddhist?

    First of all, if you don't have the secret decoder ring (and I think @lobster might back me up on this), you'll find it very difficult to be Buddhistical......

    lobsternewlotusjustushobbits
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    My definition of "Buddhist" is anyone who does Buddhist practice. It's what you do
    that matters, not what you call yourself.

    ShimdhammachickShoshin
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited January 30

    @SpinyNorman then what do you do about people who pick up Buddhist meditations like vipassanā in non-Buddhist places like new age get-togethers or therapy centres? And happen to follow the basic Buddhist precepts which with the exception of not taking intoxicants are fairly standard ethics?

    It seems to me that it is a question of combining self-identification with following a few basic rules like the precepts.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    I would have to agree with everyone on here. What makes me a Buddhist?

    I take refuge in the Buddha
    I take refuge in the Dharma
    I take refuge in the Sangha

    I follow the Eightfold Path, the 4 Noble Truths and the Precepts (as best as I can and I try to follow them better everyday)

    Period!

    silverlobster
  • ^^ Secret decoder ring is in the post. Watch out for owls ...

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    It's funny how we change the way we look at some things or alter our thinking a bit when it comes to Buddhism. Back in the day when I was Catholic, I was Catholic. Nothing I did or didn't do, nothing I could say or not say, nothing someone else could say or not say could make me feel like I wasn't Catholic. I was Catholic because I was Catholic and that was the end of that. I just tried to be the best person that I could and moved on.

    Now that I am practicing Buddhism (and loving it!) there is this part of me that says "am I doing it right" or "am I doing enough". Why do this? just like before, I'm Buddhist because I'm Buddhist. I'm just trying to be the best person I can and I'm going to move on.

    dhammachickKeromejustushobbits
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think it's a natural consequence of the fact that Buddhism presents you with a path to progress through, @Tigger. The idea of a path to follow, steps to take, immediately raises the question of "am I doing it right". It's one reason why having a sangha and a teacher is so important, they can provide a steadying influence for us.

    It's a difficulty for those of us not lucky enough to live near a large community of Buddhists. There are some Buddhist monks near here, but they are not the kind to provide one-to-one guidance on important questions, or at least I have found it so. Perhaps I will look for a long distance teacher.

    Tigger
  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I think it's a natural consequence of the fact that Buddhism presents you with a path to progress through, @Tigger. The idea of a path to follow, steps to take, immediately raises the question of "am I doing it right".

    Very good point @Kerome. Also, this is also a path that I chose which is why the question "am I doing it right" or "am I doing what I'm supposed to do" flourishes. Buddhism is important to me which is why the questions may come up. Being Catholic is something that I was told that I was so it had less importance to me.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    @SpinyNorman then what do you do about people who pick up Buddhist meditations like vipassanā in non-Buddhist places like new age get-togethers or therapy centres? And happen to follow the basic Buddhist precepts which with the exception of not taking intoxicants are fairly standard ethics?

    It seems to me that it is a question of combining self-identification with following a few basic rules like the precepts.

    I think it's probably about where your main focus is, and that is partly to do with self-identification, how you see yourself. So for some people Buddhist practice will be their main focus, others will incorporate a Buddhist practice into their system or approach.

  • newlotusnewlotus Australia Explorer

    I'm finding myself practicing it more and more during the day. Its really helping me at work as I deal with people being in HR. Sometimes like today when I wanted to hit my head against a wall saying 'WHY!!! HOW??? Are people so damn stupid and annoying!' Instead, I noticed this and realized I might need a break and some quiet time. Rather than getting frustrated at people who have their own struggles and pains.

    Even when today I was in a whole world or pain that came and went like tidal waves. I could take comfort in Buddha and I asked for help and comfort. Then I was able to help others. Thanks to the teachings I can see their actions are due to their own suffering and pain and nothing to do with me.

    Sorry off topic!

    Tigger
  • AwakeningWisdomAwakeningWisdom North Carolina New

    When my friends find out I converted to Buddhism, the comment usually goes:
    "I didn't know you were a Buddhist!?!"
    and my reply
    "Neither did I until last year."

    Having been raised a Christian, while at heart being a Pantheist/Universalist, Buddhism is a welcome home to me. The Dharma is true and it is the knowledge that frees us.

    Many people in the USA refer to their family background as: part Irish, part French, part Cherokee, part African, etc. that make up their complex ancestry.
    Why not do the same with our Spiritual Heritage? Our spiritual ancestry is diverse and complex, we should revel in it. Thank goodness I had two Christian grandparents that Loved me when no-one else would! And thank you Thay for your teaching that gives me a sangha that nourishes me today.

    What makes me a Buddhist?

    • Commitment to following the 5 Mindfulness Trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh,
    • Being present in my Sangha
    • Identifying as Buddhist

    Perhaps more than anything, being Alive and Awake on the path :)

    TiggerlobsterShoshin
  • wojciechwojciech the desert Explorer

    I drink my tea and I see Buddha aha! In you.

    And you!

  • justushobbitsjustushobbits Virginia New

    Yes I am a Buddhist. So there... thuuupp :p

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