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I have so many questions - Buddhism for beginners

So lets just get straight to the point-
I want to become a buddhist (i think its good to have a type of purpose in your life which could eventually make me become a healthier person) ... is there any formal type of ritual i need to participate in in order to be classed as a buddhist?
I understand Buddhists believe in reincarnation... although I am a strong believer in ghosts and spirits.. is this sort of contradicting one of my other beliefs???
I'm under 18 and so its diifcult for me to get to places... is it vital i attend a buddhist temple?
and what about organ donors- do Buddhists support this?
I seriously need someone to talk to about these questions

Comments

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    A forum like this isn't really a very good place for a beginner to get started because you're likely to get many responses from many perspectives, and that will only lead to confusion. Better to find a center nearby and start there. Better to get some consistent background from a single source before moving to other things.
    JeffreyInvincible_summerEvenThirdanataman
  • i've been researching into Buddhism in books and online for the past 3 months. I know my general stuff. I just have extra questions that you just can't get from a book. Last time i looked there wasn't any practicing Buddhists around the area i live in and it would of been nice to speak to someone who may have been able to answer some more alternative questions.
  • Chaz said:

    A forum like this isn't really a very good place for a beginner to get started because you're likely to get many responses from many perspectives, and that will only lead to confusion. Better to find a center nearby and start there. Better to get some consistent background from a single source before moving to other things.

    -------------------------

    i've been researching into Buddhism in books and online for the past 3 months. I know my general stuff. I just have extra questions that you just can't get from a book. Last time i looked there wasn't any practicing Buddhists around the area i live in and it would of been nice to speak to someone who may have been able to answer some more alternative questions.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Where do you live?

    And there will be plenty of people to talk to here, believe me.

    And Buddhism isn't about what you know, think or believe.
    how
  • Chaz said:

    Where do you live?

    And there will be plenty of people to talk to here, believe me.

    And Buddhism isn't about what you know, think or believe.


    About an hour away from London in the UK.
    The past year in my life wasn't exactly the best and I feel like Buddhism could really help me, i want to do it properly thats all

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited March 2014
    HI...Welcome. :)
    Anything in particular?
    You could just hang out here and questions/answers/
    topics usually come up every couple of days...No pressure
    to participate. If things sound juicy and you want to know
    more....you can bump up the info in books to what you
    hear here. And....part of learning how things work is just
    letting it unfold. :)
    JeffreyBunks
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Welcome, @buddhagrace!

    I actually think this is a good place to start for a beginner. It's not that it's the be-all and end-all, but you'll get ways of looking at things from various points of view (sects, if you will). On the other hand, if you go to a local center, you'll get the point of view of that center. Later, once you get some varying POVs here, you can study more in-depth at a center of your choosing, or more through books.

    Ask away, but just remember that what you get here are POVs.
    buddhagrace
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    The particulars of your questions kind of depend on whether you intend to specifically follow one tradition or not. Some do, some don't. Each person's experience is their own and so you will hear what works for them but it might not work for you, and both are ok. If you have any chance to find a group or teacher, *in my opinion* this is extremely helpful, because questions will come up and you will find confidence in having other people or a teacher with a lot of training to ask them of, rather than only online groups (because of the troubles mentioned earlier that you will receive many conflicting answers to the same questions depending on the pratice of each person).

    Really, to be a Buddhist, you only need the desire to practice the foundation of Buddhism. Many people, but not all, choose to do a refuge ceremony, either with a teacher or just on their own. You can research it online and find what speaks to you, look up Buddhist refuge vow ceremony or triple jewel refuge.

    don't worry much right now about how to reconcile your beliefs of afterlife and what "most Buddhists believe" because you will find even rebirth means different things to different Buddhists.
    buddhagrace
  • yagryagr Veteran
    I hesitated before posting in this thread because I do not want to confuse the issue by adding one more opinion to the mix. That said, I found genkaku's post an exceptional beginning and would point you back to it.

    I found Buddhism when I was under eighteen as well and have found it to be one of the few choices I would repeat from that era.
    Bunksbuddhagrace
  • Here is some info
    http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/sumaries/q-a/thought-is.htm

    Hungry ghosts and spirits are believed in by many Buddhists
    Organ transplants relieve suffering so most would support them
    Temple/monastry/dharma centre would be helpful but not immediately necessary.
    OK you iz now Buddhist. You can do a formal ritual whenever you are ready . . . if ever . . .
    EvenThird
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    Hello, fellow Brit!
    To try to answer your questions, as simply as possible:

    So lets just get straight to the point-
    I want to become a buddhist (i think its good to have a type of purpose in your life which could eventually make me become a healthier person) ... is there any formal type of ritual i need to participate in in order to be classed as a buddhist?

    There is a 'ceremony' called 'Taking Refuge', and depending on which Tradition you may choose to follow, you can either perform it in private, in your own way, in the comfort of your own home, or in a temple, with your Lama/Guru/Teacher performing the ceremony....
    personally, I opted for the former..
    I understand Buddhists believe in reincarnation...
    'Reincarnation' is a bit of a sticky word.
    SOME Buddhists believe in reincarnation; Tibetan buddhists consider it to be something only the most elevated and 'Enlightened' lamas can do; because reincarnation literally means 'being flesh again'.
    Most Buddhists who choose to do so, believe in RE-BIRTH - which is an entirely different matter. And one only each individual buddhist can, and should, consider, for themselves....
    although I am a strong believer in ghosts and spirits.. is this sort of contradicting one of my other beliefs???
    Not necessarily....
    I'm under 18 and so its diifcult for me to get to places... is it vital i attend a buddhist temple?
    I don't. But it's important that nevertheless, you Practise.....
    and what about organ donors- do Buddhists support this?
    I personally have come across no reason why we shouldn't....
    I seriously need someone to talk to about these questions
    Well, we're here for you - but bear in mind, you'll receive a good diversity of answers. We won't be right - but we won't be wrong, either....

    lobsterEvenThird
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    What's stopping you from hopping kn a train andgoing to London. I travel nearly an hour to my sangha. Not that big of a deal. There are plenty of Buddhist centers in London and you can find someone who can guide you. As you can see, forums like this get pretty noisy.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    She's under-age, and may not be able to afford the trip.
    it's a big step for one so young, to take, alone.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    federica said:

    She's under-age, and may not be able to afford the trip.
    it's a big step for one so young, to take, alone.

    Under 18 for sure. Is there a minimum age for solo travel in England.

    I was assuming the closest center would be in London, which may not be the case. You can also pick up the phone and call a center. I spent about 4 hours on the phone with the director of my sangha before I ever went up there.

    The thing is, one person, and the advice they give is likely to be a lot easier to digest that a dozen hitting you all at once from as many different pov's. A forum like this is more likely going to be a detriment in that situation.

    We often forget that we have a lot more experience and are better equipped to filter out the noise than a beginner.
    buddhagrace
  • genkaku said:

    At the risk of being off-topic and self-serving, here is a small cheat-sheet I wrote for a teenager who came here for a visit... snooping Zen Buddhism. Her Christian church wanted her to learn about 'tolerance.' I never did learn if she could tolerate me.

    BUDDHISM

    The truth of Buddhism does not come from a book. It does not come from a temple. It does not come from someone else. It is not written on a piece of paper. The truth of Buddhism comes from the individual effort to investigate, verify and actualize a clear understanding of this life.

    Shakyamuni Buddha, the man most often referred to as the founder of Buddhism, was born on the border of India and Nepal in about 565 BC. He attained what is sometimes called enlightenment at 35 and preached until his death at 80. Many schools of Buddhism sprang from his teachings … in India, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan among others. Uncertain estimates put Buddhist numbers at about 350 million worldwide.

    All Buddhist schools agree on at least two things:

    1. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS: These are observations about the world around us.

    The Four Noble Truths are:

    *** 1. There is suffering (dukkha – the uncertainties, dissatisfactions and doubts that life can dish up); 2. There is a cause of suffering; 3. There is an end to suffering; 4. There is a way to end suffering.

    2. THE EIGHTFOLD PATH: These are the tools suggested as most useful when seeking out a truly peaceful life in a changing world.

    The Eightfold Path is:

    *** 1. Right View 2. Right Intention 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration.

    The word "right" is sometimes translated as "complete." A “complete” effort is thorough-going and whole-hearted. Nothing is held back. Buddhism is not a threat-based persuasion: You won’t go to heaven (right) if you practice it and you won’t go to hell (wrong) if you don’t. But honesty is required -- complete honesty.

    The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path carry with them the verifiable observation that everything in life changes. There is nothing that does not change. Joy turns to sorrow, love turns to anger, birth turns to death, and the family car always gets a flat. All Buddhist schools agree on such things, but how they approach them may vary.

    But as the Dalai Lama put it once, "Everyone wants to be happy." And that is probably as good a summary of Buddhism as any.

    My counter point is related to the four noble truths and eightfold path. Buddha gave a sermon on those topics as his first sermon to the asetics who he had abandoned to become enlightened. These ascetics had been practicing for years and so they were more equipped to understand Buddha's sermon. My teacher says that the four noble truths and the eightfold path are only entered when one has the noble view. In the mean time they are 'the four logical ideas' and 'the eight ways to improve'. There's nothing wrong with practicing them but it doesn't really start on the Buddhist meaning until later. According to the five paths in the Mahayana teaching the first path is to have an intellectual understanding of non-self of skhandas and also morality.

    This is just my sect of Buddhism. Gengkaku is absolutely right int there being different sects.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    Well, I guess the choice is hers.... I suggest we let her make her mind up about what she wants to do........
    buddhagraceDharmaMcBum
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    @buddhagrace

    Regarding being "classed as a Buddhist," like @federica said, there's a taking refuge ceremony that some people like to do "officially" (i.e. at a temple), but it's your intention that really counts. There's no Buddhist membership badge that you earn from doing it. It's all up to your faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.

    Some people don't like using the word "faith" since it brings other religions to mind that they have a problem with. But I think that's what it really is - you're deeply trusting in the "rightness" of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha to bring you happiness.

    I understand it's normal to want to "do it right" when you're new to something. Some unsolicited advice: take a deep breath, slow down, and focus on the 4NT, 8FP, and some meditation. That's what will help turn your life around. Worrying about whether or not Buddhists will ban you from the club if you are an organ donor probably won't. :p
    buddhagrace
  • i'll probably look into travelling to london to find some answers. i have a lot of questions and talking to someone in person could probably help. thank you everyone.
    BunksInvincible_summer
  • If travelling to London these guys are a good info clearing house . . .
    http://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/about-us/general/
    Chaz
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    lobster said:

    If travelling to London these guys are a good info clearing house . . .
    http://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/about-us/general/

    Excellent advice.

    They also have correspondence courses which can be an excellent learning tool for the distance challeneged. I took 3 or 4 online courses from Nalandabodhi and found it to be an excellent alternative to travel when I couldn't afford to go up to Boulder once a week.

    It also appears they can offer guidance about the various traditions which can help a beginner moving forward.
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited March 2014
    @buddhagrace - Not sure where you are near London, but Amaravati Monastery is quite highly regarded, though the activities seem fairly limited (based on the website) to occasional talks and retreats. You might be able to arrange to talk with a monk or nun though.
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    There are 2 basic types of Buddhism: Theravadan Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism (of which both Zen and Tibetan belong to). Mahayana Buddhism insists that you have a qualified teacher (almost always a monk/nun in that tradition) .. someone thoroughly trained in their discipline, practicing it for some decades, and assigned BY their own teacher to teach. There are valid reasons for this that I will not go into here.

    Therefore, it you want to practice Buddhism on your own, without a teacher, you need to be practicing Theravadan. I recommend you buy "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Gunaratana. You can buy it on amazon.com. It will clarify what Buddhism is and isn't, as well as give you both instruction and trouble-shooting for your daily meditation practice.

    You say you have read, but stop reading the sources you are using. Either you are coming up with wrong information, or you are trying too hard to understand with your mind (you cannot force understanding through intellect in Buddhism ... the truths of Buddhism are experiential, not intellectual).
    - Reincarnation is Hinduism, not Buddhism (except for Tibetans who do use the term, but it means something different and only applies to those who has mastered Buddhism).
    - You are not supposed to blindly believe, in Buddhism. Understand that belief is an attempt to find a sense of security through thinking you Know. See belief for the coping mechanism that it is, and that belief is NOT the same thing as first-hand knowledge.
    - No one is "classed as a Buddhist", and it's not supposed to be some sort of ego-label we use to make our self-identification stronger. Buddhism, like playing the piano, is something you either do or you don't do. And the more you do it, the more skill you develop.

    Buddhism is a self-discipline, a training of the mind, that takes you into yourself and brings insight and wisdom that slowly changes you profoundly. So start meditating, 10 minutes in the morning at first, and as you are able and gradually extend it to an hour every morning before you start your day. Buddhism is something you do, an experiment into yourself. But if you believe, then you have defined what you will and won't find, and you will only find whatever fits into your "belief". You cannot discover if you believe ahead of time.

    So just start meditating, reading a bit on the side, and just see what you see. And look for a live teacher, a qualified teacher.
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    If you live north of the river and.can commute once a week to the beginning meditation courses at Rigpa on Caledonian road you would be n good. Company. They don't try to indoctrinate you and there is a nice shrine room.

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    If you are really intested say a atman brought you there and an atman will pick up the cost. I've been meaning to make a donation to them - I'll pay the first month of lessons for you!
    Bunks
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Simply, on the path. Veteran
    Just FYI, you may also take your Refuge Vows online. There is a site run by one of our members, a monk named Bhikkhu Samãhita, here: http://what-buddha-said.net

    Refuge Vows here: http://what-buddha-said.net/sangha/Sangha_Entry.htm
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    ...Mahayana Buddhism insists that you have a qualified teacher (almost always a monk/nun in that tradition) .. someone thoroughly trained in their discipline, practicing it for some decades, and assigned BY their own teacher to teach. There are valid reasons for this that I will not go into here.

    Therefore, it you want to practice Buddhism on your own, without a teacher, you need to be practicing Theravadan. ...

    Really? One has no freedom of the mind to think and practice?

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    There are 2 basic types of Buddhism: Theravadan Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism (of which both Zen and Tibetan belong to). Mahayana Buddhism insists that you have a qualified teacher (almost always a monk/nun in that tradition) .. someone thoroughly trained in their discipline, practicing it for some decades, and assigned BY their own teacher to teach. There are valid reasons for this that I will not go into here.

    Therefore, it you want to practice Buddhism on your own, without a teacher, you need to be practicing Theravadan. I recommend you buy "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Gunaratana. You can buy it on amazon.com. It will clarify what Buddhism is and isn't, as well as give you both instruction and trouble-shooting for your daily meditation practice.

    You say you have read, but stop reading the sources you are using. Either you are coming up with wrong information, or you are trying too hard to understand with your mind (you cannot force understanding through intellect in Buddhism ... the truths of Buddhism are experiential, not intellectual).
    - Reincarnation is Hinduism, not Buddhism (except for Tibetans who do use the term, but it means something different and only applies to those who has mastered Buddhism).
    - You are not supposed to blindly believe, in Buddhism. Understand that belief is an attempt to find a sense of security through thinking you Know. See belief for the coping mechanism that it is, and that belief is NOT the same thing as first-hand knowledge.
    - No one is "classed as a Buddhist", and it's not supposed to be some sort of ego-label we use to make our self-identification stronger. Buddhism, like playing the piano, is something you either do or you don't do. And the more you do it, the more skill you develop.

    Buddhism is a self-discipline, a training of the mind, that takes you into yourself and brings insight and wisdom that slowly changes you profoundly. So start meditating, 10 minutes in the morning at first, and as you are able and gradually extend it to an hour every morning before you start your day. Buddhism is something you do, an experiment into yourself. But if you believe, then you have defined what you will and won't find, and you will only find whatever fits into your "belief". You cannot discover if you believe ahead of time.

    So just start meditating, reading a bit on the side, and just see what you see. And look for a live teacher, a qualified teacher.




    Oh hell I've been drawn in to the black hole of the thread, but will enjoy and not regret it :LOL:

    FYI: Mahayana buddhism 'DOES NOT INSIST you have a QUALIFIED TEACHER': if any buddhist insists you 'need' a 'teacher' then they are lacking something (lol), buddha taught that we are responsible for our own liberation! A good teacher can expedite us along the right path, but can't be responsible for taking the bite of the apple that leads to expulsion from the garden of eden - just making that up for poetic effect, but hopefully it gets the point across - knowledge can be powerful, but is not energy equivalent. The historical buddha was human and did not conceal what he taught, and gives us all hope.

    I have grown up in the "ENGLISH TRADITION" where 'THE LEARNED' are "REGARDED as ACKNOWLEDGED"; but the outcome for me is that's a load of BULLSHIT (but that's just my opinion, what is your conclusion? To be a professor is to claim openly, but what is proclaimed may well be false, either to the proclaimer and/or the proclaimed.

    If you claim to be a buddhist then these words will resonate: the buddha apparently said something along the lines of "believe nothing no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if i have said it unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense". That leaves you to investigate your self for the answer, cool or what?

    Either Theravadan or mahayanan buddhism will ring true to you, don't feel obliged to be conditioned by one persons thoughts (yes I am referring to your perspective and advice @FoibleFull). I refer to my previous statement(s).

    Reincarnation is a fact not necessarily of hinduism (or you have no understanding of moment to moment conditionality and the phenomenal appearance); but as a normal human being you can only talk about your current incarnation which is an interdependently co-arising momentary re-incarnation regarded in the field of awareness. To discuss life to life re-incarnation requires a different perspective that no one here will agree on, as they can't convey it yet alone express knowledge of it. I have no recollectable memory or experience so will fall silent on that one.

    Belief is - belief: i.e. an acceptance in the believer that something is true or real. Question what is true or real...

    I agree no one is 'classed as buddhist', but it is a referential point from which we cain gain perspective and insight.

    Yes buddhism is 'Self-Discipline' and as you have described, or is it?

    Meditation is not something you can just do, OR IS IT?

    There are no right or wrong answers except for this one: this is the 'MIDDLE WAY"

    'what is the only question that cannot be answered with a positive affirmation in the light of truth?'


    Scroll down for spoiler






































































    Spoiler: Are you Dead?





  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    ...Mahayana Buddhism insists that you have a qualified teacher (almost always a monk/nun in that tradition) .. someone thoroughly trained in their discipline, practicing it for some decades, and assigned BY their own teacher to teach. There are valid reasons for this that I will not go into here.

    Therefore, it you want to practice Buddhism on your own, without a teacher, you need to be practicing Theravadan. ...

    Really? One has no freedom of the mind to think and practice?

    Really.

    To be a Mahayanist you must surrender everything including all of your money and your firstborn. You must become a mindless automaton, incapable of any independant thought or volition. You must stand by while your child is forcibly placed in a monastery near Buttrham, Nepal and all your money is used to buy your Guru a big house in Crestone to house his girlfriends .

    Forget about practice.

    Or you can join a web forum and ponder questions like that.
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    I am sure @buddhagrace is intelligent enough to see idle intellectualism for what it is!
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    Yeah...I think a lot of people forget what it was like to be brand new, and how overwhelming all the information can be. I've been practicing consistently for 3 years and only now can I say I have somewhat of a decent understanding between Zen/Mahayana/Vajrayana/Theravedan. Nevermind all the differences between all the lineages and everything else.

    Are we helping her be less confused, or making it worse?
  • I want to become a buddhist
    Hope you have not been put off by the serious and long term practitioners? The reason why the sangha is one of the three jewels is because they have higher tendencies towards being a good example.

    We are all on a long journey of longing and leaving longing.
    LIVE LONG AND PROSPER (Vulcan Dharma) :clap:
    anataman
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    Hence @karasti, my offer to enable for her to go somewhere experienced in physically welcoming newcomers to the path and where she will not be bombarded by the diverse and varied views of an online forum; rather she will be in the receipt of help and guidance among like-minded individuals - like I mean people who want to learn to meditate. Not people who think they have learned.
    Bunks
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    Ok, back to the serious point I wish to make: Rigpa is the knowledge that is attained once one recognises ones true nature.

    Meditation may not be necessary to be a buddhist, but it is really a very useful tool, and how the historical buddha achieved enlightenment, and to whom we are all grateful.

    Beginners courses tend to focus on the intention and motivation that leads one to meditate and importantly the meditators posture or attitude, aiming to achieve poise and self-respect.

    Serious beginners are generally introduced to the basic concepts of the 4 noble truths, the 3 marks of existence, and the 8-fold path... However, the aspect that is mindfulness is reiterated, again and again, for a reason. Single-pointed focus and attention are necessary and that is the practice of meditation. So most people start with the breath. In ... Out.. 1... 2 ...3 'sdfbhskjdfghsdfbsdf sm,nfbsKLDFBASDF'

    What was that about, WHAT WAS I DOING before that nonsense presented itself?

    Focus: in ... out

    Mettha

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    anataman said:

    <
    Spoiler: Are you Dead?

    How do I tell? :p
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    karasti said:

    Are we helping her be less confused, or making it worse?

    Worse.

    We dont agree on anything. Key terms such as dharma and dhamma, karma and khama. Interpretation. Conduct. Respect or need for teachers. Hell, we can't even agree on the definition of "Buddhist".

    Some beginner comes to a forum like this, chances are that they'll run screaming into the night.
    robotlobsterDharmaMcBumBonsaiDoug
  • If you happen to stay with the practice after some years, I would like to congratulate you beforehand. Buddhism and meditation practice will help you see clearly, thats when the real struggle begins. Many things will happen because of this before, during, and after. If you still continue to practicte, you have my utmost admiration and respect.

    metta
    anatamanlobster
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    This thread has become a bit convoluted so if the OP would like it re-opened or would like to comment on information received so far, just alert moderators. Thank you.
    lobster
This discussion has been closed.