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Having studied a little of Mahayana Buddhism, I was wondering why are there so many schools of Buddhism and also as I’m not one for complex stuff what is the simple way to learn more about Buddhism ie what’s the most basic and simplistic Buddhism to learn.
Thank you all. 😎
Hey @Jpswan2020 - welcome!
One of the main reasons there are so many schools of Buddhism is due to the fact that as it spread through Asia it became mixed with local religions / philosophies already embedded there.
For example, Tibetan Buddhism is a mix of Mahayana Buddhism and material from an ancient Tibetan religion called Bon.
As for your second question, check out the Four Noble Truths. To me these contain the entirety of what the Buddha taught over 45 years.
There might be as many schools of Buddhism as there are Buddhists.
I started by studying the Buddha's 4 noble truths and the 8 fold path as it applied to me but it turned out that no matter what other Buddhist writings I devoured over the next 47 years they all pretty much looked like coroberations of what I started with.
The most basic and simplest Buddhism for me to learn was the practice of Meditation but
it also turned out to be the hardest thing to do well.
Hi I'm not sure why there are so many schools. Traditionally Tibetan starts with reflecting on suffering is in samsara, life and death is uncertain and don't know when death is coming, the rare precious life, and the power of our actions.
Also I might try to find a basic meditation instruction and see what you think.
You might be suited to walking meditation or prostrations.
Wise words @lobster - walking meditation is an excellent practice
Hmm...I guess that's the $84,000 question...
I would suggest reading 'copies' of the Four Noble Truths & EightFold Path from the different schools, traditions and sects, ...find out which particular copy resonates with you the most and go from there...
I’ve read a fair bit of material from different schools, and I’m not sure it matters what Buddhist school you start off in. The core of the teaching tends to remain the same. And for westerners it’s often the case that you go to whatever form of Buddhism is near you, there is not always a lot of choice and joining a sangha tends to be better than going it alone.
But if for whatever reason you can’t make it to a Buddhist center then I’d start with reading a general overview like Buddhism for Dummies, which tells you a bit about the different major schools and gives you some of the flavour, so that you can choose something that resonates with you, and then read a few books in that tradition.
In Buddhism in the west there is almost always a balance between reading and practice, where the practice is a form of meditation. And there are forums like this, which are almost a kind of virtual sangha where you can ask questions.
Does it come in a comic format, like the ox herding pics @Kerome?
Thanks everyone for their responses it’s greatly appreciated. I’ve read a few books in the past that
thich nhat hanh Has written and feel his books are easy to follow and not too complicated. I’m getting the vibe from the forum that people are open minded to all things Buddhist related.
I used to squirm (don’t anymore as I just let be😆)when people told others not to follow this or that school of Buddhism just because they follow a different one think the lesson here is follow whatever you feel but try and stick to the four noble truths and the eightfold path.
Thanks again 🙂
That’s certainly true, there are quite a few fans of Thich Nhat Hanh’s brand of Buddhism here on the forum, and you are right when you say that it is not too complicated. He puts the emphasis on the practice, mindfulness of breathing, and further teaching generally happens during retreats. If that appeals to you then that is not a bad place to be.
You say that friend @lobster, but I think there is a Japanese manga in eight volumes...
As others have said, Buddhism can be as simple - or as complex - as you make it. The basic tenets of Buddhism are indeed, the 4 Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path. These can take minutes to learn, but a lifetime to absorb...
The foundation of Buddhism is what the Buddha declared; "I come to teach 'suffering' and the end of 'suffering'.
Now, 'suffering' is a contentious term. People in the West see that as a very depressing, negative term, and feel that Buddhism focuses on the downside of life. In fact, given that it is translated from ancient Pali texts, although the original term 'Dukkha' does mean 'suffering' it's not the kind of doom and gloom despondent term we take it to mean.
The etymological root of the word Dukkha, also means an axle that is warped or twisted. So life is an up and down, bumpy and unpredictable ride. Sometimes, it's ok. At others, it's a bit bone-juddering...
I'm ploughing my way through a brilliant book, recommended to me by a member, here (I have rather banged its drum before): "Being Nobody Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path" by Ayya Khema.
If you want 'simple, straightforward and no-nonsense, this is the book for you. But be warned: Simple, doesn't mean 'easy'....
I think your ultimate school chooses you, often based on your personalityand temperament. Yes, many Westerners tend to lean toward what is near them, but ultimately, true seekers look until they find whatever it is they're looking for.
My personal story is that after some mental hardship I discovered meditation. From there I sought out Buddhism not knowing that they didn't invent meditation. My first exposure was to Won Buddhism, perhaps one of the most obscure schools out there. Next I went to a Tibetan temple, which to be honest kind of weirded me out a bit. Then I tried Zen. In the end I came across two quizzes online (easy enough to find). They both pointed me toward not only Theravada, but to the Thai Forest tradition specifically. That is the path I have remained on.
Much of the back and forth rivalry in Buddhist ranks is more akin to 'how to apply paint; brush? Sponge? Roller? Sprayer?', or which type of paint to use than it is a question of 'should we paint or knock the walls out?
In the interim, poke around on YouTube, you never know what you'll run into.
Absolutely, people keep looking until they find something that fits. Personally I started with Thich Nhat Hanh from books and videos, then I discovered a Tibetan temple near here and I joined them and did some courses there, then I started to look more in depth towards the Buddha and I discovered the Thai Forest tradition and I’ve kind of stayed with them.
But my spiritual background is somewhat eclectic (I blame my hippy parents) and while I see Buddhism as an important source of wisdom, I do still mix in teachings from various sources, which I consider a healthy part of being an individual.
For a beginning Buddhist, there is a lot of orientation that you can do. If you want to stick with something simple, the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh on YouTube are excellent, there are several whole retreats and many dhamma talks.
If you want to go broader afield there are podcasts like Buddhist Geeks, and just from reading a bit of the history of this forum you will come across many and varied Buddhist topics.
I only recently learned this, and when I did I felt relief. For me this clarified Dukkha better than any of the English translations of the word, and it re-centered my approach to Buddhism.
As you venture along the path you'll find, Buddhism is very straight forward/simple...
It's just the clinging self that finds ways to make it more complex/difficult..Ie, makes a mountain out of a molehill so to speak...
I likes simple ...
I always kind of liked "annoyance"
If one thinks about it....
Dukkha is the thread that runs through all threads...
oh books ... and comics
... meanwhile beginners quick guide ...
I have always found "Unsatisfactory" quite on point myself.
From memory, I believe all true spiritual traditions are broken down into three areas:
So for me it means trying not to harm others, meditation, and being kind.
For me, it's one of those simple - but not easy - things.
Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by loving-kindness, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.’ Thus should you train yourselves.