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Some notes on Buddhist resources

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited October 16 in Buddhism Basics

It seems to me there are a few different categories of resource when you are studying Buddhism in the west. First is the internet, then there are books, then there are courses and retreats, and last there is finding a living teacher. Only in the last case do you have access to the guidance of another human being, the rest of the time you have to guide yourself.

So the most valuable skill, it seems to me, is learning how to guide yourself in making use of Buddhist resources. My experience over the last five years has been that some resources have been more useful than others, and I have added some brief notes on what made them good.

Internet resources - -

Wikipedia: Wikipedia has some useful articles for orienting yourself on specific things and also general things, although I have to say that as a first point of contact it is not that great, because of the extremely condensed form of some teachings.

Access to Insight: AtI has excellent resources for looking up sutra’s, and also some good articles and introductions. It’s recommended for a quick visit at least, although one should keep in mind the Theravadin slant on things.

YouTube: often surprisingly good as a place to get dhamma talks. If you have a specific teacher you are researching often you will find at least some material here, and quite frequently an entire retreat series. Some Buddhist broadcasters archive material on YouTube, and you can find some good documentaries here if you are lucky enough to understand the language.

Forums: a good way to exchange thoughts with other like-minded buddhists, and it can be a Sangha of sorts. Great sources of more diverse information and viewpoints.

Book repositories: these can yield some really good finds, in terms of books that are out of print or wouldn’t be profitable to print. For example sacred-texts.com, or often the monasteries have archives on their websites. Often you can search for a book title or author as a pdf, and sometimes you will find something. Sometimes you find a gem like Ajahn Chah’s complete dhamma talks as a pdf in English.

Podcasts: a sometimes-useful way to keep in touch with the world. I’ve noted there are some good Buddhist podcasts but I’ve only dabbled in listening to them.

Twitter: I once did a session of adding Buddhist commentators to my list, like the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere. It didn’t have much impact, they seem only to tweet rarely.

Real-life resources - -

Books: due to limited resources I don’t buy many Buddhist books, but Buddhism for Dummies was useful, as was The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh. There are many good Buddhist authors out there, and many internet articles to guide you to them.

Courses: I have found in-person courses on Buddhist teachings to be useful. I went to an introductory course at a local Tibetan temple, which was a very good way of learning some of the concepts, and later to an evening course on basic instruction. They tend to be more structured than what you get out of a book.

Retreats: I haven’t yet been on one, for several reasons. But many people find them useful.

Festivals: places like new age festivals can be useful to make new contacts in Buddhism.

Libraries: very useful for getting a good all around view of Buddhist books. They tend to have what has been popular over the last few decades, so it tends to be mainstream and affordable in terms of fees.

Centres and Temples: very good places to connect with other buddhists, monastics and teachers. Often they have a lending library.

BunksShoshin1lobster

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Thanks @Kerome - given I can't visit my local monastery, I rely on Facebook and YouTube for all my Dhamma / Dharma requirements.

    NB is more of a social outlet for me too these days :)

    Shoshin1
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Since I have been reflecting on my time with Buddhism of late, I thought I would put the past to use and try and make some sense out of my five-years ago newbie experience. It’s always going to be a process of working out what stream of dhamma you want to partake in, but it helps to know where to find things, and even experienced buddhists miss something once in a while.

    I missed Facebook, but I can’t really comment on how good it is for Buddhism because I don’t use it personally.

  • Unreliable Resources for Beginners

    • Myself. I would not know a cult from genuine insight or wisdom ... just like most people. Definitely need help.
    • New Age Dharma. Platitudes and pseudo-depth. About as much use as fortune cookies
    • The blind, unwoke, vested exchange groups and random unfocussed sauces, sources and social media.

    Experienced Resources

    • Cushions
    • Tried and tested/tasted

    Advanced resources

    • Fortune cookies
    • Beginners, children and nature
    • EVERYTHING

    Unresources
    [oh ... it's empty]

    What did I miss?

    marcitkoShoshin1Kerome
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Since I have been reflecting on my time with Buddhism of late, I thought I would put the past to use and try and make some sense out of my five-years ago newbie experience. It’s always going to be a process of working out what stream of dhamma you want to partake in, but it helps to know where to find things, and even experienced buddhists miss something once in a while.

    I missed Facebook, but I can’t really comment on how good it is for Buddhism because I don’t use it personally.

    I've found a few good groups of folk on Facebook that I can connect with.

    I actually use a fake name (fakebook?) so that my "real life" friends and family can't find me :)

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    I've found a few good groups of folk on Facebook that I can connect with.

    I actually use a fake name (fakebook?) so that my "real life" friends and family can't find me :)

    Interesting... it’s the whole thing of being continually involved with the people in your bubble that I don’t like, and the fact that a lot of your information is out there for other people to look at. I prefer being reachable, with a minimal profile but as little personal information as possible.

    One other thing I’d note, the best ways I’ve found of locating temples and centres is through Google maps, and the services of nationwide Buddhist organisations.

    Bunks
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Unreliable Resources for Beginners

    • New Age Dharma. Platitudes and pseudo-depth. About as much use as fortune cookies
    • The blind, unwoke, vested exchange groups and random unfocussed sauces, sources and social media.

    Quotes can be hit and miss. If you go to a good quotes resource like Goodreads, then it can be very useful to read through them, they are like the highlights from a book. But if you just come across a quote on an image, say from the Buddha, there is a fair chance it could be a fake.

    Social media is also a case of sorting the wheat from the chaff. You tend to get a lot of noise on these groups, casual banter, arguments, things which are not really in keeping with Buddhism. But if you hang around for a bit you will also see useful traffic.

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