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I have a few questions in regards to practicing with the Buddhist community.
Just so you know where I am coming from, I was raised Christian, but seem to have issues with the idea of organized religion and I do not identify myself as a Christian. At the same time, I have become rather interested in Buddhism and am even contemplating finding a Buddhist center nearby (I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me either).
I'm not sure how much this influences what the answers to the following questions will be, but I would probably find a Zen center considering that it is what exists nearby. There aren't many places nearby that support the other schools.
So here are my questions:
1. What is a typical experience of attending like? What is expected from the moment you walk in until you leave? What is proper attire (I can guess what it's not, but I'm not sure what exactly is acceptable)? Is it essential to go each week (is it rude to not go)?
2. Why do you choose to be part of the greater Buddhist community instead of practicing on your own? I understand that this question can have many different answers for different people, but I am curious.
3. When looking for a community, what things are important to look for?
4. What effect has practicing Buddhism, alone and within the community, had on your life? I understand this question is personal, and I would understand if you choose to ignore this question.
Thank you very much for your time!