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How does one become a Buddhist?

Do they just take refuge in the Dharma, Sangha, and the Buddha?

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Yes, that's all.....but.......it sometimes turns out to be a pretty limitless "all".

    msac123Invincible_summerChazKundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    If you're asking if you have to go through a ceremony, there are such ceremonies, but they are totally optional.

    As one Buddhist monk told me, "If you think like a Buddhist and act like a Buddhist, then you are a Buddhist." Admittedly, that's oversimplified, but it's not like in the Catholic Church were you are confirmed,e tc.

  • msac123msac123 Explorer

    @vinlyn said:
    If you're asking if you have to go through a ceremony, there are such ceremonies, but they are totally optional.

    As one Buddhist monk told me, "If you think like a Buddhist and act like a Buddhist, then you are a Buddhist." Admittedly, that's oversimplified, but it's not like in the Catholic Church were you are confirmed,e tc.

    I see. I think that's a better way to say that you are a Buddhist though, because you intentionally are a Buddhist whether you do a bunch of ritual or not. :)

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Or perhaps that monk was looking at Buddhism as a way of life rather than a "thing".

    Kundo
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @msac123 said:
    Do they just take refuge in the Dharma, Sangha, and the Buddha?

    IMO, you take vows, you choose to observe the precepts. Or at least one vow/precept.

  • ZenBadgerZenBadger Derbyshire, UK Veteran

    It is possible to be brought up as a Buddhist, take refuge vows and yet not be a Buddhist. You can believe that you are not a Buddhist and yet be one. If you aspire to act and think in a way thatis boadly compatible with the basics such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path then you can make a good claim to the label.

    Kundo
  • msac123msac123 Explorer

    @ZenBadger said:
    It is possible to be brought up as a Buddhist, take refuge vows and yet not be a Buddhist. You can believe that you are not a Buddhist and yet be one. If you aspire to act and think in a way thatis boadly compatible with the basics such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path then you can make a good claim to the label.

    What is a Buddhist then?

  • taiyakitaiyaki Michigan Veteran

    There are a couple things.

    Primarily taking refuge in the three jewels as you pointed out in OP.

    There is also the cultivation of compassionate intention/motivation. One works on oneself for the benefit of all beings.

    And lastly one dedicates ones virtuous actions to all beings.

    If these three things are in order than one can consider themselves a Buddhist imo.

    But frankly anyone can call themselves a Buddhist. Its really not the label thats important or the clothes one wears. It's what we do with our lives. And that's the hard part.

    Be well.

    BuddhadragonKundo
  • msac123msac123 Explorer

    @taiyaki said:
    There are a couple things.

    Primarily taking refuge in the three jewels as you pointed out in OP.

    There is also the cultivation of compassionate intention/motivation. One works on oneself for the benefit of all beings.

    And lastly one dedicates ones virtuous actions to all beings.

    If these three things are in order than one can consider themselves a Buddhist imo.

    But frankly anyone can call themselves a Buddhist. Its really not the label thats important or the clothes one wears. It's what we do with our lives. And that's the hard part.

    Be well.

    True, very true and well said my friend. :)

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    What is a Buddhist then?

    Anyone who walks and talks like a Buddhist and wishes to be labeled as a Buddhist, seems like a good call.

    :

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2014

    @msac123 said:
    Do they just take refuge in the Dharma, Sangha, and the Buddha?

    From the Theravadin perspective, yes. A lay-follower is one who's gone to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha for refuge [as guides]:

    "Venerable sir, in what way is one a lay follower?"

    >

    "Mahanama, inasmuch as one has gone to the Buddha for refuge, has gone to the Dhamma for refuge, has gone to the Sangha for refuge; in that way, Mahanama, one is a lay follower." (AN 8.25)

    And a virtuous lay-follower is one who "abstains from destroying living beings; abstains from taking what is not given; abstains from sexual misconduct; abstains from lying; and abstains from wine, liquor and intoxicants that are causes for heedlessness" (AN 8.25).

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @msac123 said:
    What is a Buddhist then?

    Someone who follows the 8Fold Path, understands the 4 Noble Truths, and observes the precepts. I don't think one has to take refuge in order to be a Buddhist. We had a thread on that topic, once. Lots of people aren't in the position to take refuge, if they don't live near anyone who can administer the vows.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2014

    @Dakini said:
    Someone who follows the 8Fold Path, understands the 4 Noble Truths, and observes the precepts. I don't think one has to take refuge in order to be a Buddhist. We had a thread on that topic, once. Lots of people aren't in the position to take refuge, if they don't live near anyone who can administer the vows.

    That's assuming taking refuge is a purely ceremonial act, though. But as far as I'm aware, most traditions seem to agree that taking refuge is ultimately an internal commitment that doesn't require the external motions of going to a temple and formally taking the three refuges and receiving the precepts, although this has traditionally been the preferred method if possible.

    how
  • jaynejayne Explorer

    taking refuge can be a private act, it doesn't have to be in a ceremony

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

    Buddhism is just awakening to the teachings of the historical Buddha Siddharta Gautama. Buddha means awakened one. So you are just awakening to the teachings of the awakened one. Once you have woken up, you are Buddha and no longer a Buddhist!

    So once you commit yourself to awakening to the teachings of the Buddha, you can assume you have been conferred the title Buddhist if that means something to you. However, there are lots of fancy ways of being introduced to it; different introductions appeal to different types of people.

    I hope this helps.

  • ToshTosh Veteran

    On the Buddhist foundation course I did, the teacher taught that to be a Buddhist, we have to hold the Four Seals; he said these were the Buddhist tenants.

    I'd like to hear some thoughts on this if anyone has any.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    Certainly the Four Seals are absolutely fundamental to some Buddhist schools..The Vajrayana and Mahayana in particular.

    But in other schools like the Theravada, they are little known.

    Its the opposite situation with the Four Noble Truths..

    In short its more evidence that there is no single entity called ' Buddhism '.

    ChazInvincible_summer
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2014

    Some Zen schools use the 4 seals to define what doctrine is Buddhist and what is not. They have little to do with how to become a Buddhist although I suppose they do define what a traditional Buddhist belief is.
    I have only more recently heard here of some Buddhist schools where the 4 NT & 8FP were not a fundamental part of their teachings.

    Personally, I think that simply acting like a Buddhist trumps holding a Buddhist ID card, every time.

    ChazKundo
  • CittaCitta Veteran

    Which of course begs the question...

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    Christ, we cant even answer the most basic of questions.

    We've completely forgotten to tell the OP what kind of cereal to buy so he can get his own Super Secret Vajra Decoder Ring, given him 5 different ways to perfrom prostrations to improve concentration, and a suggestion to try tantric sex.

    AND WHERE THE HELL IS LOBSTER?

    DharmaMcBumKundoInvincible_summer
  • :(

    AND WHERE THE HELL IS LOBSTER?

    I was hoping everyone else would know.

    @how said:
    What is a Buddhist then?

    Anyone who walks and talks like a Buddhist and wishes to be labeled as a Buddhist, seems like a good call.

    That seems good.

    Buddhists tend to practice, have a hot seat or other commitment to awareness, perhaps chanting, being moral and tending to prefer the company and advice of those designated 'Buddhist' rather than some other advisement.

    A lot of people think I am not a Buddhist. Suits me either way.

  • ZendoLord84ZendoLord84 Veteran
    edited April 2014

    if we are all empty....and self does not exist....it's impossible to 'become' a buddhist..

    A monkey does not 'become' a banana (even though he likes them a lot).

  • 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

    @iamthezenmaster said:
    if we are all empty....and self does not exist....it's impossible to 'become' a buddhist..

    A monkey does not 'become' a banana (even though he likes them a lot).

    That's a little too deep for the Beginner's forum....

    KundoInvincible_summer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited April 2014

    Buddhanature is within all of us. Being Buddhists is how we learn to uncover it. No matter how much a monkey uncovers anything, he will not become a banana.

  • ZendoLord84ZendoLord84 Veteran
    edited April 2014

    no being buddhist we are monkeys who are trained to act like a banana (who just is a banana)

    KundoInvincible_summer
  • 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

    Oh good grief, please, quit being so cryptic.

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

    @‌federica I think you are seeing this as cryptoorchidism.

  • ToraldrisToraldris   -`-,-{@     Zen Nud... Buddhist     @}-,-`-   East Coast, USA Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @msac123‌
    There's really no one authority over all Buddhists that says "okay, now you're a Buddhist". It's much like Protestant Christianity. You can "take refuge" in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha... you can even have an official ceremony... but they're not necessities.

    If you use Buddhism to help see reality more clearly, to alleviate suffering, and/or to develop greater compassion for sentient beings (generally through a meditative practice), that's probably good enough. If you think of yourself as a Buddhist, that's probably good enough. It means Buddhism and Buddhist teachings are part of your life. Of course you don't have to call yourself a Buddhist if you envision repercussions from fundamentalists of another religion (say in your family, or workplace).

    Now being a Buddhist monk or nun is another story! In that case you definitely would need to be accepted into a tradition and go through a ceremony (and likely a probationary period before full ordination).

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    My daughter , when she was 5-7 sometimes used to exclaim in a loud voice in social dinner settings around folks I didn't know, that her Dad was a Buddha.
    Now who is going to argue with that.

    Kundo
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    @AldrisTorvalds said:
    msac123‌
    There's really no one authority over all Buddhists that says "okay, now you're a Buddhist".

    That's right. Each tradition has it's own standards when it comes to defining "Buddhist" For innstance, in my little corner of the Buddhist world, Buddhism is defined as someone who has taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Thhis generally means that there is a component where a public, ceremonial, taking of refuge is involved.

    Anyone can think, talk, or act like a Buddhist. You can live the N8FP and believe the 4NT and not even know what they are, but does this make you a Buddhist? Some will say no. I'm one of them.

    This doesn't mean you can't practice or study. I did for several years, under the guidance of excellent teachers, who discouraged me from taking refuge until I was absolutely certain that the path of the Buddhadharma was for me.

    I was ok with that.

    I think terms should be specific. A worrd should mean something. In discussions like this terms like "Buddhist" become so obfuscated by relative thinking as to become meaningless. In an environment such as this, a "Buddhist" can be almost anything. That's not a bad thing, I don't have a problem with someone thinking differently from me on this matter. Where I think we have a problem, that by offering a number of different and intensly personal viewpoints we tend to confuse the issue for those asking the question

  • ToraldrisToraldris   -`-,-{@     Zen Nud... Buddhist     @}-,-`-   East Coast, USA Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @Chaz Everyone's entitled to their own views on the matter. I consider the most "authentic" Buddhists to be those who are using the Buddha's teachings for the purposes of gaining clarity/wisdom into the nature of all phenomena, eradicating suffering for one's self and for others (which is especially what the Buddha's teachings are for), and developing compassion toward all sentient beings. The internal commitment of taking refuge is what's ultimately important; public ceremonies and rituals are window-dressing on top of that, and don't really mean much.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @AldrisTorvalds said:
    Chaz Everyone's entitled to their own views on the matter. I consider a Buddhist to be someone who is using the Buddha's teachings for those purposes (gaining clarity, eradicating suffering, developing compassion), and also people who were raised Buddhist for whom Buddhism is more of a religion. Even the act of taking refuge is only meaningful if it's internal; one can say the words in public during a ceremony and not really mean them, but the internal "taking refuge" is all you really need. Rituals aren't for everyone.

    Yes, and so the term Buddhist can mean just about anything. Someone can be viewed as being a Buddhist, simply by their say-so. I can say I'm Canadian. Does that make it so? In the US we have two very specific conditions for calling oneself an "American"; You are either born here, or undergo naturalization classwork and a specific public ceremony. Not for everyone? Move to this country and try referring to yourself as an American without being naturalized. I've lived in Colorado for over 25 years and still can't call myself a Coloradoan.

    Should Buddhism be different? Obviously, it is, but I'm not so sure it should be.

  • ToraldrisToraldris   -`-,-{@     Zen Nud... Buddhist     @}-,-`-   East Coast, USA Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @Chaz Buddhism shouldn't be regarded any differently than other religions when it comes to who belongs. What does it mean to be a Christian, for instance? Christians can't even agree upon that, and they are the ones choosing to call themselves Christians even if they have thousands of different sects. Don't get so caught up in trying to pin things down... that'll just get in the way of letting go. :) Buddhists are already very diverse in what they believe, there are many different forms/sects, so it should be good enough if someone calls themselves a Buddhist. They wouldn't do that if they didn't have a reason.

    To put a fine point on it, there is no universally accepted definition of what a Buddhist is (though taking refuge is a common one), so worrying over it won't lead anywhere except to add fuel to your frustration. Getting caught up in "how things should be" is one of the types of suffering the mind creates. We're always worrying about stuff like this, even when there's no solution. Why worry about something that can't be solved? It would be nice if everyone used the same definition... but they don't, and they won't just because we'd like them to do so. We'll have to just let that one go!

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

    To put a fine point on it, there is no universally accepted definition of what a Buddhist is (though taking refuge is a common one), so worrying over it won't lead anywhere except to add fuel to your frustration.

    But I'm not terribly frustrated. Concerned would be more to the point - concerned about the very real potential for confusion. Most people live with a mindset that is firmly entranched in right and wrong. There's a right way to do it and a wrong way. Someone who would ask a question like "how do I become a Buddhist" is obviously looking for a right way and doesn't know where to begin. When we offer a dozen different opinions on the matter who's to say which is correct?

  • ToraldrisToraldris   -`-,-{@     Zen Nud... Buddhist     @}-,-`-   East Coast, USA Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @Chaz Concentrate on the "why", and the correct answers follow. If someone wants to become a Buddhist, ask them why. If they say to learn to alleviate suffering in their life, then what's important is for them to come to a foundational understanding of the Buddhist teachings and learn how to meditate. The label "Buddhist" is less important than the purpose of being one. This forum is a place where people can help each other; it's not meant to be a place where everyone gives the same answers, or else it could just be a Wiki somewhere. Not everything always has just one right answer; not even the Buddha always answered questions in the same way -- each situation is different. I think you're over-thinking it, and time and practice will show you how to handle such questions without getting so concerned. That's my two cents. I'm out... good night!

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @AldrisTorvalds said:
    Chaz Concentrate on the "why", and the correct answers follow. If someone wants to become a Buddhist, ask them why.

    I totally agree, but the truth is "we" don't. We just jump in and give the person a bundle of different and sometimes contradictory answers.

    If they say to learn to alleviate suffering in their life, then what's important is for them to come to a foundational understanding of the Buddhist teachings and learn how to meditate.

    But many people don't know why and most newcomers don't know enough about Buddhism to even say what you just proposed.

    The label "Buddhist" is less important than the purpose of being one.

    But people don't approach it that way and people don't answer that way.

    This forum is a place where people can help each other; it's not meant to be a place where everyone gives the same answers, or else it could just be a Wiki somewhere.

    There are wikis and people use them.

    Not everything always has just one right answer; not even the Buddha always answered questions in the same way -- each situation is different.

    True enough.

    I'd say it might be better to quiz someone, not on why they want to be a Buddhist, but what it is that attracts them to it in the first place. For instance, if someone, upon questioning, starts making references to the Dalai Lama, it might be best to take them towards more of a Mahayana/Vajrayana direction. Someone may have bumped into Thich Nhat Hanh along the way, so maybe more of a direction towards Zen would be in order. Maybe that person is more of a loner and doesn't do well with groups. Maybe someone's just being a tourist and isn't real serious. Maybe they just want to be a better person. Before we start giving people a load of stuff that'll probably give more confusion than answers, we should, as a group, think about what they need.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I think the problem comes in a person wondering of themselves "Am I a Buddhist?" and then posing the question to others. I'm not saying the OP or anyone else shouldn't ask. I'm just saying that the only real answer is to throw the question back and say "I don't know, are you?" because it means different things to different people. You are a Buddhist if you consider yourself a Buddhist, really. The standards by which other people identify as a Buddhist don't apply to any other individual.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    Its a perennial question on this and other Buddhist boards..along with 'what must I do to be a Buddhist ? 'And now apparently ' you can't be a Buddhist because I don't like you '.

    Its all about the need to belong. To be part of a group . To have an identity.

    It passes. In a good way.

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

    I would be interested to see what traffic this site gets, and see whether it is on the rise, falling or static. @lincoln you may hold the knowledge that identifies whether more or less people are taking an interest in buddhism, and which countries in particular are seeing a rise or demise.

  • 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
    edited April 2014

    You can have NO idea of the spammers @Lincoln and @Brian have to field, every day. They vet every single newcomer to the site, so traffic is huge....

    anataman
  • 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
    edited April 2014

    I have not had the time to read every response fully, so apologies if some of my comment appears to be tangential, repetitive or ill-placed;

    A Monk in saffron robes, is no more a follower of Buddhism while he wears his robes, than at times when he might not;
    A mother is no more or less a mother when she has her children with her, than when she doesn't.
    A cobbler is no more or less a cobbler when he goes fishing, as opposed to when he is hammering on a new pair of heels onto your boots.

    It is not what a person manifests or declares themselves to be, that makes them 'what they purport to be'.

    The answer lies within their actions, not in their manifestation.

    Now, as a "Good Buddhist" some may declare me to be a "Good Christian", mistaking my virtuous actions to be entrenched in Christianity rather than Buddhism.
    (Please take that comment in the nature it was intended; as an example, not as a declaration.....)

    Should I correct this?
    I don't think so.
    That is their perception and if it makes them con]=mfortable to think that way, why ruin the illusion?

    It matters not, for them.
    All it should matter to, is me.

    If a person knows their own heart, then that person decides what is true for them.

    anatamanStraight_ManKundo
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