Buddhism in Bite Size Lessons: Lesson #9
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You, for whatever reason, may be interested in Buddhism, joining the community or integrating the Buddha’s great teachings. Whatever your reasons, this article will teach you the basics of what you need to know to become a Buddhist. Siddhartha taught that all suffering derives from some sort of desire, whether it be your own or that of those around you. Think about that. How true is that statement? Very true, indeed. How many times has someone wanted a new car or to win the lottery and this doesn’t happen? They are sad. What if someone does get the car or wins the lottery? They’ll get sick of them, want more of what’s out there and inevitably suffer more. For years philosophers and social scientists have pondered how to achieve world peace, and all the while a Nepalese man named Siddhartha Gautama had discovered the solution nearly 2600 years ago. The fact is most people are unable to accept this ultimate truth and believe that as long as they have faith in a deity, attend regular assemblies with a congregation, and pretend to follow certain values, that somehow everything will “be all right.”
But you are different because you have chosen to come here, and to read these words. You are ready for change. You may be ready for Buddhism.
- Read about Siddhartha Gautama the “exalted one”, the father of Buddhism.
- Learn about the Buddha’s teachings which include (but are not limited to) the 4 noble truths and the eightfold path.
- Practice [Buddhist meditation] in order to free your mind from worry and focus on the present to achieve inner peace.
- The Buddha taught that as we all go through the life cycle, we will meet with some inconvenience, not always satisfactory and there may be suffering. It depends on how we deal with the situation. The word “dukkha”, has many meanings from suffering to dissatisfaction to inconvenience and so on.
- Understand and research the concepts of rebirth and Karma.
- Understand “dukkha” and Buddhist definitions of the many sufferings.
- Determine which of the many paths of Buddhism you would like to pursue, whether it be Zen Buddhism, Theravada (a very traditional form), or Mahayana. However simple, personal and non-ritual Buddhism is the best way to practice in the West; following a certain traditional path isn’t a requirement for enlightenment.
- Practice the Buddha’s teachings in your everyday life.
- Participate within your local Buddhist community. Helping others helps you as well.
- The Four Noble Truths are:
- Life means suffering.
- The origin of suffering is attachment.
- The cessation of suffering is attainable.
- The path to the cessation of suffering.
- The Eightfold Path is broken down into three sub-topics:
- Right View
- Right Intention
- Ethical Conduct
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Mental Development
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
- Buddhism is a philosophy that can easily co-exist with your current (or childhood) religious teachings. You do not have to choose to drop your previous teachings.
- Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better person.
- Find a teacher or experienced practitioner to give you advice.
- The basis behind precepts or moral discipline in Buddhism is ‘doing no harm’ so this is a recommended first step.
- Accept with your heart and mind to achieve supreme knowledge (Samma-Sambodhi.) All humans are capable of achieving Buddhahood in this life, as the Buddha repeatedly stated, though many are not motivated or dedicated enough to attain the supreme goal.
- Be kind to all you meet, for they are your equal.
- Practice meditation on a regular, if not daily, basis.
- Some schools of Buddhism recommend to practice vegetarianism, in respect for animals.
- Try to abstain from intoxicants (alcohol, drugs). One must truly overcome suffering, not avoid it.
- If you are Agnostic, consider learning about Buddhist practices. The practice of meditation is a strong mental tool, and the teachings encourage only kindness.
- Buddhism does not have a written doctrine that can be used in fundamentalist arguments.
- One must accept change – all things are transient. learning and meditating on this can help not to get too attached to any thing, as it will all change.
- Humility is essential. You are no different from any other living thing. Work with yourself to be less self important.
- This will help stop clinging onto things, be it material or conceptual. Don’t pursue enlightenment, stop the leaning of your mind.
- See the whole.
Things You’ll Need
- Only real requisite: Your mind
- Patience and perseverance
- Experienced teachers and friends with your same goal will be of great help
- Dharma, the lessons of Buddha, will also be of great help
- One of the best books on Buddhism I’ve read is: The Buddha in Your Mirror, (ISBN-10: 0967469783 or ISBN-13: 978-0967469782)
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