Learning Buddhism

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Learning Buddhism

Postby Animamia » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:17 pm

Hello everyone.

I am from the UK and have been reading a little about Buddhism. I am rather overwhelmed by the amount of information available on the internet, all of it seems conflicting and complicated. I am just wondering if someone can give me some advice on a reliable place to start. There are also no places of worship as far as I know in my city, is this necessary or could I worship at home if I choose? Any help would be appreciated, thank you! x
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:59 pm

I think this is a great resource, and I also have the link to my favorite author.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... index.html

Ajaan Sumedho has a large, well-respected sangha centered in the UK.
http://www.buddhanet.net/masters/sumedho.htm

If you feel the desire to find a sangha (community), I would suggest keep looking. If nothing else, try to start your own study group. If you really can't find a sangha, it is OK to practice on your own, but then you will have to remember patience (with yourself and others), be careful, and be curious. Don't accept the easy answer.

Since you mention feeling confused and conflicted by the various teachings, I recommend reading this sutta, the Kalama Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

You mentioned worship, so if you are looking for some more ritual, here are some wonderful chants. Don't be overwhelmed. Start with the morning chant and take it in bite sized peices.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... nting.html

Finally, do not hesitate to ask questions on this forum. While I have seen people made to look like fools for claiming to have some sort of knowledge or expertise on this website, I have never seen anybody treated with anything less than loving compassion for asking an honest question about difficulties in practicing the path laid out by the Buddha. That being said, make your questions as specific as possible so that we may be of the most help.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:27 pm

If you have time on your hands, these people lead meditation retreats. I'm giving you the link to centers in the UK. I have never been, but I am scheduled to go in March. Many people on this forum have a great deal of experience with these retreats. These retreats are free (donations only) and supposedly appropriate for beginners if you want to get a jumpstart on meditation practice.

http://www.dhamma.org/en/bycountry/eu/uk.shtml
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Ben » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:46 pm

Animamia wrote:Hello everyone.

I am from the UK and have been reading a little about Buddhism. I am rather overwhelmed by the amount of information available on the internet, all of it seems conflicting and complicated. I am just wondering if someone can give me some advice on a reliable place to start. There are also no places of worship as far as I know in my city, is this necessary or could I worship at home if I choose? Any help would be appreciated, thank you! x


In addition to Buckwheat's excellent suggestion, I suggest you check out our Discovering Theravada sub-forum and the Introductory Resources within that sub-forum. Keep in mind that the focus of this forum is the Theravada. For information regarding Mahayana and Vajrayana I suggest you visit our sister site Dharma Wheel.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby bodom » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:25 pm

Welcome Animamia!

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Aloka » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:33 pm

Welcome Animamia,

I live in the UK too! As well as the resources already mentioned you can listen to Dhamma talks and get free books here:

http://forestsanghapublications.org/

I would also recommend that perhaps sometime in the future you organise a visit/stay at one of the Theravada Forest Tradition monasteries in the UK.

Amaravati website is here: http://www.amaravati.org/

and Chithurst is here: http://www.cittaviveka.org/


with kind wishes,

Aloka :)
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:48 am

Animamia wrote: There are also no places of worship as far as I know in my city, is this necessary or could I worship at home if I choose? Any help would be appreciated, thank you! x


This might be useful:

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=76

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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Animamia » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:46 pm

Thank you so much for your helpful responses. I think I am more inclined towards the Theravada school. I admit I have not had much time to spend reading and learning, but I do have a few more questions that I don't seem to be able to find the answers to, or I don't understand from the information I have found.

1. If I wanted to become Buddhist, how would I go about it? Is there any kind of "initiation" equivalent to being baptised or such? Also, at what stage would I be ready to do so. I obviously have much learning to do, but do I have to know all I can know before I can take the step of becoming a Buddhist? How much time should I spend learning also? I am currently a mature student with 2 children studying biology at university, which takes up a great deal of my time.
2. The only Sanghas I can find near me practice Zen and Kadampa, which are forms is Mahayana if I am not mistaken. Would I be able to attend these if I followed Theravada Buddhism?
3. I like to wear some make-up, take care of my appearance etc. How would this fit in with Buddhism? I have read somewhere that acts of self-indulgence like this are frowned upon. Also vegetarianism and things like this I am unsure of.


Thank you in advance for reading! Jo x
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:56 am

Animamia wrote:...I admit I have not had much time to spend reading and learning...

More important than reading is to establish a daily meditation practice (even if it's only 15 or 20 minutes, but be consistent every day) and establish mindfulness throughout the day, trying to be aware of the mind and body. Are your intentions rooted in renunciation, harmlessness, and goodwill? Or are they rooted in greed, hate, and delusion? What are the consequences and results of your intentions? Try not to rush yourself through the day, and when people test your patience, realize that they are suffering, so have compassion for them. This is the foundation of Buddhism, takes five minutes to learn, and several lifetimes to master.

Animamia wrote:1. If I wanted to become Buddhist, how would I go about it? Is there any kind of "initiation" equivalent to being baptised or such? Also, at what stage would I be ready to do so. I obviously have much learning to do, but do I have to know all I can know before I can take the step of becoming a Buddhist? How much time should I spend learning also? I am currently a mature student with 2 children studying biology at university, which takes up a great deal of my time.


As far as I know the only requirement is sincerity, which is expressed by Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel282.html Also, if you go to a temple or monastery they should be able to help you out.


Animamia wrote:2. The only Sanghas I can find near me practice Zen and Kadampa, which are forms is Mahayana if I am not mistaken. Would I be able to attend these if I followed Theravada Buddhism?


I am not familiar with Kadampa, but Zen has a fond place in my heart. Although, I have seen one Zen sangha that had very loose morals, and another that was a new age spiritual center masquerading as Zen. Do some research on your local sangha and if it seems to have a solid reputation, there should be nothing to worry about. Follow your heart.

Animamia wrote:3. I like to wear some make-up, take care of my appearance etc. How would this fit in with Buddhism? I have read somewhere that acts of self-indulgence like this are frowned upon. Also vegetarianism and things like this I am unsure of.


Lay followers (you) should follow the Five Precepts which prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication. When you go to a temple or monastery, plan to follow the Eight Precepts for the duration of your stay, which up the ante to sexual abstinence, no meals after noon, no singing, dancing, music, perfume, or cosmetics, and no luxurious beds. Also, remember that many Buddhists are incredibly sensitive to the chemicals in perfumes and other scented products.

Many Buddhists eat meat. It is a good idea to see the effect of cutting back on meat, but do not feel like it is a precondition to becoming a Buddhist.

I hope this is helpful,
Scott :anjali:
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Learning Buddhism

Postby Animamia » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:44 pm

Thank you kindly Scott, that is indeed very helpful. I have been very mindful of my day to day activities and have found myself approaching previously stressful situations with a new attitude after the small amount of reading I have done. I won't post anymore questions for now until I have had chance to learn and practice more.

Regards, Jo :)
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