How do I become a Buddhist?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby edwhys211 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:17 am

I follow the eight fold path and five precepts, and I am open to the ideas of karma and reincarnation and meditation.

Is there more for me to do, or am I now a Buddhist?

Also, what are the different paths of Buddhism? can you explain them?
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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:29 am

Hi Ed,

To paraphrase that immortal line from Forest Gump, "Buddhist is what Buddhist does".
Certainly taking refuge is important, as is study. However, we need to follow with abiding by the precepts and the cultivation of concentration/calm (samadhi) and the cultivation of insight/wisdom (vipassana). There are other aspects to the path that include the practice of generosity and good livelihood.

A good place to start is The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Another document to have a look at is: Lay Buddhist Practice: The Shrine Room, Uposatha Day, Rains Residence by Bhikkhu Khantipalo

Then check out some of the pinned "introductory resources" thread within the Discovering Theravada forum.
And if you have any questions - feel free to ask.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:15 pm

Ben wrote:that immortal line


Tear up your Buddhist card!

:tongue:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:27 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Ed,

To paraphrase that immortal line from Forest Gump, "Buddhist is what Buddhist does".


Oy! This is pretty radical, Ben.

I think this definition may disqualify many self-identifying Buddhists even including some well-known teachers who have been in the press lately and may bring in people who wouldn't know pattica samuppada from a chicken pad thai.
_/|\_
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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:34 pm

Yeah, you guys shouldn't listen to me.
Have a lovely evening - I'm going to bed!

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:39 pm

Ben wrote:Yeah, you guys shouldn't listen to me.
Have a lovely evening - I'm going to bed!

Ben


I would listen to you over many other people including myself most of the time!

The above was tongue-in-cheek (and the teachers was an opaque reference to the scandals plaguing the US Zen community) - I actually largely agree! That's why I don't call myself a Buddhist - not good enough yet.

Maybe one day!!
_/|\_
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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:46 pm

Dan74 wrote:The above was tongue-in-cheek


Yeah, I know. I enjoyed the banter - it was fun.
And thank you for your kind words.
with metta,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby pilgrim » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:09 am

Officially and traditionally, this would be the way
http://www.parami.org/duta/buddhist.htm
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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby SamKR » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:33 pm

pilgrim wrote:Officially and traditionally, this would be the way
http://www.parami.org/duta/buddhist.htm

"Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself."
Now I am even more pleased and satisfied when the Lord says to me:'Make a proper investigation first.' For if members of another religion had secured me as a disciple they would have paraded a banner all around the town saying: 'Upali has joined our religion.' But the Lord said to me:'Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself.' "

:bow: :bow: :bow:
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Re: How do I become a Buddhist?

Postby dhammapal » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:06 am

Hi, I found this on an old mirror site of Access to Insight (click on link for hyperlinked version)
John Bullitt wrote:I want to become a Buddhist. How do I do that?

It begins with one deceptively simple act: making the inner commitment to "take refuge" in the Triple Gem, to accept the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha as your source of spiritual guidance. This act is what makes one nominally "Buddhist." But going for refuge also implies a willingness — if only provisional, at first — to accept the cornerstone of the Buddha's teachings: the law of kamma. According to this universal principle, if you act unskillfully and make poor ethical choices, you are bound to suffer the consequences; if you choose wisely and act in line with the noblest ideals, you stand to benefit accordingly. In other words, your happiness ultimately depends on the quality of your choices and actions; you alone are responsible for your happiness. Your first act after seeking refuge should therefore be to resolve to observe the five precepts — the five basic principles of living that can help prevent you from making grossly unskillful choices. This is where the practice of Buddhism begins.

You don't need a formal public ceremony or "initiation" to make any of this official. There are no equivalents in Buddhism to Christianity's "baptism" or "confirmation" rituals. You don't have to dress differently or wear a badge that says, "I am now a Buddhist." The practice of the Dhamma is a private matter and no one needs to know about it but you. Many Buddhists do, however, find it invaluable to renew their commitment to the Triple Gem and to the precepts from time to time in a more formal way, enlisting the help of a good friend, a respected meditation teacher, or a member of the monastic community (Sangha) as a witness. Administering the refuges and precepts to laypeople is a duty that Buddhist monks are glad to perform.

Many people find it difficult to sustain their commitment to the Dhamma on their own, without the support of like-minded friends and companions. (It can be hard to stick to the precepts if you're surrounded by people who see no harm in telling lies, or in having a secret romantic affair now and then, or in going out drinking all night.) You may have to do a little patient detective work to find this kind of support (see How can I find other people with whom to study Dhamma and practice meditation?, above).

Having taken these first steps, you can proceed along the Buddhist path in your own way and at your own pace. Although you can learn a great deal about Dhamma on your own, your understanding will grow by leaps and bounds once you find a good teacher — someone whom you trust and respect, who keeps to the precepts, and who understands the Dhamma and can communicate it clearly. Other aids to progress in understanding the Dhamma are these: deepening your understanding of the precepts; studying the suttas; getting to know monks or nuns (the Sangha) and becoming acquainted with their traditions; developing a keen, discerning ear that can recognize which of today's popular spiritual teachings actually ring true to what the Buddha taught;6 and learning meditation. How you proceed is entirely up to you, but the bottom line is this: learn what the Buddha taught and put it into practice in your life as best you can.

If you ever decide that the Buddha's teachings aren't for you, you are free to walk away at any time and find your own way. There is no ceremony for renouncing the Buddha's teachings. Just remember: your happiness is in your own hands.
From: Frequently Asked Questions About Buddhism by John Bullitt

With metta / dhammapal.
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