When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

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Wizard in the Forest
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When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:04 pm

I was told by a person (who doesn't really like me) that, "In imparting the Dharma, we need to develop skill and means. The capability/aptitude of the listener/questioner should be the springboard.
When a newbie claims naive to Buddha Dharma should ask what they should do to become a Buddhist, suggesting to take Refuge and the Precepts is definitely unskillful."

Is it really unskillful to tell the truth? What harm could befall telling others about taking refuge and taking up the precepts?
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:10 pm

Nothing. Your suggestion is a good one.

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Bonsai Doug » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:14 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:What harm could befall telling others about taking refuge and taking up the precepts?

As I see it... none. Certainly every other religion is openly free with information
needed to enter into, and participate in their chosen religion, faith, philosophy, etc.

I view this as right speech and right intention.
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:42 pm

They said when I asked them what they meant,
There are lots to learn for a Newbie. Firstly, the 4 Noble Truth, the 8 Foldpath or 6 Paramitas and other basic Teachings must sit well with his/hers understanding. Then the meaning of Refuge of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha has to be well comprehended and the responsibility and what it entails of taking the precepts.
If someone wants to fly a plane, he/she has a lot to learn before he/she even gets to sit in one. It will be unskillful to put that someone in the cockpit and say, "Fly it". He/she will crash even before the plane can take off.
If we want to join some elite club, don't we want to know more about this club before we pay the expensive fee and join?
Feeding a baby a chunk of meat instead of what babies should eat is not knowing what babies are. A Newbie is like a baby.

I think we are talking about common sense here. Good foundation is very important. With good foundation slowly built and secure, the Refuge and Precepts will not easily be shaken.
Without good foundation, it will never last.

What harm?
Practicing the Dharma can be like handling a knife with two sided edge, we can easily cut ourself instead of cutting what we want to cut.
Do not underestimate or take too lightly the karmic result of breaking Precepts and forsaking the Refuge. Many think thats it a 'cool' thing to do, like joining some trendy club, the ' In' thing to do. Will not go into detail on the negative consequences of breaking precepts and forsaking the Refuge but one should know well before embarking and even then we will still break minor precepts everyday.


I got mad, which is totally my fault and said,

There is no fee to practice Dhamma, nor is the precepts or refuge something that we bar people however new from taking. It is a shelter from a storm, what monsters would bar others from entering unless they satisfy someone else's perceptions of ones understanding of how solemnly someone takes the precepts? Buddhism isn't an elitist club, its an all encompassing fact. Such elitist conceptions are disgusting, and reflect your ego,, not Buddha's teachings. You might want to keep others from taking refuge and the precepts unless they satisfy your sense of uncertainty at how ardently they will practice, but making such arrogant assumptions are not in line with the Buddha Dhamma neither in doctrine nor discipline.

Although what I said was true, I am upset that I got mad over another person's hypocrisy. What is some advice you can give about how to handle this anger in line with the Dhamma?
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby andre9999 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:19 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:There is no fee to practice Dhamma, nor is the precepts or refuge something that we bar people however new from taking. It is a shelter from a storm, what monsters would bar others from entering unless they satisfy someone else's perceptions of ones understanding of how solemnly someone takes the precepts? Buddhism isn't an elitist club, its an all encompassing fact. Such elitist conceptions are disgusting, and reflect your ego,, not Buddha's teachings. You might want to keep others from taking refuge and the precepts unless they satisfy your sense of uncertainty at how ardently they will practice, but making such arrogant assumptions are not in line with the Buddha Dhamma neither in doctrine nor discipline.

Although what I said was true, I am upset that I got mad over another person's hypocrisy. What is some advice you can give about how to handle this anger in line with the Dhamma?


Firstly, I'd ask if what you said really is true? Is the person a "monster"? Are the person's assumptions arrogant? What makes you so sure?

Why are you responding in anger? Why not wait until you've calmed down and can respond with kindness and compassion?

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:26 pm

andre9999 wrote:Firstly, I'd ask if what you said really is true?


Good question. Yes, some of it is certainly true, what was said in anger was not.

Is the person a "monster"?


This was the lie, but it doesn't mean I didn't think it.

Are the person's assumptions arrogant?


That is undeniably true.

What makes you so sure?


Because they believe it is within their right to measure others using themselves as a standard in order to determine what makes them "Ready" as opposed to "not ready" to practice the Dhamma.

Why are you responding in anger?


Hypocrisy makes me angry.

Why not wait until you've calmed down and can respond with kindness and compassion?


It is better to address it in a timely manner and not just until I feel like it's "okay" with me.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby lojong1 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:14 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I was told by a person (who doesn't really like me) that, "In imparting the Dharma, we need to develop skill and means. The capability/aptitude of the listener/questioner should be the springboard.
When a newbie claims naive to Buddha Dharma should ask what they should do to become a Buddhist, suggesting to take Refuge and the Precepts is definitely unskillful."

Take refuge to become buddhist...isn't that a bit like saying "in order to become a buddhist, you have to become a buddhist"? Truth can be told in an untimely or non-beneficial way.
I don't see how refuge is even possible as a very first step, without exposure to some of the teachings and goals, or having personal contact with a practitioner you trust fully fully.
My first exposure to buddhism was a Goenka retreat, and the refuge at the start was really stressful for me. I couldn't do it honestly, and considered leaving right then since I couldn't follow even this first instruction. Luckily I already had the "black-stone"-tossing attitude before Goenka gave that lesson.
Refuge is necessary--the sooner the better--it just doesn't work as a stand-alone instruction, which maybe this character thought you had intended.

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:50 pm

Don't become a Buddhist, don't become anything.

I found my way without anybody telling me "to be a Buddhist you must do this or that", I think probably most of us did, it's unnecessary.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:55 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Don't become a Buddhist, don't become anything.

I found my way without anybody telling me "to be a Buddhist you must do this or that", I think probably most of us did, it's unnecessary.


Really ?

You found your way ? I see little sign of that frankly.
I dont think many of us on this forum have done that and that we all need all the help we can get.

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:24 pm

PeterB wrote:Really ?

You found your way ? I see little sign of that frankly.
I dont think many of us on this forum have done that and that we all need all the help we can get.


Of course I had help.

My point was nobody stood over me telling me I needed to have some kind of conversion experience or needed to fulfil a minimum criteria.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:32 pm

Perhaps that is to your disadvantage. I think an ongoing conversion experience is of the essence, and that in terms of effort there is a clearly defined minimum which most of us are still working to achieve. And that we should avail ourselves of every life line thrown to us by the Triple Gem.

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:49 pm

PeterB wrote: I think an ongoing conversion experience is of the essence, and that in terms of effort there is a clearly defined minimum which most of us are still working to achieve.


I agree, and this is something that comes from within, not as a result of chanting a formula, or joining a club, or reciting a creed, or other people telling you what to do.

Telling people it's all about taking refuge negates the importance of following the path as a process in my opinion.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:57 pm

In the experience of many chanting the Precepts and Refuges are a prime way of tapping into our inner resources.

Left to our own devises none of us would discover for ourselves what the Buddha discovered .

A willingness to be told what what to do by others who have demonstrated that they know what they are doing is a sign of maturity .

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:16 pm

PeterB wrote:In the experience of many chanting the Precepts and Refuges are a prime way of tapping into our inner resources.


I can't say it's done much for me, but I do it anyway.

PeterB wrote:Left to our own devises none of us would discover for ourselves what the Buddha discovered .

A willingness to be told what what to do by others who have demonstrated that they know what they are doing is a sign of maturity .


Indeed, and all my teachers emphasis meditation practices, morality, and the development of wisdom and I find the topic of taking refuge is hardly mentioned beyond it being a ritual you sometimes do. It's the attitude of heart and the consistant attendance to practise that is emphasised not allegiance to a creed. So I'll follow they know what they are doing if you don't mind.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Ben » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:30 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:What is some advice you can give about how to handle this anger in line with the Dhamma?


In the words of my teacher: Just observe!

However, anger on its own is extremely difficult to observe without rolling in the anger as you ruminate over the anger-inducing incident. Instead, avert your mind to a body process, the breath, and just observe the breath at the point where the breath enters and leaves the body (at the nostrils). When your mind becomes agitated, your breath becomes agitated. By averting your mind to your breath, one of the first things to occur is that your mind becomes less agitated - and that is also reflected in your breath. The second thing that happens, if you are practicing the samatha variation of anapana, is that you begin to develop some concentration and calm. You begin to develop the ability to exert conscious control over your mind and wrest it from the powerful unconscious patterns of habitual reaction.
kind regards

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:35 pm

Greetings WITF,

Wizard in the Forest wrote:Is it really unskillful to tell the truth? What harm could befall telling others about taking refuge and taking up the precepts?

I believe you did the right thing... it sounds like this other person is overthinking their bodhisattva commitments and tangling themselves up in the process.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Monkey Mind » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:38 pm

I'll state the obvious, if no one else will. And I am not picking fights, just observing. Your friend is a Mahayana Buddhist. They run the risk of burning in a Hell realm or accruing "really bad karma" if they take a precept and fail to uphold it. Likewise if one starts out on the 8fold path, but then quits midway, "really bad karma" results, and disastrous results are expected. If one holds such a belief, it makes sense to practice a lot more caution before proclaiming oneself to be a Buddhist, and one needs to be especially careful around newcomers.

If you do not fear the supernatural repercussions of making mistakes or acting out ignorance, then taking the precepts for a day or a week is better than nothing at all. Try and try again, to whatever your wisdom is developed and to whatever extent you are still bound by ignorance and delusion. You are fighting a circular argument with your friend; respect that his position is oriented in a dramatically different POV.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby lojong1 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:53 pm

Mahayana or not, breaking my word gets easier with practice.

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:11 am

I've been told by so many people, for so many different reasons, why I'm not a "true" Buddhist, that finally came to believe it myself. So I no longer claim Budhhistnesshood, I just do the best I can with what I have. Seems to keep people out of my hair, which I like. So perhaps a good answer if someone asks what it takes to be a Buddhist might be to respond that it's harder NOT to be a Buddhist, and while they try to figure that one out, slip away and eat a sandwich. :P

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Re: When someone asks what it takes to become a Buddhist...

Postby Monkey Mind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:39 am

lojong1 wrote:Mahayana or not, breaking my word gets easier with practice.

:anjali:
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710


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