Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

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Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:18 am

Hello all.

As you may have seen in my introductory thread, I'm new to this. I've only considered myself buddhist for ~2 days now and I've been doing much reading to basically learn where to start learning. Much to my personal disappointment I've not managed to find the information I've been looking for. Perhaps this comes as a result of not having a conveniently located meditation group, temple, or monastery. Hopefully you all can help to guide me a little bit, I'm particularly interested in the opinions of those who run meditation groups or even live at a monastery right now.

Firstly, I have no real simple way to find a teacher that I can regularly have access to. This means I essentially have to teach myself to meditate properly, how to chant, or doing any of these other things that are perhaps best taught in person. I actually haven't even discerned the reason chanting is so important, or when it should be done, and what chants should be done on each day, etc., etc., You can easily see how I am missing on many small cultural things (and in the case of meditation a BIG thing) that would help to guide me on the path to nibbana (sp?).

Aside from that, but still related to it, is the subject of the shrine. Is there any kind of a guide on how one should set up a shrine, and what one should include, what trappings it should have, and other details? Why should one have a shrine, and what function does it serve in the daily routine of a buddhist?

Further delving into the topic of meditation, for the advanced meditators here would you feel comfortable learning to meditate based off of only reading online/books? I've read much material on the theory, but almost all of this material says I should find a teacher. There is a possibility that I can go to a monastery near me called Bhavana Society, but that is likely months away and I would like to get started.

I realize that I am asking about a lot of things that may seem trivial, or unimportant, but I view these kinds of trappings as kinds of training wheels, if you will. Basically, I do not want to create the foundation of my practice out of ill knowledge and so I turn to you for your guidance on this matter. If you can think of an area where a beginner may have questions, I undoubtedly have them.

Thank you all so much.

- Adam
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby zavk » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:26 am

Hi Adam,

I would suggest you get acquainted with the five precepts. Trying using these precepts as guidelines for your daily interactions. These precepts are not 'commandments' or 'law' as such but guidelines for us to lead an ethical life. Ethical conduct provides the conditions for the study of Buddhist ideas and the practice of meditation to truly flourish.

In the meantime, you might want to check out the Dhamma talks on Audio Dharma: http://www.audiodharma.org/

Other things like the shrine would come about naturally as you begin to develop trust and confidence in the Dhamma.
With metta,
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:38 am

Greetings Adam,

As for the Buddha's teachings I would guide you to texts which comprise of, or are based around, the Buddha's sutta-based teachings such as...

In The Buddha's Words - Bhikkhu Bodhi
Wings To Awakening - Venerable Thanissaro
What The Buddha Taught - Walpola Rahula
The Buddha's Ancient Path - Thera Piyadassi

As for the meditation, there are vipassana courses you can go on, even in the absence of a regular teacher. These are a good place to start.

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: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby PeterB » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:36 am

You already have a wealth of suggestions Adam, I would add my own recommendation that you look at the Five Lay Precepts. And that you become aquainted with some basic meditation pratices based on the breath. It is after all as long as we breath in and out, highly convenient as a focus for prctice. And whats more, its completely portable. :smile:

:anjali:
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adosa » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:42 pm

Hi Adam

I'll second "In the Buddha's Words". As far as putting the practice into motion begin by developing the Five Precepts, Dana, Sila, and Metta. If we don't ever get any further than that, at least we will be better humans.

Happy trails,


adosa :smile:
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:51 pm

Thank you all for the replies and yes, I've made the private commitment to follow the five precepts. I suppose my concerns are more along the lines of the individual practices, what to study, and other things that might be considered more-or-less "formality" to the religion.
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:13 pm

I suppose it's worth mentioning that I had kind of discovered the five precepts on my own before venturing into buddhism. So, in my case, although there are some minor tweaks to be made (such as with alcohol: breaking a 3rd generation Italian of his wine will be no easy feat) for the most part I follow the precepts. Not to say that I cannot improve on them, but I suppose what I'm suggesting with this thread is that I would like to get to the more advanced "meat and potatoes" of studying the suttas, meditating, and incorporating actual practice into my daily routine so that I can start the day off with reminding myself how best to go through out the day, etc.,

If there is no such guide on getting started perhaps we could create one in this thread, and learn by teaching?
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:31 pm

adamposey wrote:If there is no such guide on getting started perhaps we could create one in this thread, and learn by teaching?


This being the 21st century and the information age, there are sites that offer the basics and explain Buddhism and the practice, including:

http://buddhanet.net/e-learning/basic-guide.htm
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... avada.html
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... o_Buddhism
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:39 pm

I'll start there. Thanks.
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:19 pm

Thanks for sending me those sources, as they (in combination with other sources here on this forum) have been very enlightening on matters of meditation in particular. I'm going to attempt to attend a beginner's meditation retreat at Bhavana Society in the spring so I hope my work and school schedules will be conducive to doing that. I feel it best to learn from those who have practiced for a long time.

Now, onto the meat and potatoes, when it comes to actual practice and studying. Should I be listening to dhamma talks primarily or would I be best to study suttas daily on my own, to start?
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:27 pm

adamposey wrote:Thanks for sending me those sources, as they (in combination with other sources here on this forum) have been very enlightening on matters of meditation in particular. I'm going to attempt to attend a beginner's meditation retreat at Bhavana Society in the spring so I hope my work and school schedules will be conducive to doing that. I feel it best to learn from those who have practiced for a long time.


:thumbsup:

A "wholesome" Spring Break could be a good idea. If they don't have any introductory retreats during that time, you could always just take a trip over there to visit and talk with the monks. It's a beautiful place.

Now, onto the meat and potatoes, when it comes to actual practice and studying. Should I be listening to dhamma talks primarily or would I be best to study suttas daily on my own, to start?


Both; whichever you have time for and enjoy more if you need to focus on one over the other.
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:42 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
:thumbsup:

A "wholesome" Spring Break could be a good idea. If they don't have any introductory retreats during that time, you could always just take a trip over there to visit and talk with the monks. It's a beautiful place.


One of the first things I did upon my commitment to learn the dhamma was to shoot them an email asking if I could perhaps spend a small amount of time at their monastery in order to learn. I was asked by whoever answers their emails not to "burden [their] small monastic community." I should say, as an append, though that they did suggest I come to a retreat so I wasn't out and out refused or any such thing, but rather they seemed to suggest that I should not visit without scheduling, and in order to receive beginner's instruction I should attend only a beginner's retreat.

Both; whichever you have time for and enjoy more if you need to focus on one over the other.


This is a quality piece of advice. Thank you.
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:41 pm

I would recommend Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Buddhadasa



http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/


Lots of other teachers here as well

I personally recommend to read the following first:

Ajahn Buddhadasa (kinda the essential of Buddhism)

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm


Ajahn Chah (collection of his teachings)

http://ajahnchah.org/pdf/the_teachings_ ... ah_web.pdf



Enjoy

metta
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Re: Learning to Practice or How do I get started?

Postby adamposey » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:41 pm

clw_uk wrote:I would recommend Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Buddhadasa



http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/


Lots of other teachers here as well

I personally recommend to read the following first:

Ajahn Buddhadasa (kinda the essential of Buddhism)

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm


Ajahn Chah (collection of his teachings)

http://ajahnchah.org/pdf/the_teachings_ ... ah_web.pdf



Enjoy

metta



Wow! Thank you so much for sending this to me. I was completely unaware of this website, but it looks like there is a LOT of valuable information there.
:namaste:
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