Buddhist Newbie


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Cleveland, Ohio ~ USA
Hello... I was born into a Catholic family. However, I was turned on to the ways of Buddhism after reading The Power of Now. It was at that point that I looked into Buddhism, but not very thoroughly. I was wondering if anyone could give me any insight into it, since I'm currently so much more familiar with the ways of Christianity. I like the idea of "the end of suffering" and no more seeking. Because as of right now, I know I do my fair share of seeking :) Thanks everyone!
Hi Lauren,

I think you are in for a real spiritual treat in the study of Buddhism. Might I suggest reading a little of the western Dharma teachers before jumping headlong into the Suttas or the Pali Cannon? A Path With Heart written by Jack Kornfield is an excellent book to start with, it makes Buddhist ideas accessible to the western mind with ease. I have found the study of Mahayana Buddhism to be deeply moving and rewarding, and hope that your journey is blessed with love and understanding.

Hi, I was also born into a quite devout catholic family and was educated in catholic schools until I was 18. I turned to buddhism about a year ago now. My (quite amusing) reason was watching the film "seven years in Tibet" which made me realise that I knew nothing about Buddhism and so I borrowed a few books from a friend and now I consider myself buddhist through and through.

My own research led me to discover the New Kadampa Tradition of Buddhism, whos chief spiritual teacher is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, or Geshe-La as he is affectionately known. Geshe-la was the leader of the Kadampa tradition in Tibet when the Delai Lama was the spiritual leader of the Gelugpa tradition there. Which of these traditions is superior I do not know, but when the Chinese invaded in the 50s both were essentially destroyed in Tibet. The Delai Lama took his tradition to India and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso came to teach in England.

Since arriving in England all those years ago, Geshe-la has built a huge following of the Kadampa tradition in the West and as I understand it now spends about half his time in the UK and half in the USA. Under his leadership, the NKT has spawned hundreds of Buddhist Centres and built Temples here and in the US. He has written many books which I am sure you will be able to find on line. I recomend "Joyful Path of Good Fortune" as a good starting point, and "The New Meditation Handbook" is a great introduction to the actual practice of Buddhism.

You can find out more at www.kadampa.org
hey, Lauren!

glad to hear you're finding your path! Buddhism is an incredibly diverse, spiritually rich tradition, and i wish you happy studies! is there any Buddhist tradition in particular you feel drawn to?
The most important thing to remember about Buddhism or any religion for that matter, in my opinion, is that all of the scriptures, sutras, stories, texts, etc are mere words that point the way. It's awfully easy to get caught up in them and then all the sudden find that they are your focus, rather than the experience of enlightenment, which was what Buddha and all other spiritual personages worth their weight in salt wanted people to focus on.
Namaste all,

Venerable Buddhaghosa writes in the Visuddhi Magga:

"No doer is there who does the deed,
Nor is there one who feels the fruit,
Constituent parts alone roll on, This indeed is right discernment.

it is my view that one of the issues facing the Sangha today, which isn't all that dissimilar to other periods of Buddhist history, is how the teachings are being transmitted in Europe and America and so forth.

many beings living in those countries view texts in a different way than they are understood within the cultures in which they arose. it has always been understood within the Asian spreading of Buddhism, that the words are guide posts... rafts, to be left behind once the other shore reached. what we find in America and Europe, however, is textual work wherein the words are not really guides, per se, they are means to convey knowledge. as such, the words aren't guides or rafts to be left behind, the words form the basis of the thought structure.

which is probably a long winded way of saying that some beings become caught by the words of the teaching and miss the spirit of the teaching.. and it is the spirit of the teaching which is the vitial bit in our practice.

my $.02
You may want to start with some Thomas Merton, trappist monk who wrote on zen. Zen and the Birds of Appetite and Zen Masters and Mystics are both good places to start. With your background in Catholicism, that would make a good start.

I love to read Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, and book of stories. Some of them make no sense at all to me, but others make me put down the book and go, "damn!" Zen Mind, Beginners Mind is also very good, and i have really appreciated Mind of Clover, by Robert Aitken, a book on Zen ethics.

As you can see, i tend toward the Zen side of things. There is an excellent biography of the Buddha by Karen Armstrong, and Shambala has a little book called The Teaching of the Buddha.
Head over to http://www.buddhanet.net/ - it's a great site for information and you can find ebooks of various sutras there, complete with commentries to help with understanding.

Once you've looked at the basic guide I reckon you should grab a copy of The Dhammapada. It's easy to read and it covers a lot of issues, summing up a lot of what Buddhists believe. There are a few good translations out there, some of which are put into "modern English" that makes them easier for a Westerner to understand.

Possibly the best way of learning is to go to a Buddhist centre or temple and ask questions. Buddhist teachers will be more than happy to help with anything you want to know.
Namaste,:) (and Howdy, y'all)--Peace to everyone here--

Welcome, Saponification--interesting screen name.

Also, Lauren--I missed your introduction on this thread. Welcome to you, as well.

I know I miss welcoming new members sometimes. But I try to keep up with the ones who actually introduce themselves. I have not been here that long myself, but maybe all my life:) .

To all those I have missed welcoming--hopefully I will see you down the road somewhere.

Thank you.

And yes, it is an odd-screen name. It's a reference to Fight Club, my favourite book. It's from the scene where Tyler is detailing to the narrator the type of soap they make.