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So You Want to be a Buddhist...?

Well it is very simple.
No initiation, no trials, no testing, no baptism, no crowds, no witnesses, or any other ritual.
Of course there are some rituals to offer tools for daily encouragement and cause-making opportunities.
BUT, truly, and in the Buddha's very words, all that is necessary is that you take conviction in the teachings of four basic truths, which are really just one, and that you apply yourself to eight general principles of changing the way you think about the world around you as well as your "self". That's it. Stop being influenced by every little thing that happens around you!

Why is that "it", you may ask?

Because changing the way you "think" is enlightenment itself. This is why it is called awakening, due to the fact that our normal state is to walk around in a dream, unaware that our entire world and everything that happens in it is of our own creation! To think correctly is to awaken from the dream to the "real" truth. To train our minds to run our lives, rather than the other way around.

The four basic truths that are one? The Four Noble truths are:

  1. All existence is Dukkha (a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, unsatisfactory-ness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration.)
  2. All suffering (Dukkha) results from selfish craving.
  3. The cessation of selfish cravings brings about the end of Dukkha (suffering).
  4. The path to the cessation of selfish cravings is the Eightfold path (or training).
So, you might be tempted to interpret this as stopping greed. For instance, my "selfish cravings" are the moments when I want a bigger piece of pie than any one else. However, that is not correct. The idea that you want pie at all is selfish. In fact, the idea that you "are" a "self" or that any phenomena is "mine" or "yours" or "better" or "worse" are all selfish cravings. In other words, and desire, want, "need", or assumed thought that is in the service of differentiating or reasoning that there is anything unique about you, is selfish and therefore untrue and begets suffering.

So, how do we NOT think in this way????

Well, before I list the Eightfold Path I want to issue this disclaimer. The Eightfold Path is a guide, it is a guide for study of the concepts that lead to greater understanding of the way we started thinking incorrectly and the tools and insights we need in order to correct our misinformed thoughts and re-train our minds to think correctly. And that is why STUDY is an integral part of Buddhist "Practice". In a very real way, study IS Buddhism.
The Eightfold Path builds one upon the next and reads as follows:
  1. Right Views (commit to correct understanding of the Buddha teachings)
  2. Right Thinking (awareness of arising thoughts, intent, aspirations, etc... and how to quiet them)
  3. Right Speech (commitment to speak truth, gentle, etc...)
  4. Right Action (with awareness of views, thoughts, and speech to act calmly in conduct, morals, etc...)
  5. Right Living (ongoing commitment to improve and extend the previous four to accomplish purification of thoughts, words, and deeds)
  6. Right Endeavor (commitment to staying the course and maintaining one's path toward awakening)
  7. Right Mindfulness (cultivating deep appreciation and to single-mindedly aspire for truth and being vigilant)
  8. Right Meditation (to release ourselves from all influences by focusing on the truth of impermanence and equanimity)

So there you have it. You can consider this your beginning as a Buddhist. You can begin your study here by reading other excerpted texts I have posted. You can go further by using this website resource, and you can ask me for assistance to setup an alter as well as enshrining a Gohonzon and when and how to do so. If you are close enough, I'll come over and assist!

Of course, the books, "Big Book of Buddhism" and "Beyond Zen" are available at WWW.LULU.COM online press, and many other helpful reference materials contain all the basics, history, teachings, and include instruction on alter, Gongyo, chanting, and even provides a Gohonzon to frame and begin your practice all on your own!

So what's stopping you?

Start you path to Happiness Today!!!

 

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