General Question

Carly's avatar

How can I learn more about Buddhism?

Asked by Carly (4550points) May 6th, 2011

besides wikipedia, are there any easy-to-read introductions to Buddhism and the current day practice of it?

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23 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

I haven’t read them myself, but a lot of the people in my meditation group recommend Thich Nhat Hanh’s books. You might be able to find a local meditation group, too—in my experience they tend to be very welcoming to beginners.

jaytkay's avatar

The Dalai Lama is on tour.

His online schedule seems incomplete. It doesn’t include his Chicago visit ,for example. So Googling around to see if he will be near you might be worthwhile.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Find a temple near you. Most major cities or surrounding areas have at least one and go learn from a monk. Take a class at a college? Or just read some books.

Are you more interesting in the spiritual side of philosophy side?

I just took a buddhism class and two of the books we had were “In the buddhas words- an anthology of discourses from the pali cannon” – ton of info in this book and the other i had was “The fundamental wisdom of the middle way” not as good as the first but still ok. In the buddhas words will give you a very good overview of buddhism to give you a fuller idea. From there you can decide what exactly you want to learn more bout and so on.

gailcalled's avatar

Where are you living?

SuperMouse's avatar

Robert Thurman Uma’s father is one of the foremost Buddhist scholars in the country. I found his books pretty accessible and easy to read. Here is a link. I also really enjoyed Buddhism Is Not What You Think by Steven Hagen

tom_g's avatar

audio dharma is great, especially Gil Fronsdal.

gorillapaws's avatar

Intro to Buddhism in a few, easy-to-follow steps:

1. Attachment is the source of suffering.
2. Sell all of your possessions (donate the proceeds to charity), abandon all of your friendships and relationships.
3. Become a beggar.
4. Achieve Nirvana
5. If Nirvana is not achieved in this life, die, be reborn and start back at step 1 in your next life.

tom_g's avatar

Also, discover what type appeals to you. I’m an atheist, so i have a difficult time with some types. Westernized atheistic Theravada, and Vipassana(insight) meditation is pretty amazing.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I found Pocket Idiot’s Guide To Buddhism to be really well written, and very good at explaining things. This was after I got really pissed at how crap of a job regular Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism did of explaining things, so stay away from that.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Carly…there area so many different schools in Buddhism. Some of the better and most accessible teachers are: Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg and Thich Nan Hanh. One of the teachers that I studied with was Tsultrim Allione (and she was one of the first Tibetan Western nuns) she is a teacher of the Tibetan Dzog Chen. She has a community in Colorado now. I can vouch for her beauty, wisdom and strength. A true teacher who is luminous with practicing her truth for years. A dakini walking the earth.

One of the simpler ways to find out more…about many of these different lineages and to get further information and do actual meditations is to check out www.soundstrue.com

They carry a lot of the teachings of Buddhist masters on tape, MP3s (for immediate download) and/or you can also find the teachings on amazon.com

Sometimes hearing the actual teacher on audio and doing meditations (if you cannot find a place near you or a teacher near you) works better than just reading about it.

Wishing you blessings!

thorninmud's avatar

Learning about Buddhism is an odd enterprise. You start by acquiring a bunch of ideas (typically from reading) about the core principles, thinking that this is how you find out about Buddhism. But you discover that those ideas are just the wrapping on the box, and that inside the box is a practice, an independent investigation rather than a packaged exposition of some “truth”.

So you launch into the actual practice. Here you find that whatever ideas you latched onto back in the “information acquisition” phase are now just obstacles to the real business of the practice. The practice only advances in measure with the letting go of all those ideas. In a very real sense, one knows less and less about Buddhism the longer one practices. Ultimately, you’re left with nothing at all; and that, as it turns out, was the point all along.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@thorninmud…........Perfect answer!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There is a folktale in Japan that a prominent person sent a monk to China to study Zen Buddhism in order to return and teach it to others. Upon the monk’s return, the prominent person called him into his room and asked him what Zen was. The monk drew a flute out of his robes, played one note, and got up and left.

I know a little about Buddhism from living in Asia for many years and from reading. I learned enough about it to know that it’s doubtful I would be able to attain enlightenment through meditation in my present circumstances. I’m bipolar, and my brain will not shut up.

I have not had the privilege of meeting anyone that I would say is enlightened. I would welcome such a chance.

I have great respect for Buddhism, and I am wary of it as I am wary of any organized religion. It teaches dogma, and I find in that a block to individual expression of communion with the divine.

To answer your question more directly, start on Wikipedia, and then move on to your local library. Simply start.

wundayatta's avatar

Meditate. Do yoga. Do Martial arts. Fix motorcycles. Practice. Find any kind of Buddhist practice you want. @thorninmud is very right. Buddhism isn’t something to be learned. It is something to do. It is the doing that will teach you whatever you need to learn.

Jeruba's avatar

My teacher recommended What the Buddha Said, by Walpola Rahula, as a great approach to the teachings. Even before that, an excellent first book might be Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki, if you’re interested in Zen.

Here is the book that started me on the path. I bought it thinking it was, I don’t know—humor? It’s real. Go to “First Pages” on Amazon and read the last paragraph of the introduction. That was how I knew I was in the right place.

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El_Cadejo's avatar

@antimatter the fat guy actually isnt buddha “Amongst Westerners new to Buddhism, Budai is often confused with the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. However, the two are visually very distinct. Gautama is commonly depicted as being tall and slender in appearance (although since no images of him from his lifetime exist, this depiction of him is unverifiable and possibly idealized); Budai is short and overweight”

Megan64's avatar

A great book on “tape” is Learning to Stay by Pema Chödrön.

longtresses's avatar

I found Paramananda’s book to be gentle and thoroughly accessible. I highly recommend it.

Gil Fronsdal is also very good..

antimatter's avatar

@uberbatman I did know that, thanks just learned something new…

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