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Author Topic: Buddhism  (Read 1503 times)

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Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Buddhism
« on: December 19, 2009, 03:16:40 PM »
The more I research¹ Buddhism, the more I am curious about it.  Would someone recommend some books/links for someone who would like to delve a little deeper.



¹Reading Wikipedia

Offline Caeli

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2009, 03:28:12 PM »
Here's a pretty long one, but it's free and it's online, and should give you a relatively good overview, provided you actually read all of it:
What Buddhists Believe [PDF]

I don't know exactly what kind of readings you're looking for (introduction, social history, movements, etc.), so it's hard to recommend something. But here are some introductory books that I've seen used in some of my classes, or have as background for research papers:
  • Donath, Dorothy C. (1971). Buddhism for the West: Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna; a comprehensive review of Buddhist history, philosophy, and teachings from the time of the Buddha to the present day. Julian Press.
  • Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang. Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life, Tharpa Publications (2nd. ed., 2001, US ed. 2008)
  • Smith, Huston; Phillip Novak (2003). Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. HarperSanFrancisco.
  • Bechert, Heinz & Richard Gombrich (ed.) (1984). The World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson.

I would also recommend reading translations of Buddhist scriptures, like the Heart Sutra - some of them are pretty interesting. You can probably find some good links or sources by going through the wikipedia article on them.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2009, 03:31:06 PM by Caeli »

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2009, 03:42:16 PM »
I don't know exactly what kind of readings you're looking for (introduction, social history, movements, etc.), so it's hard to recommend something.

I knew I was not being very specific, but could not think of how to explain what I am looking for.

Introduction.

Essentially, I am deciding if Buddhism is for me.  I was raised Roman Catholic, so I am fairly familiar with the Abrahamic religions.  I know a few Hindus and have spoken with them.  While I find Hinduism fascinating, it does not speak to me on a spiritual level.  Taoism also interest me, but it seems very tied to rituals which puts me off.

So, I am looking, as it were.  Thank you very much for the links.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2009, 05:45:09 PM »
I believe there are a variety of schools of buddhism, but I'm not sure of the degrees of difference in them. Maybe you have a local buddhist centre that you could drop in and visit?

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2009, 02:11:56 AM »
There are three main branches of Buddhism.  They teach the same basic truths, but go about them in very different ways.  The one I am most familiar with is Chan or Zen Buddhism.  Of the three it is the hardest to live up to and the most rewarding. 

Taoism can be heavily ritualized.  The ritual is not actually the important part of tao.  It is the discipline and understanding that it teaches which is important.  Tao is a philosophy, more than a religion, unless one wants to make it a religion.  Taoist philosophy on religion is that if you chose a religion, even if it is taoism, you should be able to put your heart and soul into it, just as you should put your heart and soul into everything else that you do in "the way of tao" (which is something of a redundancy, but then again, so is living life).   

If you can find it, "The Golden Flower" teaches the most basic and most difficult form of meditation that helps lead to a deeper understanding of Zen.  I can also recommend Everyday Tao, and Day to Day Tao by Deng Ming Dao.  The latter two are less instruction manuals than they are pieces of understanding that you can apply to the world in bite sized nibbles, while the former is an in depth guidebook to Zazen, experiencing enlightenment through breathing. 

The breathing exercise in The Golden Flower is quite difficult, and it sounds very simple.  I will teach it to you in a paragraph. 

Sit down, relax.  Head up, feet placed comfortably.  Hands on thighs or folden in lap or arms crossed.  Inhale through your nose, and this is count 'one'.  Exhale through pursed lips, and this is count 'two'.  the next inhalation is count 'three'.  All the way to 'ten' which is the final exhalation.  If you lose track, if random thoughts intrude, finish the thought and then start over.  Do this for no more than 20 minutes a day.   This is the most basic and most difficult of meditations.

Offline Lilias

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2009, 09:16:25 AM »
You might find this directory of resources useful as well.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2009, 09:26:09 AM »

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2009, 11:30:33 AM »
Thank you, all.

Offline Sure

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2009, 01:31:48 PM »
Buddhism has its own rituals. There tends to be a westernized form of Buddhism that de-emphasizes these (mostly taught through books rather than actual Buddhist teachers), but if you went over to the East you would find Buddhism to have rituals that are just as important. These, for example, are Tibetan Buddhists on a pilgrimage to Lhasa: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Pilgrimage_to_Lhasa.jpg

So, if you're looking for a religion without onerous rituals, Buddhism isn't it.

That being said, Buddhism:
The primary purpose of Buddhism is to reach enlightenment. This is in many ways the same as samsara from the Hindu tradition, except enlightenment may be achieved while one is still alive. This is usually done by following the Eightfold Path, however ultimately the purpose is to eliminate all desire wholly from the self. This is due to the four noble truths which I generally summarize, "Life is suffering (1st), suffering is caused by desire (2nd), suffering can be overcome (3rd) by the eightfold path (4th)".

Buddhism tends to mix with local religious beliefs and is, in general, polytheistic. They usually worship Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, or sometimes local Gods as well. The opposite of Buddhism has traditionally been Confucianism, which generally regards belief in higher powers as superstitious.

Offline Farmboy

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2009, 04:41:56 PM »
I like the Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, and Thich Nhat Hanh. The Dalai Lama has some great introductory books. He is more modern than his predecessors, yet he is the equivalent of the Pope regarding Tibetan Buddism, so his modernizations are actually canon. Pema Chödrön is a Canadian woman whose life changed in her 40s in a very painful way. She took much comfort from the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa, who is a pre-eminent Vietnamese Buddhist. Thich Nhat Hanh is very popular and for good reason. He teaches ways to find calm in the midst of turmoil.

Friends of mine have gone deeply into Japanese Buddhism, but I find myself arguing with it too much. Caeli recommended some books on Theravada Buddism, which is Sri Lankan. Theravada is the tradition with a capital T. They are the oldest texts. The Lotus Sutra is considered the core text, and you can even find a translation by Henry David Thoreau that was published in Ralph Waldo Emerson's magazine, The Dial. I mention this to give you a sense that, in America at least, interest in traditional Buddhism goes very far back and is ingrained in what has become our classical literature.

In general, the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism is that Buddhists do not believe in God. Hindi, however, call God a variety of names yet they believe that all the names are really for a singular being, Vishnu, of who Krishna is the supreme persona. But Buddhists don't believe that. Buddhists and Hindi both meditate a lot, but while the Hindi bask in the presence of Krishna (it's called Bhakti yoga), the Buddhists clear their minds of anything they consider illusion, which to them includes all personifications of divinity. Both seek unity with the All, but the Hindi consider the All to be a person. Both practice compassion, but while the Hindi believe they are purging themselves of the effects of bad karma, the Buddhists admit to a purely selfish reason for their compassion; it eases their own suffering.

Anyhow, one inroad is to read Pema Chödrön When Things Fall Apart. It documents her own learning and has a lot of life advice that will stay with you a long time.

Offline adventurer

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2010, 06:06:36 AM »
Try:

http://www.keithdowman.net/

A Resource for Vajrayana Buddhists.

The Diamond Way is the way of tantric Buddhism.  Emerged in Tibet.

Offline Miss Arha

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2010, 02:31:09 PM »
My mother's side are are Buddhist, and to be honest they seem to be Buddhist when they want to be.  They pray at the temples at certain points during the year for their family and departed relatives and have various festivals.  It is all a lot of fun, but I am not too sure of the intricacies of the religion. Being Japanese, my Mum's family also have Shintoism at the heart of the culture, so I am not too sure where Buddhism ends and Shintoism begins.  I believe the temples in Japan are of buddhist origina and the shrines Shinto?

I find it fascinating as well I have to say. A good resource for Japanese Buddhism - http://www.buddhanet.net/nippon/nippon_toc.htm

Worth a wee gander I am sure.

Offline adventurer

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2010, 12:20:36 AM »

You may also want to try this. A Western Zen Approach to Life:

http://www.bigmind.org/Home.html

Offline swiggy3000

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2010, 09:43:01 AM »
I knew I was not being very specific, but could not think of how to explain what I am looking for.

Introduction.

Essentially, I am deciding if Buddhism is for me.  I was raised Roman Catholic, so I am fairly familiar with the Abrahamic religions.  I know a few Hindus and have spoken with them.  While I find Hinduism fascinating, it does not speak to me on a spiritual level.  Taoism also interest me, but it seems very tied to rituals which puts me off.

So, I am looking, as it were.  Thank you very much for the links.

Hey man, I'd love to have a talk with you sometime about this. I was in the same boat you are. I was raised a Roman Catholic but after about a year of soul searching I converted to Buddhism. If you are looking for any info about it just send me a message.

Offline auroraChloe

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2010, 10:05:40 AM »
I knew I was not being very specific, but could not think of how to explain what I am looking for.

Introduction.

Essentially, I am deciding if Buddhism is for me.  I was raised Roman Catholic, so I am fairly familiar with the Abrahamic religions.  I know a few Hindus and have spoken with them.  While I find Hinduism fascinating, it does not speak to me on a spiritual level.  Taoism also interest me, but it seems very tied to rituals which puts me off.

So, I am looking, as it were.  Thank you very much for the links.

there is a Buddhism for Dummies (no joke) and most anything by the Dalai Lama should be insightful.

i never found Taoism to be ritualistic i guess because i never studied that part of it, i just read the Tao te Ching and meditated on the verses.  so i always thought of it as a philosophy or 'way of being' rather than a religion.  it even allowed me to cling to my christian beliefs for a time.


Offline BlindEye

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2010, 06:45:28 PM »
I have found two books to be of particular value;  "Buddhishm for Dummies" by Jonathan Landaw and Stephen Bodian, and "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by D. T. Suzuki.

The first is a great overview of Buddhism and the key differences between the major traditions expressed in very clear language for the layperson.

The second is the best single guide to zen I have found yet.  It is a great beginner's guide to zen meditation.

I hope either or both of these are of some use to you.

Online ThePrince

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2010, 11:17:03 PM »
I knew I was not being very specific, but could not think of how to explain what I am looking for.

Introduction.

Essentially, I am deciding if Buddhism is for me.  I was raised Roman Catholic, so I am fairly familiar with the Abrahamic religions.  I know a few Hindus and have spoken with them.  While I find Hinduism fascinating, it does not speak to me on a spiritual level.  Taoism also interest me, but it seems very tied to rituals which puts me off.

So, I am looking, as it were.  Thank you very much for the links.

Hi I am a Buddhist.

I would recommend looking for local groups or centers and attending a workshop or two. Thats how I figured out that Buddhism was the religion for me. I tried going to different religious services and found that the Buddhist one fulfilled my spiritual needs.

Offline Lord Pendragon

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2010, 09:17:30 PM »
While I can't really help you, I wish you good luck on your journey and hope you find spiritual fulfillment. While not a Buddhist myself, I do incorporate certain Buddhist teachings into my beliefs.

Offline adventurer

Re: Buddhism
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2010, 06:01:05 AM »
Keith Dowman about the wheel of passion in Tantric Buddhism:

http://www.keithdowman.net/vajralove/passion.htm