Author Topic: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!  (Read 1764 times)

Offline Helios

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Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« on: November 14, 2015, 06:28:25 pm »
Hello everyone,
After much thought, I am very willing to give Buddhism to try. I have been a very anxious/stressed person my whole life and I desire peace. I have watched several YouTube videos and read a few online articles about Buddhism, but still have a few questions.
1) I still feel that I do not understand what meditation is and what it does. In meditation, does one merely sit and focus on their breath for a few minutes? What does this do for you?
2) What exactly is Nirvana? Can this actually, in practice (not just theoretically) be attained? Like has there been documented proof of someone achieving Nirvana?How long roughly does it take to reach Nirvana?
3) Based on my limited knowledge, it seems that a central tenet to Buddhism is to simply let go of attachments and desires. I feel that this is much easier said than done. How does one go about doing such? Also, is the desire to not desire a desire?
Thank you very much! I am really looking forward to incorporating Buddhism into my life.

Offline Dianet

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 10:36:09 am »
Hello Helios,

I'm only going to try work on questions #1 and #3 as I feel I've personally probably got a few more eons to go before I know much about Nirvana/Nibana.  One idea for meditation topics would be to look at Bhikku Samahita's home page.  You will see numerous posts with Daily Dhamma Translations from Bhikku Samahita and there is a link to the source website, which contains a "meditation manual" section.

Sometimes I think that there are as many different ideas about "How to Meditate" as there are meditators. I tend to try something out for a few months and try something else. If I feel like it's beneficial, I'll come back to it.

On the attachments question -- I think the first step is awareness of how much we may be clinging to a lot of silly little things in our lives. For example, how much truly useless stuff do you have in your life just because it was once useful or it reminds you of a happy time and you just keep hanging onto it? And that's just a random starting place to thinking about attachment. . . .

Hope we'll be hearing more from you,

Diane

Offline Cha

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2015, 09:45:51 pm »
For question 1 I have a little understanding. For me focusing on the breath has the effect of finding out how busy my mind is and the patterns of where it goes without my bidding. Seeing these patterns, becoming aware of habits that are heretofore unconscious, helps me to understand better where I am stuck. Focusing on the breath is the practice of not being your mind's slave. As you try it you will see how you are not making the decision consciously to have a thought and yet you are having it. You will notice patterns. For me I notice I often tell myself I am either great or horrible. It is also the practice of being truly in the present. You can try focusing on sounds or body sensations as well. Really explore these in the moment and notice if you are attaching judgement to them (pleasant sensation/ugly sound). You can also see attachments through this process (I want this sensation to go away, I want to hear that sound again). Notice what your mind does with pleasant, unpleasant and neutral experiences. This practice, which for a beginner might be done for 20 mins a day, will help you identify your attachments which may be causing you pain in daily life. These may be thoughts and beliefs you didn't know were recurring until you tried to focus on the breath and couldn't.

Offline eagleshadow

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2015, 05:35:12 am »
Hello everyone,
After much thought, I am very willing to give Buddhism to try. I have been a very anxious/stressed person my whole life and I desire peace. I have watched several YouTube videos and read a few online articles about Buddhism, but still have a few questions.
1) I still feel that I do not understand what meditation is and what it does. In meditation, does one merely sit and focus on their breath for a few minutes? What does this do for you?
2) What exactly is Nirvana? Can this actually, in practice (not just theoretically) be attained? Like has there been documented proof of someone achieving Nirvana?How long roughly does it take to reach Nirvana?
3) Based on my limited knowledge, it seems that a central tenet to Buddhism is to simply let go of attachments and desires. I feel that this is much easier said than done. How does one go about doing such? Also, is the desire to not desire a desire?
Thank you very much! I am really looking forward to incorporating Buddhism into my life.
The Buddha always emphasized the total and far-reaching benefits of Right Meditation, and taught a way of achieving it which begins with establishing the mind on the body as it is when you're not doing anything with the body, on pleasant bodily experiences which arise from not doing anything with the body, and this is the easiest path to the Buddha practice. The Buddha described Right Meditation as pleasure that leads to pleasure, whereas the desire for mere sense gratification is described as a hindrance to the mind. But you'll be glad to know you should desire something if you want to achieve something, as you might expect through common sense. The Buddha, before he became Boddhisattva, must have wanted a different way to live, otherwise why wouldn't he be just like us now? Anyway you'll find many full-length descriptions of Right Meditation in the sutras, (Kevatta Sutra frinstance, try accesstoinsight.com), and its always best to go to the source when finding out what something is all about. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so drink deep. If you try a little self-hypnosis you'll be better off than joining a group or a having a teacher other than the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas themselves.

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Offline dunmatter

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2015, 07:25:58 am »
if your new a simple technique would to be to stare at a wall for 30, to an hour, or more up to you. namaste, remember its just a wall.

Offline dunmatter

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2015, 07:30:01 am »
just stare at the wall, simple. =]

Offline eagleshadow

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2015, 08:22:19 am »
I'm doing it. I'm staring at the wall.

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Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2015, 10:18:55 am »
#1. Go to my website, frogzen.com, and click on "Meditation Basics." There are some links there that will give you some idea of the many benefits of meditation that research has revealed.

#2. You could say that when you meditate you are practicing Nirvana. It isn't anywhere else.

#3. Step back, relax and just let desire, and everything else, come and go, eventually it will empty out.

Actually practicing with a group, especially in the beginning, is very helpful
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Amberlove

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2015, 09:31:02 am »
Hi all, this is somewhat related and unrelated but I wanted to post this here as I see this is a current ongoing thread.  I read this from an article about going at Buddhism on your own and I'm wondering what it means:
"Traditionally, it is said that dharmic understanding develops in three stages: hearing, contemplating, and meditating. Developing an intellectual understanding of a text or presentation is just the first step, called hearing. You then need to wrestle with the material so that it begins to sink in, so in the practice of contemplation, you make a direct, personal, and quite intimate relationship with the material you are studying. When your understanding deepens to the point of mastery—when it’s in your bones—that is the third stage, meditating"

Does this mean that after I've read something I should meditate on it or am I mistaken? And would I be meditating on the idea?

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2015, 11:46:07 am »
I have to disagree with that statement. In fact I'd reverse it. First you meditate, then think about it and finally read about it. Starting out with an idea or concept will only block real experience, which is what meditation is.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline mysticmorn

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2016, 06:47:17 pm »
OP, Cha described one type of meditation. You just sit, and notice your thoughts. Observing where your thoughts go can teach you about yourself.  Another type of meditation is to breathe slowly and deeply, pushing the air down into the diaphragm, then very slowly releasing it. Visualize the breath coming in through your nose, passing down your air passage, past the lungs into your belly, pause a second, then watch it rise slowly back up, and out.

This has the effect of calming your nervous system, so your mind can become quiet. Then you sit and dwell in that quiet space. If you notice your mind wandering, you bring it back to the breath.  Repeat as needed for 5-10 minutes. You'll get better at maintaining your focus on the breath.  This improves your concentration, a skill that carries over to everyday tasks, your studies if you're in school, your driving (eyes on the road! Can't let your mind wander when you're behind the wheel), and elsewhere.

Over time--months, years, you'll enjoy the calm abiding that a 20-minute mental vacation can give you. Also, you might gain spontaneous insights from this practice.  This type of meditation stills the busy left brain, the chattering mind, and opens up the right brain's intuitive faculties.  You could gain AHA! moments, as the Buddha did when he realized the Middle Way. You might gain a deeper understanding of the nature of Life, or of your own nature. You might have a breakthrough moment, where you realize the Oneness of all Life, the inter-connectedness of everything. This will bring you closer to Liberation from attachment to petty things and from illusion, and closer to Nirvana--seeing things as they are, without projections, clinging and filters.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2016, 12:38:57 am »
"Traditionally, it is said that dharmic understanding develops in three stages: hearing, contemplating, and meditating. Developing an intellectual understanding of a text or presentation is just the first step, called hearing. You then need to wrestle with the material so that it begins to sink in, so in the practice of contemplation, you make a direct, personal, and quite intimate relationship with the material you are studying. When your understanding deepens to the point of mastery—when it’s in your bones—that is the third stage, meditating"
Does this mean that after I've read something I should meditate on it or am I mistaken? And would I be meditating on the idea?

I think this is pointing towards the difference between intellectual understanding and direct insight, theory and practice. 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 01:23:41 am by Spiny Norman »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Please Help Me - Willing to Give Buddhism a Try!
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2016, 08:19:55 am »
Quote
Helios asked:  "1) I still feel that I do not understand what meditation is and what it does. In meditation, does one merely sit and focus on their breath for a few minutes? What does this do for you?

The idea of meditation is to learn how our individual minds work through direct observation.  Through this experience we work to use this insight to gain more beneficial control of our minds and the subsequent behaviors resulting from our intentional actions resulting from such mental activity.

Quote
  2) What exactly is Nirvana? Can this actually, in practice (not just theoretically) be attained? Like has there been documented proof of someone achieving Nirvana?How long roughly does it take to reach Nirvana?

Nirvana from my limited understanding is a state free from all cause and effect.  Only those who have attained Nirvana can truly answer your question.  Therefore, since I have not attained it I will decline to answer any further.  To do otherwise would be dishonest and of no help to you.


Quote
3) Based on my limited knowledge, it seems that a central tenet to Buddhism is to simply let go of attachments and desires. I feel that this is much easier said than done. How does one go about doing such? Also, is the desire to not desire a desire?

This is discussed in Buddha's Four Noble Truths.  1) Life is "dukkha", a Pali word meaning  "suffering, pain, dissatisfaction, birth, aging, disease, death, and rebirth."  2)  There is a cause to dukkha.  3) There is an effective means to end suffering.  4)  This means is The Noble Eight Fold Path.


Quote
Thank you very much! I am really looking forward to incorporating Buddhism into my life."

Welcome to the Buddhist community.  Free Sangha is a good forum in which to begin your exploration of Buddhism.  There are others also comprised of brick and mortar, and other online groups, which we refer to as "sanghas", which are collectives of individuals like yourself sharing what they have learned in their individual practices, and monastics, who live their practice twenty-four x seven.

 :wink1:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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