Author Topic: Can I become a Buddhist?  (Read 1448 times)

Offline AlmostThere

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Can I become a Buddhist?
« on: November 17, 2012, 02:47:24 pm »
Hello everyone,

Over the last few years I have been contemplating life, happiness, suffering, society and inter-related stuff quite a lot.  I have also studied various religions, to differing depths, and how I feel they contribute to our world.  The conclusion I came to is like this "based on my intention and understanding Buddhism is right for me".

After contemplation I quickly realised "I need Sanga".  Then I thought that actually I'd like to become a monk, or at least consider heading in that direction.

But I have a stumbling block.  I don't believe in karma and I don't believe in re-incarnation, and I don't believe that anyone, or any length of time, will change that.  I also will refuse to lie about that.  So my immediate concerns are:

1.  If I join in with a local Sanga, potentially being so closely connected and involved, I might put them off their practice because of that, which I think is the wrong thing to do
2.  I can never become a monk because I don't believe all of Buddhism

However, if you don't consider those 2 things I believe that Buddhism is perfect.

Can anyone comment on my concerns?

Many thanks,
Simon





Offline Monkey Mind

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Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2012, 05:13:48 pm »
I suspect, based on many conversations both in-person and on Internet, that many people practicing Buddhism have difficulties believing in karma and re-birth. I think you are in good company. You should thoroughly get your feet wet as a lay person before seeking ordination as a monk, IMHO.

Have you seen this e-book yet?
http://www.justbegood.net/Downloads/e-books/Buddhism%20For%20The%20Modern%20Skeptic%201_1.pdf

Offline AlmostThere

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 06:25:22 pm »
Thank you Monkey Mind.

The books is certainly very useful from that point of view.

I think I might also share my concerns with a monk at a local Buddhist center - I would feel more comfortable being open about that.

Offline Caz

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2012, 09:59:56 pm »
Hi Simon

In order to enter into Buddhism you need to take refuge.

Certain wrong views can be eliminated with insight into the nature of reality, Keep an open mind as closing it is a mark of Ignorance.  :namaste:
http://emodernbuddhism.com/

This eBook Modern Buddhism – The Path of Compassion and Wisdom, in three volumes, is being distributed freely at the request of the author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The author says: "Through reading and practicing the instructions given in this book, people can solve their daily problems and maintain a happy mind all the time." So that these benefits can pervade the whole world, Geshe Kelsang wishes to give this eBook freely to everyone.

We would like to request you to please respect this precious Dharma book, which functions to free living beings from suffering permanently. If you continually read and practice the advice in this book, eventually your problems caused by anger, attachment and ignorance will cease.

Please enjoy this special gift from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who dedicates: "May everyone who reads this book experience deep peace of mind, and accomplish the real meaning of human life."

Offline Lobster

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 04:06:03 am »
No worries.

It is not how much you don't believe but the intensity of what inspires that which you find accord with.
For example I no longer am a Buddhist but that means I practice more mantra, more devotional yidam practice. More meditation etc.

Be a heretical Buddhist by all means . . . if you can. If not it is OK too . . .

http://tinybuddha.com/wisdom-quotes/remember-that-sometimes-not-getting-what-you-want-is-a-wonderful-stroke-of-luck/

GoGet

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 07:07:41 am »
Can anyone comment on my concerns?

Yes!

Look on the bright side - you are not in the British military (inside joke, that)!

Seriously.

First, DO NOT listen to Lobster.  He is obviously in wer-lobster mode and cannot be taken seriously in that condition  :teehee:

Sangha is important.  REALLY important.

Being a Buddhist is defined by refuge, not belief.  What you believe is unimportant, and frankly, irrelevant.  The Buddhist path is about devotion.  Genuine devotion is an open heart.

When dealing with Sangha don't let what you believe get in the way of that refuge.

Talking to the monk you mentioned is a VERY good idea.  That's part of Refuge in the Sangha.  For example.  I recently went through a little path/practice crisis.  I thought the crisis was insurmountable, but sent an email to my guru in Seattle about it.  He instructed me to visit with our Sangha's resident lama.  Great chat.  Made all the difference.  Our teachers are often wise in ways we can't always see until they share that wisdom with us.

Offline AlmostThere

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 07:50:10 am »
Thank you

Offline Monkey Mind

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Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 08:30:42 am »
But I have a stumbling block.  I don't believe in karma and I don't believe in re-incarnation, and I don't believe that anyone, or any length of time, will change that.  I also will refuse to lie about that.


I was listening to a Dhamma talk about "Sadha", translated as "faith" or "confidence" in the teachings.
http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/item/1328-saddhā-buddhist-confidence.html

One of the things I like about this Path is that Buddhism assumes that I have a lot of "wrong view" as an imperfect human being who has lived an imperfect life. It's through practice, and not the proselytizing of others, that I improve upon my imperfections. Karma, re-birth, and Dependent Origination made no sense to me as a person who was reading about them, but they start to make sense when I experience the concepts through meditation. The value of Sangha or spiritual friendship is not that others will convince you that your views are "wrong view". The value of Sangha is a group of people who support each other in the practice, and role model morality/ ethics, meditation practice, and wisdom. Any quality Sangha will have both people who have a lot of Sadha, and people who have a lot of doubts.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 11:05:54 am by Monkey Mind, Reason: correcting erroneous statement »

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 10:57:46 am »
Sorry, it is not like me to pontificate, but I like this thread. I think it should be renamed, "Can I become a Buddhist even though I have doubts?"

For me a major area of doubt involved "merit" and the "dedication of merit". On a basic level, of course I agree that we all should strive to engage in good deeds and abstain from harmful ones. But I had a problem accepting that my good deeds, if "dedicated", might have a supernatural influence on someone else, e.g. "I dedicate this merit for the benefit of all, may all be happy." This doubt was a barrier to my practice. So, as a practice, I started deliberately dedicating merit to people who annoy me. When I volunteered for a charity, I would dedicate my merit to someone who causes me to be angry, e.g. "I dedicate this merit to my boss, may she find peace and happiness." It is impossible to know if my good deeds actually improve the quality of her life, but this practice certainly had a powerful impact on my own disposition. I found myself less and less annoyed with my boss, or "politicians who are ruining this country", or rude/ careless auto drivers, or my friends who drink alcohol in excess, etc. Because I am less and less annoyed with other people, I don't act like a jerk to them as much as I used to. When I am less of a jerk, I am minimizing how much I negatively impact other people's emotional well being. I went from believing dedication-of-merit was hogwash to seeing real value in this practice, for myself and for society.

I visit a group of monks regularly. During my first visit, I asked if a belief in karma and re-birth was necessary for Buddhist practice. The monk confessed that when he first ordained, he did not believe in re-birth. One can practice Buddhism with or without such a belief, but a belief in karma and re-birth lend themselves well to quality practice. He encourages people to accept that "kamma and re-birth are at least possible", and to ask oneself, "If I believed in kamma and re-birth, how might I live life differently?" Many of the answers to that question are things that are beneficial regardless of belief: "I would practice with more earnest." "I would be kinder to people, even ones who don't deserve it." "I'd stop drinking alcohol, stealing from my neighbors, hunting animals for sport, etc."

Offline J. McKenna

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2012, 12:43:34 pm »
doubt is like an alley dimly lit and mostly unknown to the viewer
 
exploration and questioning brings a light to dark areas
...i found there was no "i" anywhere.....

Offline AlmostThere

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2012, 04:26:49 pm »
I like this thread. I think it should be renamed, "Can I become a Buddhist even though I have doubts?"

Feel free to rename it :)

I can relate to everything you're saying - thanks, it's all good affirmation for me.




Offline Lobster

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2012, 06:46:25 pm »
The sangha may be the bind[sic] leading the blind. However it is a thread worth tying. The sangha are a template and illustration. The answer has to come from you.  :namaste:
Catholics go to church with condoms in their pockets. You do not have to empty your pockets to the sangha. Just listen, learn and ask.  :namaste:

Offline J. McKenna

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2012, 06:21:50 pm »
no matter where you go
 
 
remember
 
 
 
there you are
...i found there was no "i" anywhere.....

Offline Lobster

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 05:52:48 pm »
Quote
I went from believing dedication-of-merit was hogwash to seeing real value in this practice, for myself and for society.

There are many parts of a tradition that seem superficially inane. We question their efficacy, despite their retention and advocacy in dharma, sangha and lay practice. Initially we have to choose what makes sense and focus on that and develop faith in the wisdom of the three jewels . . .

I know that people are on one level Buddhas, awake. Knowing that gives me tremendous respect for their potential . . . :dharma:

Offline ground

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Re: Can I become a Buddhist?
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2012, 08:50:34 pm »
Quote
From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html


 :fu:

 


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