Author Topic: Hello from London! I have beginner questions  (Read 454 times)

Offline Nick184

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Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« on: May 19, 2017, 12:49:02 am »
Hello all,
First I thought I would introduce myself - I am a 19 year old living in London, UK. I am a student. I am very scientifically minded and believe myself to be logical and reasoned. I enjoy reading books about physics, astronomy and psychology.

I have been drawn to Buddhism for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I want to start being a nicer person, in particular to those people that are close to me and that I love. I realise that my own desires, cravings and selfishness mean that I put myself first sometimes.

I occasionally make my girlfriend unhappy by putting myself before her happiness. She loves me SO much and will do anything for me. I just want to make her happy because she is the most incredible person I have ever met and I do love her dearly. I have read the general philosophies behind buddhism and believe it can help me.

I would also like to be more focussed in my life on the things that really matter and not get distracted as much. I procrastinate from my work and I let others down and myself down sometimes because of it.

I have practiced basic mindfulness of breathing this morning for the first time and believe it will help me for the rest of the day by making me more aware of myself and my actions. How do I start practicing meditation consistently and

The questions I have are:
Where do I start? How do I begin to start improving myself?
What can I read to improve my understanding of the buddhist way of life?
To start I want to keep my practice of buddhism to myself, apart from on this forum. I would really appreciate the support of others and like to hear how other people started out?

Thanks for the support,
Nick

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2017, 03:51:38 am »
Quote
Nick184:  "The questions I have are:
 

Hi, Nick.  First, welcome to FreeSangha. :hug:


Quote
Where do I start?


My suggestion would be to begin by reviewing the board's Terms of Service, and visiting the various forums to see what draws your interest.


Quote
How do I begin to start improving myself?

The second  suggestion woud be to begin sitting quietly  for a few minutes at a time, when your day settles down.  Take at look your mind to see what is going on.  Observe your feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories.  Don't try to control anything, just observe what is going on, so as to get to know your own mind.

If you have a Buddhist group nearby your home or school, join a meditation group.  They can teach you the best posture, and positions for comfort and support.



Quote
To start I want to keep my practice of buddhism to myself, apart from on this forum.

That is always up to you.  With whom you share your experience is totally your business.  An online group like ours is a good place to ask questions and to share information.  A local meditation group or a sangha would be helpful as well.

Quote
I would really appreciate the support of others and like to hear how other people started out?

You could start a thread asking that question as you become more familar with  how the forums work.  There is always the private messaging system on the board which will allow you to ask questions of those who seem  to interest you as well.

Again,

Welcome to Free Sangha. :namaste:




« Last Edit: May 19, 2017, 06:08:09 am by Ron-the-Elder »
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.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2017, 04:18:20 am »
Hello Nick,

I'm from the UK too, so its nice to chat to you.

This brief outline of Buddhism might be helpful.

http://santacittarama.altervista.org/e_buddhism.htm

As far as meditation is concerned, its a good idea to join a Buddhist meditation group with an experienced meditation teacher, at a buddhist centre, temple, or monastery. There are lots of different centres & practice groups in London, so if you wanted to keep it to yourself for a while, you could join one that isn't too near to where you live.

If that's not possible,  there are quite a few  meditation resources here:

https://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/showthread.php?356-Buddhist-Meditation

I also recommend this little meditation book by  Ajahn Amaro the abbot of Amaravati Monastery UK:  "Finding the Missing Peace - A primer of Buddhist Meditation"

http://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-books/finding-the-missing-peace-a-primer-of-buddhist-meditation/


Hope that helps a little.

With best wishes,

Pixie _/|\_

 
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 02:30:25 am by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Kodo308

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 07:54:24 am »
Welcome Nick!  ;D


Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 12:10:21 pm »
Hi Nick,

It's my experience that it's good to sample a variety of sources. A lot of folks fall into a particular sect by happenstance and only find out much later that it doesn't suit them. That said, it's good to sit with a group if one is available, because the support is invaluable. Just remain mindful of the many pitfalls to groupie behavior.

After reading a variety of sources, including non-Buddhist, and meditating on my own for several years, I had a strong affinity for zen. I didn't find any problem with starting out on my own for awhile. In fact, it prepared me better for when I met Suzuki Roshi in the sixties, who was a great influence.

Here's my version of basic meditation instruction -- http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/
« Last Edit: May 19, 2017, 12:45:05 pm by zafrogzen »
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 sjaakie

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2017, 11:06:33 am »
Hi Nick,

It was interesting to read your post - and the kind of interests you have. I have similar interests myself - I want to know how things work. The Buddha was also very much like this. Buddhism is something that fits in quite well with modern-day psychology in as far as it does help you to analyse yourself in a way which is curious at first but is very useful if you stick at it

* How do you start?

Well, some people say that you should join a group, that may be an idea, but I did not want to do that and preferred doing things myself at my own pace - it does require patience and dedication if you do it like that, so I would suggest you have a read first about buddhist philosophy or look on the net. I find a guy called Jack Kornfield very clear in his approach - he covers a lot about why buddism is so relevant and what you can achieve. He has lectures etc on Youtube. Then you will want to know how you get there. Any basic vipassana book will tell you how to start in practice. To get anywhere, you first need to quieten the mind - this'll take a lot of practice in itself. This is what the sitting is all about. There is a site called Headspace which costs about £10 a month which will give you all you need to know for the first 4 to 6 months. The guy who does the meditations on it (Andy I think his name is) also explains very clearly why you are doing the things he says - for me this was much better than reading that you *have to* do everything a particular way. That course is on line only. Also, if you want to read, I can recommend a guy called Joseph Goldstien - he has quite a few publications. He does handle the psychology side quite well. I remember having to read things again and again before I "got" it. When you start to understand the philosophy you will see that it was an amazing feat to develop this entire idea. Buddhism tends to have some long lists of things and some of it is steeped in a bit of mysticism I found - just take what you want but the philosophy is absolutely mind-blowing and can be life-changing without becoming a buddhist. In fact, it fits with any other faith quite easily.


* How do I begin to start improving myself?

Well, I would say you start by just practicing mediation, in a group or with a guided mediation online or on a CD. You really need to bear with the basics - it is a foundation you just cannot rush. First get the technique. That is easier said than done, and you may have to start over a few times but you will know when you get it right for you. If you have a teacher this part will be quicker and you can ask questions as they come up. That may be best for a quick start, even if you want to do it alone later - a month may be enough.

Improvements to yourself will actually happen by themself. Everyone can say things like "money does not make you happy" - but you don't really GET it until you see your own mind wanting something and when you get it, seeing how the feeling of happiness is fleeting. That is an example. Then you start to get actually it. Then you start to improve. It is like theory and practice. It is like playing a flight simulation game and actually KNOWING what ii is like doing it for real. Only you know, you can't explain it to another person. This is what I mean by things "unfolding."

I would say to meditate at least once a day. I would aim to get to about 30 minutes daily within a few weeks. It takes me about 5 minutes to get into it and prepare myself. Some say you can do only 10 mins a day but I don't buy that. I prefer early mornings myself - avoid after meals and when you are tired. Otherwise you could fall asleep.

* What can I read to improve my understanding of the buddhist way of life?

The practice can go really deep - how deep is up to you. Monks will really go deep and it takes years and years. It is a gentle process that unfolds as you continue. You need to have patience in the early stages. For me, when I disovered that my yearning for results was actually causing a blockage is when it started to really get interesting. The time scales can be long though. It is like learning a language - your brain actually needs to start working differently and will need to re-wire itself (literally). So just bear with it. Sometime you struggle and it seems pointless but then it opens up and seems a bit clearer in a jump. That's how it is for me.

* To start I want to keep my practice of buddhism to myself, apart from on this forum. I would really appreciate the support of others and like to hear how other people started out?

I would advise the Headspace site as a starting point - there are no downloads - only you know how to find it and you can even use your headphones. The lessons are well structured and unrushed. If you think it is rubbish you have only spent a tenner.

I hope that is something to be getting on with considering your questions.

Well, everyone will have his/her advice. That was mine!

Good luck

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2017, 03:11:29 pm »
Hello Nick

The place to start is the basics, namely, the Noble Eightfold Path, here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html

In respect to social relationships, meditation can help by making you more calm, more loving, more alert and more in touch with actions you have performed that become regretful. In other words, it naturally develops your social conscience.

In respect to social relationships, the most important aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right Speech & Right Action.

In the teachings on personal relationships, right speech & respectful & gentle communication is most emphasised, here, in AN 4.55: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.055.than.html

The five moral precepts are most emphasised, here, in AN 4.53: https://suttacentral.net/en/an4.53

Please note: if you are rationalist, the teaching in AN 4.55 does not actually state: "future life". It simply states: "in the future".

Ultimately, the right understanding that forms the basis of behaviour in relationship is the recognition your life & happiness depends on others. Therefore it is ultimately destructive to have a selfish attitude and ultimately beneficial to have an attitude of gratitude.

In DN 31 is listed the six directions of social relationship & the reciprocal obligations that Buddhism recommends in each relationship.

The six directions are:

1. parents & children

2. teachers & students

3. husband & wife or partners

4. individual & community/associates/friends

5. employers & employees

6. monks/priests & laypeople

DN 31 is here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.31.0.nara.html

An easy to read summary of the Buddhist teachings about secular living can be found here: https://www.mahidol.ac.th/budsir/Contents.html (however this link was not working but is now working).

An alternative is here: http://www.watnyanaves.net/uploads/File/books/pdf/a_constitution_for_living.pdf (read the table of contents for relevant topic).

The later book may sound strict & pompous (because it is translated from Thai) but try to get the core wisdom message about how proper interactions in relationships maintain & further those relationships.

Kind regards  :namaste:


« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 03:17:12 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: Hello from London! I have beginner questions
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 02:07:52 pm »
Nick, you stated your reason for interest in Buddhism is to be a nicer person. This is a great reason. You can start practicing this immediately all over this forum. Wherever you see any post, post something nice and intended to spread good and pleasure and happiness and edify or improve even the things that are already good seeming. Do this also in life, with your girlfriend who can become a great way for you to practice constant and repeated kindness, making your relationship all the more wonderful every moment you find that you are able, ideas will keep popping up as to how you can achieve being an ever-beneficent being.

This is where you should start, it goes beyond technical or confusing things, and it is also very "scientific" in the sense that you will immediately feel good doing it, see good results from it, and it becomes all the more obvious why doing good and being wonderful is the best way of life, even if you suffer and through that suffering.

Turn everything you can, everything you see, everything you do into as much utility of good for good as much as possible, even if you see a music video, think about it and derive and convert all of it to good and lessons and insight, every word your girlfriend says, everything she does, her love, your love, all of it. Increasingly perfect and refine and grow and increase and add to excellent conduct, praiseworthy and adorable action and conduct, admirable and exciting and amazing conduct.

You can also check out some of my other writings on this website so far if they might inspire you and encourage you further.

You have already taken the first step by "wanting to be good, wanting to be nicer, wanting to be better". May you forever be well-intended, noble in every way always.

 


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