risinglight wrote:Hi everyone,
I recently started to explore Buddhism and other spirituality practices and am so glad I found this forum. You all seem like nice people, and I'd love to get some help from you as I'm very new to Buddhism. Some of my questions are:
Do you know of any good resources for a beginner to learn more about or practice Buddhism? I prefer books but other venues (websites, podcasts, etc.) are welcome too.
How did everyone get started with practicing Buddhism?
Do you meditate? If so, what has helped you with it and what have you found to be most difficult with meditation?
Thank you for any answers that you can give me. I look forward to learning more from this board.
welcome! As others have suggested, accesstoinsight.org is phenomenal.
good books are:
"in the buddhas words" by bhikkhu bodhi. it is a compilation of important pali texts with wonderful introduction and some commentary. it's great because other than smaller books like this, we have the pali canon (oldest record of buddhism and it's teachings) itself which is thousands upon thousands of pages and is daunting too tackle at first. although eventually it's great to start reading the nikayas themselves.
"satipatthana: the direct path too realization" by analayo. it's incredibly intellectual and DEEP which can be off putting for some (me at times too be certain
), but it covers a really important sutta that itself covers a large part of buddhist practice. namely, mindfulness (speaking broadly). being that mindfulness and concentration are, in my opinion, the two most complicated steps on the eightfold path i feel this type of book is really important for practice. alternatively though another good one on the same topic, but more direct and less deep is "the heart of buddhist meditation" by nyanaponika thera and even more simple: "the four foundations of mindfulness in plain english" by bhante g (bhante also has one that just covers mindfulness more broadly called "mindfulness in plain english"). i've read and love them all.
"who is myself?" by ayya khema. this covers meditation from a theravada perspective. i feel this book is mostly true too the suttas themselves. however another important view is the commentary and a good book from that perspective is "focused and fearless" by shaila catherine. so that covers "concentration" more or less, at least for a beginning.
i started practicing buddhism because i got into martial arts when i was a teen and heard that meditating makes you better at it. i immediately fell in love with meditation and then buddhism as a whole. i started attending a zen temple near me and it was really wonderful. i only fell away from zen because the temple kind of had a mister myagi thing going where i wasn't sure if i was being taught by a wise teacher or someone who just didn't know how too teach or didn't care. the instruction was maddeningly vague and i spent a lot of time meditating with almost no results to speak of. i still wonder if the teachers were masters who were leading me into understanding with their minimalist instruction and i was just impatient (although i trained for years...) or just bad teachers!
after that i found theravada which is much more detailed than zen and utilizes step by step instruction and development which i find much more comfortable. i only did martial arts for a few years but have been practicing buddhism for more than a decade.
i meditate every day. it has helped me clear my mind and i've had some small realizations, nothing special, but realizations nonetheless that have made me 100% certain that buddhism is the way too see into the mind proper and ease it's suffering. oddly enough my meditation in the theravada tradition has made me understand zen meditation a lot better!
what have i found difficult?
figuring out what techniques are the correct ones!!!!! this is a personal problem since there are no theravada teachers in my area, i learn everything from books and every book has it's own spin on things. whereas if i had a teacher i would just learn from them and, when i had a question, it would be answered by them instead of me failing to find a specific answer in a book by a specific author and ending up reading a new book by a new author that answers the question but then creates new ones between the two techniques! phew!