How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Post Reply
mddrill
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:05 pm

How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by mddrill » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:24 am

Hello, I've been practicing Zen meditation for a few years and want to check out the Theravada tradition, but I don't really know where to start. I see that there's a Theravada monastery near me, but it doesn't have any regular meeting times for lay practitioners like the Zen centers I'm used to. It does say that you can talk to the monks from 7am to 5pm, would it be a good idea to go there anyway?

I have no intention of becoming a monk, but I do want to get serious about my practice right away. I always felt drawn toward Theravada, but got started with Zen because my friend brought me to a Zen center nearby.

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 1236
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by cappuccino » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:43 am

Understanding the teaching is the first priority.

Caodemarte
Posts: 831
Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by Caodemarte » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:14 am

They have open hours to talk with the public so you should visit if you can.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19517
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:51 am

Greetings,
cappuccino wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:43 am
Understanding the teaching is the first priority.
Agreed. Dive into the suttas.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

SarathW
Posts: 9164
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by SarathW » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:38 am

I don't really know where to start.
This is my standard recommendation for beginners:
a)Read Buddhism course. (Take about 12 hours to read and give you a good idea about the teaching)
http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/PDF_BuddhismCourse/

b)Print a copy of this Dhamma Chart and refer to it while studying Buddhism.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=16785

c) Read Buddha’s Teaching by Narada. Start from chapter 15.
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf

d) While you reading texts please listen to the following Dhamma Talk by Joseph Goldstein.
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6162/

e) Start reading Sutta.
Good starting point would be to read Bikkhu Bodhi’s “In the Buddha’s Word”
Link to the summary:
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/in ... ic_id=6185

Then read Sutta Central. Start from Majjhima Nikaya. https://suttacentral.net/mn
or Listen to the Sutta:
http://audtip.dx.am/tipitaka/mn/mn-eng.html

f) Last but not least practice what you learn.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 3525
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:54 am

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:24 am
I see that there's a Theravada monastery near me, but it doesn't have any regular meeting times for lay practitioners like the Zen centers I'm used to. It does say that you can talk to the monks from 7am to 5pm, would it be a good idea to go there anyway?
As well as the advice given above, I would also go to the monastery if I were you. By just going along, you would be able to see if there are any times when there are formal meditation sittings, puja, or other times when lay people can go along. You might meet other lay supporters, who can be very helpful. You will see in the suttas that dana (offerings) is an important part of the practice in Theravada, and this is another opportunity. It is also good to be around monastics - to see how they conduct themselves. A lot will depend on whether the monks speak your language, and what types of personalities are involved, but it would be useful to find out whether they are amenable to answering any questions you have about the suttas or your practice.

You are lucky to live near a monastery - it is a great spiritual resource!

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2682
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by robertk » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:46 am

The first step should be to get a foundation in the theory.
An easy read is Abhidhammatthasangaha
see here: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/abhidhamma.pdf

paul
Posts: 1046
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by paul » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:30 pm

Below is the way Theravada works, meaning the practitioner must have a conceptual grasp initially. An overview can be obtained by reading “The Noble Eightfold Path” by Bikkhu Bodhi and in conjunction, beginning a reading of the Satipatthana Sutta, the discourse on mindfulness which forms the core of Theravada practice, in “Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization”, by Ven. Analayo.

Both these books can be found online and you should build up a conceptual framework in your own understanding rather than visiting any monastery which can be a distraction from focussed study, and has the danger of cultivating attachment to personalities, rules and rituals to the detriment of real understanding and progress.

“Right view, as explained in the commentary to the Sammaditthi Sutta, has a variety of aspects, but it might best be considered as twofold: conceptual right view, which is the intellectual grasp of the principles enunciated in the Buddha's teaching, and experiential right view, which is the wisdom that arises by direct penetration of the teaching. Conceptual right view, also called the right view in conformity with the truths (saccanulomika-sammaditthi), is a correct conceptual understanding of the Dhamma arrived at by study of the Buddha's teachings and deep examination of their meaning. Such understanding, though conceptual rather than experiential, is not dry and sterile. When rooted in faith in the Triple Gem and driven by a keen aspiration to realize the truth embedded in the formulated principles of the Dhamma, it serves as a critical phase in the development of wisdom (pañña), for it provides the germ out of which experiential right view gradually evolves.
Experiential right view is the penetration of the truth of the teaching in one's own immediate experience. Thus it is also called right view that penetrates the truths (saccapativedha-sammaditthi). This type of right view is aroused by the practice of insight meditation guided by a correct conceptual understanding of the Dhamma. To arrive at direct penetration, one must begin with a correct conceptual grasp of the teaching and transform that grasp from intellectual comprehension to direct perception by cultivating the threefold training in morality, concentration and wisdom. If conceptual right view can be compared to a hand, a hand that grasps the truth by way of concepts, then experiential right view can be compared to an eye — the eye of wisdom that sees directly into the true nature of existence ordinarily hidden from us by our greed, aversion and delusion.”—-“The Discourse on Right View”, Majjhima Nikaya 9, Bikkhu Bodhi.

User avatar
samsarictravelling
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:17 am
Contact:

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by samsarictravelling » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 am

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:24 am
Hello, I've been practicing Zen meditation for a few years and want to check out the Theravada tradition, but I don't really know where to start. I see that there's a Theravada monastery near me, but it doesn't have any regular meeting times for lay practitioners like the Zen centers I'm used to. It does say that you can talk to the monks from 7am to 5pm, would it be a good idea to go there anyway?

I have no intention of becoming a monk, but I do want to get serious about my practice right away. I always felt drawn toward Theravada, but got started with Zen because my friend brought me to a Zen center nearby.
About the book 'Good Question, Good Answer' by Bhante Dhammika, at the website:

This little book had been in print continually since 1987 and has gone through hundreds of editions. At present it is also available in 36 languages and continues to have a world-wide readership. Please feel free to reprint this book, or reproduce all or parts of it any way you think suitable.

https://www.bhantedhammika.net/good-que ... ood-answer

There are other good books, also, maybe better than this one.

jmccoy
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun May 28, 2017 6:18 pm

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by jmccoy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:30 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:38 am
I don't really know where to start.
This is my standard recommendation for beginners:
a)Read Buddhism course. (Take about 12 hours to read and give you a good idea about the teaching)
http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/PDF_BuddhismCourse/

b)Print a copy of this Dhamma Chart and refer to it while studying Buddhism.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=16785

c) Read Buddha’s Teaching by Narada. Start from chapter 15.
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf

d) While you reading texts please listen to the following Dhamma Talk by Joseph Goldstein.
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6162/

e) Start reading Sutta.
Good starting point would be to read Bikkhu Bodhi’s “In the Buddha’s Word”
Link to the summary:
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/in ... ic_id=6185

Then read Sutta Central. Start from Majjhima Nikaya. https://suttacentral.net/mn
or Listen to the Sutta:
http://audtip.dx.am/tipitaka/mn/mn-eng.html

f) Last but not least practice what you learn.
Hi SarathW. Any chance that you can provide the full / fixed / repaired links to the above bolded URLs? Thanks.

SarathW
Posts: 9164
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: How do I start out in the Theravada tradition?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:54 am

Hi Mike
Could you provide the link to the summary for in the Buddha's word?
Thanks.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests