Buddhism for beginners – Lion’s Roar

New to Buddhism or Meditation? Then you probably have a lot of questions – and you will find some useful answers here, in the form of articles by The roar of the lion and Buddhadharma.

Buddha Shakyamuni. Lacquered wood, Myanmar, 15th century. Courtesy of LACMA.


What do Buddhists believe?

Buddhists have many different beliefs and practices, but there are some common principles; these are the fundamental discoveries that the Buddha made. Thich Nhat Hanh describes them as follows: impermanence, (everything always changes), not self (nothing has a solid core or soul), and nirvana (peace is the absence of fixed concepts). These are known as the “three marks of existence”.

The Doors of Liberation

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche describes these truths alternately in four points, known as the “four seals”: ​​all composite things are impermanent; all emotions are pain; all things do not have an inherent existence; nirvana is beyond concepts.

What makes you a Buddhist?

Is Buddhism a religion?

It depends on who you ask, and it also depends on your definition of “religion”. For example, we asked three great Buddhist thinkers the same question, and they got three different answers. Scholar Charles Prebish answered “Yes”, because Buddhism postulates a conception of the ultimate truth and a way to experience that truth. Tibetan Buddhist professor Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche answered “No”, arguing that Buddhism is more of a science of the mind. And Zen teacher Joan Sutherland replied, “Kind of”: Attachment to Buddhism may be religious, but your experience may be different.

The most important answer, of course, is yours – and so you might take comfort in the fact that whatever your point of view – religion, psychology, lifestyle – if it works for you, you’re right.

Is Buddhism a religion?

So is it okay if I’m not religious?

Absoutely. Many people – especially those who see themselves as “spiritual but not religious” – have found that Buddhist thought and practice improves and works well in their lives. Our editor Melvin McLeod listed the reasons why:

Are you spiritual but not religious? 10 reasons why Buddhism will enrich your path

Is there an Eternal Soul in Buddhism? What is behind the concept of rebirth?

As Narayan Helen Liebenson explains, “Anatta (non-self) is a central teaching of the Buddha, as is rebirth. How do you put these seemingly contradictory teachings together? The Buddha taught that the freedom to samsara, the repeating cycle of birth and death, is made possible through the understanding of non-self – that nothing can be hung like me or mine. So one could say that rebirth affects those who cling to a sense of self but ends for those who release such an attachment.

As for what is reborn, the Buddha did not answer this question. All the teachings guide us towards the end of suffering; the Buddha seems to have been more interested in helping living beings out of slavery than in the theories.

Ask the teachers: Is there an eternal soul in Buddhism?

What is dharma?

As Reginald Ray wrote: “The Sanskrit word ‘dharma’ is without doubt the most important and commonly used term in Buddhism. Among the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in which all Buddhists take refuge, Dharma is preeminent. In a sense, says Ray, it is “the underlying substrate of reality – of our lives and our world.” It is the ultimate and primordial fact of who and what we are. In a second sense, dharma is a phenomenon, it is “what is so in our lives, whether we like it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we expect it or not”. In its third and fourth senses, dharma is viewed as the Buddhist path itself and, more specifically, the Buddhist teachings that guide us along the path.

What is Dharma?

How do you become a Buddhist?

If you accept the above principles, you can make a formal commitment to Buddhism in a ceremony called “taking refuge”. Because nirvana means letting go of the ego’s futile search for impermanence of refuge and selflessness, the twist is that you are taking refuge by not seeking refuge. If you can do this, you are truly a Buddhist.

The decision to become a Buddhist

How do I study if I don’t have a teacher or a community?

“For the independent practitioner,” writes Judy Lief, “there is no clear roadmap. The volume of material to study can be overwhelming, as can knowing where to start. So it’s probably best to start at the beginning, with yourself.

How to read Buddhist teachings

Which Buddhist Books Should I Read First?

As Judy Lief says, there is a lot of material out there, so we’ve compiled a list:

10 Buddhist Books Everyone Should Read

How can I start Buddhist meditation?

Focusing on the inhale and exhale is a basic technique, practiced by novice and experienced meditators, to deepen concentration and cultivate meditative insight. In our Essential Guide to Meditation, you’ll find simple meditation instructions, answers to common meditation questions, and tips to help cultivate peace, stability, togetherness, and compassion.

How to Meditate: The Buddhist Guide

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