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Good day to all! Total beginner here hoping not to bother. I was wondering if there are any suggested reads, talks, podcasts or videos one in my starter level should dive into to understand a bit more about buddhist philosophy. I've only watched a few video modules on buddhism and have become quite interested in establishing it as a way of life. Unfortunately there are no buddhist temples or centers in close proximity, so getting information through those means is improbable. Thank you.

  • We have compiled some material for beginners in the help center of this site. – Thiago Aug 2 '17 at 16:17
  • Possible duplicate of New to Buddhism – user698 Aug 3 '17 at 17:35
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Finding your path to enlightenment is a personal experience. Everyone's journey is different. But they all start with the first step of seeking refuge in the jewel.

The "jewel" of Buddhism consists first of the seeking refuge in the Buddha. Learn about Siddartha Guatama (Shakyamuni Buddha)- his life and his general philosophy. These days that can be quite a task in and of itself as there is so much available for study. Aside from his life I'd look at his spot in actual history. Read about the ancient history of eastern religion and Buddhism's place in the mix.

If you're sufficiently enticed then learn more about the discipline by seeking the second point in the jewel: the dharma. Here we examine all the teachings and texts and techniques of Buddhism itself.

The last of the 3 aspects of the jewel is the sangha. You seek refuge in the others within the Buddhist community. In short - taking refuge in the "triple gem" means taking refuge in Buddha as founder, dharma as truth, and sangha as mentor. This is essentially how one "declares" himself a Buddhist. Then the real work starts.

After seeking refuge you become a student. Ideally you would seek a teacher within that sangha. At this point everyone's path diverges. Many take oaths as students and commit their lives to following first the 5 precepts. Some will do this within a monastic community and others within their everyday lives. It's all very flexible and the Buddha himself even warned against becoming mired in tradition and technique.

If you're not fortunate enough to have a nice Buddhist influence within your community in which to turn then I'd recommend acquiring a copy of the Upanishads and the Dhammapada. The first contains some of the most ancient religious writings on our planet coming from the Vedas and the second is the actual teachings of the Buddha. One can build a sturdy foundation of knowledge in the dharma by merely digesting the isha, katha, and brihadaranyaka upanishads. I prefer the translations of Eknath Easwaran as my sanskrit is bad.

good fortune and namaste! damyata datta dayadhvam.

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    Understood, although I am curious as to why the Vedas are included in Buddhist teachings, if they pertain to Hinduism? – AMAC Aug 2 '17 at 15:36
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    It's a very interesting story actually. I'd urge you to study the intertwining histories of all religions as they appeared and spread through the near east, middle east, and far east. You'll find common roots in all - and specifically what beliefs were brought with the arya as they crossed the hindu kush into the indus valley and met the existing civilization there. It's also important to study the influence of confucianism as well as Lao Tzu and Taoism as all these ideas embrace and define the contours of the philosophies espoused by the Buddha and the dharma. – Kauva Aatma Aug 2 '17 at 16:06
  • @AMAC I too read have translations of several Hindu scriptures, but I don't think that "the Vedas are included in Buddhist teaching" ... that recommendation (the Upanishads) seems to me an idiosyncrasy of Kauva Aatma; they're not "Buddhism 101". – ChrisW Aug 13 '17 at 23:42
  • The Upanishads definitely contradict Anatta. So the Upanishads cannot be considered Buddhism 101 – ruben2020 Aug 14 '17 at 1:26
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I was wondering if there are any suggested reads, talks, podcasts or videos one in my starter level should dive into to understand a bit more about buddhist philosophy.

Books

There's a good amount of great books in english about Buddhism. There's also a great amount of bad books, so I suggest starting with introductory books written by monks.

These books may vary in content according to the school they belong to. However, a book introducing the Noble Eightfold Path would probably be good, since this it is shared by all buddhist schools, being the core doctrine of Buddhism. One option here is Bhikkhu Bodhi's The Noble Eightfold Path.

Other suggestions of introductory books can be found in the question Introductory books to Buddhism.

Discussion

Three noteworthy places to discuss Buddhism on the internet, where monks also participate, are the wheels forums and SuttaCentral:

  • Dhammawheel: A Buddhist discussion forum focused on Theravada Buddhism

  • Dharmawheel: Companion site to the above. A Buddhist discussion forum focused on Mahayana Buddhism.

  • SuttaCentral: a portal of translations of buddhist texts, featuring a section with discussions and Q&A. Focused on Early Buddhism / Theravada.

Videos

The youtube channel we here are more familiar with is yuttadhammo's channel, since he is a former moderator of this very site. He is a Theravadin monk.

Authors

It might be interesting to get a sense of english authors with some notoriety in various traditions and look for their books, interviews, dharma talks, etc. For example, Thích Nhất Hạnh and Shunryu Suzuki on Zen Buddhism, the Dalai Lama on Tibetan Biddhism and Bhikkhu Boddhi on Theravada Buddhism. These are all well known in western buddhist circles (I'm assuming you are located in the west). You may also be interested in materials by authors with titles such as "roshi" (japanese zen), "rinpoche" or "tulku" (tibetan) and "sayadaw", "thera", "ajhan" or "bhikkhu" (theravada).

There's also plenty of non-monastic/lay authors who publish excellent material, but I suggest being careful here, as there's a lot of dirt with jewels and it can be hard to distinguish between them when one is beginning.

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A classic book for a beginner to read is "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula, which can be downloaded here.

The Basics of Buddhism podcast series by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA) seems to be good. Ajahn Brahm, who features in some of these podcasts, is also a famous speaker on Youtube.

Two good beginner articles to read are The Buddha and His Dhamma by Bhikkhu Bodhi and An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Tricycle's Buddhism for Beginners has some nice articles.

If you want to feel close to a Buddhist community, watch the live and recorded videos of the BSWA on their Youtube Channel. During the live sessions, you can submit questions. Sometimes they have live events like the five precepts initiation ceremony on Wesak Day and the occasional monk ordination ceremony.

You can learn the basics of Buddhist meditation as taught by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu either using the booklet or the Youtube videos. You can join the online meditation courses also, where you could have interaction with other course participants.

Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu has also written many great answers on this website, which would be helpful to a beginner. His YouTube channel also has many good videos for beginners.

When you want to deep-dive into the teachings of the Buddha, use the accesstoinsight.org website's Self-guided Tour of the Buddha's Teachings. The book "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi is also highly recommended.

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Buddhism: A Layman's Guide to Life (All is english, except introduction is thai)

http://www.watnyanaves.net/uploads/File/books/pdf/buddhism_a_layman_s_guide_to_life.pdf

The Pali Canon: What a Buddhist Must Know

http://www.watnyanaves.net/uploads/File/books/pdf/the_pali_canon_what_a_buddhist_must_know.pdf

CONSTITUTION FOR LIVING (English+Thai)

Buddhist principles for a fruitful and harmonious life

http://www.watnyanaves.net/uploads/File/books/pdf/a_constitution_for_living_thai-eng.pdf

But if you would like something very deep:

Teaching & Training (2012 Edition) (a concise introduction to the Pa-Auk Sayadaw’s teachings compiled by his foreign disciple)

http://www.paaukforestmonastery.org/books/MNY%2001%20Teaching%20and%20Training%20-%20042015.pdf

and:

http://122.155.190.19/revata/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=8&Itemid=111

  • Is that Thai layman's guide typical of a Buddhist lifestyle in SW Asia? I found the Introduction marvelous and then I gasped at how regimented and prescriptive it was after that. My first logical reaction was to declare it dictatorial and dismiss it as such. But I reminded myself that these guidelines supplant actual experience for those in a monastic environment. Are these followed in such an exhaustive manner by those in SE Asia who are not living a monastic life? I am just curious. – Kauva Aatma Aug 2 '17 at 20:23
  • Don't believe your western lobbyists. Thai military force the democratically elected government out because they can not control the country's escalating political crisis, almost 1 year. People died more than 126 between almost 1 year because of that crisis. The elected government call for their post protester mob to fight with pre protester mob, that protested corruption of elected government, 0.7 trillion bath in 2 years, and that trying to pass the Amnesty law for Thaksin Shinawatra. The elected government protester mob had done to protest by firing the building around thai in 2010. – Bonn Aug 3 '17 at 0:51
  • Our royalty and military very love and trust the meditated bhikkhu very much. They also protest none vinaya strictly monk, too. In the normal rule, we almost had been took dhammakaya bhikkhu to be the great patriarch. But the coup with new king, force to let meditated bhikkhu who is vinaya strictly, to be the great patriarch. The military just try to return the public forests, that were corrupted by mafias around thai. – Bonn Aug 3 '17 at 1:05
  • Oh my friend I am very sorry. I was not talking about politics at all. I was only asking about the very detailed, regimented aspects of the Buddhist guide. I know nothing about the politics of Thailand - I was interested more in the culture. Please accept my apologies for being unclear. I have made no judgment about the politics of Thailand. I visited Phuket once and they were all very nice to me. I rather enjoyed my time there. namaste. – Kauva Aatma Aug 3 '17 at 1:07
  • I'm sorry, too. I can not understand your message. I am a thai and my english is terrible. The answer should be "People must be the good layman, before meditate. So I show those books to you", right? – Bonn Aug 3 '17 at 1:15
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Reading the Buddhism topics on Wikipedia and thoughtcoare a good starting point. There is a nice Zen Buddhist sangha at Treeleaf.org that has a very good fund of information.

With the web, we're not restricted in our search for enlightenment. However, remember, reading is only an intellectual exercise, one needs meditation to go deeper into the spiritual aspect.

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"establishing it as a way of life". OK, you're seeking faith, sweet! Step number 1. Every steps comes out from this step, make your faith stronger. Break it and make it again. Temper it like because it is literally your strongest weapon. This is what the analysis is for, what the experiences are for. All practice and fruit come from this ground.

Step 1. Read about the buddha's life.
- Google it, read about it, rejoice in the all the awesome stories. There are a bunch of YouTube cartoons. I really like a whacky cult movie called laws of the sun, take it with a grain of salt. Anyway... Afterwards, here's a link for concrete conceptualization...http://chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php/The_Six_Supernatural_Powers_of_Buddha

Step 2. Read about the Buddha Dharma(laws of nature he discovered and gave to the world for our ULTIMATE PROSPERITY) - Do your googling and what not. Once you see what most people are saying, I recommend this article and website https://puredhamma.net/dhamma/buddha-dhamma-non-perceivability-and-self-consistency/ Also lawsofthenature.com

Step 3. Attract/Find your Sangha My honesty recommendation is to apply steps 1 & 2 as a life-integrating practice, and your subconscious will attract to your sangha in time. Might already be happening and you don't even know it. Anyway, you can of course stick with forums. Bring up Buddha in conversation and see where the buddha's take you.

Be curious, be humble, be vigilant, be empowered. The whole world, including myself roots for your success.

Warmly,

Lobsang Donyo

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