Can a 11-17 years old meditate and become arahant? Is Buddhism only for adults?
Some (I presume most) Buddhists are taught to start their practice when they are children.
Who was the youngest Arahat? discusses references in the suttas to young (e.g. 7-year-old) Arahants.
The Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta (MN 61) are instructions which the Buddha gave to his son, Rahula, when he was 7:
- Don't lie
- Look at ("reflect on") what you do, what you say, what you think -- before, during, and afterwards -- to know whether it leads to affliction or not.
- This type of reflection is the one way to "purify" the three kinds of actions (bodily, verbal, and mental)
According to the canon, Rahula too became an arahant (not immediately -- by about age 20).
No, wisdom and needed merits are not a matter of age. And a young tree can be bend easy, while an old is hard to change.
As a child, being provided by all needed to live on (all totally voluntary by others = much debts and required gratitude for it), one can easy life a holly life and attain Sainthood, if in good guidiance of what is good and listen to it.
Seeking out for good monks (keeping the original rules, do not act as lay-people servants and live with lay people), assosiate with them, rander service, listen and if having possibility seeking for being allowed to go forth by oneself: e.g. ordain.
If one is female, a girl, one should not go alone without ones parents, or other male protectors (allowed by father and mother) and approach monk/monks alone. Also should not join even groups of mixed gender and always look out for female groups, tend to mother and possible seek out for nuns our female practicing groups, if very trustfull male attendant can be not found or listen to the Dhamma on more public occations and events to be protected by the group.
In now ways a young person should accumulate debts or waste his merits/wealth for useless things. The sooner meeting and associating with noble people and with deed love listen and follow their advices, the more secure would a young persons path to highest gainings be.
If not accessible, such real friends yet, focus on right view, fulfill all duties toward parents, teacher, elders, stick firm to the basic precepts and practice generosity. Giving the causes, all effects come by it's own: patient is all what is required.
They should in no way lie without dependency and walk around thinking "i can get it somewhere else..." and act very strong bond to their "father", "mother" not violating there duties (which of cause does not include to act against the basic precepts).
Depending on parents and owing a lot of debt toward them, they should ask them whether the are allowing to associate with someone else and depend (also if particular) to them. This includes also asking parents if they allow to join a internet community. (it's totally improper how exchange and "against good moral", for example, acts careless in giving those under protection ways to act outward their relation. A child is not what is called "vested with legal capacity" and certain disclaimer do not protect especially a legal person of "full legal capacity".).
So possible start to ask your parents if they agree that you came here! And follow what they advice.
Seeing a young man acting according his known rituals, the Buddha explained him the detail meaning and gave him the lay-mans rules: The Layperson's Code of Discipline.
Buddhism is for everyone! You can also become an arahant at any age.
Nirvana is present in every moment. Every moment is an opportunity to observe Nirvana. Every moment is an opportunity to become enlightened!
Starting as young as you are is wonderful! You are setting yourself up well to reach enlightenment this lifetime! You should be very proud of yourself!