Let me restate this question. Its a difficult question for myself. When I mean guide line i guess Im assuming a general Fundamental line then I assume traditions would vary from this one line, but I dont know. Its difficult to find these guides or fundamental aspects from the sources I've tried looking at. I find most sites all agree on Four Noble Truths, Eight fold Path, Five Aggregates, Meditation, Non Duality, Non self, Impermanence, Metta Suttra, Dhamapada, Pali Cannon, Just these concepts I've come across. The hardest thing would be there is no experts around my area, no meditation centers, nothing to go on at all. Just simply the internet an depending on who you talk to you get a different question so I find it confusing at times trying to get a view point of what to search for. I tried googling the answer an I find many sites that just tell you their point of view an dont even offer a fundamental line to follow They offer a few bits an pieces of what Siddhartha said. It was really the reason why I joined this site was to find a expert or master to help me understand Buddhism. I dont have a tradition in general, just trying to seek out the exact teachings of Siddhartha.

Maybe this is a better way of putting the question. In less Buddhism is just a pick an choose philosophy, where you start an continue where ever you want in the path

  • 1
    The answer you are going to get is going to depend largely on what tradition you want to study and practice in. Are you interested in a particular school or tradition of Buddhism?
    – Bakmoon
    Oct 8, 2014 at 14:41
  • Looking at the answers below, it is clear we're not going to get a single good answer for this question as it stands. Reading through the options listed makes me dizzy. Can you specify a tradition at least? Oct 8, 2014 at 16:59
  • One of the problems with this question is that even specifying a tradition is hard -- in fact it's probably among the harder aspects.I'm going to ask a meta question to talk about what useful components of this overall question could be.
    – tkp
    Oct 9, 2014 at 14:53
  • On second thoughts, I won't. It's been tried already (meta.buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/170/…) and didn't really get much traction. Ah well.
    – tkp
    Oct 9, 2014 at 14:58
  • accesstoinsight.org/begin.html suggests there are two components: 1) learning suttas 2) learning to meditate. Maybe there is also 3) living well/ethically, practising the Eighfold Path or something quite like that. Chronological or other sequence for beginners suggests a sequence for reading suttas.
    – ChrisW
    Oct 12, 2014 at 22:06

4 Answers 4


Buddhism is often symbolized by a wheel; the Wheel of Dhamma or Dharma. The circular nature of the symbol is also representative of how people progress along the path of Buddhism; it's a circular progression. With each time around, your understanding grows so you may find if you re-read books, you get even more out of them in subsequent readings.

Begin with whatever interests you and don't be concerned that you don't seem to have many resources nearby. Through the internet we have access to more knowledge than humanity has ever had before. It takes a while to sort through it of course; but as Andrei mentioned, this is a process that takes years.

In the 2,600 years of Buddhism, many schools and traditions have evolved. Keep an open mind and try to learn a bit from each as you decide which tradition really speaks to you. Even if it seems that there are no Buddhist groups, monasteries, or temples in your area; don't give up on seeking out a group if that interests you. I was convinced there were no groups on my area, but in time I actually found several. Not all groups, teachers, temples advertise their existence. It can take a while to find something local or to determine a place you wish to travel to, to learn more. Have patience. :)

With whatever else you do, developing a meditation practice will help turn all this from an intellectual exercise to an experiential one.

Best wishes.

  • If I had to lay out the wheel in a order how would that Look like? What do you start with an then where do you continue from there?
    – Oswulf
    Sep 29, 2014 at 4:14
  • 1
    "The Beginner's Guide to Walking the Buddha's Eightfold Path" by Jean Smith might be a good starter book. She recommends focusing on the wisdom teachings of the Eightfold path first; Right Understanding and Right Thought. Then one moves to the morality teachings of Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood. Lastly she recommends one focus of the mental discipline teachings of the Eightfold Path; Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. But again, it's not like you have to finish one before you start the next. Very circular and with ever deepening understanding.
    – Robin111
    Sep 29, 2014 at 13:51

I would start with keeping the five precepts and then doing meditation.

For a beginner one of the most important lessons to learn is practicing restraint and overcoming our resistances (I feel too lazy to meditate, I want to gossip/trash talk about this person who I dislike, ect). We call this "balancing the faculties".

When you feel lazy you push yourself to do what you is correct and wholesome, even if difficult. When you feel restless and agitated you stop feeding the negativity and cultivate the opposite.

When possible you should find a teacher who would be willing to give you advice on meditation. A monk or nun is best, but if you have none nearby, you can trust a experienced layman, or laywoman who can give you a meditation object and help guide your practice.

  • Well I was actually hoping to find A teacher on this site, but not sure if this is the kind of site for that anymore.
    – Oswulf
    Sep 29, 2014 at 4:12
  • The internet can not make up for the personal instruction of a teacher who guides your practice. Those best able to instruct you in this matter, are often busy with helping their own students and making sure to no over-extend themselves and weaken their own practice. So you see you are in a bit of a pickle. Why not go to a meditation center/monastary in your area? If none exists...I can attempt to help, I would be willing to give you some starter advice. Please PM me if you are interested.
    – Anthony
    Sep 29, 2014 at 6:40
  • I looked for the Option to Send personal Messages I didn't find the option, An went to the Help section to see if it was some kind of option you get with reputation progression, I didnt see a listing for it, I guess or Now assuming it may not fit this format. But yes I would love to have some starter Advice. It would help me kick off the official right start to Buddhist. Because the Internet is helpful for some things it is not on trying to Achieve instructions on where to begin an how to follow Buddhism like a guide.
    – Oswulf
    Sep 29, 2014 at 7:13
  • If you go to my profile, I have my email listed there. [email protected] Please email me and we can start.
    – Anthony
    Sep 29, 2014 at 8:09

I recommend the following, and in the following order. You won't blow a gasket if you do things out of order, but I've placed them as I have for a reason:

  1. Read "10% Happier" by Dan Harris and put into practice some basic daily meditation
  2. (Optional and only if you're philosophically minded) read "Waking Up" by Sam Harris (no relation to Dan)
  3. Either watch Yuttadhammo's basic teaching videos on Youtube (start here) or, if you don't mind some controversy**, read "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" by Daniel Ingram (better still, watch the videos and read the book)
  4. Expand your study. As you do, gradually increase the amount of time you spend actually doing the practice rather than merely reading about it. Here are some good sources to get you further off the starting blocks:
  5. Using your new-found but by-now growing knowledge and practice, find a teacher, tradition, and community. Also, broaden your daily personal practice into more intensive retreat-style practice from time to time
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat

One other comment. My own experience says that there is no silver bullet to the problem of unguided newcomer finding their way. You just have to feel your way carefully, listen, cross-check, keep your brain and common sense switched on (that's crucial in these internet days when there is so much nonsense spouted), and try to see the process of learning itself as part of your spiritual practice. To begin with it can feel like you're scrambling around in a room with no windows and no lights. But eventually your eyes will grow accustomed, you'll even find the dimmer switch for the lights, and then as you learn how to turn up the light you'll realize you're not in a room but in a vast cave, full of the most incredible treasure. Good luck!

** Note that although MCTB is controversial, in my opinion it is seen that way for no good reason that should bother a beginner. Ingram is heavily influenced by the teachings and lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw (as is Yuttadhammo), and when he talks about Buddhism he is doing so from a position of quite considerable knowledge and experience. That's not to say he's right, but to your beginner's eyes he's not saying anything important that's wrong.

  1. Open your heart to magic.
  2. Discover the force behind karma that always acts contrary to your attachments.
  3. Pick up the concept of Spiritual Materialism.
  4. Stalk your ego and work on your karma/attachments for at least 5 years.
  5. Study Buddhist theory. Realize the virtual (conventional) nature of all objects.
  6. Practice formal meditation for several years.
  7. Realize God / Tao / non-duality.
  8. Master the mechanism of Intent (aka faith -- deliberately choosing and maintaining your perspective).
  9. Realize Prajna-paramita and Emptiness.
  10. Awaken to your True Nature.
  11. Cultivate your True Nature.
  • After reviewing your Answer it has left me with more questions. I can understand karma an Attachments. I will have to try an look into Spiritual Materialism. Stalk your ego, an attachments, how does one do this is that Mindfulness?, an why 5 years? Seems arbitrary in a way. What is formal Meditation awareness of breath or mantra? again why 7 years? Does Buddhist acknowledge a God? Is that part of the Non Duality? I will look up prajna - paramita - an emptiness is that like the removal of ego? True Nature does the equal a form of Enlightenment?
    – Oswulf
    Sep 29, 2014 at 4:10
  • Take your time :)
    – Andriy Volkov
    Sep 29, 2014 at 11:48

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