I am interested in Theravada Buddhism.
What are some concrete reasons as to why one should become a Buddhist?
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Why Become Buddhist?
A fully enlightened Buddha's teaching is the only thing that bring about complete cessation of suffering. Nothing else can do that. Doesn't really matter if the word "Buddhist" is used. What's important is that the teaching contains "The Four Noble Truths" since only such a teaching can issue liberation from the rounds of suffering for good.
There is no word in Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Korean, Japanese,... that corresponds to the Wester "-ist" qualifier.
For example, in Chinese & Japanese, the term used is 佛教徒 (Ch: Fójiào tú, J: Bukkyōto), lit. "Buddhist teachings people".
Also, in many Oriental countries there is no exclusive attribute: I've seen Thai people worship both a Buddha and a Ganesh statue; I know Japanese people that would identify simultaneously as Shinto and Buddhist.
I just wanted to get that stated first, because it's important to answer your question. Buddhism is not an "-ism" like other "-isms" in Western context. It is not a religion in the sense that requires anything supernatural to operate. It is more a method, a philosophy than a religion in the Western, Abrahamic sense.
"Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth." - Thich Nhat Hanh
Therefore, to become a Buddh-ist (the Budh* root means "to awaken"), implies a volition to understand reality as the historical Buddha did. This should be the foremost concrete reason for someone to take up practice. The recommended way to attain this goal is meditation. There are additional recommendations to facilitate this goal, but none of them take the form of "divine edicts" or leading to "sins" if not followed for lay people. You do not have to accept any doctrine at face value - in fact, the Buddha stressed you should examine everything for yourself in the Kālāma Sutra:
Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing (anussava),
nor upon tradition (paramparā),
nor upon rumor (itikirā),
nor upon what is in a scripture (piṭaka-sampadāna)
nor upon surmise (takka-hetu),
nor upon an axiom (naya-hetu),
nor upon specious reasoning (ākāra-parivitakka),
nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over (diṭṭhi- nijjhān-akkh-antiyā),
nor upon another's seeming ability (bhabba-rūpatāya),
nor upon the consideration, The monk is our teacher (samaṇo no garū)
Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'
Secondary reasons include:
but everything should start with a genuine desire to understand the true nature of reality, self, and the mind. And even then, one can practice and not call themselves Buddhist.
Why become a Buddhist?
It would be to heed the advice and guidance given by that benevolent man with good eyesight standing on the bank, who wishes you permanent freedom from suffering.
This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "Suppose a man was being carried along by the flow of a river, lovely & alluring. And then another man with good eyesight, standing on the bank, on seeing him would say: 'My good man, even though you are being carried along by the flow of a river, lovely & alluring, further down from here is a pool with waves & whirlpools, with monsters & demons. On reaching that pool you will suffer death or death-like pain.' Then the first man, on hearing the words of the second man, would make an effort with his hands & feet to go against the flow.
"I have given you this simile to illustrate a meaning. The meaning is this: the flow of the river stands for craving. Lovely & alluring stands for the six internal sense-media. The pool further down stands for the five lower fetters. The waves stand for anger & distress. The whirlpools stand for the five strings of sensuality. The monsters & demons stand for the opposite sex. Against the flow stands for renunciation. Making an effort with hands & feet stands for the arousing of persistence. The man with good eyesight standing on the bank stands for the Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened."
I am interested in Theravada Buddhism. What are some concrete reasons as to why one should become a Buddhist?