It is very easy to find lots of information on the internet about Buddhism and the concepts. However I struggle to know where or how to start becoming a Buddhist, if that is the correct way to state it.

  • Welcome to Buddhism.SE! This is a difficult question to answer here. It's a bit like asking "How to become Christian?" Buddhism is a big thing, so unless you know specifically what you are looking for, you're bound to get some pretty conflicting answers. – yuttadhammo Oct 17 '14 at 14:01
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    Just by looking for information, I think you can safely say that you've started. ;-) – user698 Oct 17 '14 at 14:45
  • @yuttadhamno Bobsworth couldn't do much better than begin with your "How to Meditate" videos. – Lowbrow Oct 17 '14 at 15:46
  • @Bobsworth do you mean you want to begin practicing meditation, practicing Buddhism by making offerings like many lay Buddhists or both? – Lowbrow Oct 17 '14 at 16:03
  • See also How does one become a lay Buddhist? – ChrisW Oct 17 '14 at 16:21
up vote 6 down vote accepted
  • Find and join a sangha (buddhist community) that you are comfortable with.
  • Talking to the community to understand what and how they practice buddhism.
  • Accustom the practices based on what you can comfortably do for the moment.
  • Never forcing yourself to the extreme, e.g. immediately become a vegetarian, practice 1 hour sitting meditation daily, spend the whole day just talking about buddhism etc.
  • Buddhism practice is basically a continuous process of improving one's sila (morality/precepts), samadhi (concentration/stillness) and prajna (wisdom), until one attains the buddhahood (nibbana / nirvana).
  • As a start you can view Buddhism essentially is a lifestyle which would lead the practitioners to a better tomorrow.

Here is a short and nice article about Buddhist path: The Buddhist Path in 3 words

  • good answer, except the infinite loop part :) still +1 for the first answer! Welcome to Buddhism SE. – Andrei Volkov Oct 17 '14 at 16:10
  • @AndreiVolkov, thanks. It is really an infinite loop. The thing is after it becomes habitual, the doer is no longer feel he/she is doing it. This is just like walking. For the infants, they have to learn it but once they master it, it becomes part of them. – JooGuan Oct 18 '14 at 4:06
  • If it was an infinite loop, Buddha would not say "reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal". According to Chogyam Trungpa, getting stuck on infinite self-improvement is Spiritual Materialism, not Buddhism. – Andrei Volkov Oct 18 '14 at 12:28
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    It's just a word. "Infinite" usually means "endless", however, which may not be the word you'd want. There's "continuous" which means "without a break" or "without ever stopping". Or "continual" which means "recurring", "regular", "frequent" (but perhaps with some stops in between). Or it can be described as "circular" (c.f. the "wheel of dhamma"). Another English word to use (to describe a repeated sequence of several steps) might be "iterative". – ChrisW Oct 19 '14 at 10:16
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    @JooGuan, ChrisW yes, without a break, until completion -- sounds good. – Andrei Volkov Oct 19 '14 at 12:32

I would start with taking a good look at your life and creating an inventory of pathological patterns -- typical situations when you get yourself in trouble, usually accompanied by strong emotions.

Then try to identify corresponding attachments (preconceptions, biases, extra importance you assign to stuff) - and spend some serious time watching yourself act in real situations. See how letting go of these attachments during the act itself immediately reduces or completely eliminates the emotion.

Practise this act-watch-admit-identify-let-go-act-watch-etc cycle for several years, until you get both good at watching yourself objectively as well as capable of letting go of pretty much anything.

1) Familiarize yourself with what sorts of Buddhism exist and which one speaks to you. There are 80,000 doors to the dharma and the teachings vary because they are specific to the audience they were taught to.The books aimed at university students do the best overviews of all traditions, but can feel "heartless", the books by accomplished practitioners of a particular sect have the most heart, but may or may not speak to you.

2) Find out what real world groups exist and visit them. If you're in the West, you may want to check to see if services or classes are in English before you attend. If no groups exist, consider trying out online video meditation classes or create a meetup.

3) As you study the various schools of Buddhism, look for both ideas and practices-- the ideas color all your actions, the practices are specific things you do, from chanting, to meditation, to following precepts and so on.

I suppose you've seen How does one become a lay Buddhist? which mentions ideas like 'Taking Refuge', the 'Three Jewels', and the 'Five Precepts'; and that you're asking a more personal question.

I struggle to know where or how to start becoming a Buddhist

If you're struggling then presumably you feel a need.

Perhaps that's the first step.

I think that Siddhartha felt a need: in his case, it was his discovering that poverty, illness, old age, and death exist, that made him decide that there was some problem, to which he wanted to discover some solution. It was that which caused him to invent (or discover) Buddhism.

Similarly I suppose for other people, "becoming a Buddhist" or "practising Buddhism" means:

  1. Having, being aware of, a need or problem (or several)
  2. Trying to resolve that problem using Buddhist theory-and-practice

I think that if or when you start step 2 then you are "becoming a Buddhist" or "practising Buddhism".

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