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I am new to Buddhism (Theravada). I am 80 years old and am keen to learn and practice it during my remaining time. I wish to get in touch with a well read person whom I could write and ask for explanations of aspects I find difficult to understand . It will be a great help.

Is it possible?

  • IMO, this question is better posted on Reddit, a larger community where you can actually message each other for the mentorship you seek. – Ahmed May 23 '15 at 21:14
  • Hi Krishan: welcome to the site. There actually seem to be some fairly well-read people, who have replied to questions on this site. Can you give some examples of the kinds of question that you will want to ask? – ChrisW May 23 '15 at 21:28
  • Hello krishan aggarwal and welcome to Buddhism.SE. We've put together some information to help you get started here – Robin111 May 25 '15 at 20:37
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There are many well read people in this forum itself who can help clarify aspects of Theravada that you find difficult to understand.


On a side note however, there is not much you need to learn or know about Theravada in order to practise it successfully during your remaining time, as long as you grasp the fundamental principle of Theravada and clearly understand what the path of Theravada Buddhism entails.

My personal suggestion is that you watch and read some of this monk's (Yuttadhammo) essential video series and his book. Here are the links:

  • The Buddhist TV – In this video series, he explains the core principles of Theravada buddhism and how to incorporate it into all aspects of your life

  • Introduction to Meditation: How To Meditate – In this video series, he explains what meditation is (the core practise of Theravada Buddhism) and instructions on how to practice it comprehensively

  • How To Meditate: A Beginner's Guide to Peace – This book is a written version of the video series on meditation, and is more detailed and comprehensive than the corresponding video series.

From my personal experience, watching these video series and reading his book is sufficient to help you understand clearly the core of what the Buddha taught and how to practise it successfully, and thereby it will also set you on the path to the goal of Theravada Buddhism - destruction of the mental defilements and freedom from suffering. In the process, they will also clarify aspects that you find difficult to understand about what the Buddha taught.

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I am 80 years old ...

Age is not barrier. You can start at any age. Maybe you can use a chair to sit if you find sitting difficult. Also double check with the centre about stairs and slopes. If you mention before hand about your age and if you do have any difficulties then you might be able to get a convenient location with less stair or slopes to climb.

... and am keen to learn and practice it during my remaining time.

You can locate a meditation centre from the following list for your practice:

I wish to get in touch with a well read person whom I could write and ask for explanations of aspects I find difficult to understand.

For theoretical understanding you can use a site like this. Best is you discuss with a meditation teacher.

I don't think many Buddhist meditations centres per say would really do correspondence in answering questions only as their focus is on the practice. Once you do a course you can stay in touch with the teachers and then ask them questions.

But you can use forums like this for Q&A and there are other forums (e.g. http://www.dhammawheel.com/) which you can use for discussions.

  • Do you know whether these centres would participate in the written correspondence (Q+A) that the OP is asking about? – ChrisW May 23 '15 at 21:04
  • That is not how meditation centres would generally operate. So I don't think so. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 24 '15 at 2:58
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Yes, it is possible.

Why don't you post your deeper questions here just as you did now? Reddit is also a fantastic place filled with even more intelligentsia and you can get answers very quickly.

To answer your other doubts:

If you have an interest in learning the Path and can generate detachment, then you will easily adopt into this simple but important school.

The most important process in Theravada is going through the Stages of Insight (see "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha).

This Stages of Insight process happens automatically when practicing awareness meditation (vipassana) correctly.

One must retreat: make an extensive amount of time to practice and pay clear attention to mind (strong Five Faculties on the Four Foundations) all day and night, with moderate sleep and food.

Even though most of us are not actually Enlightened, walking the path to it is just as simple as this. Being clearly, effortlessly aware of present reality. (read: high level of 5 Spiritual Faculties)

The "advanced questions" are all about Right View and understanding the component structures better and learning to let go of attachments (this might involve reading non-Buddhist things).

Although I do not recommend it for beginners, the retreat can be done without any retreat instructor. One may use a retreat manual. In many cases, a retreat manual is better than a bad retreat place where people just talk all day and share their problems/life-content.

Some Taoist wisdom here: conserve your jing (semen): be celibate. At your age, it is easy to calm your mind but the jing essence (life force) is already low. If one elder manages to reach the higher stages and then loses the sila of celibacy (due to increased sexual desire), then one can die due to one's higher energetic state. Conserve jing. (Buddha says the same thing but smartly does not go into the energetics of it because people will focus on that too much.)

  • The first sentence "Why don't you post your deeper questions here?" could be a comment under the question: to try to understand why the question is being asked, and/or to invite further question. But the rest of this answer doesn't answer the literal question which was asked. – ChrisW May 23 '15 at 21:01
  • Yeah you're right, taken literally, the answer to this question is a simple "yes." I think overall this question itself is a Reddit kind of question. – Ahmed May 23 '15 at 21:13
  • Does reddit do Q+A where you can post questions? Or is it, instead, a place to post a link to anything you have read? – ChrisW May 23 '15 at 21:15
  • Both! You can share a simple link to all or you can create an open-ended question, qa, survey, etc. – Ahmed May 23 '15 at 21:17

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