Buddhism is not a practice that really solicits for followers. Hence, you will not see any adverts on the conversion of people to Buddhism. As a result, a lot of people who found interest in the practice always wonder how to truly convert to Buddhism. This is because converting to Buddhism is more of a
Thus, to convert to Buddhism involves mainly taking refuge in the Triple Gem. Where the Triple Gem is the Dharma, the Buddha, and the Sangha. Subsequently, you will take a vow to uphold the Five Precepts of the Buddhist community. As a result, you can now follow the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path. This process gives you the identity of a Buddhist.
However, it is still very important to understand in general the teachings of the Buddha. This is because Buddhism does not require any blind followership. Therefore, you have to learn about the basic beliefs of Buddhists. You can do this by reading books related to Buddhism. Or, seeking guidance from a Buddhist with strong knowledge of the Dharma. After this, you will better determine if the practice of Buddhism is for you.
In this article we will be able to see:
- The Basic Teachings Of Buddhism
- Converting To Buddhism
- Devoting To The Practice Of Buddhism
After going through this page, you will find out how to convert to Buddhism. Moreover, you will familiarize yourself with the underlying concept of Buddhism. This will help you to know what Buddhism is all about. And, of course, you will be able to decide if converting to Buddhism is the best option for you.
The Basic Teachings Of Buddhism
Buddhism is a practice that has its base on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). The Buddha is a man who devoted his life to seeking the truth about life. His main concern was how to bring human sufferings to an end. As a result, after the Buddha attained awakening, he shared his findings to his followers. And, the summary of his findings lies in the concept of the Four Noble Truths, the principles of Karma, rebirth, and the Eightfold Path. Generally, these come together to form the Dharma.
The Four Noble Truths
This is the underlying teaching of the Buddhist community. Buddhism is all around this truth about human sufferings. Moreover, the main goal of life is to find everlasting happiness. And, this involves living a life free of any sort of suffering. As a result, the Buddha stated the Four Noble Truths as thus:
First Noble Truth: This is the truth about suffering in general. It states that all beings in existence are suffering.
Second Noble Truth: This involves the truth about the causes of suffering. And, it states that suffering is as a result of desires and craving.
Third Noble Truth: This states the truth on the lasting end of human sufferings. It says suffering has an end. And, this end is nirvana. Here, one must let go of all desires and illusions of an eternal soul.
Fourth Noble Truth: This is the truth about the path to end suffering. And, this states that to attain nirvana one has to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. In other words, the Noble Eightfold Path is the path that leads to the end of suffering.
The Buddhists Four Noble Truths faces human sufferings squarely. It acknowledges the existence and causes of sufferings in all spheres of life. And, also gives hope that these sufferings will eventually end. Above all, it equally points us to the direction we should follow to end our suffering. In this basic teaching is where Buddhism stands.
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Buddhists also refer to the Noble Eightfold Path as practicing the middle way. Moreover, this is the path that one can follow to achieve enlightenment. This path involves living a life of midpoint. That is to say, avoid living an excessive life. Or, a too lowly life. The path teaches the importance of moderation in everything. And, the belief is that the mind can only find the truth when it is quite comfortable. However, this does not mean over-satisfaction.
Hence, the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path includes:
- Right View
- Right Aim
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
The Noble Eightfold Path simply means living a life with the right amount of everything. That is to say, your life should make perfect all the human virtues. When this is so, you will be able to go deep into meditation. Consequently, you will see the truth as it is for yourself. And, enlightenment comes with the ultimate understanding of the truth about human existence. Above all, this path leads to the end of suffering. And, brings everlasting happiness.
The Principles Of Karma
Karma is the law that controls the consequences of our actions in this life. It states that any action we take now has a corresponding result in the future. And, one cannot escape this future consequence.
Karma can be good or bad. As a result, good karma affects those whose actions promote general well-being. While, on the other hand, bad karma affects those whose actions cause overall pains. The good or bad karma of the previous life can affect one in this life. As well, the ones of this life can affect one in the next life. This means that the result of karma can take place immediately. Or, wait till the next life. But, one thing is sure, it must surely take place when the time is due.
Most importantly, there is no savior from the consequences of karma. That is to say, no being whether divine or likewise can change or stop the result of karma. Therefore, every being is responsible for the result of his karma. This is why Buddhists encourage compassion and good deeds. Hence, one can attract good karma towards himself.
There are other activities of man that brings about neutral karma. This means that they do not have any true effects. Such actions as breathing, sleeping cause neutral karma.
Therefore, Buddhists promotes moral living in order to increase the chances of good karma. And, on the other hand, reduce the effects of bad karma.
While rebirth in Buddhism may seem quite a complex topic, it is one of the basic beliefs of Buddhists. Hence, rebirth teaches the existence of living multiple times. That is to say, life does not end after death. Instead, when a being dies, he assumes a new body and comes back in a new life. This cycle will continue till the being attains liberation. And, liberation from this cycle is the prime objective of Buddhism known as nirvana.
In Buddhism, there are other realms in which a being can be reborn. This means that rebirth cannot only take place in the human form. There are six realms that rebirth can place. And, among these are the god realm and the demigod realm. These are higher realms than the human realm. On the other hand, the animal realm, hungry ghost realm, and hell realm are lower than the human realm.
Most importantly, rebirth generally is under the control of karma. In other words, Karma is the law that determines the realm in which an individual is reborn. Thus, when favored by good karma after death, one either goes into nirvana or reborn in higher realms. But, when bad karma comes into play, then the individual comes back in a lower realm. This is an extent the law of karma can go.
Hence, the understanding of rebirth can likely make us live more carefully. This is so to attract good karma as we struggle towards liberation.
No Supreme Being
Buddhists do not believe in the existence of any divine being that controls the affairs of life. That is to say, no being can interfere with the effects of actions and results in your life. Hence, no one is coming to save you. And, also no one is going to punish you for whatever. Instead, you are the one completely in charge of your life.
As a result, whatever you work for is what you achieve. If you live a life of compassion, you will get closer to nirvana. So, there is no one to pray to or intercede for you. Your actions thereby attract a fair consequence.
The Buddha himself has no power to save anyone. Therefore, praying to him or anyone for salvation might as well be a waste of time. However, every being should concentrate on his actions. Above all, everyone should be responsible for their future. Hence, work towards making it better.
The Way Of Inquiry
The Buddha taught his followers to be objective about what they accept as the truth. As a result, one should not just accept things except if they found for themselves that it is true. Hence, believing things on mere hearsay does not apply in Buddhism. Also, believing because of traditions, and faith in another person does not work either.
Instead, before accepting anything to be true, one should examine it himself through truthful inquiry. And, if in his experience he finds it to be true then he can accept. Thus, he should open his mind and try to understand the teachings.
This also applies to all that wants to convert to Buddhism. Before accepting the teachings of the Buddha, make sure you find the truth in them. Moreover, the Buddha never imposed his teachings on anyone. Instead, he shared it with people. And, most of all let them decide for themselves how true the findings are.
Converting To Buddhism
You now have the idea of what Buddhism is basically about. At this point, we are going to talk about how to officially join the Buddhist community. Therefore, follow these steps if you accept the teachings. And, equally willing to live up to it.
Choosing A School Of Buddhism
While Buddhism is one, there are various schools of Buddhism. In other words, you can refer to them as branches of Buddhism. There are basically three main branches in Buddhism. These include:
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Theravada Buddhism
- Vajrayana Buddhism
These are the popular schools of Buddhism. However, there are other schools of Buddhism. For example, we have Pure Land Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism. Some of these schools in some classifications appear to be under one of the major branches.
These schools of Buddhism have similar basic teachings. However, they differ when you go into details. Most of the differences come as a result of Buddhism mixing with other traditions.
Therefore, it is advisable to inquire about the basic differences between these schools of Buddhism. Moreover, find out also the schools within your community. This will help you choose the most suitable Buddhist school.
Joining A Community Of Buddhists
After finding out the details about the schools of Buddhism, you then join a community. Joining a Buddhist community involves visiting a Buddhist temple and making contact with other Buddhists.
A Buddhist temple should be present in major cities. Start from the temple nearest to you. Pay a visit to as many Buddhist temples as you wish. However, during your visits, find out which school of Buddhism the temple belongs. Interact with the monks or other community members. These people will be able to guide you through.
Ask questions about the temple and the activities they offer. Above all, try out their services. This is the best way to know the one that is more comfortable for you. Hence, you join the temple.
Do not worry about how you will feel in Buddhist temples. Buddhists really have a true perception of communal living. As a result, they will accept you with open arms.
Following Up With The Community
After joining a Buddhist community, endeavor to follow-up with the services. Attend meditation classes and other ceremonies. By so doing, you will make friends within the community. And, of course, you will understand better what the community is all about.
If the community goes on an organized visit to prominent Buddhist sites, always try to join. These are ways of getting together. And, promoting the community.
Taking refuge involves a formal ceremony where one can be recognized as a practicing Buddhist. Thus, Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And, these form the Triple Buddhist Gems.
This is the ceremony where you declare to others that you have become a Buddhist. There is actually no denouncing of your former beliefs. In fact, Buddhism tolerates other belief systems. This ceremony is more like making a social statement.
However, the ceremony involves making a solemn promise to uphold the Five Precepts of Buddhists. And, the Five Precepts include avoidance of:
- Sexual immorality
- False speeches, and
- Intoxicating substances
After taking refuge, you will become recognized as a Buddhist. However, note that the important thing in Buddhism is keeping up the Five Precepts. The ceremony is secondary. Hence, you are a Buddhist even when you do not go through the ceremony. But, you maintain the morals of the Buddhist precepts. Therefore, do not any way feel pressured to undergo the ceremony of taking
Devoting To The Practice Of Buddhism
When you have accepted Buddhism and the dharma, do well to live it out in your daily life. Always keep the teachings handy. Stay close to the Buddhist community where you identified. These will help keep you on track. Thus:
Always Study The Dharma
Read texts related to Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhism is a practice that came into existence very long ago. Therefore, it is impossible to know all about Buddhism within a short time. Moreover, many Buddhist suttas are available in translated formats. Hence, you can get them from the temple where you identified. Of course, some temples have libraries, so check if yours do. On the other hand, you can purchase suttas for yourself. Or, even get them online.
Moreover, listening to explanations from the monks or a lay devotee can be of great help. As a result, try to attend classes in your Buddhist community. Always ask questions anywhere you feel you need more explanation.
When you see that you have a lot to learn about the Buddha and Buddhism, do not feel under pressure. Take your time and study regularly. The most important thing is how much you understand the teachings.
Enroll For Meditation Classes
Meditation classes can be a great means to build your spiritual life. As a result, find a community that comes together for meditation purposes and join. It is likely that your temple will offer similar classes. That is if you identified with a temple.
Meditation will clear your mind. Consequently, you will see things the way they exactly are. And, it keeps you on the right path towards liberation.
Other Ways To Remain Devoted
Remember to always uphold the Five Buddhist Precepts. Also, practice the Noble Eightfold Path. Let these practices be part of your daily living.
Above all, do not start punishing yourself whenever you fail to live up to any of the precepts. Instead, forgive yourself and continue to strive. On the other hand, live a simple and balanced life. Observing the Noble Eightfold Path will keep you in the right direction.
Finally On “Converting” To Buddhism
When it comes to Buddhism, “conversion” may not be in its real sense. That is to say, there is no requirement to change entirely from your way of life. Instead, Buddhism offers you the opportunity to be objective about your beliefs.
Of course, if you are a practicing a religion that teaches morals, why will you want to change from the teachings?
Even Buddhism is saying “ask questions before you accept me”. And, this is what the “way of Inquiry suggests. Hence, seek the truth for yourself. And, not keep bent on conversion.