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Thread: Which school?

  1. #1
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Which school?

    Hi! I've been studying Buddhism for a hot minute now and I've started practicing at this point, but the one thing I still don't know is which school of Buddhism I want to subscribe to in the end. I'm leaning towards either Mahayana or Zen based on what I've read about them so far, but it's very hard for me to decide. Can anyone help me decide somehow? Maybe explain/link the different types of Buddhism (I feel like I'm missing some sub-groups anyway)? Am I overthinking this and I don't actually need to choose a specific school to practice? Thank you!

    (Sorry in advance if this information is somewhere on the forum already! I skimmed around and didn't immediately see anything and I'm about to go to bed so I didn't want to spend too much time searching lol)

  2. #2
    Hi Dan,

    This short outline of Buddhism might be helpful to make a start. (pinned in our Discovering Buddha's Teachings forum)

    https://santacittarama.altervista.org/e_buddhism.htm

    Also, here's the second edition of "An Introduction to Buddhism" by Peter Harvey, which has information about the development of Buddhism and the various different traditions and schools within them :

    https://toleratedindividuality.files...-practices.pdf

    Personally I think its worthwhile to take your time and first have a grounding in the basic teachings of the historical Buddha Gautama before choosing one of the traditions of Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana. When I was younger and knew nothing about Buddhism, I was attracted by all the colours and sounds, the smell of incense, and the imagery of the various deities which are part of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the stories of Tibetan siddhas and so on - and then got deeply involved with Vajrayana for years, before I knew anything much about the basic teachings of the actual Buddha at all, I'm ashamed to say!

    Later, I began to investigate early Buddhism and Theravada, and especially the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, so I guess I'm somewhere in between two traditions now!

    We don't have any teachers here at BWB and we're all in different stages of understanding, so as well as investigating on the internet, its a good idea to try and visit some actual Buddhist Centres, temples or monasteries and go to some of the talks given by their teachers - and have chats to the other people there .

    This Buddhanet worldwide search facility is good for finding different centres and practice groups:

    http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/


    Hope that helps a little.


  3. #3
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Thank you so much Aloka!

  4. #4
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Dan Saiyan:
    ... "I'm leaning towards either Mahayana or Zen"...

    Zen is a subset of Mahayana:


    This link includes a discussion of The Three major schools: https://www.buddhismwithoutboundarie...ls-of-Buddhism

    But, there have been many others since the time of Sakyamuni Buddha: https://www.bing.com/search?q=histor...&setlang=en-US

    ….but your journey begins with "your" first steps. ….which should include "both" study and practice.


    I also recommend you spend at least a year or two with each school available to you, because of the complexity of each school's teachings.


    I began studying & practicing with Zen in Vietnam and Japan & U.S., a very short visit with Tibetans in U.S., and then landed for many years with The Theravada, Forest Ministry, working as an editor for Bhikkhu Samahita, because of the excellent documentation of The Pali Canon / and Tipi Taka (Three Baskets of The Dhamma)
    doing translational research from Pali to English languages. Finally (or maybe not). as of today, landing in Secular practice.

    Keep in mind that Buddha advised that our study and practice are like boats we use to cross rivers. There is no reason to continue with them once we have reached the other side of the river.
    The rivers are called Nibbana (Pali), or Nirvana (Sanskrit) depending upon the school in which you practice.


    Please note that I have never worn a robe, or shaved my head since my baby photo shown in my avatar. However, aging is returning my hair to its initial state.

    _/\_Ron
    Last edited by Olderon; 09 Feb 19 at 15:08.

  5. #5
    Forums Member Dan Saiyan's Avatar
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    Thank you!

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