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Thread: Exploring Buddhism later in life.

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    Forums Member Fenchurch's Avatar
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    Exploring Buddhism later in life.

    For those of you who discovered Buddhism at a later stage of their lives may I ask how easy was/is it for you to learn about?

    The reason why I'm asking is because I find the depth and complexity a bit daunting sometimes. I was raised a Christian and my family would always go to church on Sundays and place great importance on the principles and reverance of that faith like Christmas etc, so when I began to be intrigued with Buddhism a few years ago and began researching it throughly after a lifetime of being raised on the Christian faith I have found trying to assimate this new faith with the current one I was raised with quite challenging at times.

    And although I've found it to be a fascinating process it can also be quite a slow one too. The only way I can describe it is that sometimes it does feel like I'm trying to learn a new language. I am studying all this and learning from it but it is taking me time, but I will be patient.

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    One problem I found was that Buddhism is embedded in Eastern cultures and arose in these in different times in history. Consequently many of the core ideas, practices and understandings are lost in a bewildering array of material developed within different languages, cultures and mindsets. Luckily there are some universal elements which can be teased out, but it can be quite a long process which, as you say, can require a deal of patience.

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    Forums Member Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenchurch View Post
    For those of you who discovered Buddhism at a later stage of their lives may I ask how easy was/is it for you to learn about?
    Hello dear Fenchurch,

    I have around 23 years studing and practicing Buddhism and it has been fascinating and quite easy for me; but there are some texts that are hard to approach and put into practice. For example, some suttas of the historical Buddha are difficult to understand and put into practice like does passages about Jhanas and the immersion into the no-form realms. This is because from time to time I study the original teachings of the historical Buddha but my core practice and understanding is Zazen, a very simple Zen meditation that has made me wonderful results in my daily life. Having said this, I am a Zenner and Zen has some difficult texts like the Shobogenzo - a middle age Japanese treatise written by Dogen Zengi- but with the sustained practice of Zazen I am understanding much more passages than before.

    I recommend you to keep exploring the diverse traditions in order to find which one becomes more easy to your temper and then practice with that tradition so that this does not become a daunting process for you.

    Best wishes,

    Last edited by Esho; 11 Jan 22 at 17:12.

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    Forums Member mjaviem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenchurch View Post
    ... raised on the Christian faith I have found trying to assimate this new faith with the current one I was raised with quite challenging at times...

    ... feel like I'm trying to learn a new language...
    Christian faith is about enduring suffering while buddhism is about ending suffering.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenchurch
    For those of you who discovered Buddhism at a later stage of their lives may I ask how easy was/is it for you to learn about?
    Hi Fenchurch,

    I don't think that one's age when one discovers Buddhism is particularly important. What is significant, is what one studies to begin with, - and in my opinion that should be the core teachings of the historical Buddha. Skipping backwards and forwards between the teachings, cultural add-ons, and superstitions of the various different schools and traditions which arose after the death of the Buddha, can otherwise potentially cause a lot of unnecessary confusion.


  6. #6
    These resources might be helpful:

    "An Outline of Buddhism"

    https://www.watpahnanachat.org/an-outline-of-buddhism-1

    (Pinned at the beginning of the topics in this "Discovering Buddha's Teachings" forum)

    ....and a PDF of "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula:

    http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/docu...ght_rahula.pdf



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    Forums Member Fenchurch's Avatar
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    When I started doing this one of the things I quickly learn't was that you've got to be careful in what source materials you use. The first book I ever read was Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen, which I purchased with opptimism.
    However, it turned out to be very disapointing for me. The information he was giving came across has being so vague in narrative that I felt I was'nt learning much at all, whilst the rest seemed to focus on his own views and judgements. I managed to get about halfway through before realising I hadn't really learnt that much at all so I gave it up at that point.

    This is one of the reasons why I started looking for others sources.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by fenchurch
    However, it turned out to be very disapointing for me
    I started to read that book myself a number of years ago. Although I was deeply involved with Vajrayana at that time, I was vaguely and very briefly curious about Zen (which is Mahayana.) I confess I didn't get past the first few pages of the book, as I found it rather boring.

    In general, I think its important to find out about how "Buddhism" arose in the first place. I'd been practising Tibetan Buddhism for several years before I even heard anything at all about the the historical Buddha's actual teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path!



  9. #9
    Forums Member Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenchurch View Post
    When I started doing this one of the things I quickly learn't was that you've got to be careful in what source materials you use. The first book I ever read was Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen, which I purchased with opptimism.
    However, it turned out to be very disapointing for me. The information he was giving came across has being so vague in narrative that I felt I was'nt learning much at all, whilst the rest seemed to focus on his own views and judgements. I managed to get about halfway through before realising I hadn't really learnt that much at all so I gave it up at that point.

    This is one of the reasons why I started looking for others sources.
    Hi Fenchurch,

    I support Aloka's idea of having a look to the teachings of the historical Buddha. Even when I practice Zen from time to time I go to the source of Buddhism; its very important Fenchurch. They are the foundation for all traditions including Zen. As I told you in my first post I have arround 23 years in touch with Buddhism. When I started comming here I met the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni 12 or 13 years ago and my undrstanding of Zen, of Thich Nath Hanh and other sources of practice I was involved earlier became clearer; I leave some practices and took others as my core teachings like that of Zazen but always grounded in Sakyamuni's main teaching: suffering, the origin, the cessation and the path.

    I read the same book as you a long long time ago and I enjoyed it but it depends on each person what and how it is understood a given material.

    Again... go to the source of Buddhism and form there... explore until you can find what fits for your practice and understanding.

    Take care...

  10. #10
    Forums Member Esho's Avatar
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    Fenchurch,

    I recommend you The Noble Search from Access to Insight web source; a really beautiful sutta. Explore the page! Have a deep dive in it and enjoy what the Buddha taught.

    Last edited by Esho; 16 Jan 22 at 18:28.

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