What is a Buddhist?

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  • Jishin
    Member
    • Oct 2012
    • 4820

    What is a Buddhist?

    Is it someone who proclaims to be one? Or someone who reads about it, or sits on cushion from time to time, someone who has Buddha statues, someone who tries to do good, a combination of the above, etc?

    If a Buddhist, how does someone answer questions in a predominantly Christian society such as why isn't your Dad/Mom going to church with you? Why does does your Mom/Dad spend all that time meditating? Aren't you worried that they are going to hell?

    Humbly,

    JC
  • Taigu
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
    • Aug 2008
    • 2710

    #2
    A buddhist?...somebody sitting.

    As to church and hell and heaven...Other toys.

    What people think of you? Bullshit. What you think about yourself? Bullshit.

    I d rather go to hell than to Church ( much more fun and more...)

    Final word.

    gassho


    Taigu

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    • Omoi Otoshi
      Member
      • Dec 2010
      • 801

      #3
      A buddhist is someone who is practicing buddhism. What is practice? Who defines what buddhism is? I wouldn't worry too much about that. You want to practice buddhism? Find yourself a buddhist teacher (you already did!). On the other hand, if you were to wrap yourself in a bed sheet and stand on your head, calling that buddhist practice, it could be. You could be actualizing Buddha perfectly, while someone who sits in a beautiful cross legged pose may do so out of pure greed, aversion and delusion. To me, a buddhist is someone showing compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings. Someone who cultivates Bodhi mind, Buddha's mind. Someone who believes in the Buddha's four noble truths: Dukkha, the causes of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, the path leading to the cessation of dukkha. Zen is the direct pointing path, but not the only path. Buddhism is the way of wisdom and compassion, but not the only way. Ultimately, there's no way, no truth, no buddhism. Just this.

      As to your questions, I'm afraid there's no clear cut answer. A start would be to look at where these questions are coming from. You? Who is this You? Sit, and explore, by just letting yourself be, without trying. Be who You are. 100% Buddha.

      Gassho,
      Pontus
      Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 11-12-2012, 02:56 PM.
      In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
      you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
      now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
      the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

      Comment

      • Yugen

        #4
        Thank you for this thread Taigu, Pontus, and John.

        Deep bows,
        Yugen

        Comment

        • Nengyo
          Member
          • May 2012
          • 668

          #5
          I started thinking of my self as a buddhist after reading my first book on zen. Now here I am a couple of years later, studying the precepts, sewing a rakusu, and sitting regularly and I can say I have no clue what a "Buddhist" is. It's OK though. It is what it is.

          Usually, I tell Christians that Buddhist practice to end the suffering of all beings and that we have rules and practices similar to theirs. I also tell them that we have magical powers so they should watch out. OK not the last part, but yeah finding common ground works well.
          If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

          Comment

          • Daitetsu
            Member
            • Oct 2012
            • 1145

            #6
            Hi John,

            Originally posted by John C.
            Is it someone who proclaims to be one? Or someone who reads about it, or sits on cushion from time to time, someone who has Buddha statues, someone who tries to do good, a combination of the above, etc?
            Buddhist is just another label, another drawer where to put people in.

            A few days ago someone asked me out of the blue "Are you a Zen Buddhist now?" and I was caught by surprise, I must admit.
            Spontaneously I said "Yes" - just to simplify things. I know that people like to have their drawers.
            Even if I said something like "Well, actually I am an agnostic atheistic Zen Buddhist who also draws on philosophical Taoism and the Greek philosopher Epicurus" this would not be comprehensive.
            Nothing I could say would be comprehensive...
            I am not a label - I am a sum of my genes and all my experiences (whether good or bad).
            I try to avoid labels nowadays.

            What is Buddhism? I guess even Buddhists won't agree on this point.
            There are Buddhists saying it is a religion, some say it is a practice, a philosophy, etc.
            There are people who say Zen can be "separated" from Buddhism.
            I know people whose home is full with Buddha statues, but in their daily life they are the incarnation of the motto "eye for an eye"...

            IMHO:
            If you agree on the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and try to incorporate these in your daily life. That's a Buddhist for me
            If you sit - you are a Zen Buddhist.
            Of course - another oversimplification by me.



            Originally posted by John C.
            If a Buddhist, how does someone answer questions in a predominantly Christian society such as why isn't your Dad/Mom going to church with you? Why does does your Mom/Dad spend all that time meditating? Aren't you worried that they are going to hell?
            I don't care anymore what other people think of me. My friends and family know who I am, and if someone thinks I'll go to hell, so be it.
            When someone asks me why I don't go to church, I keep it short and just I say I am not a Christian and thus don't go to church. Simple.

            Gassho,

            Timo
            no thing needs to be added

            Comment

            • Mp

              #7
              Thank you everyone, I totally agree!

              Gassho
              Michael

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39459

                #8
                Hah! We don't even believe really in a "Buddha" (the so-called "Buddha" that can be named is not really Buddha! ), so how could we even be "Buddhist"? Heck, there ain't even a "we" to be so!!!

                But that being said (and not), I suppose a "Buddhist" is anyone who seeks to learn from the Buddha's Teachings and put them into Practice. I would not limit that to "sitting", as Taigu certainly does not mean to either, because there are many fine Buddhists of other stripes, chanters and such.

                I also have no problem to go to church, a Jewish temple or (recently) a mosque for Ramadan feast. Where is "Buddha" not found?

                I don't worry too much what people think, nor about going to hell. I just try to get on in life.

                Gassho, J
                Last edited by Jundo; 11-12-2012, 04:16 PM.
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Daijo
                  Member
                  • Feb 2012
                  • 530

                  #9
                  Normally, if for some odd reason I find a reason to declare "I am a Buddhist" The conversation doesn't go much further. Most people don't really want to hear about it,. The ones that do seem to be more fascinated than anything, and they're usually disappointed when they find out I don't have any deep insight to offer them. About anything. I have heard "well, that's not really a religion." That doesn't bother me.

                  Comment

                  • Jishin
                    Member
                    • Oct 2012
                    • 4820

                    #10
                    Thank you all for your insightful answers,

                    JC

                    Comment

                    • Myoku
                      Member
                      • Jul 2010
                      • 1487

                      #11
                      I'm with Timo here, buddhist is a label, you can label yourself, others may label you, it doesnt matter. Labels doesnt matter. Well, they do to some extend in this dream, labels have some effects, but really, give a shit on a label, it matters what you do, not how its labeled. But if you ask me, yep, I'm buddhist ;-)
                      Gassho
                      Myoku
                      ps: DISCLAIMER: No insights in this post, just opinions.
                      Last edited by Myoku; 11-12-2012, 07:04 PM. Reason: PS ADDED

                      Comment

                      • ZenHarmony
                        Member
                        • Feb 2012
                        • 315

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Omoi Otoshi
                        A buddhist is someone who is practicing buddhism. What is practice? Who defines what buddhism is? I wouldn't worry too much about that. You want to practice buddhism? Find yourself a buddhist teacher (you already did!). On the other hand, if you were to wrap yourself in a bed sheet and stand on your head, calling that buddhist practice, it could be. You could be actualizing Buddha perfectly, while someone who sits in a beautiful cross legged pose may do so out of pure greed, aversion and delusion. To me, a buddhist is someone showing compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings. Someone who cultivates Bodhi mind, Buddha's mind. Someone who believes in the Buddha's four noble truths: Dukkha, the causes of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, the path leading to the cessation of dukkha. Zen is the direct pointing path, but not the only path. Buddhism is the way of wisdom and compassion, but not the only way. Ultimately, there's no way, no truth, no buddhism. Just this.

                        As to your questions, I'm afraid there's no clear cut answer. A start would be to look at where these questions are coming from. You? Who is this You? Sit, and explore, by just letting yourself be, without trying. Be who You are. 100% Buddha.

                        Gassho,
                        Pontus
                        Deep

                        Lisa

                        Comment

                        • Nindo

                          #13
                          I'm with my first Theravadan teacher on this, that a Buddhist is someone who embraces the 4 noble truths, keeps the 5 basic precepts and has taken refuge to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. However, I also agree that to be a Buddhist, some sort of practice has to be established, otherwise it's really just a nice label.

                          why isn't your Dad/Mom going to church with you? Why does does your Mom/Dad spend all that time meditating? Aren't you worried that they are going to hell?
                          Is this what your kid(s) get asked??
                          Easy: Because they are Buddhist. Because that's what Buddhists do. No, because Buddhists don't go to hell

                          Comment

                          • Neika
                            Member
                            • Dec 2008
                            • 229

                            #14
                            If you think you are a Buddhist, if you want to be a Buddhist, you are. I don't go to church because I am not a Christian, except that I occasionally go to church because my wife is. Going to hell depends both on your definition and, perhaps, your state of mind when you die. And I don't worry about other peoples opinions of me, except when I do.

                            Yes, I am a Buddhist. I practice Zen. Don't go to Church. Do go to Buddhist centers. There is no hell. So I can't go there. And society isn't Christian, it's just composed of a bunch of people who claim to be.
                            Neika / Ian Adams

                            寧 Nei - Peaceful/Courteous
                            火 Ka - Fire

                            Look for Buddha outside your own mind, and Buddha becomes the devil. --Dogen

                            Comment

                            • Jishin
                              Member
                              • Oct 2012
                              • 4820

                              #15
                              Thanks for everyone's input.

                              Nindo,

                              Your answer regarding the kids is very helpful.

                              " Is this what your kid(s) get asked??
                              Easy: Because they are Buddhist. Because that's what Buddhists do. No, because Buddhists don't go to hell "

                              Humbly,

                              JC
                              Last edited by Jishin; 11-12-2012, 09:10 PM.

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