I came across this article:
"What is a Buddhist?
Your Guide, Anthony Flanagan From Anthony Flanagan,
Your Guide to Buddhism.
Basic Questions and Answers
What is a Buddhist?
A Buddhist is simply someone who follows the teachings of the Buddha and tries to incorporate them into their daily lives. Buddhists are everyday people. They work, have families and experience the same ups and downs of everyday life as anyone else. Like people who aren’t Buddhists, they have good qualities and bad qualities. They are not – generally speaking – perfect individuals! What they have decided to do, however, is to strive to do better. This means they try to bring more compassion and loving-kindness into their relationships with others. They try to eradicate tendencies towards greed and hatred in their lives. They also try to follow the moral guidelines laid down by the Buddha.
Some Buddhists become monks and nuns, devoting every aspect of their lives to following the Buddha’s teachings.
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Those who have decided upon this path lead celibate lives and usually join a monastic community. The majority of Buddhists, however, are lay Buddhists.
How does one become a Buddhist?
There are formal and informal ways of becoming a Buddhist. Simply deciding to commit oneself to following the Buddha’s teachings is to become a Buddhist. No formal ceremony is necessary. The emphasis in Buddhism is to practice the teachings rather than to engage in ceremony in ritual. Some Buddhist schools and communities, however, have special initiation ceremonies. These will usually include reciting what is termed ‘the three refuges’: I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Sangha, I take refuge in the Dharma. The ‘Sangha’ refers to the Buddhist community and the ‘Dharma’ refers to the Buddha’s teachings.
What moral rules do Buddhists follow?
The Buddha gave his followers five rules or precepts to help them live good moral lives. He advised them to abstain from harming livings beings, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from intoxicants such as alcohol and recreational drugs. Note, however, that Buddhism does not have any restriction on drugs taken for medicinal purposes. How these precepts are interpreted varies somewhat in practice. Some Buddhists engage in social drinking providing it is in moderation. Other Buddhists are stricter in their observance. Monks and nuns follow further precepts such as not eating after noon, not attending shows or other forms of entertainment, not wearing cosmetics and perfumes, and not sleeping in luxurious beds.
What particular practices do Buddhists engage in?
Buddhist practice varies from school to school. Most schools of Buddhism place great emphasis on meditation. Other schools place emphasis on the recitation of mantras (the repetition of syllables, words or phrases). The Tibetan tradition makes extensive use of visualisation methods as well as meditation, mantras and prostrations. Which methods are practiced depends on the individual – some methods suit certain personalities better than others.
Are all Buddhists vegetarians?
No. The first precept is to abstain from harming or killing living beings. Many Buddhists are vegetarians but the Buddha did not prohibit the eating of meat. He allowed his early followers to eat meat providing the animal had not been specifically killed for them to eat. It is said that the Buddha died of food poisoning after eating contaminated pork. Some Buddhists therefore do eat meat but quite a debate exists within the Buddhist community about whether such practice breaks the first precept at least indirectly."
I dont quite understand the 5 rules, could someone please explain each one of them to me in detail? thanks.
also how come some buddhists arent vegan or even vegetarian? doesnt that go against one of the rules (harming living beings)?
I am interested in learning more about buddhism. I do not mean to offend anyone. I am simply seeking knowledge
also, who is Buddha? was he a man? or a woman? or a diety of somesort?
and why is this buddha so important? isnt there a way to develop morality and living a life that encompasses those guidelines without being buddha?
thanks. im sure i will have more questions