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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

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Topher if you havnt read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (I think thats the guys name) Anyhow try to find the book. It's about the Buddha. Buddha was a physical person but achieved enlightenment and all that stuff therefore transcending being a human (I think). I think an underlying point in Buddhism is to try to atain the same level of existence as the Buddha, which keeps practitioners behaving in a certain way. I'm not buddhist though and I know very little about the subject. On the issue of meat...I know that many of the monks who ask for food won't reject meat if it's offered to them, but they subsist mostly on vegetables, except for in the winter when they may use some animal flesh to servive the whole winter. I am sure you will get some better responses.

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thanks duder.


yeh ive read siddhartha. I liked the book but didnt understand it much.

my literary comprehension skills are horrible. Siddhartha has in a way inspired me.


read my Taoism thread. I highly relate to Taoism, and I hope to pick up a book on the subject to further learn about it.

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I'll try to give you some basic answers. I am in no way an expert, so this is just my understanding based on what I have read and heard. One thing is that there are a number of schools and sects of Buddhism (2 or 3 main schools, and many sects within those) and their interpretations of the teachings of the Buddha differ. So there's no one answer.


I dont quite understand the 5 rules, could someone please explain each one of them to me in detail? thanks.


The five precepts for the lay Buddhist are

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not freely given

I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech

I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.


That's one translation at least. There are various wording. The detailed interpretations vary as well


They are relatively clear, I think. Sexual misconduct is most commonly interpreted as meaning engaging in sexual acts that are harmful to someone or having sex with someone who does not or cannot consent to it. So that would include rape, having sex with someone who is in a relationship with someone else, having sex with a minor... things like that.


Incorrect speech means lying, but some also include any harmful speech such as gossiping or saying things that are not peaceful.


also how come some buddhists arent vegan or even vegetarian? doesnt that go against one of the rules (harming living beings)?


Yeah, that doesn't make any sense to me either. The first precept would lead one to be at least vegetarian. I guess people justify meat-eating by thinking that they personally are not doing the killing. But that is meaningless--by buying meat they are still directly leading to animal death. The other thing is that the precepts are not commandments. They aren't things that Buddhists have to do "or else." I guess they are more like ideals to work towars. Still, that would mean that Buddhists should at least be trying to be vegetarian. So I dunno. I guess it would be better answered by a non-veg Buddhist!


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?

The Buddha was a man who lived 2500 years ago and became enlightened--meaning basically that he came to have great insight into the world and the way things are. He then spent the rest of his life teaching others what he had discovered. Buddhism is basically the study of his teachings and the practice of the tools he provided (e.g., meditation). So he's important because it's all about his teachings.


I think most schools hold that the long-term purpose of studying and practicing is to become enlightened and be Buddhas ourselves. But it is also a structure for being moral and happy right now as average humans.


I hope I haven't gotten anything totally wrong. Like I said, there are definite differences in beliefs and interpretations of all different aspects of Buddhism, so there are many different answers.


Here are a couple of online resources:

BuddhaNet has some basic introductory information. Go to the Buddhist studies link first (on the upper left).


Access to Insight has tons of info, but it is a Theravadan (one of the specific schools) site. And it's not as user friendly as BuddhaNet.

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It is my understanding, from time I spent visiting a Buddhist temple last year, that there are many buddhas. There was the buddha sidartha that we are all familiar with, but there are many others, and on a certain rung of reincarnation you come back as a buddha and help people.


There is the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gotama.

There are also said to be several "otherworld" Buddhas who are pretty much like gods.

Aksobhya who resides in the eastern paradise of Abhirati

Amitabha who resides in the western paradise of Sukhavati

Bhaisajyaguru the 'healing buddha'

Vairocana 'the resplendant one' who represents the transcendent truth of buddhism.


There are also a wide range of bodhisattvas, or beings who are on a path to enlightenment, but chose to stay on earth to help others achieve the same path, instead of achieving nirvana, and buddhahood themselves.

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Buddha was a man, not a god like some believe. He says this himself.


According to this article you posted Buddha said it was okay to eat animals as long as they were not killed for the purpose of consuming. I have never heard or read this, I'm not saying its not true just that I never came across that in any books. I know not all Buddhists are vegan or vegetarians but I understood this to be because of slightly different beliefs, like some Christians think capital punishment is okay and others dont.


I think you can follow Buhhsist philosphy/beliefs and not be a Buddhist, they are after all similar to most religions though, once again, people interpret text diffrently.


A great book to read is "What The Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula. He is a Buddhist monk and he quotes from the original Buddhist texts, he cites all his sources.


One last thing, Buddha recognized that some people need rituals and such so he allowed it but it is not necessary in order to be a Buddhist. Some people think you have to have a shrine, a Buddha statue and some incense but this is untrue.

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