With over 470 million followers worldwide, Buddhism is one of East and South Asia’s oldest and most prevalent religions. This faith, founded by Siddhartha Gautama almost 2500 years ago in the 6th century BC, represents and defines the universe in whole other light. Buddha’s teachings which include the four noble truths and the eightfold path called the ‘dharma’ offer ways to liberate ourselves from the sufferings of this world.
Buddhism is a religion that doesn’t believe in an extreme deity but rather encourages individuals to focus on their own being to achieve the ultimate enlightenment – a state of inner peace and wisdom. If these teachings speak to your soul and you’re interested in following this path, Jonah Engler is here to guide you.
Steps to Becoming a Buddhist – Described By Jonah Engler
Understanding the Basic Buddhist Concepts
1) Jonah Engler encourages you to begin your journey by familiarizing yourself with the primary Buddhist terminologies. This will make it much easier to understand everything you read. Some terms that you should be aware of include
- Arhat – a being who has attained nirvana
- Nirvana – the ultimate form of enlightenment
- Dharma – teachings of Buddha
- Bodhisattva – a being on the path of enlightenment
- Sutra – a sacred Buddhist text
- Sangha – a Buddhist community
2) Next, you must familiarize yourself with two prominent Buddhist schools: Theravada and Mahayana. Both schools have the same beliefs and follow the same teachings. However, their methods of practicing dharma are significantly different.
3) To be a good Buddhist, you need to have a strong grasp of the various principles taught by Buddha; these include:
- 4 Noble Truths – The truth of suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path that leads to liberation from suffering.
- Nirvana – A state where the subject becomes free of all desires, suffering, sense of self, and all effects of karma and reincarnation.
- Eightfold Path – This path includes the eight ideals for ethical conduct and discipline that can help a Bodhisattva reach nirvana.
Once you grasp the basics of Buddhism, it is time to find a temple you feel comfortable joining. A community can guide you and help you learn the ways to practice this religion and implement its principles in your daily life. Remember that each temple follows a certain school of thought. Before joining, have a detailed conversation with a venerable, ask about the activities and services the temple offers, and take a tour of their different shrines. Jonah Engler recommends attending a few services to judge the atmosphere before finalizing your decision.
For a while, you’ll work alongside devotees and monks to fully comprehend the ways of a Buddhist lifestyle. You’ll attend sermons, travel to foreign Buddhist temples, and partake in activities that’ll help you strengthen your grasp on your being. Once the monks feel you’re ready, they’ll ask you to take refuge in the ‘triple gem.’ These are the three pillars of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. You will be asked to undergo a ceremony in which you’ll vow to uphold the 5 precepts – not to kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, refrain from false speech and not consume intoxicants. The specific aspects of this ceremony vary from temple to temple, but once you’ve taken refuge in Buddhism and the ceremony is finalized, you’ll officially be considered a Buddhist!
Jonah Engler believes that the key to becoming a good Buddhist lies in comprehending the reasoning behind the values taught by Buddha. Only by understanding why these principles were taught and how they lead to liberation can you truly follow the path to enlightenment.