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Thread: Introducing Buddhism to someone relatively new

  1. #1

    Introducing Buddhism to someone relatively new

    I have been asked by a friend/collegue to speak to her partner who has recently become interested in Buddhism and wanted to know more. I was just wondering if people had experiences from either introducing others or from their own introduction to Buddhism that may give pointers on what needs to be covered and what encouraged them into, or put them off, Buddhism.

    I do not feel that my own experience of Buddhism is particularly helpful here as I think I became a Buddhist before I knew about Buddhism. I discovered about the illusion of self partly from own experience and partly from writings of western philosophers such as David Hume and started 'just sitting' during my time in the Army and on solo treks in various mountain ranges. I only found out about Buddhism a few years after and it fitted more like I had found a pair of old boots that I worn for years but had never noticed, rather than discovering something new.

    I obviously will be passing on my own ideas and experiences to him - and will make that very clear - but also want to try to give a balanced view and will try to descibe any aspects of Buddhist practice that I do not find personally helpful in a non-judgemental way, and I think that the experiences of others may be helpful here.


  2. #2

    just one advice, keep it simple and you'll do it fine.

    Life is our temple and its all good practice

  3. #3
    Another one, keep it very simple.

    Invite this person to sit.



  4. #4
    This is also a topic that I have been thinking about recently. How to explain practice to someone who is fairly new to this?

    Sometimes I have the impression the longer I've been practicing the harder it gets for me to explain it to others.
    Where to start without complicating things?

    I fully agree with what has been said. As with most things in life - the simpler the better.

    I made the experience that explaining zazen practice can be a good start to talk about zen.
    When it comes to Buddhism in general the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path could be nice entry points.

    Very interested to hear other approaches to this!



    PS: I think it also depends on the person you are talking with and his/her background.
    no thing needs to be added

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen View Post

    just one advice, keep it simple and you'll do it fine.

    Wise and helpful words ... I agree, to start, keep it simple.


  6. #6
    Thanks to you all for the helpful comments. I think you are right, keep it simple to start with - very good advice. I will do my best, although keeping subjects like this simple is probably one of the things I am worst at!


  7. #7
    For what it is worth, listen first. Ask them what they know. What aspects they are interested in. What if anything is unclear. Being attentive first will provide everything you need . . .

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by lobster View Post
    For what it is worth, listen first. .
    Always good advice!
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  9. #9
    And remember, talking about swimming isn't swimming. You don't learn how to swim from a book. You have to jump in the pool for that! Show someone how to sit zazen and when the real questions come, show the way to a teacher.



  10. #10
    I always recommend this movie "peaceful warrior" to friends and family that shows some interest.. it's mostly fiction (kind of hollywood) but has some strong buddhist elements. I think this is very good because it takes buddhism into something they can refer to and shows it into perspective. If someone said to me to "sit down and shut up" when I first got some kind of interest, I don't think I would have liked it much. I wouldn't understand why to...

  11. #11
    Then, if one has no interest when shown the still state, no problem.

    You see, Buddhism is not a revealed religion. Doesn t have to save, sell itself or make promises.



  12. #12

    I rather would ask why this person is interested in zen and go from there.
    Sitting is the point! If someone can't do that for even 5 minutes, he or she is not ready for it (yet)
    Don't know if watching a movie would be the best way to go at it? It should always end (and start) with a person borrowing a cushion, sitting and initially have a go at say counting breath or observing thoughts come and go. I had this happen on several occasions. What I always do is invite someone to sit with me for a short while and then answer the most basic questions afterwards. Most never stick around for long but if someone does because of genuine interest and the right reasons, I advise them to go search for a teacher that suits them.



  13. #13

    make sure you are not trying to convince that/these person/s of anything. We are selling water by the river here, it is what it is. No-thing special. Charisma and great arguments might seem like good tactics sometimes, but in the end they often boil down to the same kind of well meaning manipulation that a lot of other religions are also employing all the time.

    When the chick is ready it will hatch. Otherwise leave the egg alone


    Hans Chudo Mongen

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