Notes and thoughts on: How to Practice Buddhism by, Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda
I absolutely love reading about spirituality and religion. I don’t practice Buddhism, however, this book was quite eye-opening. So, without further ado, let’s get into this book review!
Dr. K talks about Buddhism in the book of course but he also talks a bit about the difference between spirituality and religion. From a Buddhists point of view, “religion” is a very different concept from that defined by other religious groups.
Question: How do YOU define religion?
While most may see Buddhism as a religion because it’s rapidly growing and many other factors, to me it’s truly more of a philosophy than anything else. This could apply to many spiritual paths… Some, more than others.
•Dr. K states that religions can be divided into two groups: (1) those based on faith, (2) those based on mental purity.
Those who emphasize their faith more than purity believe that they can gain their final salvation through they’re ardent faith alone. Mental purity isn’t always as import. Buddhism on the other hand teaches that faith is not to be the most important aspect but rather purity of the mind. When we have purity in the mind coupled with wisdom, we can never hold wrong ideas as the real truth.
Faith alone cannot create a pure mind.
•Question Everything. Personally, I am a fervent truth seeker and freethinker. Many faiths under the religion umbrella honestly look down upon that. I have witnessed it for myself.
People can uphold a wrong belief without analyzing it, or having any sense of reason because it’s what they’ve been conditioned to believe or they are afraid that if they do it, they might lose their faith and thus also lose their chance to gain salvation.
•What’s the Buddha’s advice on accepting any belief as the truth?
Dr. K. answers this question in his book. (This is very well-known if you’ve ever studied Buddhism.) To study, investigate, practice and see the results for ourselves.
The Buddha told many people NOT to believe anything just because he said it or that he was a great man, but to experience it for themselves. Basically, The Buddha’s advice is neither to believe or reject anything first hand.
This is me 100%. Experiences are everything. It’s my experiences that have shaped me into the spiritual being that I am today, and they will continuously do so.
If you really want to know the truth or untruth about something: dig deeper.
This allows us to come to our own conclusion about the truth. What anyone else is doing or believes is not for us to get into. We are each our own person.
When we come to a conclusion after doing our very own in depth investigation and drawing from our personal experiences, we have confidence in the truth because we have experienced it for ourselves.
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all people—that is genius. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dr. K. states that coming to our own confidence, this is neither mere faith nor belief, but realization.
Your perspective is always limited by how much you know. Expand your knowledge and you will transform your mind. – Bruce H. Lipton
Some folks are just too lazy to dig deeper, so they simply accept things as they are or just simply follow along with the crowd. “I just can’t understand,” should never be an excuse when it comes to seeking out profound truths. As normal-functioning human beings we all have to ability to think for ourselves, improve our minds and to use our minds to the best of our ability.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once said:
The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.
Question: Have you ever dug deeper into something that was popular or seen as the norm only to come to a very shocking revelation after your own investigation?
•The Buddha Preached based on His Own Experience
As you read about The Buddha’s life you will see that he went through much pain and suffering while seeking enlightenment, and experienced both the weaknesses and strengths of human mentality. And all of his teachings came from just that, experiences, not anything he was taught or conditioned to believe. Not what others believed. Not what he was instructed to say. But, his personal experiences.
As a teacher and learner, I believe it’s always more satisfying and effective to teach from our own experiences. For example, let’s say that I read a certain book about business and tips for growth, we’ll simply call this book, the Business Book. All of my friends and family recommended this book to me, and wholeheartedly believed that this book was the absolute key to business success. It was even on the best seller list! Super stoked and with much confidence, I read the entire Business Book from cover to cover numerous times. It was well-worn, had many highlighted paragraphs and marginal notes. I read it so much that I had certain passages memorized. I followed every single tip and direction that was written in the book for years. However, my business never saw any growth. It never dawned on me until then that not one of my friends or family members had true business growth. They didn’t even have their own business journey, they simply followed along with the crowd. They listened and followed simply because someone who was richer than them (the author) told them to. And little did I know, I was doing the same. Just one of the many sheep in a lost herd.
It takes nothing to follow the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.
I then began to do things my own way, based on my very own experiences. Growth was substantial! A few years later new entrepreneur comes up to me and asks me for tips on business growth. Do I recommend the Business Book, you know, the “amazing” book that everyone swore by, to her that was so very ineffective? Or do I give her advice from my own business experiences?
What the moral of the short story here? Teach and preach based on your own experiences, not someone’s stories. Pursue a life by your truth, not someone else’s.
Kant argued that human knowledge begins with experience:
“There is no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience. For how should our faculty of knowledge be awakened into action did not objects affecting our senses partly of themselves produce representations, partly arouse the activity of our understanding to compare these representations, and, by combining or separating them work up the raw material of the sensible impressions into that knowledge of objects which is entitled experience? In the order of time, therefore, we have no knowledge antecedent to experience, and with experience, all our knowledge begins.” Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
Do you agree or disagree?
So, above were just a few notes.
My short and sweet review: This book, How to Practice Buddhism is undoubtedly helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about Buddhism, whether they want to pursue the Buddhist path or not.
This books covers:
– how to practice Buddhism
– the significance of the Dharma
– foundations of Buddhism
– the mind
– human behavior
– different characters
– religion can be divided into two groups
– three simple methods
– why is religion needed (very eye-opening!)
– meditation (many confuse meditation with the path of Buddhism itself, meditation is simply a practice, it is not Buddhism)
– the consequences of modern forms of entertainment
– the Buddha preached according to his own experience
– how to follow the Buddha
– the gradual development of the Buddhist way of life (traditions, cultural, devotional, intellectual and spiritual)
The list above was compiled by the subtitles. You will definitely get quite a bit from this book, including new vocabulary words, if you’re not familiar with Buddhism. Maybe even a new outlook on life.
What is the Buddhist’s view of salvation?
How do you really become a Buddhist?
In detail, what do Buddhists really believe?