How to practice Buddhism (with pictures)

How to practice Buddhism (with pictures)
How to practice Buddhism (with pictures)

Buddhism is both a lifestyle and a spiritual tradition that originated in present-day Nepal over 2,500 years ago. Today there are different Buddhist sects and although their practices differ slightly, they all follow the same ideology and respect the same religious principles. One of the major tenets of Buddhism is that people are afflicted with suffering, but anyone can aspire to stop their own and that of others by being kind, generous and open in life.


Part 1 of 4: Keeping the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows

Practice Buddhism Step 1

Step 1. Strive to end the suffering

The four noble truths form the basis of Buddhist teaching. They are based on the idea that suffering is part of life, but that it can be ended by breaking the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows, which provide a path that can help anyone end their suffering, come from the Four Noble Truths.

  • The truth of suffering is the first noble truth.
  • The vow of freedom from one's own suffering is the Bodhisattva's first vow.
  • When we speak of suffering in Buddhism, it is in fact the physical and mental suffering of every human being.
  • In order to end their suffering, everyone must strive to attain Nirvana, living a Noble Path (also known as the Eightfold Path) lifestyle.
Practice Buddhism Step 2

Step 2. Live according to the Noble Eightfold Path

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path constitute the two fundamental teachings of Buddhism. The first represents the Buddhist belief and the second the discipline and practice behind that belief. To live according to the Noble Eightfold Path comes down to respecting the following points.

  • Righteous speech, righteous action, and righteous livelihoods. The key to following these three elements is to live according to the Five Precepts.
  • Right effort, mindfulness (right awareness), and right concentration. You can achieve them by practicing meditation.
  • Right understanding and right thinking, which can be achieved by practicing meditation, cultivating mindfulness and living a lifestyle according to the Five Precepts.
Practice Buddhism Step 3

Step 3. Try to put an end to thirst and desire

The second noble truth is to recognize the cause of your suffering, which comes from desire, ignorance, and thirst for pleasure and material goods. The bodhisattva vow which corresponds to the second noble truth involves the vow to end desire and thirst.

According to Buddhists, one cannot easily end suffering and desire. In fact, you have to live forever before you can achieve this, but you can do the right thing by following the Noble Eightfold Path

Practice Buddhism Step 4

Step 4. Keep learning

The third noble truth concerns the cessation of suffering, whether it be physical or spiritual suffering. The solution to ending suffering is learning, achieving enlightenment, and doing deeds.

The wish that corresponds to this noble truth is to learn more about Dharma and how it affects suffering

Practice Buddhism Step 5

Step 5. Aspire to achieve nirvana

This is the path that leads to the complete cessation of suffering and it was the path of Buddha. Suffering ends when one attains enlightenment and nirvana.

To attain nirvana, everyone must strive to live according to the Noble Eightfold Path

Part 2 of 4: Live by the Five Precepts

Practice Buddhism Step 6

Step 1. Don't kill

In Buddhism, the Five Precepts are not seen as commandments, but rather as commitments that you should strive to fulfill. The first pledge, which is to refrain from killing all living things, can apply to all creatures, including humans, animals and insects.

  • On a positive level, that precept comes down to being kind and loving other creatures. For many Buddhists, this precept also translates into a general ideology of non-violence and this is the reason why many practitioners are vegetarians or vegans.
  • In many religions, it is forbidden to disregard religious laws and practices, at the risk of being punished. Unlike these religions, Buddhism focuses on the consequences our actions will have on this earth and beyond.
Practice Buddhism Step 7

Step 2. Don't steal

The second precept is to refrain from taking things that are not yours or that are not given to you. Again, this is not an obligation, but rather a principle that you should apply. Free will and freedom of choice are fundamental rules in Buddhism.

  • In other words, you must not steal something belonging to a friend, neighbor, family member, stranger, or even a business, and this applies to food, money, clothing. and other objects.
  • On the other hand, this precept also involves aspiring to be open, generous and honest. Learn to give instead of stealing and help others whenever you can.
  • There are many things you can do to be generous, including donating money to charities, volunteering some of your time, fundraising and raising awareness for various causes and giving gifts or donate money, if possible.
Practice Buddhism Step 8

Step 3. Don't commit sexual misconduct

Exploitation is one of the most important principles of Buddhism, and every practitioner should make a commitment not to exploit himself or others. These include sexual, emotional, mental and physical exploitation.

  • This does not mean that you should practice abstinence, but rather that you should be aware of your actions. If you are intending to have sex, you should only do so with consenting adults.
  • Traditionally, Buddhist teachings proscribe adultery.
  • Try to cultivate simplicity and be content with what you have instead of sexual misconduct.
Practice Buddhism Step 9

Step 4. Tell the truth

Truth, research and learning are also important notions in Buddhism and this is precisely the reason why anyone who aspires to practice this religion should refrain from making false speeches. In other words, don't lie, don't tell untruths, and don't hide things from others.

Instead, strive to be open and candid, whether with yourself or with others

Practice Buddhism Step 10

Step 5. Avoid psychotropic substances

The use of psychotropic substances is the fifth precept and is linked to mindfulness. Every person has to cultivate mindfulness on a daily basis, which translates into being aware of all their actions, feelings and behaviors.

  • The problem with these substances is that they confuse the mind, make you forget important things, make you lose focus, and make you do things or have thoughts that you will later regret.
  • This includes drugs, hallucinogens and alcohol, but also substances such as caffeine.

Part 3 of 4: Understanding Buddhist Teachings and Practices

Practice Buddhism Step 11

Step 1. Understand the importance of karma and good deeds

Karma or karman means action or deed, and Buddhism places great importance on the consequences of our actions. Ideally, your good deeds should be motivated by compassion and generosity. They provide you with well-being, but also those around you and consequently produce positive results.

  • To do more good deeds in your life, come to the aid and offer your skills to those in need, give some of your time, impart your knowledge to others, and be kind to people and animals.
  • For Buddhists, life is a perpetual restart: we are born, we grow, we die, we reincarnate and then we are reborn.
Practice Buddhism Step 12

Step 2. Find out the consequences of your bad actions

Unlike good deeds, bad deeds are motivated by greed and hatred, and they produce painful results as a result. Particularly, they can prevent you from breaking your cycle of life, death and rebirth. In other words, you won't stop suffering if you make others suffer.

These include behaviors such as selfishness, greed and refusal to help others

Practice Buddhism Step 13

Step 3. Learn more about the concept of Dharma

This is another very crucial concept in Buddhist spiritualities and teachings, because it truly describes your life and the world around you. However, Dharma is neither static nor immutable, and anyone can alter reality by changing their perception, making different choices and doing good works.

  • In general, the term dharma also describes the teachings and path of Buddhism and can be seen as a portrait of your way of life.
  • To practice Dharma on a daily basis, try to appreciate all you have, be grateful for your life, and enjoy life. You can express your gratitude through prayer, offerings, and enlightenment.

Part 4 of 4: practicing meditation

Practice Buddhism Step 14

Step 1. Choose a quiet location

Meditation is one of the most important practices of Buddhism. It brings you insight, calm, peace of mind, inner peace, temporary relief from your suffering and leads you on the path to enlightenment.

  • To meditate properly, you need to find a quiet place that will help you focus on your session, such as your bedroom or another empty room in your home.
  • Turn off your phone, TV, stop any music you are playing, and block out outside distractions.
Practice Buddhism Step 15

Step 2. Sit comfortably

Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a cushion, if that's convenient for you. If you are uncomfortable in this position, try kneeling or sitting in a chair.

  • Once you get into a comfortable position, sit correctly, hold your head straight, and relax your back and shoulders.
  • Place your palms on your thighs or keep your hands crossed on your knees.
Practice Buddhism Step 16

Step 3. Keep your eyes closed or open

You can close your eyes, keep them partially open, or leave them fully open during meditation. Especially at the beginning, adopt a position that is comfortable and will facilitate your meditation.

If you prefer to keep your eyes open or slightly open, look down and stare at something a few feet in front of you

Practice Buddhism Step 17

Step 4. Pay attention to your breathing

One of the most important parts of a meditation session is to focus on the breath. You don't need to breathe any other way, but you need to focus on the air coming in and out of your body.

  • It is important to focus on your breathing, as this helps you focus on the present without necessarily fixing your thoughts on any particular idea.
  • Meditating is also being aware and present, and focusing on your breathing movements is a great way to focus on yourself and be present in the present moment.
Practice Buddhism Step 18

Step 5. Let your thoughts come and go

One of the primary goals of meditation is to free your mind and find inner calm. To begin with, let your thoughts wander without getting carried away by one of them. If you notice that you get carried away by any of these thoughts during this exercise, focus on your breathing again.

  • Do this exercise for about 15 minutes every day for the first week. Then, make your sessions last 5 minutes more each week. Aim to do 45 minutes of meditation per day.
  • Set a timer to know when to end your meditation session.

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