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Buddhism FAQ


Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend Milarepa Buddhist Center?
Not at all! No previous experience with Buddhism is necessary in order to attend practices. In fact, we all began with no experience!

Will I eventually be expected to “convert” to Buddhism in order to participate at Milarepa Buddhist Center?
No. Essentially, Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life.  The tradition points out a spiritual path and it is up to the individual to undertake that path – if they wish.  As in all spiritual traditions there are opportunities along the way to deepen commitment to the path, such as taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  But the decision to undertake commitments or vows are personal decisions.

What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born into a royal family in northern India around 2500 years ago.  He realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness so he explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to happiness.  After many years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and became enlightened.  After enlightenment he taught what he learned until his death at the age of 80.

Was the Buddha a God?
He was not, nor did he claim to be.  He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

Is Buddhism a religion?
To many, Buddhism is a religion. For others it is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’.  These sorts of distinctions are not generally an obstacle for practice and are a matter of personal discovery and interest. 

Do Buddhists worship idols?
Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha.  An image of a Buddha is intended to serve as a reminder of our own mind’s potential for fullest awakening, and reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the Teacher and the Teaching.

Are there different types of Buddhism?
As the Teachings of the Buddha made their way to places beyond India, many systems of study and practice developed in order to accommodate the needs of individuals of various backgrounds and cultures. While there are many different systems of Buddhist practice, all share in common the Four Noble Truths, the teachings on the law of actions and their results, the teachings on impermanence, and not-self; the five precepts, etc. While the emphasis varies from country to country, what does not vary is the essence of the Teaching.

What does Buddhism say about other religions?
Buddhism is a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs and religions.