How do you find out which Buddhism is the right one to follow?
Ive been reading into Buddhism and have realised that it may have alot of answers to many of my lifes questions.
Since looking into it though ive found that there is more than one type. Im really interested in taking it further but dont know which to choose or even how to make a choice?
I can imagine that there is no simple answer but wondered if anyone had any sort of starting point or basic information as to how I can move forward and learn more?
Answer by Clay
The original school was Theravada. If their teachings don't fully suit you, move on and try Mahayana or Zen. It they're no good, go to Vajrayana/Shingon.
i never heard in YA ones said: I converted to Budhism.
I always find: i am interesting to learn Budhism.
my suggestion: taste Budhism for a week, for instance, after that decide your own faith, extend or leave it.
Follow Jesus. None of the others died in your place for the forgiveness of your sins. Believe that.
It's even worse than there merely being different types; in China Buddhism was continuously folded into Taoism and sprinkled with Confucian dynamics, so that there is a huge spectrum of different interpretations of Buddhism out there at present.
If you don't start with something too out-there (like Zen) then any starting point is as good as any other. Just start with whatever's easily accessible and begin to squeeze your way into the dense corpus of writings and discussions.
Don't restrict yourself to one, don't confine your spirituality by labeling it. Explore them all, that's how you find your own. If you come across some small passage, or idea, and it really jumps out at you, and you feel a sense of "yes, that definitely sounds right. or that feels right" adopt that small passage, or idea, as your own. Maybe that one sentence or two came from Zen, maybe it came from Tantra, maybe it came from Mahayana, or Theravada, or any other variant. take that small piece as your own, and collect wisdom from all over. Never hold anything that you don't feel in your heart, or in your gut. let authenticity guide you. rather than choosing one to adhere to, sort of...create your own out of all that is available to you. built one customized for yourself out of the bits and pieces of the established ones, that way you know for sure it is "the one for you".
You're right - there's no easy answer to that question! 🙂
The best thing is probably to do two things: read about Buddhism in general, and about the specific Buddhist traditions; and visit different groups to see which seem authentic, relevant for you and accessible for you. Don't just look for cosiness and allure, though - remember that Buddhism is supposed to help you work with and change yourself, not just suit you as you already are ...
I would suggest two leading principles for your search:
1. Don't fall into sectarian thinking. It's not about "which Buddhist tradition is right, which is wrong" or even "which Buddhist tradition is the best". Buddhism is a family of wildly different traditions that all (i.e., most) are rooted in the authentic Buddhist tradition, are based on the same fundamental principles, and so on. If you meet Buddhists that talk badly about other Buddhists or other Buddhist traditions, be on your watch!
2. At the same time, you should be aware that there definitely are dubious Buddhist groups around. Some are more like new age-groups than authentic Buddhism, some are dubious overly commercialized groups or plain frauds, some have lost contact with their roots and evolved into whatever-the-members-already-think instead of what-the-buddha-taught kind of groups. Some are involved in conflicts with their own teachers. If you meet Buddhists that say "anything goes" or "whatever feels right is right", you should also be on your watch!
Here's a list of controversial teachers and groups that you might be more cautious about. If you eventually choose one of them or not is of course entirely your decision, but I would personally recommend you to opt for a less controversial group: http://viewonbuddhism.org/controversy-controversial-teacher-group-center-questionable.html
Whichever tradition you choose, I would say it's far more important that you find a reliable and authentic teacher (monk, nun, lama, roshi, etc) than which Buddhist tradition he or she belongs to. I would personally recommend you to find a group that is clearly in touch with its roots, ideally has retained some contact with the ordained sangha in its country of origin (monks or nuns in Asia). Your own teacher might perfectly well be Western or Eastern, ordained or lay, but whatever they are, it's a good sign if they have a living relation with their own tradition of origin.
For more on the differences, see my answers to the following questions:
Zen and Tibetan Buddhism:
Mahayana and Theravada:
Hinayana and Mahayana:
Buddhism in the West:
General advice on what to read and where to find it:
And finally, read and ponder these Basic Points Unifying the Theravada and the Mahayana, approved by a great gathering of monks from various Buddhist traditions in 1966: http://www.serve.com/cmtan/buddhism/Misc/unify.html