The different kinds of Buddhists
If we really had to point it out, we can say that there are six "kinds" of Buddhists. Some of these Buddhists are born Buddhists, other find it, while some just think it's cool. Titling ourselves as Buddhist is like titling ourselves as one of the "cool kids" at school; it's a big deal and we're excited we're part of something everyone knows.
But to a true Buddhist practitioner, the title is the least of their concerns. If someone asked me what my religion was, I will say "spiritual." Only if they asked for a specific practice will I sayBuddhism, but to me this title or path is not concerning to anyone else but myself. In Buddhism we try to eradicate titles, because for every title we add and accumulate, the more attachment we have to suffer with. A lot of new people to Buddhism get very attached to "being Buddhist" because of its popularity and superficial assumption that practicing Buddhism automatically makes us happy and peaceful.
The six "kinds" of Buddhists are:
- People who are born into Buddhism. A huge population of Asian countries are Buddhists, so a person born into a Buddhist family will grow up learning and practicing Buddhism.
- People who marry a person who is Buddhist. Not always the case that if we marry someone who is Buddhist we too will become Buddhist, but a lot of soldiers in the Vietnam war, for example, who married Vietnamese women that were Buddhist often also converted to Buddhism to create a connection and bond with someone who they could barely understand.
- People that find Buddhism. For many, Buddhism was stumbled upon. Perhaps through a World Religions class in college, passing by a Buddhist temple, watching a Buddhist documentary, or interacting with someone who is Buddhist.
- People that claim to be "Buddhist" because it's the newest, coolest thing to be. The recent popularity of Buddhism within the last 50 years has greatly increased in the West. With the help of the H.H. the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism is one of the most "popular" forms of Buddhism in the West, as well Zen and Zen meditation. And because of the popularity of the Dalai Lama, this created a popularity for Buddhism, which in turn created this assumption that if one would become Buddhist, they too would be part of this "popular" group.
- People who go to Buddhism for happiness and peace. A major misconception of Buddhism is that if we become Buddhists, then we would magically defeat depression, sadness, anger, and suffering. What people don't understand, what most people don't understand that Buddhism is not a magic happiness pill. It is not a path where we can cleanse the sadness away by simply claiming to be Buddhist. What Buddhism actually is, is a set of instructions and guides to help us get onto a path of happiness and peace.
- People who claim to be Buddhist, but don't practice. If we study without practice, we become scholars. If we practice without studying, we become superstitious. In many Buddhist temples, the head monk or teacher will tell their new students that they need to study and attend the temple for a minimum of one year before they can take their refuge and precept vows. And a minimum of another two years before they can take their Bodhisattva vows. Why? Because Buddhism is a lot of work! Buddhist practice and study is intense, profound, complex, and eye-opening if practiced correctly. But we often see people calling themselves "Buddhist" but then do not practice any of the precepts or the eightfold path.
If we practice Buddhism and call ourselves Buddhists, then we need to be practicing for the right reasons. Everyone wants to be happy and at peace, but "being into Buddhism" won't make us happy and peaceful. It takes work, effort and diligence to overcome the slightest dissatisfactions of the world. Buddhism can help, but only with diligent and sincere practice.
Source: examiner.com (Feb. 1, 2015)