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When investigating Buddhism, start with an Ajarn, or a "teacher," generally a monk. Sit down with one and listen. You will hear almost nothing. The key to making a fresh start is not to concern yourself with the proper ways to meditate, proper seated positions, the four basic principles of the faith (Do not kill, do not drink, do not steal, do not have unvirtuous sexual transgressions), and the like. What you should concern yourself with is letting your mind go where it wants to go, and accepting your thoughts as an appendix of physical reality. On the other hand, if you feel as though your soul is telling you to explore certain values, or the history of the faith, for example, it may be in your best interest to listen to it. Part of Buddhism is aspiring towards harmony with all things physical and non-physical, which means that starting upon the Path with skepticism and incredulity will have already set you back a step.
I remember being at dinner one night with my wife, and I told the waiter, a Buddhist, that I was investigating Buddhism. He asked me, "Why investigate something that's worked for thousands of years? Just practice it." The first step on the path is not to let your inhibitions set you asunder.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|