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How do I become a Buddhist

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The formal process of declaring oneself a Buddhist is traditionally referred to as " Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem." The Triple Gem, also referred to as The Three Jewels, consists of: the Buddha; the one who became enlightened; the Dharma, or the teachings of the Buddha; and the Sangha, or those who have made a committed effort to follow these teachings in their daily lives. So to "take refuge" means that you have found within the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the teacher, teachings, and the community of learning and practice that is appropriate for you in your spiritual journey in life.
There are no preparatory classes that must be taken but it is best to learn as much as you can about Buddhism and what it will mean in your life. One should not come to a hasty conclusion either by judging the validity of a religion or by condemning the religion simply by observing what people perform through their blind faith in the name of that religion. To understand the real nature of a religion one must study and investigate the original teachings of the founder of that religion.
If you wish to officially become a Buddhist, you must contact one of the Venerables and let them know your wishes. They will make arrangements for you to Take Refuge and/or take the Five Precepts.
 
Basic Buddha's Teaching

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   - It is a way of life, evolving between ourselves and the universe
   - A teacher and student relationship
   - To develop greater love and understanding through the practice of restraint, mindfulness/concentration. Our own self nature is one of great love and understanding it is just temporarily covered by our bad habits of greed, anger and delusion. We need to reveal or return to our true self's again, the 'Buddha within' by cultivating and practicing the three fundamental teachings of restraint (sila), concentration/ stable mindedness (samadhi), understanding (prajna)
   - Basically to abstain from all bad and cultivate all good and purify our own minds
 
Bowing to the Buddha

   - Showing the students' respect to the great teacher.
   - Cultivating mindfulness of your bodily action. Trains the mind to be attentive.
   - Helps to get rid of one's arrogance and cultivate humbleness.
   - Putting palms together reminds the learner to maintain one-pointedness of mind.

Buddha Statues

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   - Reminds us of our teacher Sakyamoni Buddha and therefore reminds us of his great teaching.
   - Reflection of our own Buddha nature. When we bow to the Buddha we are turning back to our own self nature/ Buddha nature.
   - An Artistic representation of the Buddha's compassionate and serene charisma.
   - More information on Buddha Statues

Buddha Shrine

   - A teaching hall.
   - A place for group cultivation and Dharma talk.
   - Used for mediation practice.
      - A Museum of Buddhist Artworks.

Chanting

   - A way to memorize the Buddha's teaching.
   - When recited regularly they help to remind us of the teachings.
   - Develops our concentration and peacefulness which in turn develops our wisdom and understanding.
   - Has the same effect of meditation and reciting the Buddha's name. The only difference is the object of concentrationr meditation it's the breath, for sutra recitation it's the Buddha's words and for name recitation, it's the Buddha's name. Its a matter of which cultivation you feel more comfortable with.

The Robes

Lay disciple's black robe:

   - worn by Buddhist lay students.
   - A way of showing group cohesion and harmony. Not unlike the uniform in a school.
   - worn during ceremonies and for Chanting.

Lay disciple's brown precept robe:

   - worn during Chanting and ceremonies.
   - worn only after taking the five precepts or the Bodhisattva precepts.
   - worn by Buddhist lay students.
   - Have the effect of reminding the students of their commitment to self improvement through following the Buddha's guidelines of basic human morality.

Source

www.bliav.org.au