I am a college student who is still trying to figure things out. I have been reading a lot about Buddhism lately, and I am extremely interested. I was wondering if you have any advise for someone just beginning to practice. What can I do to begin my spiritual journey?
You are extremely fortunate to have an interest in spiritual development at this age. Many people need a lot of experiences to come to realize that spiritual development is important. You can start your spiritual practice in your daily life and then progress gradually. Spiritual practice in Buddhist perspective can be seen as having three aspects. 1). Giving or Sharing 2) Moral behavior 3) Mental development. You can start giving or sharing your time, knowledge and material resources within your capacity. In your daily life, you can find many opportunities to give your hand or share your things with others. Grab those opportunities and do them as a part of your spiritual growth without expecting any other returns. The acts of giving and sharing bring us a lot of happiness and importantly they reduce our self-centeredness which causes suffering in our mind and blocks our spiritual progress. Secondly, you can follow some moral principles in your life. We call them "precepts." Precepts are moral principles we voluntarily observe to follow. Precepts such as not to kill any living being, not to steal, not to lie are good to begin with. We need to follow precepts not out of fear of punishments but based on an understanding that these moral principles are the best way to live this worthy human life. They bring freedom and happiness to oneself as well as to others. Thirdly, you can find some time in the day to sit and meditate. Meditation is the way to improve skills and capacities in our mind. Allocate at least 10 to 15 minutes in your daily routine for meditation. Find a peaceful place at your home. Everyday sit and meditate. At this stage, you can do simple forms of meditation. First few minutes of meditation can be spent mentally watching your own body. Then making a wholehearted wish for all beings to be free from suffering. Then simple watch breath. Train your mind to observe things without interpreting. Let mind settle following the rhythm of the breath. These are a few guidelines for you to start your spiritual journey. You may need to consult a teacher when you progress in the path. You can come to our Wednesday meditation sessions for further practice. If you need further instruction, you can e mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call us 724 295 2525. Wish you progress in your practice with metta Bhante Pemaratana#1