What Do Buddhists Do?

meditation purpose

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Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion in the world, practiced by more than 500 million people. So what does it mean to be a Buddhist, and what do Buddhists actually do? 

There are many different types of Buddhist practices across traditions and lineages—from chanting to bowing to meditation to prayer and mantra recitation—but the central practice of Buddhism is that of meditation. The Buddha offered meditation as the centerpiece of a larger framework for achieving well-being, freedom from suffering, and, ultimately, awakening.  

There are two basic types of Buddhists: monastics and practicing laypeople. You don’t have to become a monk or nun to be a Buddhist, but the monastic life is generally considered a faster path to awakening. 

Here’s a basic look at what it means to be a Buddhist—and what Buddhists do on a day-to-day basis as part of their spiritual practice. 

Discover Deck 3:

What is the purpose of meditation? Freedom of mind is possible, and meditation can help get us there. 

How do I start a meditation practice? Here are the basic things you need to know to get your practice off the ground. 

Do I need a teacher, or can I start practicing meditation on my own? You don’t need one to start, but you may want to seek further guidance as you progress. 

What is mindfulness? It’s not just a buzzword, it’s a specific state of awareness described by the Buddha in his earliest discourses. 

How does someone become a Buddhist? What it means to take refuge as the formal act of becoming a Buddhist. 

Do Buddhists worship the Buddha? The Buddha cautioned his disciples against thinking of him as a gzod or deity. 

Is faith important in Buddhism? Buddhism is a path of direct experience and revelation, but faith does play a role. 

Why do people become monks and nuns? A monastic life is one traditional pathway to enlightenment. 

Must you become a monk or nun to be enlightened? The short answer: no, you don’t. 

What is a Buddhist retreat? Time away for study and meditation is an important way to deepen one’s spiritual practice. 

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