What is the Buddhism & Happiness Meetup?
We're a group of people who get together on a monthly basis to talk about Buddhist concepts, principles, and practices, and how they seem to foster greater happiness, inner peace, and acceptance.
We (Annette, Bob, Craig, and Yuriy) are the organizers of this Meetup group, and we schedule and lead the discussions. We don't claim to be experts on Buddhism or meditation - just average people deeply interested in the philosophy and practice of Buddhism.
What is Buddhism ?
Is it a religion ?
Many people assume that Buddhism is a religion because it's often classified this way, as for example, here on Meetup.com and on Wikipedia. Whether Buddhism is a religion or not obviously depends on the definition of the word "religion", and there are many divergent ones in this regard. If you define religion solely as a belief in a supreme being, a god, or several gods, then Buddhism is not in essence a religion, because there is no such concept in Buddhism. If you use a broad definition of religion, such as..."a set of myths or sacred truths held in reverence or believed by adherents", then you could say that Buddhism is a religion. Buddha was a human being, in the same context that we are, and most importantly, he showed us a way available to all of us in which to investigate, examine, and question the things that we presume to be true and fixed in our inner and outer worlds, and to incorporate and practice viewpoints and behaviors that are more conducive to leading a more "enlightened" and harmonious existence.
To quote Wikipedia:
"Sociologists and anthropologists tend to see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. For example, in Lindbeck's Nature of Doctrine, religion does not refer to belief in "God" or a transcendent Absolute. Instead, Lindbeck defines religion as, "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought ... it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments." According to this definition, religion refers to one's primary world-view and how this dictates one's thoughts and actions."
I would think that Buddhism fits this definition.
If definitions of religion clearly differ so widely, and Buddhism is only a religion under some of these definitions, asking whether it is a religion is a rather futile question - one that the philosophy encourages us to abandon in favor the greater, more immediate question, which is how we can better spend our limited time and efforts on the examination of our suffering and how to conceptualize and ameliorate this suffering. If you looked up no further information on Buddhism, please take a look at "The Four Noble Truths" of Buddhism, and this can give you a starting point for your further inquiry.
Buddhism could better be described as a philosophy for living and for viewing life. It is even one that sometimes has become the basis for various forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and the like. It addresses the way that we see things, as well as the way that we respond to those same things, with the ultimate goal being a freedom from behaving and/or thinking merely reactively and compulsively. Buddhism often promotes the concept of "The Middle Way", which is where increased equanimity and inner peace clearly seem to reside.
For whom is this group? How do you join?
This Meetup group is for anyone who wants to talk about and learn more about Buddhism. You don't need to be "a Buddhist" or already know much about it, but it would help if you had a basic understanding of the rudimentary principles of Buddhism so that you can take part in or follow the conversation. If you don't know much or anything about it yet, you'd probably find it helpful to read some basic articles online or a book about Buddhism before you came to your first Meetup. Here is a list of topics and concepts that you should be familiar with before attending our monthly conversation event.
Whether you are religious, agnostic, an atheist, etc. - it does not matter. If like us, you are interested in becoming a more peaceful, happier person, able to live in greater harmony within yourself and with others, this Meetup is for you.
To become a member, we ask that you have a photo of yourself posted. This helps us to recognize you when you come for the first time, helps the organizers and group members to remember your name in order to get to know you better, and builds a greater sense of community within the group.
Members should always strive to be kind, respectful, and considerate towards others, as well as themselves.
What are we going to do at the events ?
- read this page completely.
- make sure that you have a photo of yourself as your main photo.
- click the "Join Us" button and answer the questions.
We have our group meetings about once a month. At these, we have one common group discussion moderated by the designated monthly organizer, rather than a free form, party-style Meetup. For this reason, we ask that you please arrive on time, as our events are usually not conducive to people coming in at sporadic times throughout the evening.
In the first year of the existence of this Meetup group, we discussed the basics of Buddhism, like the questions below. At present, our discussions are more loosely related to Buddhism and Buddhist concepts and practices that can be applied to daily life. Members are always welcome to suggest topics for discussion. What is the cost ?
There is no cost, outside of the $1/group contribution we ask for to cover Meetup.com administrative fees.Guidelines for our Group
• Before each event, please update your RSVP if you plan to attend.
More importantly, please be sure to update your RSVP if you can no longer attend, after having RSVP’d as a “yes” OR after having been placed on the wait list. We limit the size of the groups in order to make the discussions productive and manageable, and to keep the ambiance intimate. For this reason, we often have a waiting list, and any no-shows takes away a space from someone on the waiting list who is able to participate. Regretfully, if you accumulate 3 no shows, you will be removed from the group, as this makes it difficult or impossible to maintain a healthy, ongoing core group from month to month.
* We share our own experiences and hear those of other members’ in relation to Buddhism in order for all attendees to get to know each other more fully, as opposed to simply a name. If you are completely new to Buddhism, that’s ok too! We are interested in knowing what piqued your interest in the group.
* We do a 10 minute meditation before, or sometimes after introductions. Bob can explain various methods of meditation for those interested, or you may use whatever meditation technique(s) you are familiar and comfortable with.
* After our meditation, we then delve into our discussion topic.
Several particular things/guidelines to note:
* Please do not engage in side conversations, as tempting as that might be. As the group is usually somewhat large, these tend to disrupt the group focus and flow. We allow time at the end of the formal discussion for these more casual conversations.
* Please feel free to fully express your viewpoints, and please allow others in the group to do the same. It's often difficult for new members (and even quiet veterans) to feel comfortable in a new setting, and we as organizers would therefore like to express our intention to address this issue with kindness and compassion.
* It's important to make a concerted effort to be open-minded to divergent ideas and opinions, without emphasis on any one "right way". In Buddhism, there is no “right” or “wrong”.
* We strive to end at approximately 9:15pm, but invite members to stay for more casual conversations, if desired.
* If you are financially limited in your ability to contribute, please feel free to speak to one of the organizers (Bob, Craig, Yuriy, or Annette), and we can donate a few dollars on your behalf from the other membership dues which we collect at each event.
Places to Learn and Meditate
Buddhist and Meditation Centers in Manhattan
Other Places that Offer Courses and Lectures on Buddhism and Meditation
Recommended Books, Audiobooks, E-Books, and Websites
Recommended Introductions to Buddhism
- The Way of Zen, by Alan W. Watts, 1957. A classic.
- Buddhism: A Way of Life and Thought, by Nancy Wilson Ross, 1981.
- Open Heart, Clear Mind, by Thubten Chodron, 1990.
- Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1990?
- A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield, 1993 / 2002.
- Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, by John Powers, 1995.
- It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way To Happiness, by Sylvia Boorstein, 1996.
- The Art of Happiness, by Howard Cutler and the Dalai Lama, 1998.
- The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1999.
- Buddhism for Beginners, by Thubten Chodron, 2001. What I like about this book is that it is in a Question and Answer format, with the answers no more than two pages long -- very good for people with short attention spans (or short subway rides) like me.
- How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life, by the Dalai Lama, 2001.
- Buddhism: A Concise Introduction, by H. Smith and P. Novak, 2004. Also available for the Kindle (digital book).
Further Books on Buddhism
- Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki, 1973.
- Awakening loving kindness, by Pema Chödrön, 1996. This book has the advantage of being tiny (4.2 x 3 x 0.6 inches) so that you can carry it in your pants pockets or a small handbag.
- One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, by Joseph Goldstein, 2003.
- How to expand love, by the Dalai Lama, 2006. It is also available for the Kindle (an electronic book).
- Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Selections from his talks.
Recommended books on Cognitive Therapy
Recommended books on Buddhism & Therapy
Audiobooks and lectures on Buddhism
Free eBooks on Buddhism
Webpages with information about Buddhism
- Wikipedia Page on Buddhism.
- [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Buddhist_topics]List of Wikipedia pages on Buddhism-related topics[/url
If you know of other interesting and related websites, books or other resources, please email us, and we will be happy to add them above.
We hope to see you soon!
Annette, Bob, Craig, and Yuriy