What is the Buddhism & Happiness Meetup?
It is a group of people who get together about once a month to talk about Buddhism, Happiness, and related topics.
We -- Annette, Bob, and Craig -- are the organizers of this Meetup group. We schedule and lead the discussions. We do not claim to be experts on Buddhism or meditation, just regular people interested in the Philosophy of Buddhism.
What is Buddhism ?
Is it a religion ?
Many people think that Buddhism is a religion because it is often classified as such (for example here on Meetup.com and on Wikipedia). Whether Buddhism is a religion or not, depends on the definition of religion, obviously, and there are many different ones. If you define religion as a faith in a god or several gods, then Buddhism is not a religion, because there is no god in Buddhism. If you use the widest definition for religion, 'a set of myths or sacred truths held in reverence or believed by adherents', then you could say that Buddhism is a religion.
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.
But obviously, if definitions of religion differ so widely and Buddhism is only a religion under some of these definitions, asking whether Buddhism is a religion is a rather futile question.
Buddhism could better be described as a philosophy or even as behavioral therapy (psychological cognitive therapy).
For whom is this group? How do you join?
This Meetup group is for anyone who wants to talk about Buddhism. You do not need to be a Buddhist or know much about it. But you should have an understanding of the basic ideas in Buddhism, so you can take part in the conversation. If you don't know anything about it yet, just read a book about it before you come to the 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, or an atheist does not matter.
If you are interested in becoming a happier person and to live in harmony with others, this Meetup is for you.
To become a member, you must have a photo of yourself posted. It helps us to recognize you when you come the first time, helps the organizers and group members to remember your name, and builds community sense.
Members should be kind and should be respectful and considerate towards others.
Minimum age is 18.
Membership is free.
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 conversation events about once a month. At these, we have one common conversation moderated by the organizer, rather than a party-style Meetup. For this reason, please be on time. Our events are usually not going to be the kind of event where you can come at any time 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. Members are welcome to suggest topics for discussion. What is the cost ?
We ask for $1 contribution at each event, to cover meetup organizer 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 waiting lists, and any no-show takes away from one of the waiting list members being able to participate. 3 no shows, and you will be removed from the group!
• Please meet promptly at John’s Shanghai at 7:15pm.
• We will order food as a group, between 7:15-7:30pm, so that we can get started promptly at 7:30pm.If you do not want to have dinner, please consider donating a tip. We have considered and tried many locations around the city – including parks, diners, cafes, public spaces, etc – for our meetups, and John’s Shanghai has proven to be the quietest and most spacious for our needs. As they are incredibly accommodating to us, in spite of tight economic times for many of us, please consider ordering food (and tipping appropriately), as the staff really does go out if their way to always help things run smoothly for us.
If you are financially limited in your ability to contribute, please feel free to speak to one of the organizers (Bob, Craig or Annette), and we can donate a few dollars on your behalf from the membership dues which we collect at each event.
• After ordering, we start with introductions at 7:30pm.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 new to Buddhism, that’s ok too! we are interested in knowing what piqued your interest in the group.
• 10 minute meditation after introductions.Bob will explain two primary methods of meditation, for those interested; or, you may use whichever technique works best for you.
• After our meditation, we get into our discussion topic. Several things/guidelines to note:o Please do not engage in side conversations, as tempting as it 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.
o Feel free to fully express your viewpoints, and please allow others in the group to do the same; it is 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.
o It is important to make a concerted effort to be open-minded to divergent opinions, without emphasis on any one "right way". In Buddhism, there is no “right” or “wrong”
• We strive to end on time (9:15pm), but invite members to stay and have casual discussion, if desired.Places to Learn and Meditate Buddhist and Meditation Centers in Manhattan
Other Places that Offer Courses and Lectures on Buddhism and MeditationRecommended 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 good websites, books or other resources, please email Suzanne, she will add them above.
Hope to see you soon,
Annette, Bob, and Craig