My first exposure to Suttas was joining SC
At first it was a giant incomprehensible tangle. The things that helped me sort it out included reading Bikkhu Bodhis In the words of the Buddha compilation. Just having an index was fantastic, as it could serve as a bit of o road map.
Then Bhante Sujatos wonderful guides to the Nikayas were fantastic as it gave a real structure for understanding of the tripitika.
Finally, watching Ajahn Brahmalis online sutta classes, was the thing that enabled me to have the confidence, and practical skill of reading and contemplating the suttas. I think I’ve watched almost all of the sutta classes available, so now I’m reading the Nikayas from end to end.
As to your demographic questions
No background in Buddhism, speak several languages, comfortable with reading historic literature
Support SuttaCentral, Bhante Sujatos introductions to each Nikaya, and Ajahn Brahmalis online sutta classes
Method From confusion due to complete lack of context, to approach it like a structured course using the resources available, to adequate proficiency for independent study.
Attitude Curiosity, determination to read the original words of the Buddha rather than interpretations only, focus on exploration and enjoyment rather stress, like a giant puzzle
Results Enough confidence to continue independently, this includes reading as well as analysis of multiple interpretations
Desire Next step in getting to the source is learning Pali… I really didn’t want to do this but, the deeper in one gets, the more one realises that translations really matter. I have no interest in learning the required additional skills (pali and translation), but they are the means by which one can most accurately read and understand the message of the Buddha, ie they are the keys to really unlock the authentic teachings… drat.
Background No Buddhist background, quite an academic background, so approached this like putting together a course for myself. The free online resources are absolutely incredible. A great gift!! the keys the the words of the buddha!
One thing I’d like to point out is the utter confusion when one first approaches Buddhism. I was so naive, that I didn’t even realise there were different schools, with such varied doctrines. It probably took me 15 years of small attempts to get to understand (started with Vajrayana, then pure land -( I struggled to identify what I thought of as Buddhism within their developed modes of practice), finally found Theravada and the Suttas. With the fantastic resources that SC has available, I’ve never looked back.
Thank You Everybody who helps make SC the wonderful place it is