Instructions for new lay buddhist

Good afternoon everyone:

I apologize if I’m in the wrong category for this. I’m new to Buddhism and this forum. I did searches before I posted, but still getting the lay of the land.

Anyway, I’m a 42 year old looking on what to do for a daily practice to put the Buddha’s teachings in my life. I’m definitely sold on keeping to the Pali Canon. I feel there is much ancient wisdom there. I have been studying the suttas almost daily from this website and they are definitely eye opening. There are a few Buddhist groups in my area, but I feel they are far from what I read about in the suttas.

As a lay Buddhist, where do I begin to put everything into practice? I have no idea where to start. There is also SO much information out there on meditation. I’m pretty sure there’s a right and wrong way to do it. I just want to make sure I’m on the correct path before I start a serious meditation path.

Any info on where I should start will be great!


Just a reminder that on this forum we do not allow discussion of personal practice. From the FAQ:

Please make sure your responses are in keeping with this rule and focus on the larger issue of where to begin learning about Buddhism. Thank you.


Perhaps you’ll find one or two of these books helpful:

Welcome to the forum!


Thank you so much! That will definitely be a good start!


Devotion: Reflect often on what the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha mean and what they mean to you

Generosity: not just seeing others benefit, but also the act of not putting yourself first. The act of giving up what may have otherwise been dear to you

Virtue: keep the five precepts

Other than that: read suttas, listen to Dhamma talks. Think. Reflect.

I wouldn’t worry so much about meditation as it will gradually become a direct result of the development of virtue and will not be developed separately. One of the biggest misconceptions is that meditation is a whole separate practice that you develop alongside your lifestyle, but the suttas do not describe mindfulness or samadhi that way at all. Non-regret and gladness will become enduring features of a virtuous lifestyle, and that will be the direction tranquility and samadhi, which set the groundwork for insight. All in all, build a wholesome lifestyle and that will be a very fruitful start.



You may also benefit from:
“In the Buddha’s Words” by Bhikkhu Bodhi and his book “Noble Truths, Noble Path: The Heart Essence of the Buddha’s Original Teachings (The Teachings of the Buddha)”.

Welcome to the Dhamma! :pray: :slightly_smiling_face:


I suggest you look at starting The Gradual Training , in accordance with the Suttas.


Check out the Sāmaññaphalasutta (DN2)


These are the Buddha’s instructions for learners. In the modern context this includes reading from an author who is understood. The method is to gradually add suttas to what is already comprehended based on meaning:

“When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on delusion, he places conviction in him. With the arising of conviction, he visits him & grows close to him. Growing close to him, he lends ear. Lending ear, he hears the Dhamma. Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it. Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas. There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises. With the arising of desire, he becomes willing. Willing, he contemplates (lit: “weighs,” “compares”). Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.”

—Majhima Nikaya 95


Good on you for finding the suttas!!

  1. Keep the 5 training precepts.
  2. Practice generosity.
  3. Find a local group to sit with even if they’re not exactly perfect. If they’re nice people, that’s good enough. In-real-life community and connections are important.
  4. Listen to Dhamma talks and read suttas. Bhante Sujato has a weekly Friday night talk that is also streamed live. But there are many on YouTube. Ajahn Brahm was my way into Buddhism. Ajahn Brahmali references suttas a lot in his talks, and he’s also great. There are many teachers but these are the ones I am familiar with.
  5. Be patient and be careful of thinking there is some magical silver bullet. Slow and steady and consistent is the best way.
  6. Enjoy it! This is an amazing path full of joy and happiness. We’re so blessed to have the suttas, our teachers and this practice.

Edit. Oh, and don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake or don’t feel ‘pure’ enough or good enough or whatever.
Be honest with yourself, learn, and keep going!


Thank you! I’ve been listening to Ajahn Brahm lately. Learning a lot from his talks!


Please allow me to introduce yourself to Vipassana meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka (in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin) an educational tradition from Myanmar with complete emphasis on practice. Courses are offered freely in more than 200 centers around the world. Courses are financed entirely by donations from old students, grateful people that have finished at least a 10 day retreat and want other people to benefit from the technique, and are only staffed by volunteers. During a 10 day course you maintain noble silence and are isolated from outer-world stimuli. This is the only way that Vipassana is taught as you need to experience Sila, Samadhi and Panna in the right environment. I feel this is as close as you can get to a monastic experience being a lay person.

More information can be found at In the “courses” tab you can search for a location near you.


1 Like