BUDDHISM WHAT ABOUT HISTORY:

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1 WHAT ABOUT BUDDHISM HISTORY: Arose in India about 500 B.C. o Born out of Hinduism o Founded by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) Born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC Found that his Hindu beliefs didn t adequately explain the suffering and pain he observed in the world Realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to human happiness After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened (Buddha). After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism called the Dhamma, or Truth until his death at the age of 80. The word budhi means to awaken Other major teachers o Nichiren o Dalai Lama WHAT IS IT: Buddhism may best be described as a religion and philosophy. o It is a philosophy because philosophy means love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as: To lead a moral life To be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions To develop wisdom and understanding o It encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama o In many ways it is a godless pietism Some have even called it atheistic, although some forms of Buddhism revere Buddha as a deity and speak of salvation through faith in him Buddhist schools vary significantly on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. AIMS OF BUDDHISM: To journey to an enlightened state of being by which one can escape the endless cycle of rebirth and achieve nirvana To explain how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy o In other words, it supposes to offer a way for a person to clear their mind in order to find out what works for them just so long as it is passive, peaceful, enlightening, etc. CENTRAL TEACHING: To accept the Four Noble Truths and following the Eightfold Path to enlightenment and nirvana BELIEFS: To illustrate how difficult it is to pin down exact beliefs, let me share this Q&A with you: 1 Q: What do Buddhists believe? A: Different Buddhists believe different things, but the nature of belief is itself an important issue in Buddhism. Belief is to be seen as belief, not as fact. When we see our beliefs as facts, then we are deluding ourselves. When we see our beliefs as beliefs, then we are not. Seeing things in their true light is the most important thing in Buddhism. Deluding ourselves is the cause of much suffering. So Buddhists try to see beliefs as beliefs. They may still believe in certain things - that is their prerogative - but they do not cling to those beliefs; they do not mind or worry about whether their beliefs are true or not, nor do they try to prove that which they know cannot be proved. Ideally though, a Buddhist does not indulge in any kind of belief. 1

2 Karma o The law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. For the Buddhist, this law explains a number of things: Inequality in the world Why some are born handicapped and some gifted Why some live only a short life Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their actions, past and present God o There is no God in Buddhism in the way that God in Christianity is commonly understood. To illustrate this point, please permit a series of quotations from an article entitled, The God- Idea : 2 If man is created by an external source, then he must belong to that source and not to himself. According to Buddhism, man is responsible for everything he does. Thus Buddhists have no reason to believe that man came into existence in the human form through any external sources. They believe that man is here today because of his own action. He is neither punished nor rewarded by anyone but himself according to his own good and bad action. In the process of evolution, the human being came into existence. However, there are no Buddha-words to support the belief that the world was created by anybody. The scientific discovery of gradual development of the worldsystem conforms with the Buddha's Teachings. One major threat to humanity is the blindfold called 'authority' imposed on the humans by the concept of God. All theistic religions consider authority as ultimate and sacred. It was this danger that the Buddha was pointing at in the Kalama Sutta. At the moment, human individuality and 2 freedom are seriously threatened by various forms of authorities. God-religions offer no salvation without God. Thus a man might conceivably have climbed to the highest pinnacle of virtue, and he might have led a righteous way of life, and he might even have climbed to the highest level of holiness, yet he is to be condemned to eternal hell just because he did not believe in the existence of God. On the other hand, a man might have sinned deeply and yet, having made a late repentance, he can be forgiven and therefore 'saved'. From the Buddhist point of view, there is no justification in this kind of doctrine. Despite the apparent contradictions of the God-religions, it is not deemed advisable to preach a Godless doctrine since the belief in god has also done a tremendous service to mankind, especially in places where the god concept is desirable. This belief in god has helped mankind to control his animal nature. And much help has been granted to others in the name of god. At the same time, man feels insecure without the belief in god. He finds protection and inspiration when that belief is in his mind. The reality or validity of such a belief is based on man's understanding capacity and spiritual maturity. Buddhists can also co-operate with those who hold this concept of god, if they use this concept for the peace, happiness and welfare of mankind but not with those who abuse this concept by threatening people in order to introduce this belief just for their own benefit and with ulterior motives. For more than 2,500 years, all over the world, Buddhists have practiced and introduced Buddhism very peacefully without the necessity of sustaining the concept of a creator of God Therefore, with due respect to other religionists, it must be mentioned that any attempt to introduce this concept into Buddhism is unnecessary. From time immemorial, Buddhists have led a peaceful religious life without

3 incorporating the particular concept of God. They should be capable of sustaining their particular religion without the necessity, at this juncture, of someone trying to force something down their throats against their will. Having full confidence in their Buddha Dhamma, Buddhists should be permitted to work and seek their own salvation without any undue interference from other sources. Rebirth (differs slightly from reincarnation) o The process in which beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life o Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, and believe that each rebirth takes place within 1 of 5or6 realms of existence: Naraka beings: those who live in one of many Narakas (hells) Preta: sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people Animals: sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life Human beings: one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods Devas: variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels Samsara o The cycle of existence and suffering o Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists Anatta o The belief that there is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe Four Noble Truths (considered to contain the essence of the Buddha s teachings) o Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another (Suffering is universal) o Suffering is caused by craving o Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusions, thereby reaching a liberated state in Enlightenment (bodhi) (To eliminate suffering is to eliminate desire) o Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha NOTICE: What does this completely miss? Eightfold Path (the fourth of the Buddha s Noble Truths) o Following this is to be the way to end suffering Right views accepting the truth of the Four Noble Truths and legitimacy of the Eightfold Path Right thought denying the pleasure of the world, causing no harm, and harboring no ill will toward anybody Right speech avoiding idle talk, lying, and slander Right conduct avoiding killing a living creature, being content with what you have, and be sexually pure Right vocation avoiding a vocation that causes harm to any other sentient creature Right effort ridding oneself of negative and harmful qualities and growing in positive and helpful ones Right alertness or mind control being alert, observant, thoughtful, and contemplative

4 Right meditation having abandoned all sensuous desires and bad qualities, one must then advance through various levels of meditation o In summary, the Noble 8-fold Path is being moral (through what we say, do and our livelihood), focusing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others. Meditation o Essential for gaining enlightenment NOTICE: What does this never lead a person to? What, instead, does it lead a person to focus on? In many ways, the Buddhist s beliefs can be summed up in this saying: 3 Before you go off in search of enlightenment, see the Buddha of your own mind. WHY SO APPEALING & DANGEROUS: No such thing as sin No such thing as hell No such thing as right or wrong as long as you try to live at peace with everyone Nobody to please but myself Has gained popularity among media and sports celebrity Claims to explain a purpose to life; to explain apparent injustice and inequality around the world Claims to provide a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness It is offers itself as a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions It is promotes itself as peaceful, gentle, kind It has an emphasis on mystical experience and enlightenment CHECKING THE TELLTALE SIGNS: Central Figure Mention of Jesus Salvation by works Anti-Trinitarian Different God Theology often in flux Religious syncretism Another written authority TODAY S CONNECTION: Special Vocabulary Roots in Hinduism Considered to be the world s fourth largest religion o Over 300 million followers worldwide o Between 2-5 million in the US CHRISTIAN CONNECTION: Salvation is not achieved by right thoughts and right thinking. Salvation is not found apart from Holy Scriptures and Jesus. There is only one name, under heaven, given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Buddhist may be very good people who lead peaceable, gentle, humble, and quiet lives. However, this is how they believe they will be saved. But our Savior tells us very clearly that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Apart from him there is no salvation (John 14:6). Buddhist s need to be told that the cause for the problems in the world is sin, and that they are sinful too! They need to be told that salvation is a gift given to us by a personal God through the sacrifice of his Son. We receive this gift by faith. 3

5 1. Suffering is universal - Agree or Disagree? FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS (A Scriptural Response) Job 14:1 - Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. Ecclesiastes 2:23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. This is basically true. Because of sin the world is full of all kinds of suffering. 2. Suffering is caused by desire. Romans 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! This is partly true. Our attachment to the world does cause much of our suffering, but in Buddhism, desire results in suffering because the desire is for a world that is ultimately not what it appears to be. According to Buddhist teachings, the world is an illusion. According to Scripture, the real cause of our suffering is the constant battle between our sinful human flesh and our desire to fulfill the Law. Only Christ can rescue us from this situation. 3. To eliminate suffering is to eliminate desire. Evaluate 1 John 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. If suffering was caused only by our selfish desires, then the solution would be to get rid of selfish desires as this truth proposes. However, if drowning people could save themselves, they would not be drowning. In our sinful state where suffering is unavoidable, we are drowning in an ocean of sin. We need a rescuer. We can only overcome suffering through faith in God s Son. 4. A path must be followed in order to achieve the Buddhist ideals. Compare/Contrast with: Ephesians 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! The Buddhist teaching is all about work-righteousness. Ultimately, Buddhism relies on what human beings do. Our problem, however, is not just our impure thoughts or failure at achieving enlightenment. We are drowning, totally incapable of helping ourselves. Our sin has made us dead; it is only through Christ that we have life.

6 THE EIGHTFOLD PATH (A Scriptural Response) 1. Right views accepting the truth of the Four Noble Truths and legitimacy of the Eightfold Path. Proverbs1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. All understanding begins with: knowing the true God. 2. Right thought denying the pleasure of the world, causing no harm, and harboring no ill will toward anybody Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Our purpose is: to seek God and the things that have to do with faith in Christ. 3. Right speech avoiding idle talk, lying, and slander Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Use words that build one another up. 4. Right conduct avoiding killing a living creature, being content with what you have, and be sexually pure Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. You shall not murder, commit adultery, or steal. 5. Right vocation avoiding a vocation that causes harm to any other sentient creature Galatians 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself. 6. Right effort ridding oneself of negative and harmful qualities and growing in positive and helpful ones Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Put on Christ-like virtues. 7. Right alertness or mind control being alert, observant, thoughtful, and contemplative Romans 12:1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. Renew your mind through. God s Word. 8. Right meditation having abandoned all sensuous desires and bad qualities, one must then advance through various levels of meditation 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God s will for you in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Be joyful, pray, and give thanks in Christ.

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