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Basic buddhist concepts analysed in a Christian website

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  • Spnw07's Avatar
    607 posts since Oct '07
    • http://www.letusreason.org/Buddh1.htm

      I hope to reinforce my understanding of basic Buddhist concepts through various viewpoints. It is also my wish to be able to explain such concepts well to Christian acquaintances and friends. Please help me to improve on my answers.

      Point 1:

      Christ did not have to search for wisdom since he was the wisdom and power of God before and during his coming to earth. He came from heaven as a servant to mankind. He grew in understanding in his humanity only, but even at an early age he was aware of his purpose and who he actually was.

      Buddha needed to make sense of the world and its suffering for himself. He was in turmoil in his soul seeing the condition of life being unfavorable for so many. So he searched for enlightenment to have answers for the dilemma he saw in the world.

      How I would answer: The Buddha's search is actually a personal demonstration of how the awakening of our inner spiritual wisdom is possible for all of us. Before the historical Buddha was born as a prince, he is actually a heavenly being (to be correct, a Buddha-to-be 'heavenly being') with great wisdom and compassion. He came down from the heavens to teach us the truth about the world that we live in and about the unawakened Buddha nature in all of us.

      Point 2:

      Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God in fact Buddha did not consider the existence of God to be important. Buddha claimed to point to the right way to escape suffering and attain enlightenment. Contrary Jesus claimed to be the way. Christianity teaches there was only one incarnation of God. While anyone can make a belief system, it is another thing to prove it. In this Buddha and those who followed after failed and Jesus succeeded.

      How I would answer: For those who have made wholehearted efforts to practise the Buddhist teachings, they have succeeded in freeing themselves from the bondages of greed, anger and ignorance. If one has yet to make the right efforts to practise those teachings, one cannot succeed in understanding anything about the Buddha's teachings.

      Point 3:

      ..Buddhists hope to enter into the state of Nirvana, but there is no clear, objective proof or teaching on what occurs beyond the grave. Even Buddha himself was not certain what lay beyond death. He left no absolute teaching on the afterlife only philosophical speculations which can still be debated today. The body of Buddha lies in a grave in at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains. The facts of life after death still are an unsolved mystery in Buddhism. Buddhism offers neither assurance of forgiveness or eternal life. In contrast Christ spoke emphatically and absolutely about an afterlife, something every religion had sought to have answers for. It would be best to listen to the one who conquered death and lives eternally than continue to speculate on it. That is what we hope Buddhists will do.

      How I would answer: The Buddha tells us clearly that a human being who observes basic moral behaviour throughout his entire life would generally enjoy a peaceful death and be reborn in heavenly planes of existence. Next, our state of mind at any point in time affects the quality of our human experience; be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. For example, when we are angry all the time, not only are we experiencing a continued unpleasant disturbance in thoughts and feelings, we are likely to observe some ill effects to our physical and mental health in time to come. So through such teachings, the truth on life after death is actually explained to us: cultivate a healthy state of mind and one will experience true and better lasting inner peace when we are alive, at the point of death and thereafter. This kind of mental or spiritual peace can be regarded as experiencing a form of true heavenly life.

      Forgiveness is an important teaching in Buddhism and so is forbearance. These two human qualities, along with others, help Buddhists to make sustained progress in their personal path to awaken perfect wisdom and compassion from within. The cultivation and observance of humility, forbearance and forgiveness are often praised and encouraged by the Buddha.

      When mental afflictions brought about by greed, anger and ignorance are eradicated through diligent practice of the Buddha's teachings, the fear of physical death or uncertainty about life after death no longer arises. One is considered to have truly conquered death according to the Buddha.

      This is one of those important messages about life and death from the Buddha to all living beings; regardless of their religious beliefs.

       

      Edited by Spnw07 10 Dec `12, 11:02AM
  • Dawnfirstlight's Avatar
    9,764 posts since Nov '09
    • I think you have answered the questions very well. Just a few points to add.

      Point 2) Buddha did not create a belief system. His teachings are about law of nature. No one created law of nature. His teachings can be proven in our daily life, it is up to individual to acknowledge it. If one is not a follower, of course they are unable to see the Truth in Buddha's teachings.

      Point 3) Buddhism is the only religion which explains afterlife in details. While most religions teach only heaven, hell and humans. Buddhism teaches us the existence of heaven, humans, demi-gods, hell, ghosts and animals.Nirvana is a kind of experience, it cannot be proven theoretically. One must practice according to Buddha's teachings to experience Nirvana. Repentance is one of the core teachings in Buddhism. There's no self, so who forgives who? 心若灭时,罪亦亡,心亡罪灭两俱空。

      Edited by Dawnfirstlight 10 Dec `12, 9:15AM
  • Spnw07's Avatar
    607 posts since Oct '07
    • Originally posted by Dawnfirstlight:

      I think you have answered the questions very well. Just a few points to add.

      Point 2) Buddha did not create a belief system. His teachings are about law of nature. No one created law of nature. His teachings can be proven in our daily life, it is up to individual to acknowledge it. If one is not a follower, of course they are unable to see the Truth in Buddha's teachings.

      Point 3) Buddhism is the only religion which explains afterlife in details. While most religions teach only heaven, hell and humans. Buddhism teaches us the existence of heaven, humans, demi-gods, hell, ghosts and animals.Nirvana is a kind of experience, it cannot be proven theoretically. One must practice according to Buddha's teachings to experience Nirvana. Repentance is one of the core teachings in Buddhism. There's no self, so who forgives who? 心若灭时,罪亦亡,心亡罪灭两俱空。

      Thank  you, Dawnfirstlight.

      'Law of nature' and 'can be proven in our daily lives'. Points noted. I think I need to read up more on these two points so I can explain well when asked to elaborate.

      For point 3, is it alright to also say Nirvana cannot be proven scientifically as well?

       

  • Moderator
    An Eternal Now's Avatar
    17,258 posts since Sep '04
    • Nirvana can be achieved in this life.

      Nirvana is described in a number of ways.

      It is described as for example,

      1) The ending of craving, aggression and delusion

      2) The highest happiness.

       

       

      Do you know there is a monk who was tested by brain scientists and his 'happiness level' is off the charts? He is known as the happiest person on earth.

      I think there can be scientific proof of Nirvana.

      Edited by An Eternal Now 10 Dec `12, 12:24PM
    • Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFFMtq5g8N4

    • By the way nice to see you back here.

  • [imdestinyz]'s Avatar
    1,361 posts since Jan '11
  • Weychin's Avatar
    1,771 posts since Jul '09
    • Jesus did not start preaching until he was 35yrs(?), there is a chunk of his life is unaccounted for, the so called lost years. Therefore his wisdom and divine power is definitely acquired, coming only into fruition later on in life, although is a certainty he held his conviction since young!
      From a “No Self” perspective, even though he has convinced and gained believers, yet believers have not cut themselves from the root cause of suffering “clinging to self”. Christians still have both attraction and aversions, in some cases, self righteousness, in spite so much love they profess. Many have not learnt to ” let go” , in their lingo to “love” and “forgive”.
      As long as one references living their life to “Self” , sufferings, mental afflictions will continue to arises! Less one attaches to “Self” reasons for mental affliction diminishes, till ” No Self”, non is arisen.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Weychin:

      Jesus did not start preaching until he was 35yrs(?), there is a chunk of his life is unaccounted for, the so called lost years. Therefore his wisdom and divine power is definitely acquired, coming only into fruition later on in life, although is a certainty he held his conviction since young!
      From a “No Self” perspective, even though he has convinced and gained believers, yet believers have not cut themselves from the root cause of suffering “clinging to self”. Christians still have both attraction and aversions, in some cases, self righteousness, in spite so much love they profess. Many have not learnt to ” let go” , in their lingo to “love” and “forgive”.
      As long as one references living their life to “Self” , sufferings, mental afflictions will continue to arises! Less one attaches to “Self” reasons for mental affliction diminishes, till ” No Self”, non is arisen.

      Just some friendly comments from a Christian perspective.

      1. In the Gospel of Luke 3:23 it says that Jesus began His ministry when He was about 30 years old.

      2. It would be incorrect to say that Jesus' life between 12-30 was unaccounted for. In the first place, there is no requirement that His life, or anyone else's life, has to be accounted for year by year, month by month, week by week, or day by day. Nor is anyone obligated to do that. Besides, it wasn't a complete silence. The Gospels did give a glimpse of those years. One example is Luke 4:16 where it is written, "Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read..." From here we know that Jesus grew up in Nazareth and attended the weekly synagogue meetings. Another place is Mark 6:3 when the people remarked "Isn't this the carpenter?..." So from here we can rightly infer that Jesus was not wandering somewhere in India on a backpack with a Lonely Planet guidebook, but He was taking after His earthly father's work and was rather known by others. Indeed, Jesus certainly grew in wisdom and stature, like all other kids, for He was not just fully God but fully man as well.

      3. In Christianty, the root cause of suffering is not Self, but Sin. God created man in His own image. Man is a person, there is a self. That's how God made us. There is no requirement to negate self or to obliterate the self. The Bible teaches us to be self-less, to serve others. It does not teach that there is no self to speak of. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He denied Himself, but this is not to be confused with denying such a thing as self. There is no love or hatred to speak of if there is no self to speak of. In Christianity it is not about detachment from self, but attachment or rather reconciliation to God. The Bible teaches that sin has separated man from God, and apart from God man is a lost creature. So Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and sinful man.

      OK will stop here just sufficient to address the points you raised about Christianity. 

       

  • Weychin's Avatar
    1,771 posts since Jul '09
    • Thank you for sharing your perspective, especially the fundamental point of being reconciling with God.
      Similiarly, I would share that fundalmentally Buddhism is about suffering,eg. the Four Noble Truths.

  • Uraniumfish's Avatar
    1,972 posts since Mar '08
  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Weychin:

      Thank you for sharing your perspective, especially the fundamental point of being reconciling with God.
      Similiarly, I would share that fundalmentally Buddhism is about suffering,eg. the Four Noble Truths.

      You are most welcome.

      In Christianity, reconciliation is a thread that runs through the Bible. God created a perfect world, no sin, no suffering, no death. It was man's sin that brought death and suffering to a perfect world. Man's sin must be atoned for. But man cannot save himself because whatever good he has is never acceptable before a most holy God. An analogy would be that we would never accept any cup of drink if it is laced with even the most minute drop of poison. This explains the many animal sacrifices man must make with clean animals without spot or blemish. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God who would be that perfect sacrifice. He suffered and died so that through His death He can atone for the sins of man and grant eternal life to those who trust in Him.

    • Originally posted by Uraniumfish:

      Wow, two religions arguing about which is more logical.

      I wouldn't call it an argument.

      It is more a sharing of what each religion teaches about the common experience we all have and will encounter in life, i.e. death and suffering.

      Edited by BroInChrist 11 Dec `12, 3:15PM
  • [imdestinyz]'s Avatar
    1,361 posts since Jan '11
  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by [imdestinyz]:

      it is not an argument larh... whether it turns into one... is another issue

      "Argument" is not a dirty word to be avoided. It is a term for a series of statements called premises that leads to a conclusion.

      What you would be worried about is quarreling.

      See http://www.alphadictionary.com/blog/?p=1116 for a useful distinction.

  • Metta with Mindfulness's Avatar
    140 posts since Aug '11
    • I will say which one make " more sense. "

      Each has their own interpretation, I will choose the one that make sense.

      keep an open mind.

      As more reply to this thread, maybe soon become an argument. Lol.

  • Weychin's Avatar
    1,771 posts since Jul '09
    • Buddhism leads eventually on contemplating “Self” or rather “No self”, however, owing to each of us being born into amd living in different circumstances, especially our world view, different approaches, or skilful means are applied, it take on a varied appearance. But essentially,improving concentration, raising awareness to the examination of self and phenomena.

    • Treat each others a sincere guest with noble intentions and conduct ourselves similiarly.

      Originally posted by Metta with Mindfulness:

      I will say which one make " more sense. "

      Each has their own interpretation, I will choose the one that make sense.

      keep an open mind.

      As more reply to this thread, maybe soon become an argument. Lol.


  • Dawnfirstlight's Avatar
    9,764 posts since Nov '09
    • Originally posted by Weychin:

      Jesus did not start preaching until he was 35yrs(?), there is a chunk of his life is unaccounted for, the so called lost years. Therefore his wisdom and divine power is definitely acquired, coming only into fruition later on in life, although is a certainty he held his conviction since young!
      From a “No Self” perspective, even though he has convinced and gained believers, yet believers have not cut themselves from the root cause of suffering “clinging to self”. Christians still have both attraction and aversions, in some cases, self righteousness, in spite so much love they profess. Many have not learnt to ” let go” , in their lingo to “love” and “forgive”.
      As long as one references living their life to “Self” , sufferings, mental afflictions will continue to arises! Less one attaches to “Self” reasons for mental affliction diminishes, till ” No Self”, non is arisen.

      Yeah, agree with you. As long as one references living their life to “Self” , sufferings, mental afflictions will continue to arises! All the sufferings and sins arise because of we want to protect "self". Buddha taught us that there's no "self".

    • Originally posted by BroInChrist:

      You are most welcome.

      In Christianity, reconciliation is a thread that runs through the Bible. God created a perfect world, no sin, no suffering, no death. It was man's sin that brought death and suffering to a perfect world. Man's sin must be atoned for. But man cannot save himself because whatever good he has is never acceptable before a most holy God. An analogy would be that we would never accept any cup of drink if it is laced with even the most minute drop of poison. This explains the many animal sacrifices man must make with clean animals without spot or blemish. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God who would be that perfect sacrifice. He suffered and died so that through His death He can atone for the sins of man and grant eternal life to those who trust in Him.

      Not arguing, just joking. Why not God create humans who are not capable of committing sins? I hope in future, we humans will create robots which are fully under humans' control. Don't let robots have free will or they will suffer like we humans and we humans will not have peace if robots have free will. To have a win-win situation, robots are not allowed to have free will. Another way is to programme robots not to have evil thoughts and not allowed to do evil deeds. In this way, it is safe to let robots have free will. Sorry, just talking nonsense. I'm just wondering what will happen to this world if robots have free will. smile.png

      Edited by Dawnfirstlight 11 Dec `12, 7:59PM
  • Moderator
    Aik TC's Avatar
    1,614 posts since Jun '10
    • Originally posted by BroInChrist:

      Just some friendly comments from a Christian perspective.

      1. In the Gospel of Luke 3:23 it says that Jesus began His ministry when He was about 30 years old.

      2. It would be incorrect to say that Jesus' life between 12-30 was unaccounted for. In the first place, there is no requirement that His life, or anyone else's life, has to be accounted for year by year, month by month, week by week, or day by day. Nor is anyone obligated to do that. Besides, it wasn't a complete silence. The Gospels did give a glimpse of those years. One example is Luke 4:16 where it is written, "Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read..." From here we know that Jesus grew up in Nazareth and attended the weekly synagogue meetings. Another place is Mark 6:3 when the people remarked "Isn't this the carpenter?..." So from here we can rightly infer that Jesus was not wandering somewhere in India on a backpack with a Lonely Planet guidebook, but He was taking after His earthly father's work and was rather known by others. Indeed, Jesus certainly grew in wisdom and stature, like all other kids, for He was not just fully God but fully man as well.

      3. In Christianty, the root cause of suffering is not Self, but Sin. God created man in His own image. Man is a person, there is a self. That's how God made us. There is no requirement to negate self or to obliterate the self. The Bible teaches us to be self-less, to serve others. It does not teach that there is no self to speak of. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He denied Himself, but this is not to be confused with denying such a thing as self. There is no love or hatred to speak of if there is no self to speak of. In Christianity it is not about detachment from self, but attachment or rather reconciliation to God. The Bible teaches that sin has separated man from God, and apart from God man is a lost creature. So Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and sinful man.

      OK will stop here just sufficient to address the points you raised about Christianity. 

       

      In Christianty, the root cause of suffering is not Self, but Sin. The Bible teaches that sin has separated man from God, and apart from God man is a lost creature. So Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and sinful man.

       

      So man can never and will not be able to remove this ‘Sin’ that is in or committed by himself? Only the beliefs in Jesus and God can help one to redeem oneself from this ‘Sin’ after death? We are certainly lost and helpless creatures!

       

       

      God created man in His own image. Man is a person, there is a self. That's how God made us. There is no requirement to negate self or to obliterate the self.

       

      The Buddha analysis the personality to be composed of the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. This is of course the so called ‘self’ that make up any existent person. Buddhists do not deny, negate or obliterate this ‘self’. What the Blessed One the Buddha pointed out is that, these physical and mental constitutions are impermanent and are in a state of constant changes. The whole purpose of this analysis especially during meditation will give rise to the wisdom of not-self. We then start to look at the world not as constructed around the idea of a self but in as processes, in term of impersonal functions, which will help to create an attitude of equanimity which should help us overcome emotional disturbances of hope and fear.  

       

       

      There is no love or hatred to speak of if there is no self to speak of.

       

      It is when there is not ‘self’ to speak of, that love, compassion, and loving kindness become  unconditional and hatred would not even feature in such state.

       

       

      In Christianity it is not about detachment from self, but attachment or rather reconciliation to God.

       

      In Buddhism it is the realization of the non-attachment and non existence of the ‘Self’ that one attained to the cessation of suffering and final deliverance from the cycle of Birth and Death. When there is still the feeling of reconciliation to a higher Being, there is still duality in thoughts and the notion of a self, liberation is still not final.

       

       

  • 2009novice's Avatar
    961 posts since Oct '09
    • Hi Spnw07,

      just writing to add up on Point 3... about this afterlife thingy..

      i think there is afterlife... only if the mind still have attachment to the previous life... the very last thought propells to the craving for another rebirth... and then followed by suffering... in a cycle.

      but I'm sure Buddha doesn't want to talk whether he existed after death, where is he etc... I searched Accesstoinsight and there are plenty of suttas that stated clearly... e.g. Anuradha Sutta ?

      since all beings are formed by 5 aggregates... dependent originated... there shouldn't have any speculation about whether there is any existence or non-existence after death... is like eternalistic or nihilistic views...?

    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

      In Christianty, the root cause of suffering is not Self, but Sin. The Bible teaches that sin has separated man from God, and apart from God man is a lost creature. So Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and sinful man.

       

      So man can never and will not be able to remove this ‘Sin’ that is in or committed by himself? Only the beliefs in Jesus and God can help one to redeem oneself from this ‘Sin’ after death? We are certainly lost and helpless creatures!

       

       

      God created man in His own image. Man is a person, there is a self. That's how God made us. There is no requirement to negate self or to obliterate the self.

       

      The Buddha analysis the personality to be composed of the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. This is of course the so called ‘self’ that make up any existent person. Buddhists do not deny, negate or obliterate this ‘self’. What the Blessed One the Buddha pointed out is that, these physical and mental constitutions are impermanent and are in a state of constant changes. The whole purpose of this analysis especially during meditation will give rise to the wisdom of not-self. We then start to look at the world not as constructed around the idea of a self but in as processes, in term of impersonal functions, which will help to create an attitude of equanimity which should help us overcome emotional disturbances of hope and fear.  

       

       

      There is no love or hatred to speak of if there is no self to speak of.

       

      It is when there is not ‘self’ to speak of, that love, compassion, and loving kindness become  unconditional and hatred would not even feature in such state.

       

       

      In Christianity it is not about detachment from self, but attachment or rather reconciliation to God.

       

      In Buddhism it is the realization of the non-attachment and non existence of the ‘Self’ that one attained to the cessation of suffering and final deliverance from the cycle of Birth and Death. When there is still the feeling of reconciliation to a higher Being, there is still duality in thoughts and the notion of a self, liberation is still not final.

       

      I think the discussion is helpful only if some buddhist concepts are misinterpreted... but pointless to debate the fundamental difference about buddhism and christianity...

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Dawnfirstlight:

      Not arguing, just joking. Why not God create humans who are not capable of committing sins? I hope in future, we humans will create robots which are fully under humans' control. Don't let robots have free will or they will suffer like we humans and we humans will not have peace if robots have free will. To have a win-win situation, robots are not allowed to have free will. Another way is to programme robots not to have evil thoughts and not allowed to do evil deeds. In this way, it is safe to let robots have free will. Sorry, just talking nonsense. I'm just wondering what will happen to this world if robots have free will. smile.png

      God can certainly create humans who are not capable of sinning i.e. do not endow humans with free will. But this comes at a great cost. Humans will be no different from robots and there will not be any meaningful reciprocal relationship to speak of between God and human. It will just be like a relationship between a man and his potted plant. You can water it and care for it with all the love and attention you can give it but it will never reciprocate your affections. It's a one sided thing.

    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

      In Christianty, the root cause of suffering is not Self, but Sin. The Bible teaches that sin has separated man from God, and apart from God man is a lost creature. So Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and sinful man.

       

      So man can never and will not be able to remove this ‘Sin’ that is in or committed by himself? Only the beliefs in Jesus and God can help one to redeem oneself from this ‘Sin’ after death? We are certainly lost and helpless creatures!

       

       

      God created man in His own image. Man is a person, there is a self. That's how God made us. There is no requirement to negate self or to obliterate the self.

       

      The Buddha analysis the personality to be composed of the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. This is of course the so called ‘self’ that make up any existent person. Buddhists do not deny, negate or obliterate this ‘self’. What the Blessed One the Buddha pointed out is that, these physical and mental constitutions are impermanent and are in a state of constant changes. The whole purpose of this analysis especially during meditation will give rise to the wisdom of not-self. We then start to look at the world not as constructed around the idea of a self but in as processes, in term of impersonal functions, which will help to create an attitude of equanimity which should help us overcome emotional disturbances of hope and fear.  

       

       

      There is no love or hatred to speak of if there is no self to speak of.

       

      It is when there is not ‘self’ to speak of, that love, compassion, and loving kindness become  unconditional and hatred would not even feature in such state.

       

       

      In Christianity it is not about detachment from self, but attachment or rather reconciliation to God.

       

      In Buddhism it is the realization of the non-attachment and non existence of the ‘Self’ that one attained to the cessation of suffering and final deliverance from the cycle of Birth and Death. When there is still the feeling of reconciliation to a higher Being, there is still duality in thoughts and the notion of a self, liberation is still not final.

       

       

      1. You have understood correctly! Yes, on his own man can NEVER earn enough merit to be made right with God. That's the reason why sacrifices are required throughout the OT. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Another being must take your sins and atone for them so you can live. But the blood of bulls and sheep are only temporary and a shadow. Only a perfect sinless man can make that perfect sacrifice that forever satisfy the holiness and justice of God. Which is why the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace and not by works, so that no one can boast.

      2. Perhaps you can further clarify on what Buddhism teaches as I think I am hearing different views here. It seems that there are three views in Buddhism, Self, No-Self, and Not-Self?

      3. By my understanding, love, compassion and mercy can only come from self-conscious and self-aware beings. It is either true that the Self exists or it does not. In Christianity it is not the liberation from self that is the issue, but the liberation from sin.

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