I want to tell you a story, a story from long long ago. A story that speaks not from the viewpoint of rags to riches, but from riches to rags. Come along with me as we travel back in time to meet a man named Siddhartha:
Read page 229 from “The Story of the World”
All Buddhists are vegetarians.
Some Buddhists are, and that thought derives from one of the teachings of Buddhism that they shouldn’t kill another creature.
The only thing Buddhists do is mediate
Meditation is very important, but there is much more to the religion
All Buddhists wear robes
Regular Buddhists, not so much. In fact, they dress a lot like us.
Remember Sunday night we talked about the Vedas, those sacred writings of Hinduism?
Well right about the time they were completed is when Siddhartha showed up on the scene, the son of a high-ranking Hindu, he himself being a Hindu prince.
Tradition has it, in addition to the story we read, that when Siddhartha was born, a “seer” (fortune teller) predicted that if Siddhartha ever saw four things
— sickness, old age, death, and a monk who renounce the world
then Siddhartha would give up his earthly rule and discover a way of salvation for mankind. Which is why his father did everything he could to keep him from those things.
— then Siddhartha would give up his earthly rule and discover a way of salvation for mankind. Which is why his father did everything he could to keep him from those things.
You know what happened, he saw those things, and at age 29, left his wife, son, and all he had and knew in pursuit of truth.
Left in search of two things:
The cause of suffering
The cure for suffering
He obviously started with Hinduism, seeing if it had the truth. He read the Vedas, but found no fulfillment
So then he moved onto self-denial, called asceticism, which also didn’t provide what he was looking for.
So he continued on and on and on for the next six years, looking for enlightenment.
The Bodhi Tree
Finally, one day, while sitting and pondering life underneath a Bodhi tree, he found it. He found enlightenment, or Nirvana. What did he discover? Well, we’ll get there in a minute
But, what do you think his name became.....Buddha, thus Buddhism was born.
Two Types of Buddhism
Makes up around 38% of Buddhists
Practiced mainly in southern Asia
View Buddha as an earthly sage or wise teacher
But, enlightenment is only available to a select few, mainly monks, after many many reincarnations.
So, basically, you have to become a monk and practice more and more meditation and study the Buddhist teachings to ultimately achieve Nirvana.
Just under 60%, 56% to be exact, of Buddhist believe in Mahayan Buddhism
Practiced mainly in Eastern Asia — China, Japan, Korea
View Buddha not as an earthly teacher, but an eternal savior
As they follow Buddha, he leads them to enlightenment, or nirvana
So, enlightenment is available to many, not a select few....
Which makes sense why more Buddhist’s follow this school of thought.
There are other very small types of Buddhism.....Tibetan, Zen and New Age
Pali Canon - one of the earliest writings on Buddhism.
50 volumes, ten times the size of the Bible
Buddha’s life and story
Practices based on the Sutras
What Do They Actually Believe?
There are two main things the Buddhist believes in, the Four Noble Truths & the Eightfold Path
Four Noble Truths - These are the essential elements of Buddhist belief
Dukkha - All of life is suffering
Samudaya - Cause of suffering is selfish desire
We suffer because we desire health, wealth, status and comfort
Much like Hinduism, they believe in reincarnation, but differently. Here, reincarnations are part of an endless cycle of continual suffering due to selfish desire
Nirodha - The cure for suffering
The cure is obviously, overcoming this selfish desire.
By overcoming selfish desire, you end the cycle of reincarnation, and achieve ultimate enlightenment
But, how do you overcome it?
The Eightfold Path - you follow it, that’s noble truth number four
The Eightfold Path
Truly understand what reality is, basically, a right view of the world, suffering, and how to solve it
Focus on pursuing liberation from this endless cycle of suffering
Not content, ever. Always pursuing enlightenment
Honest and helpful. Speak truth. Speak encouragement. Don’t use hurtful words. Don’t exaggerate (tell little white lies)
Wholesome actions that avoid harm to others.
Here’s a helpful way to think about it. We have the ten commandments right?
The first four commandments deal with what? Our relationship with God
The last 6 deal more with what, ethical commands. Think about these ones in light of right conduct of buddhism.
There are five Buddhist precepts under Right Conduct to adhere to:
Abstain from harming living beings (hence vegetarianism)
Abstain from stealing
Abstain from false speech
Abstain from sexual misconduct
Buddhist monks are celibate
Abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs
Then there are also four virtues that go along with Right Conduct
You have an occupation or job that promotes life instead of destroying it
You won’t find Buddhists in military, or slaughter house, or abortion clinics
Your life should be all about working towards improvement.
A Buddha teaching says this, “All we are is the result of all we have thought.”
We need to work towards clear consciousness
Focused awareness of present reality while being free from freedom of all desire.
Accomplished via meditation
Mantras (ritual formulas and sounds)
Mudras (physical postures and hand gestures)
Mandalas (diagrams, pictures that are often circular)
Pretty much, clear your mind, don’t think. The thought is when you don’t think, you clear your mind of any and all ego and selfishness.
So, when you finally complete this eightfold path, and have mastered it, you get a taste of enlightenment, nirvana
Buddha said this, “There is a sphere which is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, which is not the sphere of the infinity of space, nor the sphere of the infinity of consciousness, the sphere of perception, or non-perception, which is neither this world, neither sun nor moon, I deny that it is coming or going, enduring death or birth. It is only the end of suffering.”
What they essentially are trying to do is annihilate the illusion of self.
Self, us, remember Hinduism, everything is an illusion of reality, same thing here in Buddhism, there is actually no real self.
Nirvana is defined as this, “Nirvana is permanent, stable, imperishable, immovable, ageless, deathless, unborn and unbecome. It is power, bliss and happiness, the secure refuge, the shelter, and the place of unassailable safety. It is the real Truth and the supreme Reality. It is the Good, the supreme goal and the one and only consummation of our life, the eternal, hidden and incomprehensible Peace”
So basically, they receive this inner peace, this salvation, through what?
Through works, through self-effort. Very, very challenging and trying self-effort
There is a Buddhist worship song
It says this, “By ourselves is evil done, By ourselves we pain endure, By ourselves we cease from wrong, By ourselves become we pure. No one saves us but ourselves, No one can and no one may; We ourselves must tread the Path: Buddhas only show the way.”
Now, Hindus believed in a Supreme Being remember, Brahman
Buddhists reject that.
So most Buddhists are actually atheists. Remember, it’s all about self and self-denial to achieve enlightenment
The Gospel with a Buddhist
Now, think with me…Buddhists are right, and I use right loosely, in some sense in regards to all life being suffering and the cause of suffering being selfishness.
Also, their precepts were very similar to our last 6 commandments from Exodus
So, we have some “common ground” in regards to these ideas, would you agree?
So, you can talk about sin, about how all mankind is subjected to it due to our selfish desire. That’s truthful, that’s Biblical.
You can talk about shared beliefs such as, don’t steal, don’t lie, flee sexual immorality, don’t covet, etc.
Even their Eightfold Path