Anyone got questions about Buddhism?


#1

It seems to me that a lot of Christians don’t know a thing about Buddhism, as it actually exists. And I’m absolutely certain that many people who claim to be Buddhists don’t.

So I thought I’d make a thread to help with any questions. Be aware I don’t have a degree or anything (anything below a PhD just seems to make things worse anyway), but I have an interest in world religions. I’m Catholic, and nothing will change that, but I’m fascinated by human approaches to God. Or in the case of Buddhism, completely ignoring God as irrelevant.

I haven’t read much of the Sutras (the Buddhist scriptures), but frankly neither have most Buddhists outside the clergy. That right there would be an example of things Westerners don’t seem to get–Buddhism is not Sola Scriptura Protestantism.

I know the most about Japanese/Chinese/Korean Buddhism, but I also know a thing or two about Tibetan and Indian.

Any questions? I’ll see what I can do.


#2

welcome to the forums. our resident Buddhist took off a while ago, have not seen him around.

have at it, but I will not be participating. I have no interest in Buddhism and won’t unless someone from that background comes to my RCIA class.


#3

Actually I’ve been here awhile; I’d just observed a few things. I almost thread-jacked another thread, but didn’t want to be rude.

I’m not Buddhist; as I said, I’m Catholic.


#4

in that case it is my duty to ask, why are you studying Buddhims, your time could be spent much more profitably studying your own faith and scriptures.


#5

A) None of your business
but
B) because I already know nearly everything about the Catholic faith, and I want to know other religions too–for apologetics, mostly, but also just for my own interest.

But seriously, it’s none of your business.


#6

How do you know you know nearly enough? (sort of a Buddhist question for you :wink: )


#7

What’s an RCIA class ?


#8

RCIA is a class for adults interested in Catholicism, and is the usual way for adults to enter the church, whether they are unbaptised, or non-catholic christians who are converting.

I have read a number of fictional accounts of Buddists, but have no idea what the actual practices of contemporary Buddists. I did actually know one asian immigrant who was a “Buddist - Baptist” and said they were compatible. According to her Jesus said it was OK to pray to Budda – but she was clearly confused about both so I wouldn’t take her remarks as representing either.

So if someone who knows would like to explain, what would a “ordinary” Buddist actually do? (One who is not a priest, monk, or teacher). What would they read, when would they go to a temple, and for what, what festivals would they celebrate, how would they pray or medidate, etc.


#9

Could I help you here too? I also know a bit about Buddhism (being in a country where Buddhism took hold for more than 1300 years). But like you, I’m Catholic and nothing can change that fact.

But before that, I’ve got some question:

Why are the other Buddhas like Amitabha (Amida) and Bhaisajyaguru (Yakushi) given a bit more emphasis in the different sects of Mahayana Buddhism (like the Jodo [Pure Land], Zen, Shingon, Tendai, Rinzai, and Nichiren) than Shakyamuni (Shaka; Siddharta Gautama)? Of all these, it seems each school venerates and reveres a Buddha and a Sutra more than the other sect. Why?


#10

Buddhists are atheists!


#11

it’s my job
if it’s not our business, why are you here?


#12

Thank you for asking.

Did any Buddhist every claim He/she was God?
Did any Buddhist ask people to “worship” him? is it a worship or something else?

Thanks!


#13

That was a productive comment. :rolleyes:


#14

One of my colleagues states that his ancestry can be dated to 2000BC and when Jesus came, it was simply ignored.

How can I help this person understand that the only way to heaven is faith in Christ and no one goes to the Father except through Him?

I’ve given him Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth. He wants to “talk” about it.

He states that Buddhism is the way to heaven, karma and all, and that there is a god, but not necessarily a Jesus, sent once to bridge the gap for all man kind. Yes, ALL MAN KIND.

I think I’m too close to this and not all that strong in my own apologetics, but I’d like to engage him in some sort of conversation. I don’t want to get into the “right/wrong” debate, that’s up to the Holy Spirit to convict one’s heart.

Thanks.
J.


#15

Did any Buddhist every claim He/she was God?
Did any Buddhist ask people to “worship” him? is it a worship or something else?

The Buddha very much believed in the existence of the gods, but he did not believe that they had the path of liberation. As far as he could see, the gods too were conditioned and in samsara. Essentially, the gods came to Buddha to learn!

Buddhism does not teach deification of the Buddhas, though the language may at times sound very similar. Buddha is not a god, simply a realized human being that has has been liberated from suffering and *sees things as they really are. *


#16

Well, Amitabha’s given more emphasis in Pure Land Buddhism because he’s the ruler of the Western Pure Land–hence the sect’s name. But their devotion to him stems from the belief that he will take on their karmic burdens (sort of like the scapegoat in Judaism) and help them achieve Nirvana/Nibbana (salvation) much more quickly.

Shingon’s not a Mahayana sect, though–it incorporates a few elements of Mahayana, but it’s actually the same branch as Tibetan Buddhism, Vajrayana.


#17

Well, I don’t know what he’s talking about, because Buddhists don’t want Heaven per se–they want Nirvana, which is the Sanskrit word for “extinction”. Basically, Buddhists believe the universe is fundamentally not worth the trouble, and that realizing that fact will allow you to escape it. There is, however, a duty of “compassion,” so they’re obligated to help others try and escape too (that last is the interpretation in Pure Land, Zen, and Shingon Buddhism; Indian Buddhism doesn’t really emphasize that aspect as much).

Lacking more information on what specific claims he’s making, all I can recommend is that you take him up on the offer to talk about “Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth.” One thing that might also help to explain is, Christians do not accept the Buddhist premise that Gods are all in the same spiritual condition as humans, the source of the maxim, “those in the same condition as us cannot save us.” God, you should try and get him to understand, is *not *in the same condition we are. The big difference between Christianity and Buddhism is they think nobody but you can save you; Christians think only God can save you.


#18

Kind of. It’s more complicated than that, when you move out of the theoretical realm of some ideal “Buddhism as Buddha really taught” (which never existed, of course) and into the world of real Buddhism as actually practiced.

The Chinese and Korean Buddhists believe that some of the Chinese and Korean gods, such as the Taoist Immortals and the Mountain Spirits, are outside the cycle of karma just as Buddhas are, but have achieved their release via a different route, Taoism. Some of them, like Laozi the founder of Taoism, have also become Buddhas.

Japanese Buddhism, because it would never have existed if it outright challenged the Shinto gods, has come up with similar methods to explain them. In specific, it has three interpretations. One is the “Gods are outside karma, like Buddhas,” interpretation, copied from China.

Another is that the Shinto gods are simply beings, more powerful than humans, who are also in the cycle of karma just like humans.

And a third, posited by Kuukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, is that the Shinto gods are actually Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in other forms–his famous example is to conflate the sun-goddess Amaterasu Omikami with the Buddha Dainichi (Great Sun) Nyorai, just because Nyorai is also associated with the sun. It’s not the best fit, but this interpretation is the most common one in Japanese Buddhism.


#19

Sorry for getting to this one last; it’s so short I didn’t notice it.

It’s hard to say. Technically speaking, the “hum” at the end of many Buddhist mantras, for instance “Om mani padme hum,” the mantra of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara/Guan Yin, means something like “is a god.” But it’s not an exact meaning; “Om” and “Hum” are linguistically sketchy words.

Generally, Buddhists do not worship anything, as Buddhists. They might worship the Shinto, Korean shamanist, or Chinese gods too, but not in a Buddhist context. Buddhism teaches that gods, being themselves in the Karmic cycle, can’t save anyone (but see the response to Gnosis, above).

There is a practice in Shingon and I believe Pure Land Buddhism which is called “Mindfulness of the Buddha,” but it’s not so much worship as it is reverence for those who’ve achieved the goal one is seeking oneself. In that, it’s similar to the Catholic reverence for saints–they’re not worshiped, but they are seen as models.


#20

I have a question…

My hair salon is run by I think Thai or Vietnamese and they have an alter (?) and on it is I believe a Buddha and they have placed a small cup of tea and incense also maybe some bamboo…What do you think all of that means:confused:


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