Christianity / Budhism


#1

I have an old friend I’ll be seeing. One of my friends told me he left christianity to become a budhist and he lives part time in China. I’m told he often preaches about budhism. Does anyone have any idea what I can expect when he brings this up to me. I really don’t know much about buddism. Isn’t their goal to return to nothingness? What are their arguments against the Christian faith?


#2

[quote=Michael C]I have an old friend I’ll be seeing. One of my friends told me he left christianity to become a budhist and he lives part time in China. I’m told he often preaches about budhism. Does anyone have any idea what I can expect when he brings this up to me. I really don’t know much about buddism. Isn’t their goal to return to nothingness? What are their arguments against the Christian faith?
[/quote]

Hello Michael!

The easiest thing to do is look at this website forthcoming. It’s a five minute intro to Buddhism. This will be helpful. I wouldn’t expect an all out war of thoughts or beliefs, though I don’t know your friend personally. Generally, Buddhists are accepting, tolerant people. Of course, if he has converted, he will be enthusiastic about his new faith - but that is only natural.

buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm

If you have any specific questions, I can try to answer them for you, though I am no expert. The above site is very helpful and is a great resource for those wanting to know more about the Buddhist faith.

Peace…


#3

Buddha never claimed to be God. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

His followers never claimed Buddha to be God.

Unlike Christ, Buddha died and did not again rise to life. Jesus did die and was resurrected.

Buddha never did miricles, Jesus did.

Jesus said ,“I am the way”. Buddha said,“Look not to me, look at my dharma(doctrine)”.

Jesus said, I am the light of the world". Buddha said,“Be ye lamps unto yourselves”.

All of this added up to this, Jesus was saying He was Devine. Buddha didn’t claim Divinity at all. He claimed to be a man.

Pantheism: We are drops in the cosmic ocean. Upon death we, as drops, return to that ocean. No individuality after death.


#4

[quote=Exporter]Buddha never claimed to be God. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

His followers never claimed Buddha to be God.

Unlike Christ, Buddha died and did not again rise to life. Jesus did die and was resurrected.

Buddha never did miricles, Jesus did.

Jesus said ,“I am the way”. Buddha said,“Look not to me, look at my dharma(doctrine)”.

Jesus said, I am the light of the world". Buddha said,“Be ye lamps unto yourselves”.

All of this added up to this, Jesus was saying He was Devine. Buddha didn’t claim Divinity at all. He claimed to be a man.

Pantheism: We are drops in the cosmic ocean. Upon death we, as drops, return to that ocean. No individuality after death.
[/quote]

No offense Exporter but the purpose of a follower of Christ is a loss of individuality in this life - "I live no longer I " says Paul and likewise in all followers of Christ.It is no small thing to recognise the lineaments of other beliefs in Christianity and only those who suffer severe prejudice would believe otherwise.

There is something poignant in the life of Paul,a man who once tried to destroy a faith that could’nt be destroyed for it is a belief in Love rather than something that requires proof or something that is claimed.

A true Christian neither fears nor dismisses a belief of another (even the poor atheists have a belief of sorts) however Christianity is closest to the human and Divine condition in its ability to be creative,loving and all those things which make life worthwhile.


#5

If he’s a true Buddhist and friend, then I suspect he’ll probably ask you how your spiritual life is going, encourage you in your Faith, and kick back over a few beers.

In Buddhism, the idea isn’t that everyone has to become a Buddhist. The idea is that everyone has to release selfishness (as seen in the St. Paul quote).


#6

[quote=oriel36]No offense Exporter but the purpose of a follower of Christ is a loss of individuality in this life - "I live no longer I " says Paul and likewise in all followers of Christ.It is no small thing to recognise the lineaments of other beliefs in Christianity and only those who suffer severe prejudice would believe otherwise.
QUOTE]

That is not true. Christianity acknowledges that we are all individuals created in the image of God, that we have to work at overcoming selfishness by reaching out to God and to our neighbor, but it can never go away entirely. Paul went to extraordinary lengths to spread the faith and so neglected his own personal needs about as much as any human can.
[/quote]


#7

The thing to remember about Buddhism, as we learn from Pope John Paul II in his wonderful book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which I can only paraphrase poorly from my inadequate memory from reading it last year:

Buddhism is to be admired for its wish to detach from material things, and for its admonition that we must purify the soul. But what it sadly lacks is a meaningful goal, an end point more profound than immersion in a concept, but rather communion with Christ our Lord, who really, physically came here in particular time and space to mediate our way. The Buddhist goes away from something in his detachment and purification. The Christian goes toward the Kingdom of God.

In addition, our Catholic tradition ever since Thomas Aquinas has held that there is nothing inherently evil about material being because it was brought into existence by God. Moreover, by His incarnation, Christ the Lord has made material being holy. Our aversion to materialism is only insofar as it distracts one from the purpose of life which is to know, love and serve God.


#8

[quote=adnauseum]The thing to remember about Buddhism, as we learn from Pope John Paul II in his wonderful book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which I can only paraphrase poorly from my inadequate memory from reading it last year:

Buddhism is to be admired for its wish to detach from material things, and for its admonition that we must purify the soul. But what it sadly lacks is a meaningful goal, an end point more profound than immersion in a concept, but rather communion with Christ our Lord, who really, physically came here in particular time and space to mediate our way. The Buddhist goes away from something in his detachment and purification. The Christian goes toward the Kingdom of God.

In addition, our Catholic tradition ever since Thomas Aquinas has held that there is nothing inherently evil about material being because it was brought into existence by God. Moreover, by His incarnation, Christ the Lord has made material being holy. Our aversion to materialism is only insofar as it distracts one from the purpose of life which is to know, love and serve God.
[/quote]

First, I really appreciate Pope John Paul II. I think very highly of him.

I would say, though that in Buddhism there is a meaningful goal - that of nirvana (nibbana) which is the end of suffering or unsatisfactoriness. It is more than a concept but a reality, if you will. The historical Buddha attained enlightenment while still living. The same real possibility exists for those who follow what he learned and which he subsequently taught others.

As Dr. Peter Santina explained in a series of lectures on Buddhism:

"We ought to be on guard against dismissing the possibility of the complete end of suffering or the possibility of attaining Nirvana simply because we have not experienced it ourselves."

I would also go on to say that the Buddhist is more than “going away” from something. It is a contemplative practice of looking deeply within one’s mind and getting rid of illusions. It is a practice of “going home” within oneself. You meditate, clear your mind and inquire into thoughts that arise (insight meditation).

So, in a real sense, it is not running away from the world or one’s surroundings. It is about observing things as they really are instead of remaining ignorant of the true nature of all things.

Peace…


#9

It’s been a while since I studied Buddhism, but I remember at least this much. The word refers to more than one set of beliefs, much like Christianity can refer to very different sets of beliefs. The Buddha, reacting against Hinduism (that all is god and that the escape from suffering involved seeing this mystery, knowing that you too are god … all things are a varied manifestations of that one reality) taught that all is ultimate illusion. A deep look into existence did not reveal god, but nothingness and the only way to end the cycle of birth and rebirth and to escape suffering was to embrace this nothingness. Nirvana is a sort of self-obliteration. Most current buddhists, following the dalai llama follow a set of beliefs that are much closer (and much more stomachable to most theists) to Hinduism, whereby Nirvana probably involves, not merely the erasure of pain, but the added experience of bliss.

However, any form of Buddhism posits the illusory nature of existence. An interesting question to ask a Buddhist may be, “Since all things are an illusion, and time and history are illusions, does that not also make the Buddha an illusion and his very teachings illusions? How do you reconcile this understanding with your dedication to him and his teachings?”

Besides this, both Hinduism and Buddhism, in my mind, offer horrible explanations of the problem of pain. We are told simply that pain isn’t exactly the evil we perceive it to be. We need to see either that it too is god, or that it isn’t in fact real.

The real solution to pain is to unite it with Christ. Only in him and in His work on the cross will we find true solutions, that properly and truly diagnose what the problem actually is with pain. Maybe, Michael C, you’ll find these useful challenges to present to your Buddhist friend. Maybe his views are not as I characterized them here, but it is how the subjects were taught to me by my former professor, George Thompson, a specialist in Snaskrit studies and Eastern religions.

God bless.


#10

[quote=Adam D]It’s been a while since I studied Buddhism, but I remember at least this much. The word refers to more than one set of beliefs, much like Christianity can refer to very different sets of beliefs. The Buddha, reacting against Hinduism (that all is god and that the escape from suffering involved seeing this mystery, knowing that you too are god … all things are a varied manifestations of that one reality) taught that all is ultimate illusion. A deep look into existence did not reveal god, but nothingness and the only way to end the cycle of birth and rebirth and to escape suffering was to embrace this nothingness. Nirvana is a sort of self-obliteration. Most current buddhists, following the dalai llama follow a set of beliefs that are much closer (and much more stomachable to most theists) to Hinduism, whereby Nirvana probably involves, not merely the erasure of pain, but the added experience of bliss.

However, any form of Buddhism posits the illusory nature of existence. An interesting question to ask a Buddhist may be, “Since all things are an illusion, and time and history are illusions, does that not also make the Buddha an illusion and his very teachings illusions? How do you reconcile this understanding with your dedication to him and his teachings?”

Besides this, both Hinduism and Buddhism, in my mind, offer horrible explanations of the problem of pain. We are told simply that pain isn’t exactly the evil we perceive it to be. We need to see either that it too is god, or that it isn’t in fact real.

The real solution to pain is to unite it with Christ. Only in him and in His work on the cross will we find true solutions, that properly and truly diagnose what the problem actually is with pain. Maybe, Michael C, you’ll find these useful challenges to present to your Buddhist friend. Maybe his views are not as I characterized them here, but it is how the subjects were taught to me by my former professor, George Thompson, a specialist in Snaskrit studies and Eastern religions.

God bless.
[/quote]

Hello!

I just wanted to clarify a few things you stated above. Yes, there are at least 18 different “schools” of Buddhism. But the basic beliefs believed by all are the four noble truths and the eightfold path prescribed by the Buddha.

I would not consider Nirvana self-obliteration. That really isn’t the core teaching of it. The core of Nirvana is that it is the state of having ignorance and craving extinguished from existence. It doesn’t mean annihilation or extinction, but an extinguishing. You could relate it to a candle which is lit. The flame of the candle is like the craving, clinging and suffering in our lives. When the flame is extinguished from the candle - so it is with the extinguishing of clinging and suffering from our lives. Nirvana is a state of bliss.

All things are not illusions. Our perceptions of things are illusions. We have material bodies. The earth is material. You can touch them. Ignorance is seeing things as eternal and perpetual and unchanging. The reality is that all things are changing. All things are impermanent. This is the teaching of the Buddha.

Our notions and beliefs about what things are is what needs to be extinguished. Example:

While driving home at night we see a shadow off to the side of the road up ahead. We think it is a person and perhaps slow down and fear they will walk in front of our car and get hit. When in reality, once we go farther up the road our headlights shine on the figure and we realize that it is merely a traffic sign disguised as a person. We have to look deeply into the nature of things and see them as they truly are.

This is my understanding of Buddhist thought and practice. Much more can be obtained at:

www.buddhanet.net

Peace…


#11

I agree with you that there is a meaningful goal in Buddhism; still this goal is significantly different (though I would not say opposed) to the Christian goal.

In simple terms, the basic goal of each religion is to deal with human desire (which is a function of human finitude). Through the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha discovered that all is suffering (a basic affirmation of what he already knew via the Hindu concept of Samsara…that constant cycle of desire, disgust, desire, disgust…). He realized that all suffering is caused by desire. Thus (to simplify things), he concluded that to cease to desire was to cease to suffer.

Christianity, on the other hand, sees things in similar terms. The basic problem, however, is not the mere existence of desire, but the disordering of desire. Human desire is disordered…rather than being ordered primarily to God and to others, human desire/passion are directed primarily to oneself. Here, Christianity agrees with Buddhism in recognizing that this disorder is at the root of all suffering. But the solution is not to do away with desire, but to satisfy it. This is done by properly ordering human desire: as Augustine relates in Book One of the Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Once human desire is restored, an activity made possible by God becoming man (to the point of death), man is, once again restored and happy (salvation).

A few points of contrast, then:

  1. B and C disagree on the origin of the problem. B sees the problem as inherent to reality. It is all part of the law of dependent origination. C sees the problem as foreign to reality: it (sin…disordered desire) is a “fall.”

  2. B has a negative solution. Negative not in a “bad” sense, but in the sense that the solution is the taking away of something: desire. C has a positive solution: C does not wish to take out desire, but to fulfill it (see Jesus’ words in John 10, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.”)

But, as one posted above, there is a great similarity in the two, in that both see the positive goal of the death of self. The question: what happens after this “death”?


#12

[quote=FelixBlue]I agree with you that there is a meaningful goal in Buddhism; still this goal is significantly different (though I would not say opposed) to the Christian goal.

In simple terms, the basic goal of each religion is to deal with human desire (which is a function of human finitude). Through the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha discovered that all is suffering (a basic affirmation of what he already knew via the Hindu concept of Samsara…that constant cycle of desire, disgust, desire, disgust…). He realized that all suffering is caused by desire. Thus (to simplify things), he concluded that to cease to desire was to cease to suffer.

Christianity, on the other hand, sees things in similar terms. The basic problem, however, is not the mere existence of desire, but the disordering of desire. Human desire is disordered…rather than being ordered primarily to God and to others, human desire/passion are directed primarily to oneself. Here, Christianity agrees with Buddhism in recognizing that this disorder is at the root of all suffering. But the solution is not to do away with desire, but to satisfy it. This is done by properly ordering human desire: as Augustine relates in Book One of the Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Once human desire is restored, an activity made possible by God becoming man (to the point of death), man is, once again restored and happy (salvation).

A few points of contrast, then:

  1. B and C disagree on the origin of the problem. B sees the problem as inherent to reality. It is all part of the law of dependent origination. C sees the problem as foreign to reality: it (sin…disordered desire) is a “fall.”

  2. B has a negative solution. Negative not in a “bad” sense, but in the sense that the solution is the taking away of something: desire. C has a positive solution: C does not wish to take out desire, but to fulfill it (see Jesus’ words in John 10, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.”)

But, as one posted above, there is a great similarity in the two, in that both see the positive goal of the death of self. The question: what happens after this “death”?
[/quote]

Yes, the goal is different. The big difference I see is that in Buddhism there is no “Creator God”. There is dependent origination - this is because that is. All things depend on all other things for survival and there is nothing separate from anything else in the universe. There is no independent, immortal self in Buddhism. However, obviously, in Christianity there is a Creator God and there is a permanent “thing” that survives death - that exists outside of one’s body. In Buddhism, mind and body are one. In Buddhism, birth and death are notions. When one is born from their human parents they are really just a continuation of their parents.

Conditions must be met for things to come into being. A pumpkin seed must have water, earth and sunshine to grow. If these conditions are present, the seed will grow into a pumpkin. If those conditions are not present, the seed does not grow into a pumpkin. All things are conditional and dependent upon other things to exist. All things exist interdependently, not independently.

Peace…


#13

Goals?

It has been years, and my knowledge is limited to “The Myth of Freedom” by Chogyam Trongpa. However, I recall in his teaching of egolessness, that it is not possible to have a goal in the Western sense. To have a goal requires an ego, and the I can’t relenquish itself.

My understanding is that Nirvana was the complete loss of ego through meditation; basically becoming nothing, so you become one with the universe. Maybe this is limited to Tibetan Buddhists, but I found the teaching very existentialist - along the lines of Sartre.

Anyway, I agree with the other posters that you are not in for a knock-down drag-out with your friend. Enjoy the conversation…and the beer if there is any.


#14

The idea that Buddhist practice is the elimination desire is a partial truth. Buddhism divides desire into two types: dhamma-chanda (the desire to follow the Dhamma, or the teaching of the Buddha) and kamma-chanda (the desires of defilement – craving, lust, greed, etc.).

In order to realize nibbana, one has to have desire, that is, dhamma-chanda. Otherwise, kamma-chanda would win, as the Venerable Nanasampanno relates below:

** So. Go ahead and want. Want to gain release from suffering. Want to gain merit. Want to go to heaven. Want to go to nibbana. Go ahead and want as much as you like, because it’s all part of the path. It’s not the case that all wanting is craving (tanha). If we think that all wanting is craving, then if we don’t let there be craving, it’s as if we were dead. No wanting, no anything: Is that what it means not to have defilement or craving? Is that kind of person anything special? It’s nothing special at all, because it’s a dead person. They’re all over the place. A person who isn’t dead has to want this and that – just be careful that you don’t go wanting in the wrong direction, that’s all. If you want in the wrong direction, it’s craving and defilement. If you want in the right direction, it’s the path, so make sure you understand this. **

**The stronger our desire, the more resolute our persistence will be. Desire and determination are part of the path, the way to gain release from stress. When our desire to go heaven, to attain nibbana, to gain release from stress is strong and makes us brave in the fight, then our persistence, our stamina, our fighting spirit are pulled together into a single strength by our desire to attain nibbana and release from stress. They keep spinning away with no concern for day or night, the month or the year. They simply keep at the fight all the time. How about it? Are they resolute now? When the desire gets that strong, we have to be resolute, meditators. No matter how many defilements there are, make them collapse. We can’t retreat. We’re simply determined to make the defilements collapse. If they don’t collapse, then we’re prepared to collapse if we’re no match for them. But the word ‘lose’ doesn’t exist in the heart. If they kick us out of the ring, we climb right back in to fight again. If they kick us out again, we climb back in again and keep on fighting. After this happens many times, we can start kicking the defilements out of the ring too, you know. After we’re been kicked and hit many times, each time is a lesson. **

**Wherever we lose to defilement, whatever tactics the defilements use to beat us, we use their tactics to counteract them. Eventually we’ll be able to stand them off. As the defilements gradually become weaker, the matters of the Dhamma – concentration, mindfulness, discernment, persistence – become stronger and stronger. This is where the defilements have to grovel, because they’re no match. They’re no match for the Dhamma. Before, we were the only ones groveling. Wherever we groveled, we’d get kicked by the defilements. Lying down, we’d cry. We’d moan. Sitting, we’d moan. Standing, we’d feel desire. Walking, we’d feel desire and hunger. Wherever we’d go, there’d be nothing but love, hate, and anger filling the heart. There’d be nothing but defilement stomping all over us. But once these things get struck down by mindfulness, discernment, conviction, and persistence, they don’t exist no matter where we go – because the defilements are groveling. They keep on groveling, and we keep on probing for them without let up. Whenever we find one, we kill it. Whenever we find one, we kill it, until the defilements are completely eradicated, with nothing left in the heart. So now when we talk about defilement, no matter what the kind, we can talk without hesitation. Whatever tricks and tactics we employed to shed the defilements, we can describe without hesitation. The purity of the heart that has no more defilements ruining it as before, we can describe without hesitation. **

This is like the person who has gone into battle and can speak without hesitation. It’s not the same as when we simply memorize. If we simply memorize, we can speak only in line with the texts. We can’t elaborate the least little bit. We don’t know how. But a person who has gone into battle knows all the ins and outs – not simply that military science says to do things like this or to follow that route. He can make his way through every nook and cranny, every zig and zag, depending on what he needs to do to get to safety or gain victory. A fighter takes whatever means he can get.


#15

Ahimsa,

Thanks for the clarification on the two kinds of desire. I find it interesting, though, that you site a living (or recently dead) Buddhist. I wonder if this conception of two kinds of desire is relatively recent or what kind of Buddhism it represents?

My argument above refers to the immediate experience of the Buddha and his basic analysis (from the first century biography, the Buddhacarita). Certainly, since then, as within Christianity, that “basic data” has developed into many systems. My understanding of Zen, for instance, where I’ve done most of my study, is that the goal (if you can call it that) is to totally transcend desire (following the writings of, specifically, Masao Abe), even the desire for enlightenment or any particular sense of enlightenment as samsara is nibbana and nibbana is samsara.

Even so, the thrust of my point remains, whether there are one or two desires: the goal of Buddhism is negative in nature (it is a release from), whereas the goal of Christianity is positive (a release to). Again, I don’t mean to imply that Buddhism is fundamentally wrong. Rather, it is incomplete (in my view).

My question to you is: what is “merit” and heaven and the desire for nibbana (all the more positive, dhamma-chanda) if not “the desire to gain release from suffering”? And isn’t this, then, a species of kamma-chanda, in that it is at base egotistical (that is, the desire to save the illusionary “I”, anatman)? I believe this is what Zen buddhists conclude, and it seems true enough to me.


#16

[quote=ahimsaman72]Yes, the goal is different. The big difference I see is that in Buddhism there is no “Creator God”. There is dependent origination - this is because that is. All things depend on all other things for survival and there is nothing separate from anything else in the universe. There is no independent, immortal self in Buddhism. However, obviously, in Christianity there is a Creator God and there is a permanent “thing” that survives death - that exists outside of one’s body. In Buddhism, mind and body are one. In Buddhism, birth and death are notions. When one is born from their human parents they are really just a continuation of their parents.

Conditions must be met for things to come into being. A pumpkin seed must have water, earth and sunshine to grow. If these conditions are present, the seed will grow into a pumpkin. If those conditions are not present, the seed does not grow into a pumpkin. All things are conditional and dependent upon other things to exist. All things exist interdependently, not independently.

Peace…
[/quote]

For one, isn’t it more accurate to say that Buddhism simply declines to speak of a creator god rather than saying, positively, that there is no such being (as no doubt, in Buddhist cosmologies, there are plenty of gods…depending on the consulted tradition)?

Secondly, dependent origination, I believe, is simply a statement of fact (in the one, closed cosmos detected by science). There is no doubt that all is radically interdependent. The problem is when we get to dependent arising (though, strictly speaking, this is identical to dependent origination). How did the great web of being, of interdependency, come to be? One can deny it, but the question of causality is very difficult to avoid, along with the question of infinite regress, which dependent arising accepts.

Even so, I feel I have learned much from studying this idea (especially in Zen forms) and believe there is much truth to be gleaned. In some real sense, God, through Christ, is dependent upon his creation (specifically, man, the highpoint of creation). It is not a dependence of need or completion (as in his essence), but a dependence of relation: much as a wise man is somehow fuller (though not in his essence/substance) by having a follower/disciple. To use your example above, suhshine doesn’t need a pumpkin seed to be sunshine (it is itself whether the seed is there or not). Still, it somehow becomes fuller, in a relational sense, when it gives itself to the seed: the seed’s potential (creation), its death (sin/dying), and its final blossoming (for the Christian, the New Creation). Thus, while God (the Actual), in himself, does not need creation (the potential), he relationally becomes fuller when the potential (creation) becomes actual (divinized, or in full, participatory relationship with the Divine Essence). Sorry for going on, but I say all that to simply say that the Buddhist conception of dependent origination is useful in Catholic/Christian theology, with certain caveats.


#17

[quote=FelixBlue]Ahimsa,

Thanks for the clarification on the two kinds of desire. I find it interesting, though, that you site a living (or recently dead) Buddhist. I wonder if this conception of two kinds of desire is relatively recent or what kind of Buddhism it represents?

[/quote]

The idea of desire leading to no-desire is there in the Pali texts, the texts of Theravada Buddhism, which is closest to original Buddhism. If you look at the four noble truths, how can you practice the eight-fold path if you don’t desire to do so? And the second noble truth describes desire-as-craving (tanha) – rather than desire for Dhamma (dhamma-chanda) – as the origin of dukkha.

Here’s a Pali sutta, the Brahmana Sutta, that describes Buddhist practice as necessarily including the desire to practice. The implication, though, is that you don’t consciously decide “Hey, I think I’ll stop desiring”; rather, the ending of desire results from the process in which one has constantly desired only the Dhamma.

** I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Ananda was staying in Kosambi, at Ghosita’s Park. Then the Brahman Unnabha went to where Ven. Ananda was staying and on arrival greeted him courteously. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ananda: “Master Ananda, what is the aim of this holy life lived under the contemplative Gotama?”
** ** “Brahman, the holy life is lived under the Blessed One with the aim of abandoning desire.” **

** “Is there a path, is there a practice, for the abandoning of that desire?” **

** “Yes, there is a path, there is a practice, for the abandoning of that desire.” **

** “What is the path, the practice, for the abandoning of that desire?” **

**"Brahman, there is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on desire and the fabrications of exertion.
**

**He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on persistence and the fabrications of exertion.
**

**He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on intent and the fabrications of exertion.
**

**He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on discrimination and the fabrications of exertion. This, Brahman, is the path, this is the practice for the abandoning of that desire." **

**“If that’s so, Master Ananda, then it’s an endless path, and not one with an end, for it’s impossible that one could abandon desire by means of desire.” **

**“In that case, brahman, let me question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think: Didn’t you first have desire, thinking, ‘I’ll go to the park,’ and then when you reached the park, wasn’t that particular desire allayed?” **

** “Yes, sir.” **

**“Didn’t you first have persistence, thinking, ‘I’ll go to the park,’ and then when you reached the park, wasn’t that particular persistence allayed?” **

** “Yes, sir.” **

**“Didn’t you first have the intent, thinking, ‘I’ll go to the park,’ and then when you reached the park, wasn’t that particular intent allayed?” **

** “Yes, sir.” **

**“Didn’t you first have [an act of] discrimination, thinking, ‘I’ll go to the park,’ and then when you reached the park, wasn’t that particular act of discrimination allayed?” **

** “Yes, sir.” **

**“So it is with an arahant whose mental effluents are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who is released through right gnosis. Whatever desire he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular desire is allayed. Whatever persistence he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular persistence is allayed. Whatever intent he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular intent is allayed. Whatever discrimination he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular discrimination is allayed. So what do you think, brahman? Is this an endless path, or one with an end?” **

** "You’re right, Master Ananda. This is a path with an end, and not an endless one. Magnificent, Master Ananda! Magnificent! **


#18

Nibbana is often described in “not” and “un” terms – not changing, not unsatisfactory, not oppressive, and the Unborn, Uncreated, etc., but mostly because the Buddha deemed it unwise to verbalize what should really be experienced for oneself. Nibbana is so unlike any else that we experience. However, the Buddha and Pali texts do sneak in a few positive descriptions, such as Nibbana being the “highest bliss”.

My question to you is: what is “merit” and heaven and the desire for nibbana (all the more positive, dhamma-chanda) if not “the desire to gain release from suffering”? And isn’t this, then, a species of kamma-chanda, in that it is at base egotistical (that is, the desire to save the illusionary “I”, anatman)? I believe this is what Zen buddhists conclude, and it seems true enough to me.

Those Zen Buddhists. Always stirring up trouble.
:smiley:

Well, it’s true that if you’re not enlightened, then there are still some defilements existing, and thus you still have some kamma-chanda there. But if you didn’t have kamma-chanda, then you wouldn’t need to practice Buddhism! To paraphrase Jesus, Buddha came to teach those who suffered from kamma-chanda, not those who were already enlightened.


#19

[quote=Ahimsa]If he’s a true Buddhist and friend, then I suspect he’ll probably ask you how your spiritual life is going, encourage you in your Faith, and kick back over a few beers.

In Buddhism, the idea isn’t that everyone has to become a Buddhist. The idea is that everyone has to release selfishness (as seen in the St. Paul quote).
[/quote]

Ah,but Christianity recognises that there is also a Spiritual selfishness which splits it off from Buddhism and can only really be comprehended within Christian terms and the Spiritual ends to which a Christian tends.

ccel.org/t/theo_ger/theologia31.htm

So,I guess we find ourselves in a unique position,a Buddhist can easily understand Christian contemplative terminology up to a point while Catholic Christians will completely dilute the rich Christian contemplative tradition even if the words come from Jesus Himself.

It was as though Jesus had brought a mop instead of a sword and so it remains to this day.


#20

[quote=FelixBlue]For one, isn’t it more accurate to say that Buddhism simply declines to speak of a creator god rather than saying, positively, that there is no such being (as no doubt, in Buddhist cosmologies, there are plenty of gods…depending on the consulted tradition)?

Secondly, dependent origination, I believe, is simply a statement of fact (in the one, closed cosmos detected by science). There is no doubt that all is radically interdependent. The problem is when we get to dependent arising (though, strictly speaking, this is identical to dependent origination). How did the great web of being, of interdependency, come to be? One can deny it, but the question of causality is very difficult to avoid, along with the question of infinite regress, which dependent arising accepts.

Even so, I feel I have learned much from studying this idea (especially in Zen forms) and believe there is much truth to be gleaned. In some real sense, God, through Christ, is dependent upon his creation (specifically, man, the highpoint of creation). It is not a dependence of need or completion (as in his essence), but a dependence of relation: much as a wise man is somehow fuller (though not in his essence/substance) by having a follower/disciple. To use your example above, suhshine doesn’t need a pumpkin seed to be sunshine (it is itself whether the seed is there or not). Still, it somehow becomes fuller, in a relational sense, when it gives itself to the seed: the seed’s potential (creation), its death (sin/dying), and its final blossoming (for the Christian, the New Creation). Thus, while God (the Actual), in himself, does not need creation (the potential), he relationally becomes fuller when the potential (creation) becomes actual (divinized, or in full, participatory relationship with the Divine Essence). Sorry for going on, but I say all that to simply say that the Buddhist conception of dependent origination is useful in Catholic/Christian theology, with certain caveats.
[/quote]

Yes, it would be accurate to say that he declined to speak or expound on the idea of Creator God - for the simple reason that if the answers to your questions about this God did not help you on your path to enlightenment - then it isn’t worth the effort.

When asked about such things and concepts of a Creator God or Brahma he suggested that if such a person or thing existed, why did this person create such calamity and suffering for his creation to endure - for as we know - the noble truth of suffering is the first noble truth that Buddha taught after his enlightenment.

So, he questioned the concept given the reality of suffering and its effects in the world. There is an article which goes more in depth into this which I am posting the link to here:

saigon.com:8081/~anson/ebud/budtch/budteach23.htm

From what I can tell, Buddha spoke of “the absolute”. He spoke of the “uncreated cause”. He just didn’t speak as to the nature of it and didn’t really want his followers to get caught up in the concept of it. Because, after all, it would be just another thing to crave or cling to. So, logically, I think for this reason he declined to reason about it or expound upon the idea - for good reason.

I appreciate your closing paragraph. You have spoken very well. And, I definitely see the relational aspects that you spoke of. Yes, there is a great similarity in the concept of dependent origination although the core difference of the Christian concept of permanence in contrast to the Buddhist concept of impermanence.

I have enjoyed our discussion so far. I admit to you (as I have to others) that my understanding of Buddhism and its various parts is limited. My basic understandings are exactly that - basic. I continue to learn and study every day. I welcome correction from Ahimsa or others where my understanding is incomplete.

Peace…


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