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Beliefs #4

Written by Dan Esau. Posted in Beliefs?

Bible Study Video

Bible Study Notes


Founder / Date...

Founded by the Buddha ("enlightened one")

  • Lived from 563-483 BC
    • Biblical history during this time...
      • Prophecies of Zephaniah, Jeremiah, & Habakkuk
      • 587 Babylonians conquer Judah, destroy the Temple & deport people to Babylon
      • Building of second temple & prophecy by Zechariah & Haggai
      • 538 Cyrus allows Israelites to return to Jerusalem & Judah becomes a Persian province
  • Buddha was born in Kapilavastu, India, which is present-day Nepal. He was the son of king of the Sakya clan. His name Siddhartha Gautama is a combination of the family name, Gautama, and his given name, Siddhartha. The title of Buddha means "Enlightened One."
  • Buddha married at an early age and lived the life of self-indulgence. However, he found that this life was dull and left his home in search of enlightenment. On his journey, he met an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. From these encounters, he determined that suffering was a shared characteristic of all humankind.
  • Then he came upon a calm and peaceful monk. From this encounter, he changed his outlook on life. This new life called for him to forsake his family, wealth, and power in order to be free to search for truth. This decision is known as the Great Renunciation.
  • About 528 BC, while sitting under a tree, he experienced the Great Enlightenment. Through this revelation, he discovered the way to salvation from suffering. From this revelation, Buddha traveled through the valley of the Ganges River, teaching his doctrines, attracting followers, and establishing religious communities.
  • Buddha discovered what he called the "enlightened path"...
    • The "enlightened path" he discovered he called "the middle way"
    • "The middle way" is avoiding the extremes of...
      • Indulgence... living involved with the trappings of the world
      • Asceticism... the doctrine that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state
    • The "enlightened path" focuses on deep meditation.

Location of Origination...

Nepal and India... spread to China, Japan, Korea, now worldwide

Buddhists in the world...

  • Approximately 500 million (not including Chinese people)
  • There are about 1.1 billion Chinese Buddhists

Buddhists in the United States...

About 2% of Americans claim to be Buddhist (6,135,071)

Holy Book(s)...

The Buddhist scripture is called the Tripitaka (Pali language).

  • Tripitaka means "three baskets of the law"
    • The Abidharma contains phiosphical doctrines.
    • The Vinaya contains laws and regulations.
    • The Sutta contains parables and sermons of Gautama (the Buddha).
    • Later, Sutras were composed to provide further information on Buddha's message.

What Buddhists Believe...

  • Central Theme... Buddhism teaches its followers that in this life they are only temporary vessels of body, emotions, thoughts, tendencies, and knowledge. Buddhists believe that there is no sense of self or soul when in this world. A fundamental concept of Buddhism is the notion that the goal of one's life is to break the cycles of death and birth. Reincarnation exists because of the individual's craving and desires to live in this world. The ultimate goal of a Buddhist is to achieve freedom from the cycle of reincarnation and attain nirvana. The enlightened state in which the person is free from greed, hate, and ignorance. The way to nirvana involves the person showing love for others, being compassionate and sympathetic of other people, and showing patience in everything. A Buddhist must also follow five main principles which prohibit killing, stealing, ill language, sexual immorality, and the use of toxic substances. When one successfully follows these principles, the three roots of evil (, hate, and deceit) can be overcome.
  • Nirvana... is the supreme state free from suffering and individual existence. It is a state Buddhists refer to as "Enlightenment." It is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists. The attainment of nirvana breaks the otherwise endless rebirth cycle of reincarnation. Buddhists also consider nirvana as freedom from all worldly concerns such as greed, hate, and ignorance. No one can describe in words what nirvana is. It can only be experienced directly.
  • God...
    • Buddha acknowledged the existence of impermanent gods, and he discouraged their worship.
    • He encouraged his followers to simply heed his teachings.
  • Jesus... Jesus was an enlightened master.
  • Holy Spirit... There is no Holy Spirit.
  • Humanity...
    • The Human Soul... Buddhists believe that they are temporary vessels in this world and that until they attain enlightenment or Buddhahood, they do not know their own self or soul. They believe that this world is an illusion and that as a result, one can not know one's true nature.
    • Humanity consists of five temporarily connected aggregates...
      • Material form (rupa)
      • Feeling (vedana)
      • Perception (sanna)
      • Dispositions (sankhara)
      • Consciousness (vinnana)
  • Sin...
    • Sin is related to desire according to the Four Noble Truths...
      • Life is full of pain and suffering.
      • Everything is impermanent and suffering is caused by the desire for things that are impermanent.
      • Suffering is eliminated by eradicating the desire for impermanent things.
      • This is done by following the Eightfold Path (salvation).
  • Salvation...
    • The eightfold Path involves attitudes and actions...
      1. Right Worldview... a perspective that recognizes that all things are impermanent
      2. Right Intention... to remain on the path of liberation
      3. Right Speech... speaking words of truth
      4. Right Action... following Buddhism's moral code
      5. Right Livelihood... engaging in work conducive to liberation
      6. Right Effort... persevering in a mind-set free from desire
      7. Right Mindfulness... maintaining awareness
      8. Right Contemplative Absorbtion... maintaining a meditative conscientiousness that facilitates enlightenment
    • By following these principles, one ultimately becomes liberated from the cycle of reincarnation (samsara) and is absorbed into the Universal Absolute.

The Afterlife...

  • At death, a person's five aggregates are dismantled and cease to be a cohesive unit.
  • Through reincarnation, one's desires or feelings "wander across" to another body.
  • After the above wandering takes place, one then lives another life, making further progress toward absorption into the Absolute.

Distinctive Practices...

  • The practice of the five precepts is important to develop morality (sila). Cultivation of Sila is essential as it is the foundation on which the spiritual progress is based.

    The five precepts are...
    1. Abstain from destroying or harming living beings.
    2. Abstain from 'taking that which is not been given' (stealing).
    3. Abstain from sexual misconduct.
    4. Abstain from unskillful speech (lies, slander, offensive speech etc).
    5. Abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs.

Buddhism Divisions...

  • There are two primary divisions of Buddhism...
    • Theravada
      • Teaches that Buddhism is for a select few (full time monks)
      • Buddha was just a man ... an ethical teacher
    • Mahayana
      • Teaches that Buddhism is for all people
      • Buddha was a manifestation of the Universal Absolute (a divine person)
  • Vajrayana, an evolved division mostly in India, consists of a two truth belief...
    1. Conventional truth is the truth of consensus reality, common-sense notions of what does and does not exist.
    2. Ultimate truth is reality as viewed by an awakened or enlightened mind.