missionary From: Does_God_Exist?

Buddhism is essentially an offshoot of Hinduism, it is a religion, and it is about suffering. Its founder Siddhartha Guatama was born into royalty in India nearly 600 years before Christ. At some time in his young life Siddhartha became troubled when he saw the pain and suffering of the common people. He decided to travel the country seeking knowledge which he could use to alleviate suffering. He studied the Hindu scriptures under Brahmin priests but became disillusioned with their teachings. While in his late twenties he stopped praying tothe godsand went off on another path, he became a mendicant (1) devoting himself to a life of extreme asceticism. At some time he realised that rigid and severe restraint did not lead to peace and self-realization but merely weakened the mind and body. Siddhartha continued to immerse himself in the practice of meditation though, and it is said that one day he achieved the god like state of Nirvana (2). As a result of this experience he believed he had discoveredtheanswer which when utilized would relieve all pain and suffering. His mission in life was then revealed to him and he determined to spread his message throughout the land. He became known as theenlightened oneor theBuddha.’

The principle tenet of Buddhism is theFour Noble Truths’ – (1) There is pain and suffering in the world. (2) Attachment causes suffering. (3) The suffering will cease when a person can rid him/her self of all desires. (4) The extinguishing of all desires.

It is important to be aware that the Buddha never considered himself to be a god, or a divine being of any type, rather he considered himself to be away-shower' for others. On the other hand it is stated quite clearly in the bible that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew: 3 [17] and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased) and that He and God are one (John 10: [30] I and my Father are one).

Jesus taught that He is the way not simply one who showed the way as John 14:6 confirms, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." By the time Siddhartha died at an age near to eighty Buddhism had become a major influence in India; three hundred years after his death Buddhism had spread so far that it encompassed most of Asia. The scriptures and sayings attributed to the Buddha were written about four hundred years after his death. It is this delayed period between his death and the writing or commentary containing his message that causes numerous astute and dedicated scholars to ponder over the accuracy of many of the Buddhist scriptures.

The Buddha lived and died well before the time of Jesus. His travels never took him more than a couple of hundred kilometers from his home. The bible and its message were never known to the Buddha, and in fact he never spoke of God, or Jesus; consequently Buddhists, generally don’t speak out for God as Christians do. They don’t believe in any personal God or Divine Being. The concept of Jesus as our Savior is foreign to them, so there is no tolerance for the concept of redemption, or salvation from our sins. For the true followers of Buddhism the religion is a philosophy of morality and ethics, encapsulated within a life of renunciation of the ego-self.

When asked how the world started, who/what created the universe, the Buddha is said to have kept silent because in Buddhism there is no beginning, and no end, instead there is an endless circle of birth and death. One would have to ask what kind of being created us to live, endure so much pain and suffering, and then die, over and over again? It may cause one to contemplate, what’s the point, why bother? Christians know that God sent His Son to die for us, just the one time, so that we don’t have to suffer for an eternity. He sent His Son to give us the knowledge that we aren’t alone, and that we are loved. Christians know there is more to life than suffering, and dying (2 Timothy: 1[10] But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel).

A key concept of Buddhism is Nirvana, the most enlightened, and blissful state that one can achieve. The Buddha never really articulated for his followers just exactly what Nirvana was; they only know that it is not some place that you get to, rather a state of pure being, this is a recurring stumbling block for Buddhists. Because there are no specific directives regarding Nirvana there is noonetrue Buddhism, no absolutes, and no one right path leading there. The Buddha taught that it was up to each individual to find his/her own path, he left no teachings on or about Nirvana, or for that matter, eternity. What he did leave are philosophical concepts.

Jesus in contrast was quite specific, He taught us that our physical bodies die but our souls ascend to be with Him in heaven (Mark: 12 [25] for when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven). For Buddhists there is no merciful Father in heaven who sent His Son to die for our souls, for our salvation, to provide the way for us to reach His glory. The Buddha taught that people don’t have individual souls, and the existence of an individual self or ego is an illusion. The main emphasis of Buddhism is on the denial of self. Buddhists believe in Karma. They subscribe to the law of cause and effect, that means what you do in this lifetime, either good or bad, determines what will happen to you in another lifetime, on and on through time without end. Suffering is the only way to achieve purification, and much suffering is necessary before reaching a state of Nirvana.
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