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Thanks to Buddha!

Discussion in 'Buddhism DIR' started by Katzpur, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Okay, this is a really dumb question, so bear with me...

    Years ago, in the movie, "The King and I," the King on several occasions prayed to Buddha, either thanking him for blessings, asking him for advice or making promises to him. Now I have learned over the years that Buddha is not the name of a god and that (unless I'm mistaken), Buddhists don't actually believe in a god in the same way that Christians do. What I'm wondering is, do these references in the movie have any basis in fact whatsoever? Do Buddhists either pray to any kind of a higher power or do they commune in some way with Buddha or what? If there is no god in Buddhism, it almost seems to me that it is more a philosophy than a religion. I hope none of these questions have offended anyone. It's just that being from Salt Lake City, I don't run into a lot of Buddhists! (We do have a Buddhist temple here, though. :) )

    Kathryn
     
  2. peacefulness

    peacefulness Member

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    I saw the movie, can't remember anything from it... I consider Buddhism a religion because it tries to answer questions like, what are we, where do we come from, what happens when we die, how do we ge there, ect... as for the difference between prayers, I don't have enough time to answer.
    Peace - Mark
     
  3. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    As I was taught - the only dumb question is the one you don't ask........
    There are probably more Buddhists than you realize; most of us are just not too noisy about it, and the individual groups are still small. There are probably as many different types of Buddhist as there are different types of Christian, as well.

    The man we term Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, Prince of the Shakya clan, was just as human as you or I. He was the first to awaken to the truths of Buddhism, and to teach them. The word Buddha is a title, just like the word Christ is. We offer thanks and praise to Buddha, and revere him, for being the one to begin our practice.

    One of the big differences is that all people have the potential to become fully awakened, or to become Buddhas. As we practice and develop ourselves and our lives we are on the path towards Buddhahood. That is the goal of all Buddhist practitioners, although they may state it differently. We look up to Shakyamuni (Sage of the Shakya clan) as a mentor and an example of how to live, and to his teachings for instruction along the path towards our own Buddhahood.

    I like to say that Buddhists pray "from" rather than "to". Buddhist prayer is not a petition to some higher power for some response (although the phrasing or the translation may make it seem so). Buddhist prayer is more of a dedication of merit (generated from our individual practice) towards some problem or goal. The power in Buddhism comes not from outside, from some higher power or entity; it comes from the lives and practices of the individuals on the path.

    Hope this clarifies things a bit.
     
  4. Finnyhaha

    Finnyhaha Member

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    So when they say "Praise to Buddah" on the movie, they're really acknowledging their own/the universal Buddah nature? Or are they praising the Buddah nature of Guatama?
     
  5. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Thanks much! Yes, that really did clarify things. So what do most Buddhists believe in terms of a creator? How do they believe that man came to be, and what do they believe happens after one's death?
     
  6. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    In regards to a creator, and where man came from, that those are not reallly the important questions. They become distractions from what is really important, which is what does with one's life, here and now.

    As for what happens after death, that is viewed in different ways by different Buddhist traditions, but primarily Buddhism does not recognize an eternal never-ending soul. There is the concept of rebirth (as distinct from reincarnation) where life continues, but not as an individual, where YOU are born again into another life. This gets very deep into Buddhist doctrine, and it changes from tradition to tradition.

    Yes.
     
  7. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Okay, I'm starting to understand, but your last post raised another question in my mind. If Buddhism does not recognize an eternal never-ending soul, when you offer thanks and praise to Buddha (as you said in your first response), do you believe he is aware that you are doing this? What do you believe has happened to him? Where is he now.

    Also, if I understand correctly, Buddahood something that you strive to achieve during this life solely for the purpose of making this life more pleasant. Am I right? Or is there a greater reason for attaining this state? If one person attained Buddahood and another one didn't, when this life was over, would the one who had attained it have any advantage over the other one.

    I'm just trying to relate these beliefs to my own and I'm having a hard time understanding trying to reach a goal which, in eighty or ninety years from now, would not matter anyway. I'm not trying to be disrespectful; maybe I'm just not getting it. My best friend's daughter (who is a Mormon) married a Buddhist man last year. I went to their wedding and it contained elements of both religions. He's a really nice person, and I'd like to understand his beliefs a little bit better.
     
  8. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    He's dead, just like all of us will be eventually. The point isn't that anyone hears me do this, or answers me. The point is that I do it.......I make this cause within my life to be thankful and mindful of the fact that this teaching is available to me.

    Attaining enlightenment is not for the purpose of making this lifetime more pleasant. It is about eradicating suffering (a whole different perspective); not just for oneself, but for all beings. Each Buddhist tradition is going to have a slightly different take on this, but it is certainly not about gaining advantage over someone else at all. From the standpoint of Buddhist compassion, a Buddha does what he does without regard to what happens to him/herself per se. Again, this is getting deep into Buddhist doctrine, and also into some of the different interpretations between different Buddhist traditions.

    I think one point is that it would matter, whether 80 or 90 years from now, next lifetime, 1000 lifetimes from now, or what have you. Supposedly once one reaches a certain point, there is no backsliding [non-regression]. Once a Buddha, always a Buddha. A Buddha's goal, according to Shakyamuni, is the eliminaton of all suffering, and to help all beings reach the same state of enlightenment he did. So the more Buddhas we have around the better off we are, as a people. Then there is the cosmological question; some Buddhist texts talk about an infinite universe, with all sorts of beings living everywhere in it. So even if Earth and humans attain a planetwide state of enlightenment with non-regression, there will always be other worlds and other beings in need of the same education; if one happens to subscribe to those particular texts, anyway.

    Hope this is at least clear as mud.........
     
  9. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Well, it's a little clearer than mud! ;) It's just so far removed from my own religious beliefs that it's hard for me to relate to it. I will say one thing, though, the elimination of all suffering sounds like a great goal. Thanks so much for your input. I really appreciate it.

    Kathryn
     
  10. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Namaste, Katzpur. :)

    Egnyo has given excellent answers, as usual. But I just wanted to add that there are some forms of Buddhism where the concept of the Buddha does approach God-like qualities, particularly in the more "folksy" varieties. In some forms, the word "Buddha" doesn't just refer to the man, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived and died two and a half thousand years ago; it also refers to a "cosmic" Buddha of which Siddhartha is thought to be an incarnation (out of many). In this way, the Buddha becomes sort of a "personification" of the Dharma. This Buddha is thought to answer prayers and needs, more like in the Christian sense. In the version of Buddhism that imo comes closest to Christianity, Shin Buddhism, one acknowledges that one is too weak to attain enlightenment by oneself and places one’s utter faith in the Amitabha Buddha; his loving compassion will save even the most undeserving. Unlike most forms of Buddhism, the focus is on the external Buddha; not on the Buddha-nature within. However, Shin Buddhism is still buddhism. One is "saved" not by the object of faith but the faith itself. The faith in another helps us to give up thoughts of "self" which stand in the way of nirvana.

    As Engyo said, I don't think the Buddha is thought of as the "creator." In Buddhism, questions regarding the creation of the universe, etc are thought to be distracting to the real goal, nirvana (salvation). The same could be said of Christianity. Christians may argue over whether the universe was created in six days or over billions of years but none of that really matters in terms of attaining salvation.

    As for the soul, there is no unchanging eternal soul, as there is in Greek and Western traditions. That is what Buddhism means by "there is no self." There is, however, a "collection of aggregates" - the thoughts and desires that we normally think of as "self." Buddhism doesn't say that this doesn't exist; it says that this isn't permanent and unchanging. We think that we want the continuation of this thing we called "self," but not only is that not possible (you are not the same person you were when you were born, or even the same person that you were yesterday), it's also ultimately undesirable. What we really want is the cessation of suffering and that will never happen as long as we seek to perpetuate the self.

    That doesn't mean that Buddhism is nihlistic. At first glance, it sounds like the ultimate goal is self-anihilation. But what the Buddha was thought to have achieved is not just death with no rebirth. When we think of death, we are still thinking in a dualistic way - death as the opposite of life. And the opposite of life seems very scary to us. The Buddha achieved a state beyond death and rebirth. He is "unconditioned." He neither exists nor does not exist in the way that we normally think of it, because we can only think in terms of opposites. He is beyond any of that. And he said that we can achieve that too. I hope this better explains why nirvana might be considered desirable by some. :)
     
  11. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    Thanks, Lilithu - that was very nicely done.
     
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