Buddhism – The Search for Nirvana

Let us be clear that I am not promoting one religion over another in this series of world religions and cults. However, I am presenting these from the point of view of a Christ follower who subscribes to His teachings and offer of salvation as the only way to true Life with God. So why present other religions? Simply to refute the idea that Christians are closed-minded. Plus, I believe strongly that each Christian, in order to be an effective witness, must study these other teachings in order to be ready to engage intelligent conversations with people we might come across in our living. Each Christian, before he became one, dabbled in many pieces of religions and belief systems before Christ found him. We were all deists and naturalists and evolutionists and atheists before we turned to Christ as our only mean of salvation. In an effort to continue our weekly discussion about world religions, we’re going to contribute to the conversation with information about Buddhism and the dangers that accompany its belief system.

A brief history. Siddhartha Gautama was born a Hindu in 560 B.C., near India in what is now Nepal. Determined to solve the riddle of life, he left his palace, his wife and child, shaved his head, wore a yellow robe and wandered the countryside as a beggar monk. He studied Hinduism but found no satisfaction. Then he starved himself until he was a walking skeleton, thinking he could find salvation through self-denial. Finally, he sat under a tree for 40 days and 40 nights and swore he would not move until he found what he was searching for. Accordingly, Mara – “The evil one” – tried to make Gautama give up his quest.

At the end of 40 days he experienced the highest degree of God-consciousness – nirvana – literally, the “blowing out” of the flame of desire and the negation of suffering. He felt he found salvation. From then on he was known as Buddha or “enlightened one.”

He preached and taught about the meaning of life and his way to nirvana. He founded the Sangha – an order of monks. By the time he died 45 years later, many thousands had adopted his teachings.

However, many of Buddha’s teachings were rejected as heresies by the dominant teachers of Hinduism. Buddha denied that the Vedas and the Upanishads were divine writings, that they were of no help in finding nirvana. He also denied that man has an atman (soul), which is part of the Brahman (world soul), and that the present world is maya (unreal). (For more information on Hinduism, click here.)

Buddha rejected other Hinduism concepts such as, he emphasized ethics over ritual. He rejected the caste system, and taught that enlightenment was open to anyone, not just Brahmin males. He challenged all the indifferent gods/goddesses, saying they were essentially unimportant in the quest for enlightenment. However, he did accept reincarnation and karma. You could be reborn as a human, animal, hungry ghost, demon, or even a Hindu god.

Buddha said that we are to suppress cravings of the flesh by following what is called, “The Middle Way.” This could also be called, The Noble Eightfold Path: This consists of eight ways of righteous living. Right viewpoint, right behavior, right occupation are amongst them. Buddha said whoever could follow this would reach nirvana. He said life in this world is quite real. Unlike Hindus, Buddhism offers a precise definition of man’s problem, along with an exact “plan of salvation” for everyone.

A popular form of one branch of Buddhism in the west is Zen – A discipline with the goal of experiencing enlightenment through meditation (reaching Satori). “Look within your, you are the Buddha.” After World War II Zen made significant inroads into the west: Tina Turner, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford.

Buddhists deny God’s existence or say that He is irrelevant. They say that Jesus was a good teacher, but less important than Buddha.

Many people of many different religions say that Jesus was a good man or a good teacher. This demotes Jesus to nothing but a mere human, and not God. To do this is to reject God fully. He is an extreme God who will only accept your full devotion; not a part of it. Many may whine and say this is asking too much. But if you flip this idea on its head and look back a couple thousand years in history, it’s clear that Jesus gave us His full devotion by dying on the cross for our sins for those who choose to accept His offered gift. As I’ve stated previously in another post, if you ask me, He isn’t asking for enough.

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About Andrew Toy
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18 Responses to Buddhism – The Search for Nirvana

  1. linneann says:

    Sorry for the long comment but Lewis gives the best argument against the whole “Jesus being a good teacher” idea so I’d like to post it for your readers:
    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    • Well said. Thank you for this.

    • Ricarda says:

      Pardon, but how does “reducing” Jesus to a man deem his teachings unworthy? When I say something and a dude on the other side of the world says exactly the same, why would it matter *who* said it?
      If a cat told me the TV show I’ve been watching is crap I wouldn’t question this because it was a cat who told me – I’d just ask why. After all, the cat bothered to talk to me, so I probably should listen, cat or not…
      Silly example, but it’s getting late and it’s the best I could do…

      • linneann says:

        I don’t see anything that says his teachings would be “unworthy.”

      • Ricarda says:

        “A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”

        i was referring to this. Did I get this wrong in that his words only are “true” or whatever if we acknowledge him as son of God? Or did I somehow miss the point entirely? (I’m not being ironic, I’m actually asking.)

  2. I really love your blog. I do also believe everyone should know about all the religions. “Raise us above the distinctions and differences that divide us.” Hazrat Inayat Khan

  3. Great blog entry, I totally agree with you that Christians should study other religions to know how to best relate to people following those faiths.

    An interesting question popped into my mind while reading this entry; do you think there is any possible correlation between the stories of Siddhartha Gautama sitting under a tree for 40 days and Ezekiel laying on his side for the same time span? Siddhartha gained enlightenment, Ezekiel prophesied the destruction of the first temple (586 BCE). Siddhartha’s story would have obviously come after Ezekiel’s since the first temple was destroyed before Siddhartha’s birth. With that, I do not mean to offend anyone (Buddhist or Christian alike) who read this by implying one faith adapted their stories from another faith, but I do find coincidences like these intriguing.

    • Actually, I have wondered it myself, if maybe there was an intentional mimicking happening on the part of Siddhartha. The devil does this repeatedly throughout history, and I would not put it past him to use this subtle connection to inspire the natural feeling of faith. Very good observation.

    • Ricarda says:

      I think many aspect of religions all over the world come from deeply rooted human desires, which are naturally the same in all of us – and thus many religions share certain traits and teachings, the most noticeable the distinction between monotheism and polytheism. I personally like to see this as the desire to be acknowledged by one specific person (monotheism) and, respectively, the wish to be a part of a larger group (polytheism). Whether the -theisms came first or the social interactions is, of course, debatable, as always.

  4. rabattye says:

    Great post! I really learnt something here, thanks 🙂

  5. Fay Moore says:

    fascinating introduction to Buddhism.

  6. btg5885 says:

    I want to thank you for posting information on religions other than Christianity. While we are a diverse world and country, it is good to see similar tenets in other religions.By finding these similarities, we can better understand our differences. I do wish some of our more zealous religious leaders would have the same mindset as you. I have always felt when religion is inclusive it is at its finest. When it is exclusive where bigotry is more rooted, it is at its worst and actually turns people away. Jesus’ greatest teaching which can be found in other religions is still the Golden Rule. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Pingback: The Difference Between Religions and Cults « adoptingjames

  8. Khoi Luong says:

    Dying for our sin with the intention of resurrecting oneself is not as much of a sacrifice as dying without knowing..

  9. Khoi Luong says:

    How do you feel when you give yourself up to Jesus?

  10. Khoi Luong says:

    Let me rephrase that.. While I agree that full devotion to Jesus is necessary to find the path to salvation at the same time the meaning of unconditional love from our god faded because it was not portray to us through his actions but through his words.

  11. Khoi Luong says:

    Let me rephrase that.. While I agree that full devotion to Jesus is necessary to find the path to salvation but at the same time the meaning of unconditional love from our god fade

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