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Questions About Buddhism

Questions About Buddhism

By Honey B Wackx

 

Buddhism is a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha (meaning “the awakened one” in Sanskrit and Pāli).

The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering through eliminating ignorance by way of understanding and seeing dependent origination and eliminating craving, and thus attain the highest happiness, nirvana.

There are lots of questions about Buddhism. Here are just a few taken from Yahoo! Answers.

Questions About Buddhism


Sandra asks…

Is the swastika a symbol in Buddhism as well as Hinduism?

I know that in Hinduism, the swastika is a symbol of good luck, but is it also a symbol used in Buddhism?

Suzi Q answers:

The swastika (Sanskrit svastika, “all is well”) is a cross with four arms of equal length, with the ends of each arm bent at a right angle. Sometimes dots are added between each arm.

The swastika is an ancient symbol found worldwide, but it is especially common in India. It can be seen in the art of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, Native Americans, and Persians as well Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

The swastika’s Indian name comes the Sanskrit word svasti, meaning good fortune, luck and well being.

In Hinduism, the right-hand (clockwise) swastika is a symbol of the sun and the god Vishnu, while the left-hand (counterclockwise) swastika represents Kali and magic. The Buddhist swastika is almost always clockwise, while the swastika adopted by the Nazis (many of whom had occult interests) is counterclockwise.

In Buddhism, the swastika signifies auspiciousness and good fortune as well as the Buddha’s footprints and the Buddha’s heart. The swastika is said to contain the whole mind of the Buddha and can often be found imprinted on the chest, feet or palms of Buddha images. It is also the first of the 65 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha.

The swastika has also often been used to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. In China and Japan, the Buddhist swastika was seen as a symbol of plurality, eternity, abundance, prosperity and long life.

The swastika is used as an auspicious mark on Buddhist temples and is especially common in Korea. It can often be seen on the decorative borders around paintings, altar cloths and banners. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is also used as a clothing decoration





Richard asks…

Is luck a real thing?

According to Buddhism, does luck exist?

Suzi Q answers:

The dictionary defines luck as ‘believing that whatever happens, either good or bad, to a person in the course of events is due to chance, fate or fortune’. The Buddha denied this completely. Everything that happens has a cause or causes. Becoming sick, for example, has specific causes. One must come into contact with germs and one’s body must be weak enough for the germs to establish themselves. There is a definite relationship between the cause (germs and a weakened body) and the effect (sickness) because we know that germs attack the organisms and give rise to sickness. Buddhism teaches that whatever happens does so because of a cause or causes and not due to luck, chance or fate. People who are interested in luck are always trying to get something,usually more money and wealth. The Buddha teaches us that it is far more important to develop our hearts and minds. He says:
Being deeply learned and skilled; being well-trained and using well-spoken words – this is the best good luck. To support mother and father, to cherish wife and child and to have a simple livelihood – this is the best good luck.

Om Mani Peme Hung





Thomas asks…

How could Buddha contradict himself ?

Buddha‘s most atheistic quote : Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

isn’t Buddhism contradicting Buddha?

in Buddhism there are :

– “hungry ghosts”

Karma

-Reincarnation

-spirits

-Prayers

-Chakras

all of these are based on faith and nothing but faith…so I’m a bit confused here.

Myra Stone answers:

You could say what you will ,but i could say your thoughts themselves seem like out of the blue,invisible untill you find a way to apply them to practical life. Your thoughts & even your feelings have no proof unless you express them in a practical way.THAT TAKES A FORM OF FAITH. That is all i think the philosopher Buddhist was trying to say.
WHEN YOU SMILE,DO YOU SMILE AT THE WALL.
> How pointless that would be. It is when that which is invisible is brought to life,then it has substance ,and a meaning. When a person who hates or loves brings to life what is inside ,Only then do you see their reality.
Faith is a very great thing.So is hope ,for all that you are begins in the inner self which is unknown until you apply it. Then people take you in good faith by what you seem to be. So if you are evil they run from you,and because by faith and hope in you ,they abide by you ,because what you are is the inner being which is invisible until you show who you are. Do you understand what I’m am trying to express.?<>





Sandy asks…

Is Buddha a God? Did Buddha possess supernatural powers?

My understanding is that Buddha is not a god. He was a normal human being like you and me. He attained enlightenment, which to me is gaining a lot of knowledge and understanding. And he died of food poisoning like a human being.

Now, below are some of the results of searches on the Internet where they talk about Buddha possessing supernatural powers. Many Buddhists in Burma believe that because Buddha possessed supernatural powers, he must be a god and Burmese buddhists treat Buddha like a god. Therefore, they build brick temples and offer food to those brick temples.

On the other hand, many people in the West understand that Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. The West’s understanding is that Buddha was a human, not a god.

Is it possible that Buddha can possess the supernatural powers such as: mind reading, the ability to talk to the dead, see past lives, walk through solid objects such as walls, walk upon water, transportation, traveling to various realms of existence and others? What is your take?

Here is a quote from a Buddhism website:

The Bodhidharma Pitaka, this book focuses on the underlying principals from the other pitaka. It describes mind, matter, and their relationship. Some of the supernatural powers that Buddha describes for attainment are mind reading, the ability to talk to the dead, see past lives, walk through solid objects such as walls, walk upon water, transportation, traveling to various realms of existence and others. Moggallana (Maudgalyayana), one of Buddha’s disciples, had many of the powers and honed them far more than any of the others. He was found stoned to death. When the citizens came to Buddha to ask why Moggallana did not stop them, since he had the supernatural power to do so, Buddha replied that Moggallana saw his previous life where he killed his parents and decided that this type of death was fitting. Supernatural powers do not protect you from your karma, they are only abilities picked up along the road to perfection. This ability to develop the powers while training the mind toward perfection is one of great interest to many. It shows that Buddha believed that these powers were quite normal for the disciplined mind and available to all. Truly, taken with the information contained in other religions and traditions, this doesn’t vary from the belief of many ancient cultures. The difference is that Buddha, while describing the steps to take in the journey to Nirvana, also shows the pathway to attainment of these powers. The Abhidhamma Pitaka, describes the steps and shows how to successfully accomplish them.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/db_02.htm

Myra Stone answers:

As I understand it, Buddha is simply a man who achieved enlightenment.





Joseph asks…

Do you Europeans believe in “RE-Birth” or “Re-incarnation” ?

Do you westerners believe in “RE-Birth” or “Re-incarnation” ?
So is the “Doctrine of Karma

Re-incarnation is central to HINDUISM , Buddhism , Jainism & Sikhism , but is “NOT” central to Christianity or Islam. Europeans who are mostly christians , do not / should not have any reasons to believe in Re-Birth or Karma .

Please visit this site of a South Indian Brahmin who lived 2500 years ago , atleast 500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ ( or even Buddha ). He was a “Guru” of Chandragupta Maurya & also the founder of the Mauryan Empire , Do you know him ?

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/chanakya.html

Chandragupta Maurya was a Jainist Ruler , who finally committed SANTHARA – Jain way of Committing Suicide , to attain liberation or Salvation , against the Advise of Chanakya

———-
I believe I was a “Kshatriya Warrior” in one of my previous birth
Few Quotes by Chanakya ( or VishnuGupta Sharma ) , architect of the mauryan Empire –

http://thinkexist.com/quotes/chanakya/

Myra Stone answers:

First ask our hindu brothers and then you can ask the world.





Richard asks…

Questions about Buddhism…?

I’m an Atheist and recently I’ve been considering learning more about Buddhism at a centre near me. I agree with calming the mind, being kind to everyone, and not hurting others. I love so many aspects of it but there’s a few thing’s which i don’t agree with or i don’t understand.

Apparently we have souls and life doesn’t end, to me that’s an eternal nightmare, it makes me depressed. How do they know that we have a soul? There’s a quote I want to use here but I’ve forgotten it.

It’s wrong to desire thing’s because it causes suffering in our minds, but what if it doesn’t in my mind, what if I’m happy and i enjoy wanting things but i don’t rely on those thing’s alone to make me happy? For example meeting friends, watching a film, setting goals, maybe working towards a nice house and having money to survive.

It’s wrong to be intoxicated because it stops the mind from being at peace. But if it isn’t abused then it isn’t a problem, i still have the ability to think straight once sober, so why is it a bad thing? If it’s because of how a person may act when they are intoxicated, what if they are happy or peaceful?

It’s taught that temporary happiness doesn’t matter, but what if it does to that person, because all life’s experiences add up to one greater experience, the memories. Sometimes people can even find happiness looking back at the bad times because they are grateful for all the time they have had.

Also i don’t believe that karma always happens, just some of the time and by karma i mean someone might suffer psychologically, or in the society for example.

I agree that it’s wrong to steal, and kill but what if you were starving and you took a loaf of bread to live, or what if you killed someone because you saw that they were attempting to kill someone else?

What if you saw a dying animal in the road, would it be right to let it die or to kill it to and end it’s suffering? I have mixed feeling’s about this as the end result is the same. Plus it has no way of it telling me if it wants to go slowly and not in fear of me ready to hit it or something making it more traumatic. Does it depend on how much the animal is suffering, If so, maybe it’s still wrong to add to it because the outcome is the same?

We don’t know for sure that their is a soul and a life after this one so why do some Buddhists spend almost all day long meditating when this could be our only life? Why don’t they meditate slightly less, and do more social thing’s (Maybe they do, it’s just how i see it so far)

What is wrong with eating meat of an animal that would have been killed anyway (In a humane way) if you didn’t kill it yourself, or witness it being killed?

Oh and another thing, this causes me the most confusion. Why do Buddhists all follow what seem like the same set of rules (Shave their heads, be vegetarians, believe in life after death etc) and everyone just happens to agree, if they don’t agree are they still Buddhists? If they are not, then this quote contradicts itself. :S If they are, then why do they follow the same thing and not just live how they think is right.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
Buddha.

Myra Stone answers:

Many questions, and space is limited here, but I will try to answer some of them:

Buddhists don’t believe there is a “soul”, actually one of the cornerstones of Buddhism is exactly that our believe in a soul is one of our gravest mistakes and the cause of the disturbing emotions, problems and suffering we encounter. What we believe in is the continuity of an impermanent consciousness, constantly changing from moment to moment (like the water of a river). See more in my answer here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AmjqHlznJvQEYEYdgP0k4bbsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090913035751AAa0y5r&show=7#profile-info-BBiDOpVNaa

Actually, diminishing your cravings and clinging to outer conditions like things, money, friends, career, dreams and plans makes it much easier to really appreciate the good things you have and encounter, not the other way round. If you recall how you can enjoy the beauty of a rainbow, even if it lasts for just a few seconds, or a sunset – without clinging to them, fearing they will disappear (they sure will!), trying to force them to come sooner or last longer – and then ponder how it would be if you could enjoy everything you have in life (food, family, job, hobbies, things, sense faculties, whatever) in a more relaxed way without obsessing yourself with fear of loosing what you have or craving for what you don’t have for the moment, then maybe you can come to a deeper understanding of what buddhists mean.

Karma basically means the law of cause and effect. Everything you do (or say or think) have some effect – good, bad or neutral – but of course you can’t always see the effect clearly, since some effects are so subtle you don’t realize them, and many effects are built up by numerous repeated actions of the same kind. A habit isn’t caused by one single action, but by the same action made many times. In that way, every time you do that action you contribute to the effect, the habit, so every time you perform the action you make the habit stronger and more difficult to counter. Karmic effects are often seen as just habits or thought-patterns – whether positive or negative. The buddhist training largely consists in enforcing the positive habits through positive actions and diminishing the negative habits through avoiding the negative actions.

If you want to follow the Buddhist ethics, you should study, contemplate and understand why the different “rules” (better: advice) exist. If you understand them, you actually want to follow them simply because you understand what the effects will be if you don’t, and if you don’t understand it doesn’t help you very much to follow them (although it will still stop you from producing some negative karmic effects).

Now, buddhism doesn’t have “rules” that someone “demand” you to follow (unless you take outright vows, for example to follow the rules about how to live in a monastery). Your intention is always more important than the words of the advice. It’s up to you to decide if you find them meaningful and relevant, or if you find yourself mature and motivated enough, or if you simply want or don’t want. The point is, Buddhism teaches what happens if you act in this or that way, then it’s up to you if you want to take the consequences or not.

Only monks and nuns shave their heads (and follow a lot of other rules that don’t apply for normal, lay buddhists). Most lay people in Asia are actually not vegetarians, but usually they think very high of you if you are. Many of them (the Tibetans, for example) simply don’t have enough other food, so they have to eat meat merely to survive. Remember most of Tibet is situated more than 4,000 m (12,000 ft) above see level, so most vegetables just can’t be grown there.

And just a detail about eating animals: in Tibet (and I think most other Buddhist countries), it is seen as perfectly acceptable to eat animals that died from natural reasons, for example falling down a cliff. What the more “pious” buddhists avoid is mainly two things: killing the animal yourself and requesting someone to kill it on your behalf.

And about the meaningfulness of meditation if we are not reborn, I would say almost everything (or really everything!) buddhists do in way of practice is meaningful even in a short-term perspective (this very life). You will die more harmonious, content, relaxed and motivated, which is good regardless of what happens the moment after you pass away. But still, rebirth is presupposed in all traditional buddhist traditions. If it doesn’t sound reasonable or meaningful to you, just put it aside for the moment. You can still practice the buddhist teachings, and then later return to that question when you studied, experienced and understood more, and see if you see it differently then.





Sharon asks…

Can you help me with Hinduism and Buddhism questions?

1.Why is it difficult to organize Hinduism into one uniform system of beliefs?

A.The records of Hinduism are too old to be translated properly.
B.There is no founder or single set of founding principles.
C.The caste system prohibits standardization.
D.There are too many Hindus in the world.

2.Which of the following statements would a Hindu likely make?

F.There are multiple gods that govern nature.
G.Pain is a result of my desire for worldly things.
H.Priests should have no more social privileges than I do.
J.I would not kill a bug because it has a soul and should not be harmed.

3.Read this excerpt from the section.

The pilgrims circles around the sacred object or sanctuary, moving in a clockwise direction. They also lie face down on the ground as a sign of humility and leave flowers.

Which of the following words is most similar in meaning to humility?

A.humbleness
B.mastery
C.openness
D.peace

4.Look at the statue and read the caption on page 69. What might this tell the reader about how the Buddha felt about death?

F.He was afraid of the unknown.
G.He was calm in the face of death.
H.He was sad to be leaving the things of the earth.
J.He was excited about being released from suffering.

5.How does the caption on page 67 aid the reader’s understanding of the section?

A.It gives the reader a visual of the Hindu god Vishnu.
B.It teaches the reader about Hindu views on the universe.
C.It teaches the reader about Hindu views on multiple gods.
D.It gives the reader more detail about the Hindu god Vishnu.

6.Based on the information in the text, which of the following people would be least likely to convert to Buddhism during the time of Siddhartha Gautama?

F.a laborer
G.a warrior
H.a woman
J.an untouchable

7.Read the following quote from the section.

Jain monks carry the doctrine of nonviolence to its logical conclusion. They sweep ants off their path and wear gauze masks over their mouths to avoid breathing in an insect accidentally.

What does the word doctrine mean?

A.a rule or principle
B.a book of teachings
C.a person of authority
D.a religion or government

8.Which of the following ideas do Hindus and Buddhists NOT share?

F.karma
G.reincarnation
H.a cyclical view of history
J.a perfect state of understanding

9.What is the author’s purpose in writing this section?

A.to convert the reader to Hinduism and Buddhism
B.to compare Hinduism and Buddhism to other world religions
C.to trace the effect that Hinduism and Buddhism has on our world today
D.to inform the reader about the origins and beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism

10.According to the section, what is the Eightfold Path?

F.the basis of the Upanishads
G.the four main ideas of Hinduism
H.the way to be admitted to the sangha
J.the Buddha’s teachings on how to achie

Myra Stone answers:

1)B 2)F 3)A 4)? 5)? 6)? 7)A 8)F 9)? 10) J
Sorry couldn’t help with all of them. I’m taking a Comparative Religion course, are you too?





Thomas asks…

I have a question about buddhism?

does buddha bring good luck?

Suzi Q answers:

Buddha would have taught against such superstitions.





Ruth asks…

Karma: does Buddhism blame the victim?

It seems to blame unlucky people for their bad luck.

OK, say there is an 8-month infant sleeping in his crib. A drive-by shooting happens outside the baby’s apartment, and a stray bullet hits the baby, causing permanent irreparable damage to his internal organs. The baby survies but will have to use a colostomy bag his whole life.
KARMA: That baby must have done something wrong in a past life to deserve the pain is inflicted with and will have his whole life? There is NO such thing as “LUCK“?
All right, I’ll have to do some reading up. Somehow the baby is part of a big web of happening, so he is caught up in it, but not the cause of it. This reminds be of the Jungian synchronicity blah, blah.
I must get to the library. Thanks anyway.

Suzi Q answers:

I get the same email message. Anyway, that’s not exactly karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is often used to refer only to samsāric karma, as indicated by the twelve nidanas of dependent origination. I don’t usually use wiki as a source, but here’s a start for the buddhism 101: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratitya-samutpada
Also try http://www.buddhanet.net

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