Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
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23-12-2013, 12:03 PM (This post was last modified: 23-12-2013 02:40 PM by kim.)
Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
Hello to everyone. I am a new member here. I found out about this site from my roommate being a member (his name on here is WindyCityJazz). I am a shy person, so I am not one to get into heated arguments. I like discussions, but when discussions turn into anger, I get uncomfortable. There was a thread I commented on yesterday about why Buddhism is not theistic, though for the poster who was claiming that Buddhism is theistic, my words seemed to fall on deaf ears. So my roommate encouraged me to start this thread that I had been thinking about posting because I like to get misunderstandings about Buddhism corrected. I don't mean anybody any harm. Just trying to correct a few untruths that I often hear from non-Buddhists, so this is a short list of common misconceptions about us:

1. Buddhists are theistic.

This is completely untrue. The belief in the existence of deities has nothing to do with Buddhism. Buddhism is about achieving a state of mind where one is at bliss with their existence, and have rid themselves of negative feelings and emotions, and has replaced them with understanding and compassion for all other sentient beings.

The Buddha did not like the idea of deities for two reasons:

A. It was a source of fear, and fear is a negative emotion. The Buddha's intent was to rid one's self of negative emotions like fear.

B. There was no proof for the existence of deities, so believing in their existence would completely destroy the goal of understanding. We learn to understand by questioning ideas, not by taking them for what they are and leaving it at that, especially when those ideas are not supported by evidence. The Buddha said that everything was to be questioned, even his own teachings, because questioning is how we find truth and learn to understand.

Becoming a Buddha doesn't mean becoming a god. Every person has the ability to become a Buddha ('enlightened' or 'awaken' one) by learning to replace negative emotions with compassion and understanding.

2. There are Buddhist temples and statues of the Buddha, so that makes Buddha a deity.

The Buddha was a mere mortal man. He was a teacher, not a deity. His name was Siddharta Gautama. He discovered the path to ridding oneself of the negative feelings and emotions we experience in life, and was able to replace them with compassion and understanding. He then taught others who were interested in learning to find that path as well. However, the Buddha did not teach all of his students the same way. It was not like a group lecture where the teacher explains something and all the students follow suit. The Buddha realized that all people are different, and so he taught students individually because everybody has their own personalities and ways of learning. The Buddha taught that there are many ways to the path of awakening. It is not something that has one road and that is all. That would be like saying that there is only one road that you can take to get to Chicago. Temples are meeting places for Buddhists. The statues of the Buddha are not worshiped as statues of a deity. To say that these statues of the Buddha prove that Buddhists believe in deities is like saying that George Washington is a deity because there are historical museums and parks with statues of him.

3. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, so how is Buddhism not theistic?

People that say this are judging Buddhism by the beliefs of Western religions. Western religions have the ideas of souls and deities as being tied together. They believe that you can't have one without the other. Buddhism does not work this way. You can't say that Buddhists are theistic simply because your Western culture doesn't believe that souls can't exist without gods. That is a very ethnocentric attitude.

4. Most Buddhists are monks that live in monasteries.

While there are Buddhist monks and monasteries, the vast majority of Buddhists are people living in everyday society. Buddhism does not require somebody to live a secluded life. The ones who choose to do so are doing it on their own free will.

5. So, what is Buddhism about?

Buddhism is about looking into ourselves and freeing ourselves from the negatives in our lives: fear, greed, hate, etc. Buddhism is about feeling compassion for all sentient beings no matter how big or small. It is through compassion and helping others that we are able to achieve happiness. No person will ever gain happiness if they are trying to get it by stepping on others, or trying to convince their own self that they are superior to others. Compassion is something that can grow as it is passed on from one being to another. If we see somebody struggling, whether it be a person or any other living thing, we can take on that pain and use compassion to help them through their difficulties, and hopefully they will help others in the same way when they come across somebody that is hurting.


I hope this has been of some help. Heart
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23-12-2013, 12:38 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism
Quote:3. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, so how is Buddhism not theistic?

a) Theism is a belief in deities, and beliefs in reincarnation are not tied to any belief in deities.

b) It is an extremely common misunderstanding among Buddhists that the Buddha proclaimed/espoused reincarnation beliefs. He DID use people's reincarnation-beliefs as a teaching tool, but his own teachings and practices were completely "belief"-free.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


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You can't have your special pleading and eat it too. -- WillHop
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23-12-2013, 01:01 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism
(23-12-2013 12:38 PM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  
Quote:3. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, so how is Buddhism not theistic?

a) Theism is a belief in deities, and beliefs in reincarnation are not tied to any belief in deities.

b) It is an extremely common misunderstanding among Buddhists that the Buddha proclaimed/espoused reincarnation beliefs. He DID use people's reincarnation-beliefs as a teaching tool, but his own teachings and practices were completely "belief"-free.

Yes, thank you for clarifying. Not all Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and the ones that do don't really focus on it much. Buddhism is about the here and now. It's main concern is not about what happens after death (I think this is where a lot of people hung up). Buddhism is about ridding ourselves of the negatives in our lives, and helping others. I have never given much thought about reincarnation myself. It's love and compassion that matter to me. I get my happiness from helping others. I should have stated that some Buddhists, but not all, believe in reincarnation.
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23-12-2013, 02:48 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
I moved this to the intro forum because technically, it is your first thread and it does tell a bit about you, Compassion4Life. We like getting the great information you've provided - we're big on accurate info around here - this helps us tremendously. Thumbsup

We're an international forum so there are people here from all over the planet - lots of interesting conversations going on so, don't be timid about jumping in. Full on debate isn't necessary - just conversation is great. We have personal issues forums and health & psychology forum - even a food forum... we like to be well rounded. Wink

It's great to have you here Compassion4Life!

Welcome to the forum. Smile

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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23-12-2013, 03:15 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
(23-12-2013 02:48 PM)kim Wrote:  I moved this to the intro forum because technically, it is your first thread and it does tell a bit about you, Compassion4Life. We like getting the great information you've provided - we're big on accurate info around here - this helps us tremendously. Thumbsup

We're an international forum so there are people here from all over the planet - lots of interesting conversations going on so, don't be timid about jumping in. Full on debate isn't necessary - just conversation is great. We have personal issues forums and health & psychology forum - even a food forum... we like to be well rounded. Wink

It's great to have you here Compassion4Life!

Welcome to the forum. Smile

Thank you for the welcome. I have no problem that you moved the thread. You are right that it would serve a better purpose there. I only posted it in the other section because that is where I was reading comments about misunderstandings of Buddhism. I am glad to be here and look forward to taking part in more discussions. Smile
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23-12-2013, 08:22 PM (This post was last modified: 23-12-2013 08:26 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
I knew it. Those sly Buddhist bastards who just look at me quizzically when I bring up the bullshit promise of a postmortem preservation of identity are truly perplexed. "Why you speak of such nonsense, GirlyMan?"
...
They're just "Be Here Now Bitches!" atheists, aka hippies. Kinda like Girly. Big Grin
...
Oh and welcome, ForeverCompassionate. Be the Buddha! Be the Christ! Be The Word!

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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23-12-2013, 08:37 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
Welcome to the forum, C4L! I hope you enjoy your stay.

There's a Buddhist center nearby my place, but when I went, I was told the opposite of the first part you addressed. Are there sometimes crossovers? Or is it possible that there was a sort of problem with communication, something that wasn't properly explained? It had to do with reincarnation and the levels one gets to...

Anyways, make yourself comfy, you're in for an interesting ride. Thumbsup

[Image: 3d366d5c-72a0-4228-b835-f404c2970188_zps...1381867723]
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23-12-2013, 10:02 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
(23-12-2013 08:37 PM)cheapthrillseaker Wrote:  Welcome to the forum, C4L! I hope you enjoy your stay.

There's a Buddhist center nearby my place, but when I went, I was told the opposite of the first part you addressed. Are there sometimes crossovers? Or is it possible that there was a sort of problem with communication, something that wasn't properly explained? It had to do with reincarnation and the levels one gets to...

Anyways, make yourself comfy, you're in for an interesting ride. Thumbsup

Thank you for the welcome! I think that this comes from people who came to Buddhism incorporating something from their beliefs that they grew up with. The Buddhists that I have most commonly come across when it comes to belief in reincarnation are Buddhists from India, and Buddhists from Western cultures. Hinduism has beliefs in reincarnation, and Christianity has beliefs that people have souls. I have actually met a decent number of practicing Christians that believe in reincarnation, even though there are not any Christian churches that support it. However, a lot of people like the idea of it, so they take it with them. I don't believe in it myself, but I don't have a problem with people who do. You can believe in reincarnation and still be a student of the teachings of the Buddha, so long as that belief does not result in fear. If it gives you comfort, then there is no harm in it because it does not hinder your search for happiness and compassion.
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23-12-2013, 10:09 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
I have attempted to make a compromise with Buddhism, but it is not possible.

Buddhism essentially states, this is water, but it is not water, which is absolutely illogical as far as I am concerned.
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23-12-2013, 10:20 PM
RE: Misunderstandings About Buddhism (Compassion4Life intro)
(23-12-2013 10:02 PM)Compassion4Life Wrote:  You can believe in reincarnation and still be a student of the teachings of the Buddha, so long as that belief does not result in fear. If it gives you comfort, then there is no harm in it because it does not hinder your search for happiness and compassion.

That belief feels like a consequence of fear. It seems sufficient to infer fear. Any comfort found feels delusional and ultimately detrimental. ... Just drunk Girly weighing in with my $0.02. ... I'm liking the CompassionateOne.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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