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Need some help on Buddhism


Scott24Falcons
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I'm writing an essay for my religion class, and need some help on Buddhism. 

In my essay I've basically outlined how the religion came to be, the basic beliefs, and rituals, and now I must critically think.

For those of you with knowledge on Buddhism, would you classify it as more of a religion or more of a philosophy?

Also, what are some aspects of Buddhism that you find interesting?  And why?

Thanks in advance.

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Scott24Falcs (3/23/2008)
ki45toryu (3/23/2008)
Err...I have a dinner meeting to go to right now...but I will PM you later with some stuff.

Thanks a lot man.

First you have to define religion. Buddhism could fall under the scope of religion if the paremeters are right.

It can better be explained as a philosophy though....

In its 'pure form' there is no diety. There are 'rules', if you will, but the 'rules' are to be set aside as you reach levels of attainment appropriate to yourself. There are no idols to be worshipped(there are guidance idols though). There isnt even a sacred text.

According to Siddharta, life is like a troublesome river that you must cross to get to the other bank(death/afterlife). It is full of perile, pain, suffering, and most appropriately....unreliability. Buddhism seeks to provide you simply with the raft(vehicle) to get you to the other side safely, without unreliability. Buddhism, as a philosohpy, does not worry itself with the afterlife....because it only brings us torment to think about it while we are here on Earth. He just wanted people to get to the afterlife, whatever it may be, in the most peace possible.

He came up with a few simple 'sutras' to help the guidance along...although Buddha, much like his contemporary Confucius, probably taught to the individual.

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Scott24Falcs (3/23/2008)
I'm writing an essay for my religion class, and need some help on Buddhism. 

In my essay I've basically outlined how the religion came to be, the basic beliefs, and rituals, and now I must critically think.

For those of you with knowledge on Buddhism, would you classify it as more of a religion or more of a philosophy?

Also, what are some aspects of Buddhism that you find interesting?  And why?

Thanks in advance.

It is both a philosophy and a religion.

Interesting? hmmm

One of my favorite buddhist teachings is dependant origination. Here is a quote from an authority on buddhism for you to ponder before writing your essay. PM me tomorrow if you have any specific questions. Thanks

Firstly, the understanding of the principle of interdependent origination that is common to all Buddhist schools explains it in terms of causal dependence. This principle means that all conditioned things and events in the universe come into being only as a result of the interaction of various causes and conditions. This is significant because it precludes two possibilities. One is the possibility that things can arise from nowhere, with no causes and conditions, and the second is that things can arise on account of a transcendent designer or creator. Both these possibilities are negated.

Secondly, we can understand the principle of dependent origination in terms of parts and whole. All material objects can be understood in terms of how the parts compose the whole, and how the very idea of 'whole' and 'wholeness' depends upon the existence of parts. Such dependence clearly exists in the physical world. Similarly, non-physical entities, like consciousness, can be considered in terms of their temporal sequences: the idea of their unity or wholeness is based upon the successive sequences that compose a continuum. So when we consider the universe in these terms, not only do we see each conditioned thing as dependently originated, we also understand that the entire phenomenal world arises according to the principle of dependent origination.

There is a third dimension to the meaning of dependent origination, which is that all things and events - everything, in fact arise solely as a result of the mere coming together of the many factors which make them up. When you analyse things by mentally breaking them down into their constitutive parts, you come to the understanding that it is simply in dependence upon other factors that anything comes into being. Therefore there is nothing that has any independent or intrinsic identity of its own. Whatever identity we give things is contingent on the interaction between our perception and reality itself. However, this is not to say that things do not exist. Buddhism is not nihilistic. Things do exist, but they do not have an independent, autonomous reality.

Let us now refer back to the statement by the Buddha, when he said that seeing dependent origination leads to seeing the Dharma. There are three different meanings to this concept of Dharma which correspond to the three different levels of meaning of dependent origination which we have just described.

Firstly, we can relate Dharma to the first level of meaning of dependent origination, which is causal dependence. By developing a deep understanding of the interdependent nature of reality in terms of causal dependence, we are able to appreciate the workings of what we call 'karma', that is, the karmic law of cause and effect which governs human actions. This law explains how experiences of pain and suffering arise as a result of negative actions, thoughts and behavior, and how desirable experiences such as happiness and joy arise as a result of the causes and conditions which correspond to that result - positive actions, emotions and thoughts.

Developing a deep understanding of dependent origination in terms of causal dependence gives you a fundamental insight into the nature of reality. When you realize that everything we perceive and experience arises as a result of the interaction and coming together of causes and conditions, your whole view changes. Your perspective on your own inner experiences, and the world at large, shifts as you begin to see everything in terms of this causal principle. Once you have developed that kind of philosophical outlook, then you will be able to situate your understanding of karma within that framework, since the karmic laws are a particular instance of this overall general causal principle.

Similarly, when you have a deep understanding of the other two dimensions of dependent origination - the dependence of parts and whole, and the interdependence between perception and existence - your view will deepen, and you will appreciate that there is a disparity between the way things appear to you and the way they actually are. What appears as some kind of autonomous, objective reality out there does not really fit with the actual nature of reality.

Once we appreciate that fundamental disparity between appearance and reality, we gain a certain insight into the way our emotions work, and how we react to events and objects. Underlying the strong emotional responses we have to situations, we see that there is an assumption that some kind of independently existing reality exists out there. In this way, we develop an insight into the various functions of the mind and the different levels of consciousness within us. We also grow to understand that although certain types of mental or emotional states seem so real, and although objects appear to be so vivid, in reality they are mere illusions. They do not really exist in the way we think they do.It is through this type of reflection and analysis that we will be able to gain an insight into what in technical Buddhist language is called 'the origin of suffering', in other words, those emotional experiences that lead to confusion and misapprehension, and which afflict the mind. When this is combined with an understanding of the interdependent nature of reality at the subtlest level, then we also gain insight into what we call 'the empty nature of reality', by which we mean the way each and every object and event arises only as a combination of many factors, and has no independent or autonomous existence.

Our insight into emptiness will, of course, help us to understand that any ideas that are based on the contrary view, that things exist intrinsically and independently, are misapprehensions. They are misunderstandings of the nature of reality. We realize that they have no valid grounding either in reality or in our own valid experience, whereas the empty nature of reality has a valid grounding both in logical reasoning and in our experience. Gradually, we come to appreciate that it is possible to arrive at a state of knowledge where such misapprehension is eliminated completely; that is the state of cessation.

In Clear Words, Chandrakirti states that if one can posit emptiness, then one can posit the world of dependent origination. If one can posit that, then one can posit the causal relationship between suffering and its origin. Once one accepts this, then one can also conceive of and accept the possibility that there could be an end to suffering. If one can do that, argues Chandrakirti, then one can also accept that it is possible for individuals to realize and actualize that state. Finally, of course, one can conceive of buddhas who have actually perfected that state of cessation.

The point is that by developing a profound understanding of the principle of dependent origination, we can understand both the truth of the subtle origins of suffering, and the truth of cessation. This is the meaning of Buddha's statement, that by understanding dependent origination, we see the Dharma. In this way we can see the truth of cessation and the path that leads to that cessation. Once we understand these, we are able to conceive that it is possible for Sangha members to realize and actualize these states, and for buddhas to perfect them. Finally, we come to some understanding of what buddhahood really means.- HHDL The Four Noble Truths

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