What Does Buddhism Have Of Offer

The Dean of Students in a Buddhist Institute argues that Buddhism is a religion. Reading his essay I still am unable to clarify in my own mind whether it is a religion or something else.

What is does argue, effectively I think, is that Buddhism should not be passed off as a light weight new age philosophy. It was present before Christianity and remains among the world’s popular preoccupations.

Threads of Buddhism include some that are not particularly attractive. I spent some time in Thailand and saw various threads, efforts to control minds of followers, young monks begging for food and wealthy people practicing the faith for health and happiness.

The part I have read about that seems most helpful is about how to deal with unhappiness and despair. This is a human condition since forever. The Jesus stories told of miracle healing of physical ailments. These are of no help today.

The Buddha, however, said suffering from despair requires calling on our inner strengths. We need to marshal all that we have and move toward nirvana, a state of bliss. So, how does one do that?

The answer requires more study of Buddhism than I can do. I’m merely saying the topic is more helpful than a preoccupation with sin and the afterlife.

I think Christianity could find help marketing itself by studying Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that fictional or folk stories need not have actually happened to be helpful to people. Taking stories in religion literally does more harm than good.

3 Responses

  1. Jon, “I think Christianity could find help marketing itself by studying Buddhism.”

    Thanks for the advice. I think Christianity is doing fine without studying Buddhism. Most Christians study what Jesus said and follow that. However, there are Christians who have studied every religion thoroughly through the ages.

    As for fictional stories in Christianity, I think you’ll find they are called parables. They are using teaching tools. Jesus said it was easier for His followers to understand His teachings if he used a parable. Parables are but one style of writing found in the Bible.

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