Philosophy of Buddhism


Philosophy of BuddhismBeginning

Buddhism does not teach of a creator god or of a beginning to man or the universe. “The Creation is cyclical, having no start and no end. For Buddhists, it is part of the wheel of suffering to which we are attached through rebirth. Creation is seen as just part of this wheel” (OABITAR par2). The universe is infinite, and everything in it just runs in a cycle. Another source describes time according to Buddhism this way, ” Time in Buddhist cosmology is measured in kalpas. Initially, a kalpa was regarded to be 4,320,000 years. Buddhist scholars expanded it with a metaphor: rub a one-mile cube of rock once every hundred years with a piece of silk, until the rock is worn away — and a kalpa still hasn’t passed! During a kalpa, the world comes into being, exists, is destroyed, and a period of emptiness ensues. Then it all starts again” (Boeree par7). Man and the universe has always been, and will continue to exist in this cycle forever, though slowly Buddha will return and bring enlightenment to all people which will end the cycle of reincarnation.

Meaning

There are several different sects of Buddhism that believe different things about being a Buddhist, but they all agree that it is the individual’s goal to achieve enlightenment on his own through meditation, ending desire, and following the eight fold path. The Buddha is looked up to greatly and worshiped by some Buddhists because he is thought to bring blessings (Ferrer IV, A, 5), but the Buddha is cold and does not provide nirvana or any type of salvation. Nearly everything depends on the individual as reality is suffering, and the individual must end suffering by ending all desire which is impossible. Moreover, many Buddhists today, especially those in the West, make Buddhism cater to their desires. Buddhism is used to expand and include a variety of beliefs that its followers want to hold to. It is made to be versatile, easy, and comfortable. As an article by Carl Biefeldt says, “They don’t expect to become enlightened beings like the Buddha; they just want the Buddha to help them make it through this life and into better circumstances in the next. This kind of old-time Buddhism doesn’t often get into the American media and doesn’t attract many transforms from outside the ethnic group” (par17).  In sum, Buddhism can almost be called a philosophy. It basically tells man how to live in order to escape the wheel of samsara and to become enlightened. Man receives no help from a supreme being, he just has rules to follow and sacrifices to make to get to a better state of life.

Utility

For the most part, Buddhism does not have any major, obvious falsities. The Four Noble Truths are debatable, but every religion has something debatable in it. I would most disagree with the first Noble Truth, “To live is to suffer”, because living is not suffering. Sure, life has its times of trouble and hardships, but not all of life is suffering. We can use our lives to meet a higher goal, to bring joy to our lives, to help other, to decrease suffering; life is not all struggling and regrettable events. Moreover, the belief mentioned above that reality is always changing and nothing is permanent can be counted false. Yes, the universe is winding down and many, many things do change, but not anything changes. The moral law that we have, good and evil do not get confused, the past doesn’t change, many things are long term. In fact, Paul Manata makes a good discussion when he says that Buddhism teaches that nirvana is not impermanent, “The Buddhist concept of Nirvana teaches that the way things really are is simple, and that life is an illusion. When we achieve nirvana we will belong to the impersonal void. The way things really are is that there are no differences; all is one. If this is the case, then Buddhists cannot believe in the concept of impermanence. To believe this concept is to make a difference between strength and impermanence” (par8).

Morality

 Buddhism is quite moral, it does not instruct its followers to sin or blatantly cause trouble. On the other hand, Buddhists are supposed to follow the eightfold path in order to “face life logically, to live kindly, and to cultivate inner peace” (Ferrer III, D). Buddhists are motivated to live a good life full of actions that do not harm others. Sin can lead to bad karma or an unwanted reincarnation, and those who do not follow the eightfold path will not reach enlightenment. Moreover, Buddhism forbids killing anything living, stealing, lying, drinking, and choosing adultery (Intervarsity “Buddhist Precepts”).

Destiny

According to Buddhism, once you die, you will either be reincarnated or get nirvana. Those who are reincarnated can be reincarnated into an animal or human and are reincarnated because they were not enlightened. Those who are educated become so by ending desire, following the eightfold path, and meditation. Once they die, they will get nirvana which I would describe as a state of total bliss. Words cannot adequately describe nirvana, but it is said to be greater than anything expert or identified on earth (Intervarsity “Nirvana”). There is no higher judge to measure whether you are enlightened or not. You, yourself, know if you have reached enlightenment because you will have no suffering and will have full become “awake” with full realization of yourself (Daily Buddhism par3). Does this mean that a Buddhist lying on his death bed who is not educated looks back on his life as a complete waste? If this is true, why would anyone become a Buddhist but not become enlightened? Also, I find it impossible to reach enlightenment because it is difficult to end desire. A Buddhist attempts to end all desire because he desires to become educated…that doesn’t work.

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