Basic buddhist concepts analysed in a Christian website
I hope to reinforce my understanding of basic Buddhist concepts through various viewpoints. It is also my wish to be able to explain such concepts well to Christian acquaintances and friends. Please help me to improve on my answers.
Christ did not have to search for wisdom since he was the wisdom and power of God before and during his coming to earth. He came from heaven as a servant to mankind. He grew in understanding in his humanity only, but even at an early age he was aware of his purpose and who he actually was.
Buddha needed to make sense of the world and its suffering for himself. He was in turmoil in his soul seeing the condition of life being unfavorable for so many. So he searched for enlightenment to have answers for the dilemma he saw in the world.
How I would answer: The Buddha's search is actually a personal demonstration of how the awakening of our inner spiritual wisdom is possible for all of us. Before the historical Buddha was born as a prince, he is actually a heavenly being (to be correct, a Buddha-to-be 'heavenly being') with great wisdom and compassion. He came down from the heavens to teach us the truth about the world that we live in and about the unawakened Buddha nature in all of us.
Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God in fact Buddha did not consider the existence of God to be important. Buddha claimed to point to the right way to escape suffering and attain enlightenment. Contrary Jesus claimed to be the way. Christianity teaches there was only one incarnation of God. While anyone can make a belief system, it is another thing to prove it. In this Buddha and those who followed after failed and Jesus succeeded.
How I would answer: For those who have made wholehearted efforts to practise the Buddhist teachings, they have succeeded in freeing themselves from the bondages of greed, anger and ignorance. If one has yet to make the right efforts to practise those teachings, one cannot succeed in understanding anything about the Buddha's teachings.
..Buddhists hope to enter into the state of Nirvana, but there is no clear, objective proof or teaching on what occurs beyond the grave. Even Buddha himself was not certain what lay beyond death. He left no absolute teaching on the afterlife only philosophical speculations which can still be debated today. The body of Buddha lies in a grave in at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains. The facts of life after death still are an unsolved mystery in Buddhism. Buddhism offers neither assurance of forgiveness or eternal life. In contrast Christ spoke emphatically and absolutely about an afterlife, something every religion had sought to have answers for. It would be best to listen to the one who conquered death and lives eternally than continue to speculate on it. That is what we hope Buddhists will do.
How I would answer: The Buddha tells us clearly that a human being who observes basic moral behaviour throughout his entire life would generally enjoy a peaceful death and be reborn in heavenly planes of existence. Next, our state of mind at any point in time affects the quality of our human experience; be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. For example, when we are angry all the time, not only are we experiencing a continued unpleasant disturbance in thoughts and feelings, we are likely to observe some ill effects to our physical and mental health in time to come. So through such teachings, the truth on life after death is actually explained to us: cultivate a healthy state of mind and one will experience true and better lasting inner peace when we are alive, at the point of death and thereafter. This kind of mental or spiritual peace can be regarded as experiencing a form of true heavenly life.
Forgiveness is an important teaching in Buddhism and so is forbearance. These two human qualities, along with others, help Buddhists to make sustained progress in their personal path to awaken perfect wisdom and compassion from within. The cultivation and observance of humility, forbearance and forgiveness are often praised and encouraged by the Buddha.
When mental afflictions brought about by greed, anger and ignorance are eradicated through diligent practice of the Buddha's teachings, the fear of physical death or uncertainty about life after death no longer arises. One is considered to have truly conquered death according to the Buddha.