Buddhism historically and ideologically derives from Hinduism (see HINDUISM) and retains many of the latter’s basic doctrines (pantheism, reincarnation, karma, etc.), but also introduces some new doctrines.
The term Buddhism refers to a family of Asian sects that all trace their doctrine back to a legendary 6th century B.C. Hindu prince called Siddhartha Gautama. The precise date and circumstances of his life are not actually known, but the commonly-held accounts agree that, having been raised in luxury, secluded entirely from the world and suffering, he felt such shock when he finally encountered suffering, sickness, decay, and death, that, horrified by it, he took up the lifestyle of the Hindu ‘holy’ hermits in the hopes of escaping that frightful common fate of men. Having spent six years of extreme fasting and asceticism as a Hindu hermit, yet having found no success in escaping the horrifying fact of suffering and death, he abandoned this. At a loss as to what to do, he decided to sit under a nearby tree and contemplate creation until he had figured out how to escape the sorrows and ultimate fate (death) of human existence.
Not many days later, he supposedly entered ‘Buddhahood’ (“Buddha” means ‘enlightened one’) when he conceived the “four noble truths” of Buddhism: (1) suffering is an intrinsic part of any existence which is impermanent, constantly changing, never stable or solid or firm - a world of dreams and illusions so to speak; (2) suffering results from our desiring any external conditions or firm object at all in a world which cannot remain anything at all and from the consequent arising of division or opposition of consciousness between one’s self and one’s environment or circumstances; (3) the escape from suffering only comes from “Nirvana” or “boundlessness” - that is, a renunciation of the limited consciousness embodied in the distinction between one’s self and other things (which Buddhism teaches is an illusion) and the ‘awakening’ to ‘boundless’ consciousness or consciousness of the oneness of all things (pantheism/panentheism) and one’s consequent abandonment of all desire or opposition to one’s environment, one’s merger into the eternal evolving ‘consciousness’ of the universe; finally (4) such ‘boundless’ consciousness produces and is produced by “sama” or “whole“-istic thoughts, feelings, words, actions, livelihood, effort, awareness, and finally complete absorption into ‘wholeness’, which process is called the “eight-fold path” to Buddhahood or Nirvana. Thus themes of oneness, balance, and harmony with all things are common in Buddhist discourse. Buddhism also believes in the Hindu doctrines of reincarnation and karma (see HINDUISM), which they say occurs for souls until they attain Nirvana.
There is no real worship or prayer in Buddhism, since the belief in a God separate from one’s self or anything else or in One Who could have personal interaction with us or be at all moved by such acts does not exist. For example, one popular form of Japanese Buddhist ‘worship’ service consists in simple endless repetition of the phrase: “I am the Mystic Law of the Universe” - that is, a hypnotic mental exercise intended to cement the consciousness of one’s unity with “the mystic law of the universe” or the “All”, the pantheistic corporate whole. Buddhism ultimately rests its hope for its idea of salvation in the power to perfect one’s self alone, relying on this ‘self-savior’ to provide himself with what he is himself lacking. Who can give what he himself has not? Only God has immortality, freedom from suffering, and everything else the Buddhist seeks. Only God has it, and only He can give it - but the Buddhist not only does not seek Him, but does not even believe in the existence of such a Being at all. Thus, lacking any relation to Christ, the true God Incarnate, the blind religion of Buddhism is an endeavor doomed to failure, unless the mere feeling of complacency in self-delusion and self-deception in Buddhism is all one is seeking.
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