Summary: The comparison of Buddhism and Christianity.
You Yourself Must Make the Effort
Unlike the Hindu religion, Buddhism can point to an individual founder and can look back to a date for its beginnings. Sidhartha Gautama was born a Hindu about 560 B.C., near the border of India in what is now Nepal.
Tradition says that when he was born, a seer (Hindu Prophet) said he would become a great ruler in human history. The seer also added that if Gautama was four things – sickness, Old age, death, and monk who had renounced the world, he would give up his earthly rule to discover a way of salvation for all mankind.
To refute the seer’s prophecy Gautama’s father built a palace for his sons and gave orders to the guards to prevent any sick, old, dead bodies or monks from entering in. So Gautama grew up protected or you could say locked up in this palace.
After growing up and finding myself and wife and having a son, things changed. Gautama would leave the palace from time to time to walk around the park surrounding the palace and over time saw the four things the seer prophesied.
So at age 29 and remembering what the seer had said, Gautama took a last look at his wife and son and left the palace forever, determined to solve the riddle of life. He shaved his head, put on a yellow robe and wandered the countryside as a beggar monk. He studied different religions and even tried self-denial, but he found no happiness in any of them.
I. Gautama becomes the Enlightened One
a. He decided to sit at the base of a tree and not move until he found what he was searching for.
i. He was supposedly tempted to quit by the Mara a demon of the Hindu religion
ii. But after 40 days, he tells people that he had finally experienced the highest degree of God-consciousness – nirvana
iii. From that time one, he was referred to as Buddha or the enlightened one.
b. After this experience, he decided to go back to the world of man and start to preach and teach the meaning of life and his way of nirvana.
i. Soon he founded the Sangha, an order of monks.
ii. He died, 45 years later, only after drawing in many thousands of followers.
c. Buddhism and Hinduism are very similar from which they evolved.
i. But in other ways they are quite different.
ii. Buddhist reject the divine writings of the Hindus.
iii. They also denied that man has an atman (soul), which is part of the Brahman (world soul)
iv. Buddhist did hold onto the Hindu teaching of reincarnation.
II. The Middle Way and the Eightfold Path
a. One of Buddha’s most important teachings was his theory of the Middle Way.
i. This is a spiritual path of salvation, winding between the extreme asceticism and the unrestrained sensuality he had known while a Hindu.
ii. To describe his Middle way Buddha offered four main principles, which he called the Four Noble Truths.
1. Suffering is universal
a. He taught that the very act of living involves suffering from birth until death.
b. Death brings no relief
c. Only through nirvana can you find rest
2. The cause of suffering is craving (selfish desire)
a. People remain in this endless cycle, because they are too attached to their health, status and physical comfort.
3. The cure for suffering is to overcome ignorance and eliminate craving
a. Since to live is to suffer and suffering is caused by craving, if a person could remove craving from his or her life, suffering would end.
4. Suppress craving by following the Middle Way – the Noble Eightfold Path.
a. These are eight ways of living right, that will bring about a escape from suffering.
i. Right viewpoint
ii. Right aspiration
iii. Right speech
iv. Right behavior
v. Right occupation
vi. Right effort
vii. Right mindfulness
viii. Right meditation
b. Buddha claimed that whoever could follow this Eightfold path would eventually reach nirvana, the release from the reincarnation cycle.
c. When as to define the state of nirvana though, Buddha replied that he didn’t try to solve that question.
i. He was there to show the way of escape, not what would happen afterwards.
III. Buddha’s teachings compared to the Bible
a. 520 years after Buddha died; Jesus Christ came to bring full and abundant life.
i. Buddha claimed to have found the way.
ii. Jesus claimed that He was the way.
b. Buddha said that “to live is to suffer,” and said that there reasons for suffering were ignorance and craving.
i. The Bible agrees that suffering is everywhere and that a good deal of suffering is due to misplaced desire, but at the core, the Bible provides a different explanation for suffering.