Thursday, June 30, 2011

The cycle of existence

Question :(Unedited)
do buddhists believe in evolutionism or creationism ?.... im guessing evolutionism because the orgin of the world that buddha tought is that life evolved from simple to complex organisms over millions of years?

My comment:

Our present existence is but a cycle of "creation, evolution, and destruction".  In astronomy, scientists could observe this "phenomenon" of creation, evolution and destruction of planets and stars.  There is no beginning and end.  It is a perpetual cycle.  It has been like this in time immemorial and will be likewise forever, ad infinitum.

Within one cycle, there is the "creation" of world systems.  Life appears from other planes of existence and evolves.  The cycle will again go through the stages of "creation, evolution, dissolution, and destruction".

At this point in time, countless world systems go through the different phases of this cycle of existence.  Ask any astro scientist and he will confirm this truth.  The Buddha, with his mind power (omniscience) could see through all these phenomena.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Origin of humans

Question : (Unedited)
what do buddhists believe about the orgin of people... what do buddhits say about where people came from into this world?

My comment:
Hi L,
There is a discourse where the Buddha explained the "evolution" or the "beginning" of life.  However this "beginning" was just the beginning of endless cycles of existence stretching for an unimaginable and incalculable long periods of time; for lack of a better word it is called an aeon for one such cycle.  Unless you are familiar with Buddhist teachings, you are not going to believe this.  

Be that as it may, the story goes like this:  Long long ago, luminous beings having descended to earth from a higher plane of existence, found that on the surface of the planet was a layer of very aromatic substance.  They decided to taste it and subsequently were addicted to it.  After a long time they lost their luminosity and supernatural powers, and their forms evolved into what we are today.  This was the result of having tasted the "forbidden elixir"....sounds familiar??

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can you teach Buddhism to a Caucasian?

Question : (Unedited)
I heard someone say it is harder to teach Buddhism to a Westerner, Why is that?

My comment:
Hi W,

For someone new to Buddhism, it is like a first-time traveller discovering new and strange places, some totally alien and opposed to one's experiences.  Buddhist doctrines will be totally alien to a stereotyped Caucasian who has been brought up in a Christian environment.  This is because Buddhist concepts are very different from Christian doctrines.  It will take some time for him to think "outside the box" and experience a paradigm shift in order to appreciate and understand what the Buddha taught.

A stereotyped Western mindset in terms of religion is that there must be a creator god and the devil; a hell and a heaven; punishment and reward by god.  Everything is centred on the fear of this all-powerful and all-knowing god.  This is the greatest hindrance to a Western mind to understand the teachings of the Buddha.  It is a "religious shock" to learn that Buddhism is totally different from Christianity.  So long as the Western mindset is not changed, this person will have difficulty learning Buddhism.  The only way is to leave aside all the indoctrinated ideas and set oneself to learn Buddhism with an "open mind".

On the positive side, once the Westerner begins to understand Buddhism, he can practise better than an Asian.  Asians are afffected by their ingrained superstitions and the fear of ghosts.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Unchecked desire

Question : (Unedited)

Can you help understand what the Buddhist definition of "desire" is?

If I desire to watch a movie and enjoyed it, will it lead to suffering?


My comment:

Hi W,

Thank you for asking me.

We can say that the teachings of the Buddha are of 2 levels.  One is for the lay people.  The other is for those who pursue the ultimate release or salvation, generally refers to monks and nuns.  The teachings are no different, but the intensity of practice and realization is different.  If we really want to seek ultimate release or salvation it is very difficult to live as worldly persons because being worldly we are subject to worldly problems, worldly needs, and worldly temptations.  

As a worldly person you would agree with me that it is impossible to live without the necessities of human comfort (and a little bit of sensual gratification).  The Buddha's contention is not so much of riding material possessions or depriving oneself of any form of sense gratifications, but not to be over crazy with our desires.  We practise a lifestyle of CONTENTMENT with what we already have.  This does not prevent us from further improving our material well being, or enjoying ourselves.  The skill in right-living is to be contented here and now.  Otherwise, we will be like crazy fools chasing after more and more material gains and sense desires without ends.

These sensual desires are unquenchable.  It is the very nature of physical senses.  Take for example, hunger.  Once the hunger is satisfied with intake of food; the process of depletion starts, and after some time one feels hungry again.  Another aspect of sense desire is the stronger feeling of craving.  One's craving to satisfy one's desire is itself a catalyst to crave for more.  When this craving goes unchecked, one becomes crazy!  So the option is opened to anyone who follows the Buddha's teachings:  to continue feeding these desires with more craving, or to come to one's senses to reduce this crazy cycle of on-going "madness".

It is important to understand that the Buddha never asked us to live a layman's life like zombies.  We must have the wisdom to live a skilful life with moderation, to enjoy and be peaceful and be happy.

Please enjoy your movies and other happy activities!!

Hope this clears your doubt.
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