During the dispensation of Dipenkara, a Buddha before Sakyamuni, Sakyamuni was known as Sumedha, a recluse, and he could have attained Arahanship to enjoy the bliss of Nibbana at that time. However, he chose to stay on and ventured into wilderness of samsara, because he wanted to save more troubled beings from birth, decay and other afflictions.
Buddhism was not derived from Hindusim and was not stereotyped as many anti-Asian people used to believe. This group of racists said the fire and brimstones hells mentioned in Buddhism were borrowed from Christianity, not realizing that Buddhism was prevalent over 500 years before Jesus was born.
Buddhists don’t pray to the Buddha hoping that He would forgive them for the sins committed during the week and hoping that He would offer them rewards. Buddhists prostrate in front of the Buddha statue as a respect because the Buddha is a perfect human being. All over the world personnel from the fighting services and the police pay respect to their superior by standing straight and raising the right hand to the right side of the head to salute the senior. Is this a form of prayer?
Buddhism is not about accepting certain tenets or believing a set of claims or principle. It is about knowing, not believing, hoping or wishing. Buddhists don’t believe in reports, traditions, hearsay, or the authority of religious leaders, or texts. They don’t rely on logic, inference, appearance or speculation. They examine and see for themselves. Buddhism begins with facts, and Buddhists know that their suffering and the means to stop it lay within themselves. They don’t blame the Americans for all their problems.
Buddhism is about actual experience and investigating to release pain and vexation, once and for all. The deep-down ache of the heart doesn’t go away. It travels with us life after life. Bad times will come though we spend much time and energy trying to avoid them.
Despite the various insults and verbal attacks from non-Buddhists, especially from Asia, Buddhism remains as vital and penetrating as ever, because it doesn’t distinguish between nobles, peasants, learned, the illiterate, the moral and the base.
When we are awake, we will not speak or act in a way that can injure us or others. So when we meditate, the intention is to wake up, not to access any occult or supernatural powers. No person’s life, including that of the Buddha’s, is ever, or was ever free of difficulties. Buddhists know that fame, love, money and lack of stress cannot drive away all our troubles. They know that ups and downs of life will always remain.
The Buddha said : ehi-passiko, which in English means come and see.
During the past 2500 years, Buddhism, like other religions, accumulated variety of beliefs, rituals, ceremonies and practices, because of cultural trappings, e.g. clothes, hats, incense, gongs, bells etc. These rituals, ceremonies, prayers, and special outfits are for the less intelligent. They don’t express the essence of what the Buddha taught. Why should you, a non-Buddhist, be offended to see all these?
Buddhism is about seeing, not believing. The Buddhists are not dogmatic, arrogant or intolerant. They are not cynical and will never call non-Buddhists the devil worshippers. They have no wish to exert control over others, things, or events etc. You don’t have to believe, you can see it. The Buddhists actually don’t believe anything. They investigate and see for themselves. There is nothing to cover up, and no need to reinterpret the facts introduced 2500 years ago. Buddhists don’t promise to be good, pretend to be virtuous, curry favour in order to claim a reward at some later date, at a place called heaven which one must die before she or he can drop in there. Buddhism is like a buffet where sizzling foods are provided. All you need to do is to eat and satisfy your hunger. Who else can do that for you?
Buddhism doesn’t consist of dogmas one must blindly believe, creeds that one must accept on good faith, without reason, superstitious rites and ceremonies to be observed for formal religious conversion or entry to the fold, meaningless sacrifices and penances for one’s purification. An almighty creator that is a causeless cosmic force is also foreign to Buddhism. Buddhists know all the natural laws in the universe exist without a lawgiver. The Buddhas are omniscient and therefore they is nothing for them to learn afresh, but they are definitely not almighty.
Under the pretext of helping to spread Buddhism, some people tell lies to put Buddhism under bad light, not knowing that the Buddha says: come and see. He never said: Come and believe. He did not use hell fires to frighten people, nor did he use other propagandas to hypnotize, blind, deceive or psychologically puzzle others.
We are like worms wriggling in a cess-pit and on the excrement. When a good guy moves us out of the cesspool with good intention, we would be most unhappy and would scramble back to look for the delicacies in the same pool. Just how long does it take us to understand our present environment so that we would make a firm determination to get out of this pool?
Buddhism does not totally deny the existence of a personality. It denies an identical being or a permanent entity. All mental and material phenomena are transient, lacking any permanence, substantiality or essence. Buddhist term for an individual is santati, i.e. a flux or continuity. This santati was not created by an almighty god, and had no perceptible source from the past. The Buddha could not find evidence of any separate persisting thing that had a beginning or end.
Isn’t it a pity that most westerners still believe that Buddhism is about worshipping Buddha, bowing to a statue and wearing robes or working oneself into a trance? Buddhism accumulated a varity of beliefs, rituals, ceremonies and practices at the countries it was brought to. Many people consider those living secular lives are not practitioners of the Way because they say it is evil living idly without jobs, greatly harming individuals, families, societies, and nations.
This is wrong accusation since monks do work seven days a week. They conduct Dhamma talks and help clear your doubts, if you care to approach them.
Won’t you find out more about this great religion? Don’t you believe heaven is not yet the best? Aren’t you fed up with recurrent wandering? Don’t you want to find a way out of this unsatisfactoriness of life to achieve happiness and peace for yourself and all beings?