*Tuesday May 9, 2017 from 7-8pm the CCOB held a very informative study group on Buddhism. In case you missed it, here is an overview of what we learned. The evening consisted of 3 parts:
- Introductory questions to prompt thinking about what we know and would like to know
- Video summary over “The Life of the Buddha” (Source: BBC)
- Concluding discussion – What we can learn from Buddhism.
*The study group continues next Tuesday May 16th from 7-8pm at the CCOB. Next week’s topic will be Living Buddha, Living Christ – Comparing and understanding Buddhism and Christianity. This experience will culminate with a visit to the “Midwest Buddhist Center” in Chicago. For more info about our study group, check the link on our website here. Here is a summary of our learning experience.
*Part 1 – Intro Questions
We answered the following questions emphasizing that there were no right or wrong answers, just opinions to help us start on our journey. We also wrote on notecards 2 things we wanted to know and 2 things we learned that we didn’t know before.
- Is Buddhism a religion or a practice?
- What is the basic essence of Buddhism
- Who was the Buddha? When did he live?
- Name 1 of the 4 Noble Truths or 1 of the steps in the 8-fold path.
- Why should the Brethren study Buddhism?
Part 2 – Video Summary
- Buddhism is the story of one man’s journey to Enlightenment and the teachings and ways of living that developed from it. Siddartha Gautama (aka the Buddha) was a young prince from northwest India who lived sometime between the 6th & 4th century.
- Buddhism is the 4th largest religion in the world with over 500 million followers (roughly 7% of the world’s population).
- Life of Siddhartha Gautama
- Life of Luxury: He was born into a royal family in present day Nepal. His privileged life insulated him from suffering.
- Discovering Cruel Reality: After marrying and having his own child, he saw suffering for the first time when he went outside the palace. He saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse and confronted the fact that no human could avoid these fates.
- Becoming a Holy Man: He also saw a 4th man, a monk, and took this as a sign to live a homeless, holy life. He began searching for a way to understand suffering.
- A Life of Self-denial: Siddhartha began living a life of asceticism; living a life of extreme self-denial and discipline. He was outstanding at meditating, but concluded that even the highest states of meditation weren’t enough. He did this for 6 years but decided it was not enough.
- The Middle Way: He abandoned extreme self-denial but did not embrace a life of luxury. He decided that living in the Middle Way was best.
- Enlightenment: Sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree, he achieved Enlightenment and became deeply absorbed in meditation (this exact spot is a pilgrimage today for many Buddhists). Legend says that although he enjoyed this state, Brahma, king of the gods, asked him to share his understanding with the world.
- Teacher: Rather than worshipping gods, Buddhism emphasizes the importance of teaching. The Buddha taught his disciples for the next 45 years until they became enlightened themselves.
- Four Noble Truths
- If you are alive, you will suffer
- The cause of suffering is attachment
- You can end suffering
- End suffering by following the Eightfold Path
- Eight-Fold Path: Agents of transformation practiced over time; aims to improve your (a) Wisdom by practicing right view and intention; (b) Ethical conduct by practicing right speech, action and livelihood, and (c) Mental capabilities by practicing right effort, mindfulness and concentration.
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
- Right View
- Right Resolve
- Four Noble Truths
Part 3 – Concluding Discussion
*In our concluding discussion, we observed things we can learn from Buddhism and similarities about Buddhism and Christianity. We recognized the following things:
- Buddhism’s emphasis on practice: The Buddha like Jesus went to the people. Like Jesus, he had disciples and like Jesus he spent most of his time among the people.
- Buddhism’s emphasis on prayer: Buddhism can teach Christians a lot about the power of prayer and meditation.
- Buddha’s disappointment in the commercialization and separation of his teachings into various factions: Like Jesus, Buddha rejected the culture of extreme, spiritual self-righteousness that persisted in his day
*We concluded the evening by sharing questions we hope to answer in future sessions. We agreed that questions are good and generating even more questions is even better. We are all on a faith journey.
*Special thanks to our instructor, Carol Davis, who prepared the lesson. Carol used a number of books as a reference for this study including…
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- The Essence of Buddha by David Tuffley (Free Kindle Version)
- The Everything Buddhism Book by Arnie Kozak
- Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh & Elaine Pagels