Unique teachings in Buddhism

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by OAT, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    I would like to hear from Buddhists here what they think are the teachings that are unique only to Buddhism.
     
  2. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    The Four Noble Truths:

    The First Noble Truth
    THE EXISTENCE OF IMPERMANENCE
    "Dukkha"

    Nothing lasts forever. When you understand this it makes it easier to not be so attached to what you're experiencing. So when you're experiencing something you think is bad, you can relax in the knowledge that nothing bad lasts forever. Similarly, when you're experiencing happiness you can also realize that nothing good lasts forever. Why would you want to do that? Because it helps you to be more aware of how you're reacting to your experiences at all times.

    The Second Noble Truth
    THE ARISING OF SUFFERING BECAUSE OF CRAVING
    "Samudaya"

    Craving sensory stimulation, craving existence, and craving non-existence give rise to the "continuity of being" (the tendency to confuse reality with your perception of reality), and with it its attendant suffering. Say you want something and you don't get it--you'd get sad or frustrated. But say you want something and you do get it. Eventually you'll get bored with it and you'll start wanting something else. And so you start all over again. And that's a bummer.

    The Third Noble Truth
    THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING
    "Nirodha"

    You can end eternal suffering by ending the craving that leads to the continuation of suffering. Remember that suffering is caused by endlessly wanting what you can't have. So if you can stop this endless wanting, you won't suffer anymore. That's not to say that you won't ever feel pained or sad (or happy or ecstatic) ever again. It's just that it won't be part of an endless cycle of wanting--not getting--being sad--wanting again.

    The Fourth Noble Truth
    THE MIDDLE WAY, or THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
    "Magga"

    So how do you end eternal craving? Just live by the ideals of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Path is grounded in a program of meditation. It delineates a plan of self-discipline regarding ethical conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom. The Path avoids two extremes--the pursuit of complete and ultimate sensory pleasure, or the pursuit of utter self-denial.

    Buddhism -- The Four Noble Truths -- 4 Truths .com
     
  3. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    Hi Nick the Pilot, I think Hinduism teaches something similar to the Four Noble Truths.
     
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi OAT,

    Feel free to share similar Hindu teachings.

    You will find that many Buddhist teachings are similar to the teachings of other religions.
     
  5. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    Hi Nick,
    I do find many similarities in Buddhist teachings compared to other religions, in particular Hinduism. (I think Jainism is very similar too but I am not too sure here.) If one strips out all the differences in rituals and just zoom into the basics of the teachings, it is quite difficult to find what makes them different. Hence I started this topic hoping that someone more knowledgeable can throw some light.

    Hinduism do talk about impermanence, arsing of suffering due to craving, the cessation of suffering and the way to cessation. Their presentation may be different but the basic idea is the same. An element in the last Noble Truth, is probably that which ultimately distinguish Buddhism from Hinduism and others. But I would like to see what others have to say first.
     
  6. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi OAT,

    (By the way, I am an airplane pilot, and in the piloting world OAT stands for "outside air temperature," so please consider yourself a special part of nature!)

    One big difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is that Hinduism teaches of a soul ("atman") while Buddhism does not.
     
  7. Sancho

    Sancho New Member

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    Hello,

    Oat, my own approach to the world of religions is to not focus on the differences at all, rather, I choose to integrate it all into my own ever evolving world view.
    As for Buddhism, when I first became interested in it I found the four noble truths and the eight-fold-path turned me off because they seemed too much like dogma to me. Lately I've been more deeply affected by the sutras themselves. Many of these sutras, such as the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, and the Sutra of Hui-neng --three of the most profound scriptures I've encountered anywhere --stress the need to go beyond the confines of language to wordless illumination. This wordless illumination is accessable to anyone from any tradition, Buddhism happens to have effective ways to get there.

    On the topic of Hinduism, I've heard that the notion of a unified Hinduism is a fiction created by British imperialists so they wouldn't have to bother with the multiplicity of religions in India. The rest of the world has much to learn from India. It seems that for centuries one region would worship Siva, another region would worship Krsna, and another would focus on Indra, while still others would be snake worshipers, but all were united by common mythologies, and, sadly, by the caste system. What we can learn from India is the inclusiveness that allows for differences while sharing many beliefs about how to live and get along with each other.
     
  8. Sancho

    Sancho New Member

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    Non-dualism, the idea that all that exists is oneness --any division of this unity into language, concepts, or distinct physical objects, creates illusions --is key to Buddhism and Taoism (and to the unity that is reality).
     
  9. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    You're not Tao then??!!:)

    Maybe you really need a person with a dispassionate interest and knowledge of religions to answer this.

    How about non-theism; is that a unique aspect?

    s.
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    We were joined by a couple of Friends (Quakers) at our morning (Buddhist) service recently and it seemed to be the most natural thing to do. Just to sit and "turn the light inwards", together.

    s.
     
  11. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    Yes and no. As I understand it, Hinduism says that ultimately everything come from the ONE and the soul is merely part of the ONE where the ONE is a kind of primordial intelligence that they call God. If so, then the soul is not the real atman. In some quarters of Buddhism, it appears that there is similar monistic belief, in which case, atman and anatman is hardly distinguishable .. at least that's how it seemed to me.

    Oh, as for being "outside air temperature" ... no wonder I am have no idea of the inner air temperature. Maybe I should change my handle to iOAT but I'm not sure if Apple has already copyrighted that.
     
  12. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    Hi Sancho,

    Four Noble Truths - The Four Noble Truths seemed rather ordinary until I learned that it is called Noble because its truth can only be known by someone who has realized the real nature of existence. That someone would be a "Noble" one or an Arya. So people like myself can only have an intellectual understanding of it.

    Wordless Illumination - This is where I stumble and continue to stumble. Buddhism as you pointed out talks about it. Taoism pointed to the unspeakable TAO. Hinduism too has something similar. I used to think that they all meant the same thing. Nowadays however, I begin to think that there could be very subtle differences in meaning.

    Non-dualism, the idea that all that exists is oneness - I think the majority of Buddhist schools does not subscribe to the idea that all that exists is oneness. Yes, they subscribe to non-dualism but at the same time they don't subscribe to oneness. One common argument put forth on this point is that if everything is the ONE, why is it that at the time when the Buddha attained enlightenment, the rest of us didn't?
     
  13. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    When I am enlightened I'll let you know.:D

    Jainism is non-theistic. And while Taoism talks about gods, it does not seem to have the belief of an almightly creator god. So I guess non-theism would not be a unique aspect.
     
  14. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    That is nice.
     
  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    OAT,

    You said,

    "...the soul is not the real atman."

    --> This really gets into the difference between the Christian concept of the soul and the Hindu concept of Atman, which of course are quite different.

    "In some quarters of Buddhism, it appears that there is similar monistic belief, in which case, atman and anatman is hardly distinguishable..."

    --> Really? Do you have some examples?

    "...as for being "outside air temperature" ... no wonder I am...."

    --> Watch out for those hot-weather takeoffs! (The hotter the outside air temperature, the more difficult the takeoff.)
     
  16. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    What I said was "As I understand it, Hinduism says that ultimately everything come from the ONE and the soul is merely part of the ONE where the ONE is a kind of primordial intelligence that they call God. If so, then the soul is not the real atman."

    Please google for "Vedànta vis-à-vis ShentongVedànta vis-à-vis Shentong" (System does not allow me to post link as my number of posts so far is less than 10).
    It was what started off me thinking. It is a little heavy going, sorry about that. In brief, the author was arguing that Shentong Buddhists are really not different from Hindus in their view of the ultimate.

    I suppose it is all relative. Who knows, someone may come up with an enery efficient system that will cool the top half of the aerofoil and warm the bottom half and result in a net saving of fuel consumed on take-off in hot weather.:D
     
  17. Zenda71

    Zenda71 New Member

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    Nonduality is taught in several religions, so I don't think that is Buddhism's most unique teaching. The teachings on shunyata don't occur in other religions though (to the best of my knowledge. Let me know if I'm wrong.)
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Alternatively...one may call them Ennobling Truths. :) They are not something to believe but to be examined and...experienced...and practiced in life...


    I'm sorry, I can't see the difference here. :eek:

    Non duality means that reality, although ineffable, is undivided ie whole..."one". It is mind that creates duality, whether self/other, Buddha/NotBuddha...such conceptualisation is the root of our existential anguish. Nāgārjuna said that the Buddha did not teach anything to anybody, perhaps this is why he said this.

    s.
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    OAT,

    You said,

    "Shentong Buddhists are really not different from Hindus in their view of the ultimate."

    --> I agree, although Shentong Buddhists are certainly not representative of most Buddhists. We cannot generalize Shentong beliefs to all Buddhists.

    "...ultimately everything come from the ONE and the soul is merely part of the ONE...."

    --> I think most Buddhists would disagree with such a statement, although I think they would agree with it if they thought about it long enough.

    "...the ONE is a kind of primordial intelligence that they call God...."

    --> Buddhists will certainly disagree with this. And on a slightly different topic, I agree with anyone who says there is a God, but that there is something that is higher than God.

    "In some quarters of Buddhism, it appears that there is similar monistic belief..."

    --> Are you Christian? I do not understand your need to impose monism on Buddhism.

    "...atman and anatman is hardly distinguishable..."

    --> I agree, in the sense that only the One exists and nothing else truly exists. It can be said that Atman does not exist because nothing here exists (which is what I think Buddha actually meant, and that many people have misuderstood).
     
  20. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    Hi Nick,

    /QUOTE]
    What I said was "the author was arguing that Shentong Buddhists are really not different from Hindus in their view of the ultimate"

    What I said was "As I understand it, Hinduism says that ultimately everything come from the ONE and the soul is merely part of the ONE where the ONE is a kind of primordial intelligence that they call God.

    What I said was "As I understand it, Hinduism says that ultimately everything come from the ONE and the soul is merely part of the ONE where the ONE is a kind of primordial intelligence that they call God.

    So certainly Buddhists will disagree with this.

    [
    Did you read the article "Vedànta vis-à-vis Shentong". I read it, that was why I said "In some quarters of Buddhism, it appears that there is similar monistic belief..."
    Here's the link: http://www.byomakusuma.org/Ved%C3%A0ntavis%C3%A0visShentong/tabid/87/Default.aspx

    As I understand it, Buddhism says Atman does not exist only in relation to the world of appearances, ie. the world as manifest by dependent origination. As for the ultimate, Buddhism as I understand it says that one can't say anything of it.

    Btw Nick, it would really be helpful to me if you could read my posts more carefully and avoid focusing on bits and pieces of my posts without considering their context.
     

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