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An Interpretation Of Shakyamuni's Enlightenment.

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Posted by Glenn on July 11, 2003 03:35:38 UTC

.."one in which I think is inspired by God. But, here's the clincher, it is inspired by God. If, as you say, it is inspired by a man or a group of human beings, then it is from the earth and earthly. That means it is not eternal as Stanley said, and it will eventually pass away with other earthly things."

The Buddha, like modern sociologists and psychologists, believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origin in fear. The Buddha says:

"Gripped by fear men go to the
sacred mountains,sacred groves,
sacred trees and shrines".

Primitive man found himself in a dangerous and hostile world, the fear of wild animals, of not being able to find enough food, of injury or disease, and of natural phenomena like thunder, lightning and volcanoes was constantly with him. Finding no security, he created the idea of gods in order to give him comfort in good times, courage in times of danger and consolation when things went wrong. To this day, you will notice that people become more religious at times of crises, you will hear them say that the belief in a god or gods gives them the strength they need to deal with life. You will hear them explain that they believe in a particular god because they prayed in time of need and their prayer was answered. All this seems to support the Buddha’s teaching that the god-idea is a response to fear and frustration. The Buddha taught us to try to understand our fears, to lessen our desires and to calmly and courageously accept the things we cannot change. He replaced fear, not with irrational belief but with rational understanding.

However, Buddhism does not reject the concept of god per se. In this “world of desire” in which we ordinarily live, the Buddha lived a life much same as ours, the difference is that during his lifetime he had undergone a long fight to counter his self-indulgence searching for the transcendental love he attained finally upon his enlightenment to emerge with compassion, wisdom and his all-giving nature for which he became famous during and beyond his life. His love was not the kind that we associate with being in love with an attractive woman, nor that of self-love, or that of ownership, or of wealth, or that of a filial relationship (love towards a parent). His, on the contrary, was a love extended and meant for all and was one aimed towards alleviating pain in all sorrowful suffering being.

His compassionate love emerged of his transcendental self. If not being such a devote person he might not have practiced self-restraint, nor renounced the world of luxury he had inherited, nor would he have he been so restlessly concerned with the suffering of the world and all in it. He was so concerned with this existence where people pursue their lust for life so indulgently and without concern for others and that they refuse to pay any attention to their approaching deaths as if they are going to live forever. It is through this man and through his true love we can find the true meaning of the transcendental self, that is of transcending ourselves to something greater than we normally perceive.

To criticize Buddhism as atheistic is harsh and far from the truth. You may not find in any of the Buddhist realms an omnipotent god with the love and hatred that is associated and projected upon gods by the human imagination but, if you set on a search for the ‘god’ as the eternal basis that governs all phenomena in the universe and is in all and every one of us you may be on to something.

This Divine-omnipresence is the essence of the world and, though not openly expressed, is latent in all and everything, extant or not extant. It transcends all categories and limitations; however, it will only be revealed to those being free from the veil of illusory phenomena, those who fight and win pure love and wisdom over earthily desires obtain this inner-self to be one with that of the universal.

Buddhism as such may somehow be conceived as theism whose Deities (or devas) are not far from man but as a nucleus latent in every living creature. They only come into being and in sight of those who have possessed a universal vision. All such Buddhist terms as “Buddha-hood” (the nature of Buddha) or “Such ness” or “Blissful State” or “Nibbana” are various names of the One Absolute Heart incarnate in all, even though each of us has no experience of such an absolute experience trapped as we are in this world of desire.

The ultimate and all-abiding law that the Buddha perceived may be another name for some people's concept of God. On the other hand, a person who cannot believe in an anthropomorphic God can see an underlying energy to the universe. The breadth of Buddhism encompasses both views and focuses on the individual.

There is no one to blame - and no one to implore for salvation. In Buddhism, no God or supernatural entity plans and shapes our fates. In Western religion, you can bring yourself closer to God through your faith, but you can never become God. In Buddhism, one could never be separate from the wisdom of God, because the ultimate wisdom already exists in the heart of every person. Through Buddhist practice, we seek to call forth that portion of the universal life force existing originally and eternally within - what we call Buddhahood - and manifest it by becoming a Buddha. Buddhists become aware of the existence, in their innermost depths, of the eternal law that permeates both the universe and the individual human being. They aim to live every day in accordance with that law. In so doing, they discover a way of living that redirects all things toward hope, value and harmony. It is the discovery of this objective law itself, as it manifests within the individual, that creates spiritual value, not some exterior power or being. As Nichiren stated in a famous letter titled "On Attaining Enlightenment/Happiness In This Lifetime":

"Your practice of the Law[Buddhist teachings] will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain. It is like the case of a poor man who spends night and day counting his neighbor's wealth but gains not even half a coin."

This idea that the power to achieve happiness lies totally within can be disconcerting. It entails a radical sense of responsibility. As Daisaku Ikeda has written: "Society is complex and harsh, demanding that you struggle hard to survive. No one can make you happy. Everything depends on you as to whether or not you attain happiness…. A human being is destined to a life of great suffering if he is weak and vulnerable to his external surroundings."

But far from being a bleak, nihilistic approach to life, the Buddhist practice and philosophy are filled with hope and practical solutions to the problems of everyday existence. This philosophy described is so practical that we generally do not refer to it as a "religion" (although it is one) but as a "practice," because most of the people who follow it have found it to be extremely useful. So, although there will be numerous discussions of the theory and philosophy of modern Buddhism, the emphasis will be on how you, the individual, can use Buddhism as a powerful tool to solve the problems of daily life.

As Nichiren quoted from the Lotus Sutra, "No worldly affairs are ever contrary to the true reality," and furthermore, "all phenomena in the universe are manifestations of the Buddhist law." In other words, daily life is the dramatic stage in which the battle for enlightenment is won or lost.The Law does not ceased but it is forever inherent in the cosmos and in Human lives in the three existence of past, present, and future or unto eternity.

Nichiren taught that common mortals, without eradicating their desires or changing their identity, could attain Buddhahood right here in this world. In an age of skepticism and widespread distrust of traditional faiths and institutions, such a dynamic, self-directed religious practice becomes all the more valuable.

Buddhism is essentially nonauthoritarian, democratic, scientific and based on insights obtained primarily through individual efforts toward self-perfection. But Buddhism also has immediate and far-reaching effects on the society around us. Buddhism is a way of life that makes no distinction between the individual human being and the environment in which that person lives. In its conception of the interrelatedness of all life forms in a complex web beyond complete human understanding, Buddhism has provided a spiritual and intellectual framework for environmental awareness. The Western worldview, as expounded by Christianity and Judaism or Islam, tends to be anthropocentric, placing humanity at the apex of the natural order. Buddhism on the other hand views humankind as a part of nature, supporting and giving rise to the notion of bioethics. Since every individual is connected to everything on earth, the destiny of our planet is influenced by the individual's actions.

Modern Buddhism is also nonmoralistic. In a world characterized by a great diversity of peoples, cultures and lifestyles, Buddhism does not prescribe one way of living. There are no "commandments." Buddhism accepts you exactly as you are, with all your foibles and misdemeanors, past and present. However, this does not mean you may lie, steal or murder. Buddhism depends for its moral force not on a list of rules for behavior but on an irresistible inner transformation. Buddhist practitioners find themselves acting more gently, compassionately and with absolute regard for the preciousness of other people's lives. This process becomes almost automatic.

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