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What Buddhists Believe

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Posted by Aurino Souza on April 11, 2001 19:33:29 UTC

John,

I'm not a Buddhist but I did a lot of studying on the subject. I am a serious student of psychology of religion and Buddhism is very interesting in that regard.

I cannot explain in a few lines what Buddhists believe. It's difficult for a Western mind to understand how the Eastern mind works, it can be quite puzzling, as anyone who's ever spent some time in China or Japan can attest. In any case, the main points are:

Creation of the Universe: Buddhists don't believe the reality of the senses, they believe it's all an illusion. Therefore there's nothing to explain, only things to be explained away.

Moral Law: Buddhists believe life is suffering, and suffering comes from attachment to illusions. Being in service of other people helps a person develop non-attachment to material things, freeing the "soul" from the circle of reincarnation.

Life after death: Buddhism teaches that "souls" reincarnate, but they also teach that the soul doesn't retain the individuality across reincarnations. This is a very difficult belief to understand, the main point I think is that they don't believe in heaven, afterlife, or a continuation of personal identity in any form. They basically believe that life causes suffering, that the suffering must be eliminated, and the way to do that is by each individual reaching enlightenment, which amounts to seeing through the illusions and understanding the reality that the only thing that exists is a big nothing.

Quite a trip, isn't it? That's why I say one must be careful when dismissing religion, there's more to it than God, eternal life, salvation, or anything you might understand as being religious in nature. There's more to it than meets our narrow minds.

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