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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
William

How Does a Christian Converse with a Buddhist?

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by Ravi Zacharias

 

Attraction to Eastern spirituality, and particularly Buddhism, is powerful because the human spirit craves spiritual answers. Thus, whenever a Christian converses with someone of another faith, including Buddhism, he must attempt to reveal the hungers of the human heart and how Christ alone addresses them.

 

Gautama Buddha taught that we should free ourselves from illusions of selfhood, God, forgiveness, and individual life hereafter. We should focus on a life wherein good deeds outweigh the bad. Buddha believed that all life is suffering and that to escape from rebirth we must understand our nature. If we extinguish hungers and detach ourselves from desires (namely, relationships), we will then offset all impure acts and thoughts. That is the Buddhist’s hope.

 

But Buddhism’s attraction provides no real answers. The self-- which is undeniable and inescapable-- is lost in Buddhist philosophy, which brushes away the hungers of the soul. Everything is in our care. All losses are ours. There is no “other” to whom we can go, not even a self to whom we can speak. Yet Buddhism’s denial of a personal God is unable to prevent its practitioners seeking to relate to and worship a personal being. There is a universal hunger that drives the self to a transcendent personal other of one’s making.

 

Buddha considered one’s present life to be payment for previous lives. Each rebirth is due to karmic indebtedness, but without the carryover of the person. In contrast, Christianity sees the individual self as distinctive and indivisible. God’s love is personal. Jesus brought God’s offer for true forgiveness and eternal life while affirming each individual as uniquely created in God’s image. For Jesus, suffering is only symptomatic of the life unhinged from right relationship with God. We have broken away from God, from our fellow human beings, and even from ourselves.

 

In contrast to karma-- where “sin” is nothing more than ignorance or illusion-- Christ’s forgiveness can provide true appeal for the Buddhist. The gospel proclaims that we have come apart from within, and to this brokenness Jesus brings the real answer. In finding true relationship with God, all other relationships are given moral worth. God, who is distinct and distant came close so that we who are sinful and weak may be forgiven and made strong in communion with God Himself with out losing our identity. That simple act of communion encapsulates life’s purpose. The individual retains his or her individuality while dwelling in community.

 

Moreover, Christ does not prescribe extinguishing one’s self-- which is not possible-- but rather prescribes no longer living for oneself. Hungering after righteousness is good and brings God’s fulfillment. Everyone who has surrendered all at the feet of Jesus can confess with the Apostle Paul, “ I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (2 Tm 1:12). Jesus Christ guards all our purposes, loves, attachments, and affections when we entrust them to Him.

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On 2/17/2015 at 3:54 PM, William said:

 

Gautama Buddha taught that we should free ourselves from illusions of selfhood, God, forgiveness, and individual life hereafter. We should focus on a life wherein good deeds outweigh the bad. Buddha believed that all life is suffering and that to escape from rebirth we must understand our nature. If we extinguish hungers and detach ourselves from desires (namely, relationships), we will then offset all impure acts and thoughts. That is the Buddhist’s hope.

 

 I would ask the following based on the above:

 1. If we are to free ourselves from illusions of selfhood and instead "focus on a life wherein good deeds outweigh the bad", isn't focusing on that kind of life an intrinsic part of our selfhood?

 2. What constitutes good and bad deeds? Why can't they also be looked upon as an illusion? - the same would apply to "impure acts and thoughts."

 3. Why try to always escape from suffering when suffering has often (in my case anyway) improved on who I am?

 

 

 

 

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At one point I looked seriously into Buddhism.  Two things about it bothered me deeply:  reincarnation (if there's no self what reincarnates, if you don't remember your past lives isn't for all purposes an innocent person being judged, how can your lose everything inherent to you and yet it be enough of "you" to say "you" reincarnated, etc.), and the lack of God.  The lack of self is a real problem and I was always told it would only be answered in my personal experience of meditation.  As far as God goes, a lot of the arguments atheists use are used by Buddhists, even though Buddhists believe in deities or spirits of a sort.  They aren't completely anti-supernatural; but you can be completely anti-supernatural and be a Buddhist and be fine. 

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