Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

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Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Sean8585 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:37 am

Hello! My name is Sean and I am a world religions student in college. I am doing a presentation on my religion of choice and I chose Buddhism If anyone who has any interest in helping me out and practices the religion please feel free to answer these 10 questions below, that would really help me out with my curiosity as well as academically.
:namaste:

1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)

2. What is the basic human problem?

3. What is the cause of the problem?

4. What is the end or goal of transformation?

5. What are the means of transformation?

6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)

7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)

8. How do you personally feel about other religions?

9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?

10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby JamyangTashi » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:24 am

Sean8585 wrote:1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)

To be human is be in a condition where the thought 'I am human' occurs. What's a soul?

Sean8585 wrote:2. What is the basic human problem?

Suffering, stress, dissatisfaction. Identifying experiences as problems.

Sean8585 wrote:3. What is the cause of the problem?

Ignorance.

Sean8585 wrote:4. What is the end or goal of transformation?

The cessation of suffering, stress, dissatisfaction.

Sean8585 wrote:5. What are the means of transformation?

The noble eightfold path.

Sean8585 wrote:6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)

Suchness.

Sean8585 wrote:7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)

Anything to which the label 'sacred' is applied. Depends what you mean by deity.

Sean8585 wrote:8. How do you personally feel about other religions?

Good for them.

Sean8585 wrote:9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?

Drugs and alcohol can be an obstruction to ending ignorance and can create a risk of unvirtuous behavior, but everyone gets to make their own decisions.

Sean8585 wrote:10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?

Good for them.
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:29 am

What is said above is true, but the word 'ignorance' (avidya) has a particular meaning in regard to Buddhism. It isn't like ignorance of a particular subject, but the condition of ignorance, which is basically failing to understand how craving gives rise to suffering, and so on. So it is like a state of existence, rather than 'ignorance' in the usual sense of not knowing about a particular subject.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:01 am

Sean8585 wrote:
1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)


If soul defined as something non physical, then yes. But what is non-physical? We can only understand physical. Non-physical can be easily seen as a projection, concept, or thought.

2. What is the basic human problem?


A problem is what we define it to be. What are we not happy with? Can we be happy all the time without mental burden?

3. What is the cause of the problem?


We cause it.

4. What is the end or goal of transformation?


To live happily and be free from fears-fear of death, fear of unknown.

5. What are the means of transformation?


Study your mind.

6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)


I have never seen nature. Reality is this, anything else is belief.
If time is linear, that means it has a direction. What direction do you see?

7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)


I have not seen any. Buddhism talk about deities.

8. How do you personally feel about other religions?


Good.

9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?


It has a point.

10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?


Not too bad. :lol:
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby KeithBC » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:42 pm

Sean8585 wrote:1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)

It means having enough awareness to seek an end to suffering, and enough suffering to be motivated to do so.
There is no soul.
2. What is the basic human problem?

Unsatisfactoriness.
3. What is the cause of the problem?

The wish that things would be other than they are, which is caused by ignorance of the way things are.
4. What is the end or goal of transformation?

An end to unsatisfactoriness.
5. What are the means of transformation?

The Noble Eightfold Path, sometimes formulated as the Six Perfections.
6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)

All things are empty of inherent existence.
Time is linear - it goes forward, not backward.
Your parenthetical clarification obfuscates rather than clarifies. There is no soul. Time is not cyclical, but there is rebirth.
7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)

Anything you revere. There are said to be beings called devas, but they are just as messed up as we are, and are not revered.
8. How do you personally feel about other religions?

If they don't bother me, I won't bother them.
9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?

Just one more attachment to confuse people. On the other hand, I don't mind a nice glass of wine once in a while.
10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?

That would be a good thing.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Ethan » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:42 pm

Sean8585 wrote:1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)


To be human is an idea.

In looking for something permanent and unchanging that could be described as a soul, I have found nothing.

Sean8585 wrote:2. What is the basic human problem?


Suffering.

Sean8585 wrote:3. What is the cause of the problem?


Ignorance of the true nature of self.

Sean8585 wrote:4. What is the end or goal of transformation?


Cessation of suffering.

Sean8585 wrote:5. What are the means of transformation?


Dissolution of false conceptions of the self through observation and direct experience guided by the Eightfold Path.

Sean8585 wrote:6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)


Good question.

Time is linear because you cannot move backward in time. All phenomena arise and then fade away. Rebirth does not require time to be cyclical, nor does it require a soul.

Sean8585 wrote:7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)


Sacred is a thought.

Sean8585 wrote:8. How do you personally feel about other religions?


Loving, though I have not found them to be as effective. See my answer to #3.

Sean8585 wrote:9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?


I feel that drugs and alcohol can bring temporary happiness and can also bring suffering, especially when attachment is involved. On the other hand, the cessation of suffering brings lasting happiness to yourself and others, so what is the need for drugs or alcohol?

Sean8585 wrote:10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?


I hope they will benefit as much from that decision as I have :)
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Jesse » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:00 am

1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)
Ill tell you when I'm 80. If I don't make it that far; then it means whatever we want it to, which is both beatiful and terrifying.
as for the souls.. don't know but it seems unlikely.

2. What is the basic human problem?
In a nutshell.. Ignorance and suffering.

3. What is the cause of the problem?
Ignorance and suffering.

4. What is the end or goal of transformation?
satisfaction.

5. What are the means of transformation?
Rafts. Some are big and some are tiny some have bells and whistles and make loud noises.

6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)
Illusory. - how could we possibly know this?

7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)
We are. Mayhapssno?

8. How do you personally feel about other religions?
Some 're taller' some are fatter, some are really annoying. Most of them help people in some way or another.

9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?
Don't care, but there just doing themselves a disservice.

10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism
good luck!
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Simon E. » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:30 am

There are times Jesse when a non answer might be better than subjective meanderings.
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Alfredo » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:51 pm

1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)

There is a traditional Buddhist phrase, "precious human rebirth," which suggests that being reborn as a human is as rare as a sea turtle who, once in a zillion years, sticks his head into some kind of hoop...oh never mind. Just rare. And precious, because we (unlike sea turtles) get to practice Buddhism. Even though there's suffering and all. Buddhists tend to be allergic to "soul" talk, though. No self, remember? (Unless Buddha Nature.) But there is reincarnation. Beings who reincarnate are traditionally said to include gods, asuras (another kind of god who fight with the first kind), humans, animals (but not plants), ghosts, and beings in hell. Yes, they do inter-carnate from one category to another.

2. What is the basic human problem?
3. What is the cause of the problem?
4. What is the end or goal of transformation?
5. What are the means of transformation?


I think your teacher may be trying to get you to look up the Four Noble Truths.

6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)

There are a variety of traditional Buddhist views of the nature of reality. Perhaps the world is reducible to atoms. Or perhaps everything (even atoms) are "empty" in the sense of being impermanent, divisible into parts, and subject to causes and conditions. (Wiki "sunyata.") Or perhaps everything somehow boils down to mind, whose original nature is pure and luminous. As for the afterlife, reincarnation. Yes, cyclical--at least until one escapes it.

7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)

Um, the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha)? Yes, lots of deities, but these are secondary (like angels for the Abrahamic religions) and rather culture-bound. Many are said to have converted to Buddhism!

8. How do you personally feel about other religions?

Like them a lot! Assuming we are speaking of more or less normal ones (and not, say Scientology or something), they are as deserving of respect as Buddhism, despite our differences.

9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?

These are generally not used in the religion itself (google "fifth precept"), with rare ceremonial exceptions. Taking this precept is optional, though, so outside of temples and monasteries, each person decides to what extent they are willing to practice this.

10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?

I am such a person, as are (I surmise) many if not most of those posting on this board. It is hard to generalize. But the Dalai Lama has urged people to stay in their original religions, if possible, or at least to think long and hard before converting.
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Osho » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:56 pm

Sean8585 wrote:Hello! My name is Sean and I am a world religions student in college. I am doing a presentation on my religion of choice and I chose Buddhism If anyone who has any interest in helping me out and practices the religion please feel free to answer these 10 questions below, that would really help me out with my curiosity as well as academically.
:namaste:

1. What does it mean to be human? (Do humans have souls? Do only humans have souls?)
This
2. What is the basic human problem?
Suffering

3. What is the cause of the problem?
Suffering

4. What is the end or goal of transformation?
Nothing

5. What are the means of transformation?
Diligent Cultivation

6. What is the nature of reality? (Is time linear meaning when you die your soul leaves your body? Or is time cyclical i the form of a cycle of rebirth?)
Cyclical ( using your definition)

7. What is the sacred? (Are there any deities?)
Nothing is sacred. There are no deities.

8. How do you personally feel about other religions?
Something to suit all tastes and cultures.

9. How do you feel about the use of drugs or alcohol in your religion?
We don't encourage the use of either alcohol or 'recreational' pharmaceuticals.

10. What do you think of people from other religious backgrounds converting to Buddhism?

One cannot 'convert' to Buddhism as such.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Jesse » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:01 pm

Simon E. wrote:There are times Jesse when a non answer might be better than subjective meanderings.


Most of Buddhism is subjective meanderings.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Questions from a Curious World's Religions Student

Postby Simon E. » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:07 pm

Very revealing.
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