• Kathleene Card

Buddhism


Session 3

Sessions Goals

  • Identify the historical roots and sacred texts of Buddhism

  • Articulate some of the basic beliefs of Buddhism

  • Compare and Contrast some Christian beliefs with those of Buddhism; and

  • Appreciate the possible benefits of Christian-Buddhism interactions.

Scriptural Foundation

We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5.3b-5 NRSV)

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

The insights that came to the Buddha as he sat under the Bodhi Tree, the essential path of Buddhism, are called the Four Noble Truths:

1. Suffering is an integral part of life. We all experience what the Buddha described as dukha: feelings of anxiety, pain, grief, and loss. Life is filled with anxiety and stress.

2. Suffering results from attachments and desires. Suffering, Buddhists believe, is the result of our clinging and attachments. We tend to cling to others, to possessions, to life itself.

3. We can overcome suffering by overcoming our attachments. When we are no longer attached to, or no longer cling to, things or people, suffering ceases. 4. Following the Holy Eightfold Path is the way to find release from suffering.

The Holy Eightfold Path, also called the Noble Eightfold Path, is eight practices that lead to the extinguishing of attachment or craving, ultimately resulting in enlightenment.

The Role of Suffering/What Does the Struggle Teach Us?

Beginning with Prayer

God of Love,

In Jesus Christ you walked the path we walk and knew the suffering of this world.

You tell us that you are present with us in every situation.

We seek to love as you love and to walk with others in their struggles.

Help us to grow in our time together to love our neighbors more. Amen.

Video, Study, and Discussion

  • Pete Potts talks about the Buddhist idea of suffering or anxiety as “not quite righteousness.” How does that description compare with your understanding of suffering? What words would you use to describe “not quite righteousness.” What more would you want to say about it?

  • What are the major differences in how Christians and Buddhists think of the afterlife?

  • Hamilton says one of the things he learned form Buddhism is an emphasis on “holding life loosely.” How could this approach help us to trust God more?

The Noun Search (Circle or highlight the nouns in these passages.)

Romans 5:3-5 King James Version (KJV)

3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 5:3-5 Common English Bible (CEB)

3 But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 5 This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; 4 and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. 5 Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 The Message (MSG)

3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

After picking out the nouns,

  • What noun begins this passage?

  • What does this say about Paul’s view of suffering?

  • How does suffering relate to God’s love?

  • What questions would you want to ask Paul about suffering in the Christian life?

  • How could this passage be comforting in the midst pf suffering?

Exploring the story of the Buddha (Be creative)

Three Groups—On the paper provided draw or write something that is related to your section on the paper and prepare to give present your part of the story to the whole group. The guiding questions are the following:

  • What was going on in this part of Siddhartha Gautama’s life?

  • How did he respond to his discomfort?

  • What was the result?

Group 1, 53-55 (The story of the Buddha)

Group 2, 55-56 (The Burden of Reality)

Group 3, 56-57 (The Awakening)

After the presentations

  • When, if ever, have you experienced some of the same feelings that Siddhartha did?

  • How do most of us cope with the kind of anxiety he experienced?

  • What did you learn from his story?

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism (We will read them aloud in unison.)

1. Suffering is an integral part of life. We all experience what the Buddha described as dukha: feelings of anxiety, pain, grief, and loss. Life is filled with anxiety and stress.

2. Suffering results from attachments and desires. Suffering, Buddhists believe, is the result of our clinging and attachments. We tend to cling to others, to possessions, to life itself.

3. We can overcome suffering by overcoming our attachments. When we are no longer attached to, or no longer cling to, things or people, suffering ceases.

4. Following the Holy Eightfold Path is the way to find release from suffering.

  • What are the attachments to which the truths refer?

  • How can suffering result from attachments?

  • In what way does this understanding of suffering differ from what you believe?

Considering the Christian Understanding of Suffering. (62-65)

  • How do Christianity and Buddhism view the primary human condition?

  • What is the largest cause of suffering according to each faith?

  • What is the answer to suffering according to each?

  • How do Christians understand repentance and reconciliation?

Examining the Eightfold Path and Three General Rules

The eight practices that form the Holy Eightfold Path are: (1) right (or wise) understanding, (2) right (or wise) thought, (3) right speech, (4) right action, (5) right livelihood, (6) right effort, (7) right mindfulness, and (8) right concentration.

  • How does Pete Potts summarize the Eightfold Path of Buddhism?

  1. Do as much good as you can.

  2. Refrain from doing evil.

  3. Purify your mind.

Wesley’s Three Rules

  1. Refrain from doing evil.

  2. Do all the good you can.

  3. Pursue the Spiritual disciplines that help you to stay and grow in love with God.

  • What is the same in both of these summaries?

  • What is different?

  • How do the differences between the third points help us to understand the differences between Christianity and Buddhism?

  • What do these lists suggest about the potential of Christians and Buddhists to work together in certain areas?

Describing a personal God (If time allows)

Wrapping Up


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©2017-2020 Kathleene Card and Dianne Martin

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