Opposing Worldview: Buddhism in Brief

Buddhist Worldview:

Unlike Hinduism, the worldview of Buddhism derives from Sidhartha Gautama. The belief system that Siddhartha taught after his enlightenment is called Buddhism. We do not have any hints that trace Buddha’s original teaching about the origin of the universe. Even Anand Bhikkshu and other close attendants and disciples of Buddha had not recorded the particular teaching of Buddha on creation in Sutta Pitak which is considered as Buddha’s sermons. Buddhism has two main forms which are known as (i) Theravada school that represents the conservative teaching of Buddha and (ii) Mahayana – a liberal school.

What is Reality?

The ultimate reality of Buddhism is: there is no absolute God.  To put it bluntly, nothing is permanent in the universe. In this sense, it is atheistic in its nature. The Theravada school teaches that there is no such as a personal god or any substances in the universe as an Ultimate Reality.  According to Buddha’s sermon which is claimed unaltered and original copy by the Theravada school to have preserved and guarded, “The world exists because of causal actions, all things are produced by causal actions and all beings are governed and bound by causal actions. They are fixed like the rolling wheel of a cart, fixed by the pin of its axle shaft” (Sutta-Nipata 654). Therefore, there is no other ultimate truth that can govern the universe and human life other than a transcendent truth.

Who are we?

Buddha teaches that there is no self. What we see and find in us and around us are not what they are. To accept the existence of self is living with illusion which brings suffering.

“The self does not exist in any of the individual elements that we are composed of, nor is it outside of them. We’re nothing more than physical quantities, and when that physical being dies, the individual dies as well. Nothing remains beyond that consciousness. And all of our troubles begin by having this sense that there’s an individual, united self.”[9]

He advises to lift that illusion and realize there is no self or individual. Once you realize that you will be set free from suffering. Hence, the source of suffering is the self-realization as an individual. Next, Buddhism teaches the equality of human beings. There is no one superior to others.

What is the problem?

Regarding human pain and suffering, Buddhism also holds the similar view like Hinduism. Our origin as a human being depends on incalculable causes. The problem of pain and suffering comes from desire. “All suffering is caused by longing, by desire, by attachment.”[10] For desire is unfulfilling. Next, one suffers because he comes into the world with another’s debt of previous life. So, he is left with a choice in this life either to pay the debt or reduce it.

So, no one is free from the fruits of karma. What you inherit and what you spend either combined actions becomes either a means of freedom from the rebirth cyclic order or it will crush you. Meditation can free such person from the wheel of rebirth by extinguishing desire. Otherwise, one must die and reborn in a human form in order to gain Nirvana (salvation).

This triggers a question who is the recipient of our karma and to whom we shall pay the debt? Who determines the types of karma one is going to receive and who will judge them?

The solution

Since Buddhism is compatible with karmic laws, it does not have any problem with human pain and suffering. The resolution of evil and suffering can be based on the karmic law. Once you cease desiring and look at yourself as an illusionary form of a human being, evil comes to end. Therefore, the apparent conclusion is not to ignore the wrong but suppress desire and work for self liberation through action.

[9] Ravi Zacharia, The Lotus and the Cross, 54.
[10] Ravi Zacharia, The Lotus and the Cross, 41.


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