One of my goals in taking this class was to understand more about world religions. Aside from various sects of Christianity, I have very little knowledge of other religions. It is for this reason that our discussion of Buddhism struck me. We talked in particular about three different aspects of Buddhism: Balance, Karma, and Rebirth.
From our lecture, I gathered that one of the main goals of Buddhism was to achieve balance and attain the most perfected state of balance entitled nirvana. Through following the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, one lives in a right way to achieve good Karma, eventually escape the cycle of birth and rebirth and become an “Awakened one” like Buddah. The eightfold view includes following the following aspects:
1. Right view of the world
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right practice
I loved the Buddhist readings that we were required to do for class. I was particularly intrigued with the processes of rebirth. According to Wikipedia (Yes, I know it’s extremely legitimate), “Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life, each running from conception to death. It is important to note, however, that Buddhism rejects concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul.” I was impressed with this explanation because I always understood reincarnation or rebirth to be just one soul moving from one life form to another. This, however, is not the case. While my understanding is probably still a little juvenile, being that I’m just learning about Buddhism, the process of rebirth is not so much jumping from one life form to another, but rather a progressive state of being that is based on karma. Living right allows one to receive positive Karma “points”.
I thought it was really interesting thinking of the progression or regression of rebirth in terms of Karma. It is analogous to each of our progressions in this life. If we look at our spirituality in Buddhist terms, some of us may be on the level of a mouse or lizard whereas others may be steps away from attaining nirvana. Just as those who disrespect the eightfold missions of Buddhism and do not live the right life may receive negative karma points and be rebirthed at a lower state than they previously were, so are we negatively affected when we sin or treat others poorly. We may not be reborn as a horse or cow, but we certainly take a few steps away from the Savior and our goal of becoming like Him.
To me, one of the coolest things about other religions is learning the truths that they have, and being able to use their various doctrines towards the betterment of our individual lives. I believe that in the same way Buddhists use karma to progress towards nirvana, so do we as Latter-Day Saints use charity, service, and sacrifice to perfect us and enable us to one day achieve our ultimate goal, which is to live with our Father in Heaven once more. When viewed in this way, any religion can offer us edification , light and truth.