Monday, March 23, 2009

What goes around, comes around

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.


  1. I agree that it is best to find the truth in all things, but I also find it prudent to beware cautious in our pursuit of truth. Since each of us are individuals it follows that all of us are different. My capacity to progress and yours may be very different. If I progress to the fullest of my ability and you to yours we are both on equal ground. Because your ability to achieve may be greater than mine, doesn't mean that you are a cougar, and I lowly pond scum in the great chain of being. Just as all things have truth according to their measure and are good, so are people good according to their measure and ability.

  2. I really admired how you draw the similarities between Buddhisma and Christianity. We really are much more similar than we admit to ourselves sometimes. Encouragingly, we again find that Mormons do not have the corner market on all truth and wisdom. Kudos on a well written message!

  3. Trying to find the similarities that we have with other religions such as Buddhism, I see that there can be good that comes from those sects that are different than mine. I find nothing wrong with the eight points of living in their religion. Such principles could lead to a good life, not to eternal salvation, but certainly to a better state in the afterworld. I feel that the Restored Gospel will only add to the truth of the Buddhists, rather than detract. We believe in rebirths kind of like theirs: baptism and rebirth in the gospel. Also there is our pre-mortal life, Earth life, and after-life. On the other hand, there is much that we could learn from the Buddhists: treat the environment, as if we were morally connected.

  4. Also another important note: what wonderful news it is that we don't have to progress through animal lives like that of a salmon. I would hate to life my whole five year life looking forward to swimming up my stream of origin fighting the current, otters, jumping up waterfalls, and finally spawning and dying from exhaustion. whoosh I'm glad I got that off my chest! :)

  5. I don't know. I have always wanted to know what it would be like to be a tiger or an eagle. Wouldn't that be fun? I have always entertained that idea that when we eventually reach God's level we might be able to shape-shift. I know that sounds completly crazy and we will probably have better things to do when we reach that point, but still, its fun to think about ;)

  6. I share in you r appreciation for the wonderful opportunity to see the many truth that the various religions share. It really does help to confirm ones own beliefs, and it also help one to appreciate and respect others beliefs. Great blog!

  7. i loved learning about buddhism as well. i think it is very interesting how if we adopted their ideas and views as well as the hindu's we would live the christian lives we should be living. praying times a day is something that we could all aspire to. thats not just the prayer in your heart prayer either. thats stop what youre doing, prepare mentally and do it for real!

  8. I loved this Blog. I think that too often, as Latter-day Saints we scoff at other religions- even unknowingly because they don't have the whole truth. I give them credit for what they were able to figure out, and that they are good and productive members of society. Any religion that truly fosters a sense of striving to come closer to God will ultimately have to accept the Gospel.

  9. Buddhism has many qualities that are admirable and their ability to live their lives the best that they can is very commendable. Although their purpose of living their life is different than ours the actions remain the same.

  10. This blog taught me that I have a lot to understand about Buddhism. I didn't really get the part about there is no such thing as an eternal soul. I also liked the comment above about how Latter-day Saints scoff at other religions. I believe this is true, and yet it is easier for us to recognize the values inherent in Buddhism, than in, say, Lutheranism. The foreign fascinates us while the familiar alienates us. We try to understand Buddhism and Islam, but how many of us casually dismiss polygamists without really understanding their beliefs and lifestyle?

  11. Thank you for this blog on Buddhism. It has opened my eyes to their point of views. I find many similarities between our religion and theirs. I think that everyone can benefit from eachothers religion. All religions have some truth that we can learn from.