What is the cultural impact of the attempts to learn from Buddha vs emulate Christ?
Buddha was not born perfect. You can replace his struggles with worldly desires on his path to enlightenment with virtually any individual. Everyone at some point in their life has grappled with excess pleasure, living without mindfulness, and knocking back that extra tequila shot — hell on earth. Like “THE,” Buddha, despite the resistance of those around him sets out to see the world. He finds a greater understanding of life and retreats home to spread what he has learned.
Buddha achieves enlightenment and a “knowing” of himself that is beyond the superficial concept of “I am.” The Buddhist teachings are less like the tale of a sacred path and more like the musings of great Western philosophers like Seneca and Aristotle. It makes the path to enlightenment achievable.
Such focus on self is far more relatable than attempting to be God. The Dalai Lama teaches that through compassion and observation of one’s mind leads to less suffering and greater fulfillment. It is perhaps why Buddhists do not have a tradition of proselytizing (“Discussing God is not the best use of our energy” said Thich Naht Hanh) and have avoided religious wars.
In communities where Buddhism is predominately practiced, the incidence of violence, stds and addictions is less. Somehow by acknowledging and dealing with matters of the flesh, the temptation to rebel has also lessened.
Jesus Christ is God himself. What does that mean for his followers? In the Christian doctrine, the penultimate goal of a follower is to be like Christ hence the popularity of “What Would Jesus Do?” Unlike Buddhist teachings which express a acceptance of human desires “The Middle Way,” Christianity seeks a prohibition of desire. However, the danger in completely eliminating human desire is creating a culture of rebellion. By creating a suppression of desire results in an obsession with it. Just watch TV.
Sex is a hot topic in the US. Unrealistic goals of abstinence and God-like moral code is how children beget children, How to Catch a Predator wins awards, porn becomes a billion dollar industry, and politicians ruin their careers..la Clinton, Wiener, and Schwranegger.
Jesus did not have sex but “humans” do. That doesn’t mean everyone should become harlots or put Woodstock revelers to shame, but teaching about sexuality in an objective and effective way may actually lead to a life more in keeping with the way Jesus lived–a life lived with integrity.
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