The Buddha is awesome!
I know that sounds strange coming from a Christian pastor… but I can’t help it. I have studied Buddhism a great deal, and last night I watched a program on Buddhism on channel 13. The basic idea of Buddhism is this: 1) all of life is suffering; 2) suffering is caused by self-centeredness; 3) get rid of ‘self’… get rid of suffering; 4) when you live without self-centeredness, you will naturally have compassion for, and serve, the world.
Hmmmm. Jesus’ message wasn’t that much different. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospel he says:
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me
and Paul says (Philippians 4:11-13):
I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
OK… this stuff needs some explaining. First, Jesus would agree… all life is suffering. But, he would say that it is suffering because either you seek to satisfy self and miss God’s plan for your life (and suffer… even though in the moment you may be selfishly happy), or you follow God’s way (which runs counter to the ways of the world) and suffer because you are different. But, if we give ourselves and our lives over to God completely (like Paul did… and speaks about here) then, even though things may not be pretty… we can be content. And when we are content in this way… following the will and plan and purpose of God… we have compassion for, and serve, the world.
So… that seems to be the choice: focus on self and suffer (either now or later or both) or focus on God and, even though we may suffer, we will be content and compassionate.