Andrew has advised me to futher my education on this topic before presenting my argument, but I’ve decided that all of your responses might be the best education I can get. Plus I like to spite Andrew.
Okay, here goes. For all my life, I’ve held the Buddhist religion in the highest esteem. In fact, I always felt it would be the first place I would go to if I ever decided to seek out my spirituality. I mean, Buddhists have never once in the entire course of history started a single war, so they have to have something going for them. But in this Religion unit in my World History class, I have come to the realization that the teachings of Buddhism directly contradict many if not most of the philosophies I currently employ to govern my life. Here’s why:
Siddhartha Gautama, while sitting under the famous bodhi tree, came up with four truths of life. They are as follows:
The First Noble Truth quite clearly states: Suffering and sorrow are part of life. Everyone everywhere is constantly subject to pain and suffering.
The Second through Fourth Noble Truths go on to say that all this pain and suffering come from people’s self-centered desires, and the only possible way to escape from all this pain and suffering is to rid oneself of all these desires and spend the remainder of one’s life following the Eightfold path and seeking enlightenment. Then, finally, if you succeed, when you die, you get to escape the pain and suffering and reach a state of nirvana. However, if you fail in your quest for enlightenment, you get reincarnated and have to endure at least another entire lifetime of pain and suffering.
First of all, I find much of this counterintuitive. I mean, as soon as you figure out how to enjoy life, that’s when you get taken away from it? It seems like if you’re enjoying life, you would want to stay in it for a while longer.
Second, I don’t think pain and suffering is a problem. I think you will lead a far better life if you can just accept it, rather than wandering around with a shaved head trying to get rid of it. That’s seriously what you’re supposed to do if you’re really trying to reach enlightenment. In the last part of your life, you’re supposed to get rid of all your possesions, shave your head, and go out wandering, and eat only a grain of rice a day. That sounds like a terrible way to deal with pain if you ask me.
Personally, I don’t lead a painful enough life to have developed my own concrete priciples about dealing with pain. I know the way to get the most out the life I have been given, and those are where my philosophies are based. But the fact that I don’t lead a painful life contradicts the first noble truth. Either that or I’ve reached enlightenment, which I doubt, because I still have the occasional material desire. I don’t think that these desires can take all the blame for causing people pain, it’s natural for humans to want things, and they may or may not be the cause of their sadness.
But what about people who are oppressed? It sounds like Buddhism just tells them to not want to have equal rights as everyone else, and then they can be happy. That, whether or not it is actually what Buddhism teaches, is bullshit. People need to fight for what they believe in, that’s way more important than finding a blissfully ignorant happiness. If Buddhism tells them to just accept that they’re worse than everyone else and not want to be anything better, then I have just lost all respect I ever had for it ever. Someone, please, tell me I’m wrong!!!