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kotsugusha

Buddhism And Islam Interfaith Dialogue

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Greetings. I am a Buddhist in Tokyo, Japan. I am starting this thread as a place for interfaith dialogue, centred mostly on Buddhism and Islam. I approach this community with an attitude of respect and shared humanity, with a desire to learn more from you and with you with an open mind, not to change you. Although not a Muslim, I am not concerned with preaching, converting, or changing your minds.

I will be checking this thread from time to time, so if I don't reply immdiately, please be patient.

A bit about myself... For the last 17 years I have studied and practiced Buddhism in Japan under the auspices of both the Soto-shu ("Zen") and Ji-shu ("Time School") traditions. Ji-Shu is a Pure Land school that is relatively unknown outside of Japan, founded here in the 13th century AD by the teacher Ippen. Soto Zen in Japan was founded by the teacher Dogen, and is perhaps more familiar to peoples throughout the world.

For the last few years, while retaining my Buddhist roots and practices, I have been conducting an exhaustive, rigorous study of various other world faiths and disciplines, focusing on what unites us all as religious people, rather than what divides us. Although not a Muslim, I have come to have an enormous amount of respect for and interest in the noble Shia tradition. In particular, I have been interested recently in the "Peak of Eloquence," the inner spiritual significance of Karbala and Ashura, Shia views of the Mahdi, the disciplines of "Irfan," and the thought of Mullah Sadra, among other areas.

I will be happy to discuss Buddhism, Islam, or any other faith in this thread.

Whatever your faith (or lack thereof), may you find peace and happiness in this world and afterwards, as well. I wish you good health and deep satisfaction in all that you do. May peace and justice prevail here on this small, fragile planet Earth.

Edited by kotsugusha

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Hey welcome to the forums!#!

I always wanted to know what role meditation plays in budhism.

I have these preconceived notions but their all based on what I see on TV, movies, so

Im pretty sure it's all stereotyped...

Also what relationship does the Dolly lama have with budhism?

And have you ever met him?

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Thank you, everyone, for your posts and warm welcomes. I'm sorry not to have replied sooner. I plan to stop by here at least once or twice a week, , and I will try to reply to all specific questions and issues when possible.

Pheer: Thank you for your warm welcome.

--About meditation: This is a very central part of all types of Buddhism. This is the way Buddhism's founder, Guatama Buddha, found his spiritual enlightenment, He made it a core part of his basic teachings, and it is a central path for all Buddhists. So it is very important to us.

However, there are so many different styles and types of meditation...too many to describe here. Personally, my school of Soto Zen emphasizes meditation more than even most other Buddhist schools. We practice what is called "shikantaza meditation," meaning "just sitting" with no thoughts. We seek to gradually awaken to the true nature of reality and reach a state of pure existence by going beyond all thoughts and feelings.

Other meditation styles of different types of Buddhism make more use of chanting, repeated mantras, prayer, visualization exercises, physical actions, and even martial arts or tea rituals. Many, many choices. My Soto School is very "pure" and simple in its strict focus on simply sitting with no thoughts, and we avoid more complex practices. Ji-shu, the other Buddhist school I have studied in depth, focuses on repeating the Nembutsu (a certain set of holy words).

--About the Dalai Lama: He is the head of a Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. In the same way Islam has two major branches (Shia and Sunni), Buddhism has three (Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana). My tradition is Mahayana, so I've never studied the Dalai Lama's type of Buddhism. But I respect him as a sincere religious man trying to bring peace to the world.

Zulfiqar Ali: Thank you for your warm welcome.

--About the topic of God: The topic of God is very subtle and "slippery" in Buddhism. However, this issue is very central and clearly defined in Islam, so I will discuss it in some detail here.

Originally, the existence and nature of God were among the "Fourteen Unanswerable Questions" that Buddhism's founder, Gautama Buddha, refused to answer. He saw his mission as to heal suffering and to teach people inner liberation. He believed that questions about God simply were not part of this mission, and thus should not even be discussed in Buddhism. Therefore, Buddhism originally takes an open-ended position on this topic.

To my mind, I would say that this means from a Buddhist perspective that it is possible to believe in and worship the One God of Islam and, at the same time, also follow the path of Gautama Buddha. (This is probably forbidden by most Islamic perspectives, however),

As history moved forward, different Buddhist schools and teachers developed different ideas about with God. For example, old Shinto Japanese Gods were incorporated in some Japanese Buddhist schools when Buddhism came to Japan, and they are accepted as a kind of spiritual being.

The "Adi Buddha" is seen by some branches of Buddhism as a primordial creative force that underlies all things. This has often been said as a possible equivalent to the One God of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Another issue: Buddhism has many "manifestations" of different types of "figures" that appear in different ways on different levels of reality. To simplify, they serve as objects of meditation, representing in abstract, perfect form various qualities that humans should aspire to. These are not "Gods" in the Islamic/Christian/Jewish sense, but these One-God religions had no understanding of this subtle concept originally, the English word "Gods" was used to translate this idea. This was a big mistake...we do not view them as "Gods." But language is difficult, and ideas become fixed and hard to change.

My school of Soto Zen has no position on the topic of God, and leaves the issue open. We say, "many roads, one mountain," We believe that all sincere seekers of every major religion are pursuing the same ultimate experience ("the mountain's peak") by different ways ("many roads"). Thus, I believe the worship of Islam's One God can lead to the same spiritual purity as our Zen goal of "satori" (ultimate spiritual experience).

faisal: Thank you for your warm welcome.

I look forward to sharing ideas and learning from everyone here. I agree with you, Islam and Buddhism have many, many things in common, although I don't know the word "akhlak." But at the center, both serious Buddhists and serious Muslims set out on a powerful journey towards a better way of being. We both make the serious decision to submit completly (I like the meaning of Islam as "submit" very much). We both bow before a more sacred reality beyond our individual small, imperfect minds. And we all seek to become better, more moral humans. This makes a shared foundation that unites us deeply as religious humans.

Dr. Strangelove: Thank your for your warm welcome.

It makes me happy that you can find love for our teachings, which are my deepest love in life. And also (I assume) you love and respect the teachings of Islam. I think both are possible, and I hope we can learn from each other together.

Edited by kotsugusha

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(salam)

Really good to see you on these forums!! ive always loved Buddha's teachings of humanity and compassion

Id like to ask you if you could explain a little more about the concept of Karma in Buddhism? i read that it is essentially the continuation of the consciousness right? but is there anything in Buddhism about how the consciousness began? where it all started?

Thanks v.much and welcome :)

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Welcome aboard!

I too adore Buddhas teachings, and believe that he could have been one of our Prophets sent to guide mankind. Although I also like to take out time to meditate while just sitting in my room with my eyes closed and legs crossed withough having any thoughts in my mind, I also at times am able to relate that experience to when I indulge myself in my daily prayers fully focused and with complete concentration. I agree that Islam and Buddhism has alot in common, and can bring hope to mankind when practiced in their purest forms.

Having said that, it's great to see you on our forms, and I hope we are able to learn a lot from eachother.

Wasalam (Peace)

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Welcome aboard fellow Buddhist!

My own practice involves both Tibetan and Zen influences. The nearest temple is Tibetan although my heart leans towards Zen. As I understand it, yhe major differences between Tibetan and Zen involve the number of lifetimes in which Nirvana can be reached.

I have been intending on learning more on Pure Land so I look forward to any online resources you can forward.

I find much to admire in Islam however the attachment to violence of many of its followers is quite troubling. Discussing their faith with right mind will be most productive.

Again, welcome!

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Greetings everyone. Although it has in fact been a bit longer than a week since my last visit, I shall continue to try to check in to this thread every week or so, when possible. Please bear with me; I studied and lived in the West as a young child and young man, so I am basically familiar with English language, but it still causes troubles for me.

As noted, I shall try to reply to all reasonable comments to the best of my abilities, taking up from the comments following my last post.

Islamic Salvation: Thank you for your warm welcome. And thank you for the explanation of the vocabulary. I think both Islam and Buddhism have strong ethical traditions in different ways, but we should both be proud of our heritages. Each religion brings something unique to the human community.

In Islam, I much admire the emphasis on "Justice," which I believe is often a weak point in Buddhist history. For example, one can see how even in the midst of difficult conditions, terrible warfare, and primitive times, Islam gave strength to the leader Salah al-Din (Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi) to reach far beyond the norms of the time and to treat the others from different cultures with shining hospitality, fairness, and respect---even when these qualities were not returned by his adversaries. Of course, he is a man, a solder and a product of his brutal era, and not a perfect being, so there are many bloody tragedies in his life. but if one takes the "dirty reality" into full account, he impresses me greatly as an example of how Islamic morality can go beyond cultural limits. Also, although humans are deeply imperfect, the zeal and devotion of Islamic legal scholars to always seeking a better sense on truth and justice is most impressive.

ketza04: Thank you for your warm welcome.

You asked about karma. This is an enormous topic and many people have argued over it, debated it, and evolved various theories and sub-theories...much too much to go into here. Also, I am a very bad person to ask about this because my school of Soto Zen de-emphasizes karma. By "de-emphasize" I don't mean that we deny it or say it is not true, but rather it is not the focus of our studies, and we do not spend time exploring the deep issues of this topic. So my intellectual grasp of the nuances of Karma is quite fuzzy, sadly.

As noted earlier, Buddhism has three main branches (similar to the two main Sunni and Shia branches of Islam). I am from the Mahayana; the other two branches have different understandings of Karma than my tradition, and I don't have much understanding of their theories. Within the Mahayana, broadly speaking, there seem to be two major viewpoints on karma (and a number of minor ones, too). Mahayana philosophy has two major "root" perspectives from India: Yogacara and Madhyamaka ways of understanding, and understanding of karma comes from these. I should note that these are philosophical views, not schools of practice...to give an analogy from Islam, hekmat-al-eshraq (Illuminationism) is a philosophy, while Ithna Asharai ("Twelver Shia") is a doctrine of faith. Yogacara and Madhyamaka are best understood for our purposes here as types of philosophy, not schools of practice like Zen. (I am simplifying, but that will do for now).

YOGACARA: To simplify grossly, Yogacara philosophy sees consciousness as the only real substance in the universe, with everything being an illusion arising from consciousness. This includes time and space. Consciousness is unified at the most fundamental layer, where all is one. In individuals, karma arises from "seeds" that are planted in a deep level of the "store consciousness" by our various actions (good and bad), attitudes, and ways of seeing. This is a deep level that goes beyond a single lifetime. Within a single lifetime, a shallower layer of "habit energy" conditions us...similar to the way additions control the behavior of the addict, the habit energy we build up (good or bad) influences what happens to us in this particular life.

MADHYAMIKA: This philosophical perspective arises from the great Indian thinker Nargajuna and his various successors. This is a very difficult perspective to understand, so I can't explain it here in detail, but it is rooted in the idea that no thing exists apart from all other things. That is, no thing has a true "essence" or inner nature in a real sense, and all things exist in universal interdependence on each other.

A simple analogy I use to understand this is to consider a dictionary. If you look up the definition for one word, it leads you to other words, and if you look them up, they lead to other words, etc...there is no "root word" that defines all the words in the dictionary. Words can only be defined using other words. And yet, although there is no "core," words and dictionaries are quite useful and real. Extending this principle, all things exist through other things.

This Madhyamaka way is the philosophy of *emptiness* (shunyata), in the sense that all things are empty of separate core selves, or "empty of impossible ways of being." Even consciousness (which Yogacara sees as a core) is ultimately an illusion for Madhyamaka; there is not core reality anywhere. and this has many, many different implications for philosophy, ethics, world-view, etc. In this view, pain and suffering arise when we treat one of these interdependent "things" as having a separate essence or reality when in fact it does not. In terms of Karma, there seem to be different Madhyamaka ways of treating it, but one idea I find useful is to consider waves of the ocean. One wave rises and falls, and the energy gives rise to another. It is not the "same" wave...the molecules of water and the new location are different, and yet they are both connected and the same energy travels through the ocean in a wave pattern. Perhaps in this sense, "your" karma is not really "yours", but goes on to effect a different life...yet a life that is connected to you by the fact that you conditioned it.

Anyway, these are very difficult topics. But perhaps you can see how these two ideas (Yogacara and Madhyamaka) have had many philosophical arguments in Buddhist history, and arguments have arisen within each theory, too. There have been attempts to bridge them, and there are other philosophical perspectives like tathagartagarba, but I could go on forever so I have to stop somewhere.

As to the question "where did it all come from?" There is no definite answer...another question Guatama Buddha refused to answer. For the Yogacara people, if time is an illusion of consciousness, any origin is also an illusion and the question has no meaning, like asking "what is one mile north of the north pole?" For the Madhyamaka people, there is no beginning and no end because at the most important level, there is nothing happening and nobody for it to happen to. Our painful tangled misunderstanding is empty of ultimate meaning, and our philosophical questions are like asking: "what does the color red taste like?" This question is grammatically possible, but has no real meaning. So, too, perhaps many of our questions about time, space, beginnings, and ends.

These are complex questions, but they don't have to be. Above, I noted that my school of Soto Zen avoids complex philosophical debates like this and discourages (while not forbidding) deep involvement with these types of ideas. I don't spend much time worrying about yogacara versus madhyamika...my master taught me that this takes energy away from simply practicing meditation. which should be my true goal.

So for me, the basic original simple explanation given by Guatama Buddha is enough. This is the same way it is explained for 2500 years to laymen and children, the first teaching accepted by all branches of Buddhism. Guatama Buddha's early teaching is that karma plays out in a series of lifes within an illusory realm of fundamental suffering*, driven by greed, fear, and ignorance...of which ignorance is the most fundamental. We escape the endless rounds of craving and pain by overcoming our ignorance and going beyond greed and fear. For almost 20 years of practice, that's I really have ever needed to know about the issue.

* "suffering" : the word Buddha used was "duhkha", a Pali word from India that is closer to "unsatisfactory" than the strong English word "suffering." Many Buddhists don't like to use the words "life is suffering." But the Japanese translation word from thousands of years ago is "kuu," which means suffering and deep pain, like the English translation. Because I am Japanese, this darker sense of Buddhism is my cultural perspective, as understood for many many centures on these islands.

TO BE CONTINUED BELOW with replies to other posters

Edited by kotsugusha

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CONTINUED FROM ABOVE; This weeks replies to thread posters. The above essay on Karma was much longer than I expected; you are all welcome to ignore it if it is too tiresome.

Chronic: Thank you for your warm welcome.

Meditation seems to be a part of all true world religions, some more than others. People often equate Islamic Sufism with Buddhist/Hindu -style meditation, and the comparison is apt in some ways. But I would go beyond this. In Shia, there is a rich heritage of esoteric "irfan" thought, and systems like Mulla Sadra's that are half-way between philosophy and a kind of mystical practice. These can be meditation, if approached properly. And I think that even purely traditional, simple Islamic prayer at any time has the potential to bring the same focus as Buddhist meditation, and serve the same ends. So can devotion in acts such as the Shia remembrance of Karbala. So, too can any focused activity, done with one-pointed mindfulness and dedicated to the One God of Islam or sanctified as a way of manifesting the sacred in any of a number of other forms.

Kosh: Thank you for your warm welcome.

It is a pleasure to make the acquaintance of a fellow Buddhist here. Although I know very little about the Tibetan traditions, I have great respect for them, particularly the strong focus on compassion. I have had some contact with a Tibet-in-Exile figure in Tokyo here and have learned a bit from him.

Japan is almost entirely Mayhayana, but in fact there is a well-established Vajrayana school here; the Shingon school founded over 1000 years ago by the great Kobo Daishi (Kukai). Shingon people are very secretive about their inner teachings but I assume it resembles Tibetan thought because they are both Vajrayana. But Shingon is one school whereas Tibet has many Vajrayana traditions, and you also have access to more Tantric and Vajrayana sutras, so there are bound to be major differences, too.

I'm glad to hear you are interested in Pure Land. I have been practing with the Ji-shu school for 6 years now while maintaining my Zen practice. As a young man, like many young Zen students, I had a rather looking-down-on view of Pure Land, which I associated with ignorant superstitions of lay people. It took me many years to see the rich, deep truths of the Pure Lands thinkings. Moreover, there is a long dialogue between Zen and Pure Land. Many great Zen thinkers in history have also studied and practiced Pure Land, and beautiful syntheses of the two schools flourished in medieval Japan.

In some ways, Zen and Pure Land seem almost the opposite; Pure Land is very "ornamental" and "other-power" with pure devotion while Zen is simple, rejects conventional devotion, and is probably the most deeply "self-powered" major Mahayana school. Yet they can meet on many levels...all valid extremes collapse into the unified truth that they approach from opposite sides; such a beautiful thing to see! The basis for Zen/Pure-land unity are several. Both are all-encompassing teachings, so they naturally encompass each other. The one-pointedness and going-beyond-thought of Zen interlocks perfectly with the simplicity of the Pure Land nembutsu Buddha-name Recitation. Some approach the Nembutsu or the Pure Land visualizations as a akoan (Rinzai-Zen style).

But the most beautiful is that more advanced Zen practitioners can all-at-one-blow annihilate their subtle attachments to emptiness and self-power by plunging into Pure Land. A mix of Zen and Pure Land can be so extremely sublime and powerful, this way. Because to truly annihilate the ego, you must go beyond self-power. This is possible in Zen, but how few ever achieve it! But adding pure-land will take "self-power" extremists (my natural tendency) out of their self-prisons. The Zen/pure-land mix allows both schools to overcome their limitations and soar to the ultimate peak, beyond self-power and other-power to the most important essence where all such distinctions collapse in magnificent silence...Yes, is it not a true vehicle of prajnaparamita? "beyond, beyond, wholly gone beyond," says the Heart Sutra...

Vajrayana has lots of devotion, too, but my impression is that it is self-power in many senses. And its intellectualism tends to attract self-power people, I have a hunch. Perhaps you are seeking pure land for a similar reason that I was?

So you see I am a great fan of pure land fusions, not only with Zen but with many other Mahayana schools...it seems Pure Land is our universal key to overcome our separations...how odd, I never expected this from such an earthy, "folksy" school...I was convinced that the odorless, colorless no-mind of Zen was the ultimate unifier...but no. Now I feel sure it is Pure Land. Pure land by itself has some extreme aspects, too, but in combination the power seems awe-bringing.

And I think Pure Land is a possible future bridge between the Buddhisms and the Monotheisms...I don't mean to suggest that they use Pure Land themselves. They do not need to practice Pure Land, which fits sublimely within the Buddhist universe but doesn't make so much sense over there, I think. This is because Islam and Christianity already have their own faith in the One God that can be so powerful. They have everything they need already. BUT, pure land can show them a new way of looking at DEVOTION and WORSHIP...because its perspective is different. ANd the One God people need new ideas! Because, I deeply respect both Islam and Christianity, but most current forms seem trapped in such a limited way of seeing DEVOTION and WORSHIP...these faiths should be the masters of DEVOTION and WORSHIP; this is their birthrights, And their histories are filled with so many deep visions of these practices, too, but all so forgotten now. The One God people seem trapped to me.

This is where Pure Land can serve them...it expands DEVOTION and WORSHIP in all dimensions and directions. It can bring a breath of fresh air and new ideas to help Muslims and Christians use their own faiths to find what deep down they already know. What a great gift it could be! Not to convert or to change, but to inspire, to lead them back to their original faces and then withdraw unrecognized in silence. Pure land can do it.

BUT...it is not assured because it will only happen IF they wish to see in this way, and Buddhists too have a poor understanding of Pure Land. The tools are all at hand, but the will to build is missing. Pure land is robust, but its finest flower is crusted with layers of dust. Even as a Buddhist it took me years and years to see it, and it was right in front of my face. It'S so clear, so easy to use in one way, and yet...impossible to fathom; it seems truly measureless and wholly gone beyond; I stand in awe.

Anyway...Some Pure-land links for you, then:

1) Excellent English links on general traditional, "orthodox-style" Pure land topics, including some book-length translations of several great Chinese classics:

http://www.sinc.stonybrook.edu/Clubs/buddhism/pureland/

2) This may be of interest to you; an 11th-century Japanese Vajrayana esoteric master looks at the "inner meaning" of the Pure Land with a vajrayana prism...this is completely beyond me. But you are vajrayana so maybe it will make better sense to you. And from me any of your insights would be welcomed:

http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/eso-amida.htm

3) Very good link; a short, clear essay showing how Pure Land practices have been used in various other Japanese schools:

http://www.jsri.jp/English/Pureland/DOCTRINE/nembutsu.htm

4) Poems of a double Zen/Pure Land master, 12th century Japan:

http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/riku100.htm

5) A pure-land classic with chapter-by-chapter running commentary from a medieval Zen master (PDF FILE):

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/monkeym.pdf

6) Lineage of the patriarchs of Japan's Shin pure land school:

http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/patriarchs.html

I'd like to give you stuff on my Pure Land school, Ji-Shu, but all the English on the internet is very not much quantity and all WORTHLESS! Shoddy misunderstandings. Ji-shu is very, very delicate and subtle, cannot survive the rigors of translation. Oh well. So until a good English comes, don't bother.

Hope they are of interest. Namas-te.

Islamic Salvation: Thank you for the helpful and fascinating link. I shall take a close look.

Zulfigur Ali: I'm glad that was of interest...look forward to speaking with you further.

That's it for now; I'll check back in next week or soon thereafter, if it is to be.

May all sentient beings be freed from their chains of ignorance and the endless rounds of suffering and delusion.

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Dear Kotsugusha,

I am not of the Islamic faith but am a regular contributing guest of ShiaChat. I feel I am accepted here because I come for the same reason that this site exist. So if you would, please consider my questions as well.

I must say that of all the faiths, yours feels the most alien to me. I do not say this to disparage your faith, but to reveal the gulf that I feel separates us. Because of this perceived gulf, please forgive any comments that you might feel disrespectful. I assure you they come from my ignorance. If I do say something that falls in that category, note them and I will try to rephrase in a manner that is respectfully concise. Now my question:

The thing that motivates all of my interactions here is the desire to reach some accommodation with the great faith of Islam that precludes the violence that is endemic between our cultures. The resulting violence of my spiritual leaders (Pope Benedict Regensburg speech) attempt to reach an understanding (with the secular West) is a good example of what I wish to avoid.

The thing that puzzles me the most about Buddhism is its rejection of violence. I know that my God did advise we Christians to turn the other cheek. However, when communication breaks down and letting the impasse stand is not an option, war often becomes the arbitrator of differences.

I realize this comes more from my western culture more then from my faith, but I do accept Von Clausewitz definition of war, “a continuation of politics by other means.” My Catholic faith describes the permissibility of war by its “Just War” doctrine, which is to say war is justified if the resulting inaction results in more violence and destruction then prosecuting a just war.

It is my understanding that Buddhism rejects violence and war as an arbitrator but I also know that the Code of the Samurai grew from the Buddhists faith. Could you please explain your faiths position on war and violence and also explain how a Buddhist would resolve a situation in which a decision is needed and diplomacy has failed? I would prefer a historical example that I can study but a hypnotically example is acceptable.

I believe some of my Moslem friends will also be interested in your answer.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

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(salam)

Spriglief, i was listening to a lecture by a Shiek and in it he qouted a Buddhist scripture in which Buddha allowed his followers to use violence in self defense.

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(salam)

Spriglief, i was listening to a lecture by a Shiek and in it he qouted a Buddhist scripture in which Buddha allowed his followers to use violence in self defense.

Buddha DOES NOT allow his followers to use violence in self-defense. Buddha is only agreeable to using FORCE in self-defense. Buddha frowns on VIOLENCE.

I do not know how different it is for Zen Buddhism teachings though.

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Salaam. Nice thread and nice to see such a good reception, but I was a bit surprised that many Muslims would have much knowledge of Buddhism in order to respect its teachings. I don't have much knowledge. So perhaps some of my misconceptions can be clarified, inshallah.

Isn't Buddhism just a religion of spirituality. Isn't Islam a complete ideology which gives us political, social, and economic solutions as well? A detailed ideology for all aspects of human life, and not just the individual aspect and not just vague ideology in the sense of promoting only ideals such as "be kind to animals", "peace not violence", "peace for everyone" etc.? Aren't high-level Buddhist spiritual practices extreme like retreats to caves and fasting on rice water for 40 days? Doesn't Buddhism involve too much renunciation of the world?

HA

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Buddhism involve too much renunciation of the world?
How much is too much to you? :)
Aren't high-level Buddhist spiritual practices extreme like retreats to caves and fasting on rice water for 40 days?

This is not true.Not all Buddhists practice retreats or fasting.

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Hallo brother kotshuga,

Thanks for the reply on karma :), yes i understand it more clearly now because ive been reading a book called, "Old Path White Clouds" by Thich Nhat Hanh (what a mouthful!) . it follows in the footsteps of the Buddha right from his birth to his death. i remembered you while reading it since your the only Buddhist within contact, it is one of the most beautiful books ive ever read, if you havnt read it, please do. it gave me much insight into the teachings of the Buddha, so much i had no clue about before. for example, in reference to the above posts, the Buddha definately condemned violence, however during his time, there were kings who were his disciples but also went to war. Gautama did not condone their actions but recognised that those situations were absolutely nessecary. i dont how todays Buddhists would interpret that though, would appreciate your response.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find a few parallels between incidents of Imam Ali (as) and the Buddha. for example Imam Ali (as) would never live in a way that was different from that of the poorest in the nation. he lived like the poor of the poorest, because he said how can he enjoy those pleasures which others around him are not able to. i found alot of this compassion for the needy in Buddhas life too. there were more parallels.

once again, i sincerely recommend this book to you, it is written very simply but profoundly :)

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extremely interesting , and i hope this member OP comes back .. I always felt like Buddhism is like a spaceship of extremely advanced technology with all the tools imaginable .. but missing the key, which is with us Monotheists, specifically Muslims. perhaps the Fatiha .. 

 

anyway, i hope we can benefit from all teachings of the world that carry truth, and practical wisdoms. i, for one need discipline and concentration, which Buddhism has all the answers to it seems.

 

Also, Buddhism kind of emphasizes the unity of all beings and creations, to the extent that it stops even focusing on differentiating between the eternal "Buddha" and the transient (creations) "Buddha" .. At times the teachings are perfectly in place to have the the word "Buddha" replaced with "Allah", and then goes back to talking about creature "Buddhas" .. Anyway, it is highly interesting, and exactly what we need i feel. The ultimate peace seeking advice, because on average Buddhists are just so peaceful, compared to most other religions. But most of all they have perfected so many things that we lack in our direct teachings, and our religion overlaps with theirs more than we know, i'm sure.

 

We have Quran verses such as :

 

 

And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah . Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. 2:115

 

 

This verse could be a bridge to such mentality .. like a ladder into the spaceship, so to say. Basically the fact that Allah is everywhere, and even within us. That we are not separate from Allah. Of course we can not take religious texts too literally, but the above verse could be used in a provocative way, by asking the question: "what if i turn towards a mirror" .. or "what if i turn towards you" .. or towards a dog, a hill, a mountain, a sky, etc .. 

 

The Buddhists teachings are like a means to an end, and the original teacher who came 2,500 years ago made it clear that he is teaching how to achieve it, without focusing on the end too much. Of course from what i understand, the Buddhists believe in ultimate reincarnation to a promised gardens type of place as well, and they even are awaiting a savior type of character called Maytrea Buddha. 

 

In any case, i need more discipline, i need more meditation, i need more focus, i need more seriousness, i need more peace, and i believe Buddhism can offer it, in a complementary way to Islam in sha Allah ..

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here are some buddhist teachings quotes don't directly overlap with ours, because repeating things Buddha and Prophet Mohamed and Imam Ali said, would be boring. It is important to expand our horizons and challenge our views to new dimensions of understanding. So those are quotes that I see as compatible with Islamic knowledge of today, but takes a step towards eastern religion:

 

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Firstly, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings, not on the words;

 

Second, rely on the teachings, not the personality of the teacher;

 

thirdly, rely on real wisdom, and not superficial interpretation;

 

And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind, not on judgmental perceptions.

 

 

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Believe nothing merely because you have been told it.

Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.

But whatever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conductive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -

that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.

 

 

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i think the Buddhist path is good to learn from as it helps sooth the mind, and helps discipline it. In Islam we don't talk much about how to do that, but instead people usually say it's ok to have evil thoughts as long as we don't act upon them. That is true, but i'm sure that we should still make an effort to cultivate and direct or even revolutionize our minds. That is something we can learn from Buddhism i believe. Discipline and many other secrets. i hope anyway


at the same time we are sure that the way of Islam is linked to this directly. We have prophets meditating all the time. Our prophet used to retreat to a cave and meditate for days on end. And during one such meditation Angel Gabriel made his first appearance. We as muslims of today do not put much emphasis on meditation anymore. It is a prophetic tradition (sunnah) though. The sufi sects put emphasis on this, and people say that sufism is a mix or marriage between east and west philosophies. So, perhaps the sufi schools regained the knowledge of this meditative mind control and purification through eastern religions, after it was lost in the Islamic Nation.


There are countless articles online about proven benefits of meditation, and here is one mainstream article about it:

 

 

 

"It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body -- it made it both stronger and more flexible,"

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/meditation-health-benefits_n_3178731.html

 

 

And the quran without a doubt encourages thoughtfulness, and not only this: but the quran always keeps repeating how it is for a "people who are thinking/reflecting" .. so actually, thinking is a pre-requisite of being a believer and having faith. To be among the understanding.

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furthermore, thinking is directly linked to meditation when done with "brains" .. basically, it is like channeling and controlling our thought flow. Instead of leaving our thoughts unattended to, we actually let them loose by being quiet and looking at them objectively. When we are quiet, in a quiet setting, without moving, we actually start hearing our thoughts that become louder and louder. Most people stop at this point and give up. They turn of this radio by making even more noise around it, so we become desensitized to the inner rumble going on. We hear things go through our minds, in form of words, pictures, clouds of chaos. They pass like clouds, and ironically, the more quiet we are, the more noisy it gets from inside. Only after a long time of meditation practice, do we actually feel results in clearing our thoughts. but we realize that our thoughts aren't actually ours. That's why the quran says waswasa.. or whispering in our chests are from people and jinn for instance. Those are negative thoughts that we do not own. We must let them pass, And the good thoughts also. In buddhist and sufi meditation circles they stress on letting go of thoughts, and because as humans it's impossible to do so completely, we use tools, such as mantras (tasbih in our minds), or visualizing things like our masters, or words, or even something beautiful we love .. like a view . in order to focus and find peace.


so by controlling what we think of as much as possible, while exposing ourselves to our inner noise .. by shutting out all noise from inside (sounds, lights, smells, etc etc .. any physical sensation .. therefore caves are ideal) .. we actually start training our mind. The mind is like a muscle and can be trained to work in simple ways. And by focusing on good strong singular thoughts, we connect with positive thoughts, that resonate with us and our bodies. This way we train our minds to be more prone to good thoughts than bad .. it will help anyway. in sha Allah


respect..... Dear peace seeker ll.......

 

Thank you dear Dedender Justice :) may Allah make us among the most respectable people among His creations

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I think one major difference is in Islam, we don't try to escape suffering, but be patient in it. Not all suffering is due to materialism. Most of it perhaps isn't due to it at all.

 

We believe the Prophets and then believers suffered the most.  The emphasis is to be patient in the trial and steadfast. With patience, there is ease with the hardship. 

 

And one of things that help us embrace suffering is that we know it's temporal and helps purify our souls and keeps our heart from hardening. Also sorrow is not bad trait in this world, but praiseworthy, and something very few have for the sake of God and his chosen friends. 

Edited by StrugglingForTheLight

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____

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anyway, next step is that not only do we hear our inner world when we are quiet .. by the way one thing to focus on .. as an option .. is our breath. Focusing on breath and posture is also a nice way to focus thoughts. 

 

anyway, 'hearing' things in our head when sitting quietly in a place for a long time is one step. Other things start happening too. We start feeling pains in our body, like our back, which are also areas that get better with meditation. Then, if we have our eyes closed, or semi closed in dark spaces, we can focus on what we see. We see things moving and colors, patterns, clouds, etc that we usually don't acknowledge or take seriously. Exactly how accurate this vision is, and wether it is inside our heads, or actually around us is debatable. But personally, i believe that it is both, and would be more inclined to think it is outside. The thing is that the mind has ability to direct and redirect energy in our bodies to push heat out of areas such as our hands. This can be felt when putting the palms of our hands close to each other and imagine white light coming out of them. After a while you will feel the heat increase. So when meditating and imagining that we push light around, we can see a change in this ethereal surrounding, as if it is plasma or liquid. Again, this is stuff we ignore and don't see because 

 

#1 .. we don't think of it when we for instance close our eyes to fall asleep

#2 .. we are always overriding that type of vision with "material" bombardment of light within that "visible" spectrum

 

so recognizing and taking our other senses into consideration can help, while also eventually letting those 'go away' as well, while focusing on a higher cause. One way of doing it in Vedic teachings is called Chakra Breathing. It's when we imagine light coming out of areas in our bodies, in various colors. I like to imagine white light coming out of my center of gravity area, which is in the center of our body, just below the naval area. Visualizing this, actually resonates with the real thing. And the theme of Allah and His Name is al Nour, or the Light. So working with light is quite a nice thing. inner light that one visualizes or perhaps sees with ones inner sight. That's what people see who claim to see auras .. which are energy fields around our bodies on a different frequency. And ideally this light should be white, as it includes a balance of all colors. But in some cases one can employ specific colors to treat a patient who suffers from a lack of certain colors and attributes. But i believe that white light is a safe way. A healing light. And i believe that is how Jesus healed, among others. He was probably conscious of Allah's Light and channeled it through his hands, the way he channeled Allah's life-giving abilities when reviving the dead, or breathing life into clay to become a bird.


I think one major difference is in Islam, we don't try to escape suffering, but be patient in it. Not all suffering is due to materialism. Most of it perhaps isn't due to it at all.

 

We believe the Prophets and then believers suffered the most.  The emphasis is to be patient in the trial and steadfast. With patience, there is ease with the hardship. 

 

And one of things that help us embrace suffering is that we know it's temporal and helps purify our souls and keeps our heart from hardening. Also sorrow is not bad trait in this world, but praiseworthy, and something very few have for the sake of God and his chosen friends. 

 

if i understand correctly, we can see they differentiate between "pain" and "suffering". of course none of us know the language theses narrations are originally derived from. But suffering could be seen as fitna perhaps. We have in Islam a hadith that tells us that if we knew the benefits of suffering, we would cut ourselves up with scissors .. now is it the "pain" or the "suffering" ? i think that one can see the buddhist idea of suffering being the inner suffering resulting from ignorance and attachment to the world. The imams would be living in the hardest of conditions, but their non-attachment would make them suffer less. When Imam Reza was in prison, he thanked God for it and was so happy, he could spend his time in worship. He saw the bright side of it, and even though one would think he was distressed and disturbed, but in reality he was in peace and not suffering at all. That is the essence of the word alhamdulilah .. that we thank God for everything and are happy with whatever situation we¨re in. And here comes pain and its benefits. The more we are thankful in times of pain, the more is the potential i believe in climbing in wisdom. So i believe the word that Buddhists use for suffering, is the suffering we endure based on lack of gratitude and lack of understanding .

Edited by peace seeker II

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dear  peace seeker ll ,your knowledge is always surprising for me...ma sha Allah

Allah bless you, i do not deserve these words. thank you jazak Allah khair

 

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i would like to add to the topic of Buddhism, that the 2,500 year old path started with a man, who was a prince in India, living under extreme luxurious conditions. He decided to leave this all behind, and learn the true path of enlightenment. It is important to know that he grew up in a vedic family, which are the ancestors of Hindu religion. This religion is now 5,000 years old, and had its 'prophet' called Arjuna leave behind his religion 2,500 years prior to when Siddharta left his family behind to seek truth. So, after 2,500 years, the vedic religion had become so corrupted, that it needed revamping. However, the roots of Buddhism are connected somehow to vedic religion, with books such as the Bhagavad Gita being essential in understanding. These books and paths also have a lot in common with Islam, and there are experts in the field. But it's nice to put this in to context. A bit like Jesus coming after the last series of Israelite Prophets, or Mohamed coming after Jesus, Arjuna is followed by Sidharta. Anyway, i thought of adding this.

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salam alaikum,

 

here is a video on Buddhism, in the form of a very artistic and beautifully made story line. Richard Gere is the main voice i think ..

 

really, i urge all to watch it, even if it's not such an interesting topic to you ..

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJWPFYygGPc

 

and my brother/sister El-shia sent me this video as well that shows a certain type of japanese zen buddhists in their lives. Really, when i watched it i thought about how i need discipline. Maybe not as extreme as them, but at least some. If i can get 10% of the discipline they have, it would still be a thousand times more than i have now .. mash Allah

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nljcpS62cg

 

and this is when buddhists decide they want to learn and train to fight ..

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMkz7lTGzQ8

 

i think words can't describe how amazing discipline and free thoughts and clean minds can be .. for them even training how to fight is a form of meditation. that includes making tea .. it's the same thing for them almost .. masha Allah

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If anyone wants to read a serious study of Buddhism-Islam interfaith dialogue I would highly recommend Reza Shah Kazemi's "Common Ground between Buddhism and Islam". If anyone wants a PDF try to message me inshallah.

Masalama

Ethereal

Edited by eThErEaL

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