is not a linear, logical system in the western tradition, so a point-by-point theological analysis of Buddhist traditions would be somewhat senseless. Rather, Buddhism is better understood as a collection of wisdom, wherein each piece is true in and of itself, but it doesn't necessarily fit neatly together with other truisms to create any larger structure. Hence Buddhism cannot be faulted for not being self-consistent, as it makes no attempt to be. So we will simply take each lesson in turn, and then consider the implications for daily living.
The one belief that all Buddhists have in common is the concept of dependent origination
. This states that all phenomena are arising together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. We totally agree, but for Buddhists, the implication is that mistakes in this lifetime necessitate reincarnation, while for us, this is more a statement of the various permutations of the Butterfly Effect
, wherein each thing affects, and is affected by, everything else, begging that we appreciate the complexity of our interrelationship with the world around us. We also believe that knowledge grows exponentially as it spreads through society, and each individual has access to many viewpoints. This means that learning is not linear as it is in the Buddhist tradition, wherein each person must learn all of the same lessons, and be reincarnated roughly the same number of times to complete her training. Rather, we believe that learning accumulates in society, and it is our responsibility to operate on a higher level, since we have more knowledge than our ancestors.
One of the compressions of Buddhism is the Noble Eightfold Path
, which is typically divided into three groups. Prajñā
(1, 2) is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. Śīla
(3, 4, 5) is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. Samādhi
(6, 7, 8) is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices.
- dṛṣṭi: viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
- saṃkalpa: intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
- vāc: speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
- karman: acting in a non-harmful way
- ājīvana: a non-harmful livelihood
- vyāyāma: making an effort to improve
- smṛti: awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
- samādhi: correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas
We agree with 1~7, but we do not know where meditation (#8) would fit into our system.