Some monks have come up with belief that obstructions like lust and sensual pleasures cannot obstruct anyone from practicing their religion. This is however a misrepresentation because these obstructions only lead to self-gratification which lead to perpetual suffering. Because of the debates that have clouded the sexuality of the monks many have had to believe that monks can marry. This is a misconception because monks must remain celibate. Clear line has to be drawn between those who dress like monks and marry and the actual monks. Those who put on monks and have wives should never be mistaken for monks.
Whoever feels like abandoning the monk’s way of life if free to go because it is their individual right. But once they have given up their vows they must stop putting on like monks. Buddhism gives a lot of credence to scholarship that is anchored on the practitioner’s investigation and his experience. This scholarship is not in essence a textual tradition. The scholarship is intended to enlighten someone under the Bodhi tree. Many people have mistaken Buddhism to be a religion. In actual sense it is a philosophy of life.
That there is god in Buddhism is a misrepresentation because the original scriptures do not talk of any conscious higher being in the world. The scriptures regarded nature as the highest being. The Indian who started Buddhism died some time back and is not immortal (Nakamura, 1990).
The fact that his followers called him Buddha simplify imply that he is enlightened but does not render him immortal. Buddhism is against praying to idols but encourages individuals to think. The scriptures encourage people who practice Buddhism to challenge the existing teachings. This is meant to encourage thinking while discouraging blind following. Individuals must no what the verses in the scriptures actually mean. Scriptures tend to discourage offering of prayers to idols and statues.
One must not just go to the temple to pray but to think. It is likely that people who pray to idols do not engage in constructive thinking and tend to leave everything to Buddha and assume that things will resultantly be well with them. Individual is called upon to understand the ultimate source of suffering by engaging in thinking. One can only fully understand how the world works when he or she is enlightened. Unless one is enlightened it is very difficult for them to attain happiness. Buddhism calls upon its adherents to be compassionate towards everything, plants and animals included.
This compassion makes one to attain higher level of enlightenment. This kind of enlightenment compels a man never to run but offer himself as food to the lion. The lion will be converted to a vegetarian by this higher enlightenment. Scriptural teaching on retribution has up to today been misconceived because of the theories that have been advanced from the original scriptural teachings.
Many stories have been told about the 18 levels of hell. Good and bad in Buddhism context is relative. Quite often whatever is perceived to be good or bad depends on how one was brought up, the state of their mind, and their level of education.
Because Buddhism is practiced not only in India but also widespread in Japan, and China it is practiced differently in these countries. The faithful have varying intellectual capacity hence the different ways in which these people understand Buddhism. Clever people and the greedy people practice Buddhism. This call upon believers to be independent minded and interrogates the teachings of the Buddha so that they get enlightened. Because these people practice different cultures and have different social and economic background, it is possible that their understanding of Buddhism has to be divergent from those popular beliefs held by other faithful.
Christian’s perception of Buddhism
Buddhist practice denial of a self. They believe that human existence is characterized by impermanence.
The impermanence is devoid of abiding principle. Christians are tempted to ask that if there is no self then what it that reincarnates from one existence to the next is. Their view of rebirth has inherent potential problems with some of their texts alluding to continuity of personal existence. The scriptures are categorical that Yama will judge the dead. Yama is the god of death. The dead will be sent to hell where they will suffer because of the sins they committed while living. If indeed there is no self why did Buddha have to say that ‘’this is my last birth, I will have no further existence’’.
Whose last birth was this supposed to be if there is no self to be reborn. Various texts also refer to Buddha previous life (Masih, 2000). Buddhist term for liberation literally means blowing out of candle and on getting liberated the five aggregates are scattered forever at death hence extinction of ontological elements that defines existentialism and the agents who experiences things like hatred.
A Buddhist will not consider this horrifying because this spells death of illusion. As opposed to Christian’s belief in almighty God, Buddhists do not believe in existence of almighty God. As opposed to Christianity where the Bible states that man cannot be good and needs a savior Buddhism stresses that works alleviate suffering and makes one to get enlightened (Wynne, 2007). All followers of Buddha are students as opposed to Christianity Jesus Christ are the lord through whom God reveals himself to humankind.
Misconceptions about Buddhism are common
Misconceptions about Buddhism are common because you are likely to encounter one who dismisses Buddhism on grounds that it teaches that nothing exists. This is attributed to teachings from anatta and shunyatta which in essence are not doctrines of non-existence but rather a teaching that gives limited scope to existence.
All and sundry do make a joke on a Buddhist monk telling a hot dog vendor to make him one with everything implying that Buddhism teaches that we are all one. Buddha himself taught that it is wrong for a faithful to think that self is finite. He added that it is also wrong for someone to think that self is infinite. Buddha emphasizes that individuals arecomponent part of one thing and that for one to fully understand self he or she has to go beyond concepts and ideas (Wynne, 2007). Because school facilities attended by Buddhists insist on vegetarianism, many people have taken to believe that Buddhists are vegetarians, however, to be or not to be a vegetarian is a personal choice that is not forced on someone.
The ancient scriptures on Buddhism say that Buddha was not a vegetarian. Ancient monks used to beg for their food and if they were given meat they made it upon themselves to interrogate that the meat was strictly meant for monks. If the meat was not specifically for monks then they were not supposed to eat it.
Step to be taken to minimize misconception about Buddhism
To dispel the misconceptions that many people have had about Buddhism it is only practical that a deeper understanding of what Buddhism is all about be developed.
This can only be achieved when people take to reading scriptures that throw light on what it is all about.
Masih, Y. (2000). A Comparative Study of Religions. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
Nakamura, H. (1990). A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy: Part One.
Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Wynne, A. (2007). The origin of Buddhist meditation.
New York: Routledge