The Way to Nirvana – What is it?

The path to NirvanaThe kind of meditation that he advocated involves concentrating all of one’s attention on a single object, a certain part of the body or perhaps on a phrase or riddle. In time, the mind empties of all other thoughts, feelings and imagination.

Through such meditation some have even developed “superhuman qualities” or abilities, including levitation, ability to project an image of themselves to a distant place and mental telepathy.

It is said that one meditating can get to a point in which he is indifferent to pain or pleasure and no longer desires life or any of the pleasures associated with it. At this point he is said to become free of the necessity of rebirth. He has reached Nirvana.

What is that?

Professor of Sanskrit Walter E. Clark explains that Nirvana is a state which “cannot be reached or described by human knowledge and words.” It is “utterly different from all things in the knowable world.” Does that sound desirable to you? Would a state in which you are neither aware of life nor desire it help you to cope with the problems you face in life?

Does Buddhism Satisfy Man’s Spiritual Need?

Man has an inborn need to worship God. That is why he has always had some form of religion. Can Buddhism satisfy man’s spiritual need? Can it answer his questions about how the universe came about, how life came to be upon earth, why wickedness exists and whether it will ever end?

Concerning the origin of the universe, Buddha said: “The origin of phenomenal existence is inconceivable, and the beginnings of beings obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving is not to be discovered.”

Buddhist writings say that the universe evolved from the dispersed matter of a previous universe that wore out. In time Buddhists expect that the present one will dissolve and that out of it will arise another.

Zen Buddhist expert Daisetz T. Suzuki emphasized:

“To us Orientals . . . there is no God, no creator, no beginning of things, no ‘Word,’ no ‘Logos,’ no ‘nothing.’ Westerners would then exclaim, ‘It is all nonsense! It is absolutely unthinkable!’ Orientals would say, ‘You are right. As long as there is at all a “thinking” you cannot escape getting into the dilemma or the bottomless abyss of absurdity.’”

How do you feel about that? Do you wish to believe in something that is admittedly “nonsense” if a person uses his thinking ability? In your own experience have you found that thinking leads only to “dilemma or the bottomless abyss of absurdity”?

Are you more successful in coping with the problems of life when you refrain from thinking? Is it really enlightenment to say there is no Creator and to believe in an unprovable theory of evolution? Such a philosophy could never satisfy your spiritual needs. In fact, it failed to do so even for followers of Buddha in ancient times.

Professor Albert S. Geden explains:

“The human craving for an ideal or idealized object of love and homage was too strong. . . . The desire was met, and found its satisfaction, in the deification [after his death] of [Buddha] himself; . . . With him were reintroduced the Hindu deities, or the more important and popular of them. But they were always subordinated in attributes and power to the Buddha. And thus a system in theory deistic became a practical polytheism.”

Toward the beginning of the Common Era images of Buddha made their appearance. The simple places of Buddhist devotion were changed into elaborate temples. Some of these temples also contain images of the Hindu gods Vishnu, Siva and Ganesha. Buddha’s refusal to enlighten his followers about God left a vacuum that was filled by his own deification and by adopting gods and practices of other religions.

What about guidance for everyday life? Buddhism does contain some moral precepts. There are, for example, the “five precepts” against killing, stealing, adultery, lying and drunkenness. But moral precepts alone are not sufficient. People need a reliable guide for making everyday decisions. Where do many Buddhists turn for such guidance?

Professor L. A. Waddell observes:

“Divination is sought after by the majority of professing Buddhists in matters of almost everyday business, as well as in the great epochs of life—birth, marriage, and death—or in sickness. . . . The Burmese, who may be taken as a type of the [conservative] ‘Southern’ division of Buddhists, are lettered in the bonds of horoscopes and witch-doctors.”

Buddhists, like everyone else, have a need for spiritual guidance on matters. Because Buddha’s philosophy does not fill that need, they resort to divination.

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