Wednesday night while out on calling, Josh (last name?) and I encountered a young oriental man who we found out was Buddhist. But, interestingly enough, he was extremely interested in talking spiritual things. We were able to share the gospel, but there seemed to be some confusion and baggage that needed to be overcome, as you can imagine. He was eager to set up a a Bible study. After arriving back at church, someone gave me a message that Yeu Thach changed the Bible study from Tues. to Wed. because he remembered he had something Tues. Most people wouldn’t have bothered, but he seems extra interested and genuine. This is really exciting because it’s my 1st Bible study from 3 years of visitation (not to mention ever), and it’s with a Buddhist, so I’ll get immersed pretty quickly in this whole thing. Did some studying on Buddhism, and wrote down some of my thoughts if you’re interested – it’s pretty fascinating actually.
Interestingly enough, the fundamental motivation driving the doctrine of Buddhism is the desire to eliminate suffering, as delineated in the Four Noble Truths, or the pillars of Buddhism. The manner in which to eradicate suffering is to extinguish desire. This would include desire for anything that pertains to the senses (or desire against something), as well as a desire for a mental state or emotion such as joy, happiness, etc. This would make desire appear to be intrinsically evil. However, in the same discussion it stated that desire itself is not evil, but simply the desire for things that are temporary in nature. Also, the desire itself becomes a vehicle to achieve enlightenment as explained in the Noble Eightfold Path, or the steps to the cessation of suffering. Ultimately, the issue of desire gets muddy in the discussion of meditation, where pleasure is very much a part of the first three parts of meditation or “right concentration,” until the fourth and final phase in which there is “purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither in pleasure nor in pain.” Therefore I concluded that there are some major controversies in their doctrine. I could not distinguish ultimately if desire is intrinsically evil, because pleasure is part of the Noble Eightfold Path, and yet pleasure is the object of desire; then again, right concentration concludes “neither in pleasure nor in pain.”
Another interesting facet is that many of the actions prescribed in the Noble Eightfold Path are very moral things such as treating other people with love, not speaking lies, not thinking immoral thoughts, etc. It’s interesting how many of these non-Christian teachings are borrowed straight from Christianity, originally with the Ten Commandments. Though of course, God is taken out of the equation.
The ultimate goal is nirvana or enlightenment, which refers to becoming one with their idea of god, although this also appears muddy as to whether they believe in an actual god.
In conclusion, this was just a quick overview of Buddhism from the things that stuck out to me from reading up on Wikipedia and talking to Chuck DeCleene. Please pray for this unique opportunity and that Josh and I would be able to answer his questions and ultimately lead Yeu to Christ. Thanks!