Tom Zimmer
Sunday, July 16, 2006
  The President's Points - Suffering

Well, as I sit here in my shorts in an air conditioned house, while the temperature outside reads 97.3 degrees at 3:30 in the afternoon, on it's way to about 99 by 5 PM, I am pondering the Sunday sermon this morning about suffering. The topic was "Suffering, an Internal Conflict". You see, the internal suffering we do is because of the choices we have. We have a choice of whether to say the hurtful things we think, during intense conversations. We can let out the thoughts that pop into our brains, or we can realize they come from somewhere that isn't helpful, and hold those thoughts inside, not letting them out as verbal bullets. That is the suffering part. Our emotions tell us that we want to say the things that hurt people, and if we don't, we suffer from being on the receiving end of such comments. It isn't a fun thing, but it is the choice we have. The choice to be like Christ, or to be like the voice in our heads tells us to be. We have a choice, a simple choice but not an easy choice. Have you ever heard yourself making an argument with your voice, and part of your brain, while another part of you brain sits around thinking this is stupid, why am I doing this? I have, and I suspect many of you have as well. I have a choice, a decision to make. The question is how will I make it?
Indeed, life is full of suffering. The Buddha teaches us that all suffering is ultimately due to our desires (in fact, it is the second of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism). He also teaches us the way to end this cause of our suffering, and thereby the way to end suffering itself. It is called the Eightfold Path.

The Christ's teachings encompass some of the elements of the Eightfold Path -- primarily Right Speech, Right Thought, and Right Action. But there are other aspects as well to the Eightfold Path that are equally important for the elimination of suffering, elements not touched upon by teachings of the Christ.

It is interesting to know that although the Buddha lived 500 years before Christ, Christian teachings are but a subset of the Eightfold Path.
It is good to know that Buda had it right, but Christianity has one basic difference, in Buda's universe, you have to do it yourself. In Christ's universe, Jesus has done it, and he provides all the power we need to "do it again"!

Thanks for the comment.
I think you must have a misconception of what Buddhism is about. Buddhism is no more of a "do it yourself" path than Christianity. In fact, for those who understand Buddhism, it provides more insight and direction than Christianity.

The Christ showed a path to heaven (which we still have the free will to not choose). The Buddha showed several paths, each appropriate for different types of people. The only "do it yourself" aspect of Buddhism is choosing which path is right for you.

In that sense, Christianity tries to be a "one-size-fits-all" religion -- and if that size doesn't fit then you don't belong. Buddhism has something for all customers.
ok, then once you choose a path, where does the power to follow that path come from? Isn't it your own determination, or will to follow that path?
Ah, but your question (where does the power come from?) has an implicit assumption that the power _must_ come from an outside source. In Christianity, this power is said to come from the Christ. This is one of those things I mentioned about Christianity that you must buy into in order for you to belong. It is not that way in Buddhism.

In Buddhism the power to control your life can come from inside, or outside. The choice depends upon what is needed for the individual. Buddhism in its core teaches that the power is inside of you, and always has been, and helps you to find it. In this sense it is not much different from the Christian way of finding Jesus inside of you.

But for many it helps to feel that the power comes from an outside source. For those people, Buddhism teaches that you can draw upon a power that pervades the universe -- a "life force" if you will, which binds us all together. In the middle-eastern religions this is called God (or Yahweh, or Allah). Buddhism doesn't personify it in that manner, but the concept is the same. While Buddhism doesn't require this personification, if it helps you along your path of life then by all means you are free to view it this way.

Whether the source of the power to control your path in life comes from within or without, to that Buddhism is indifferent. What matters is the power is there. Buddhism teaches you how to use it.
Thank you, this is a very helpful explaination to me, though I don't know Buddism well enough to really comment, except for your last statment, "Buddhism teaches you how to use it. (the power)", to which I respond Christ teaches me how to be used, as part of a plan larger than myself, and gives me the confidence to know that God's plan is the right plan, and my being used in it will always lead to it's best application in my life, and in the lives of those around me. In other words, my reward for being used by God is in the here and now, as well as in the hereafter.
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Some of the details of my life, as I allow Christ to live out His life through me.

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Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I am a Christian, Debbie is my wonderful wife. She is also a Christian, and my perfect helpmate. I have two adult children Pam & Chip, I have four wonderful grandchildren, granddaughters Chloe & Claire, and grandsons Ezra and Corbin. I am a Biker, I ride a 1999 Harley Davidson Road King, I am a member of the New Life Riders (Austin, TX) chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA), I am Chaplain of the United Clubs Of Austin (UCOA), I am the Author or Co-Author of several Forth computer language development systems including VIC-Forth, ColorForth (for the Radio Shack Color Computer), 64Forth (for the Commodore 64), F-PC (for DOS), Win32Forth (for Windows) and TCOM (a native DOS compiler), I am a Software Engineer for Thermo Fisher Scientific in Austin, TX, where I develop Windows C# applications for analytical instrument data processing and reporting.

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