Week 11 APO102 – Buddhism

This Week’s Downloads:

Week Date Topic Student Notes Audio PowerPoint Teacher


11 5/13 Buddhism Notes MP3 PPT Notes

Homework Downloads:

Chapter Summary

Class Outline

I. History of Buddhism

II. Doctrinal Differences

III. Sharing the Gospel with Buddhists


Some Helpful sites:

CARM on Buddhism Here[1]


Helpful lecture

Christianity and the Challenge of Buddhism – Here[2]


I. History of Buddhism

a. History of the Man: Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

  • Buddhism has a founder and a definite beginning point
  • “The details of Buddha’s life are mentioned in many early Buddhist texts but are inconsistent, and his social background and life details are difficult to prove, the precise dates uncertain” – Wikipedia
  • We know with certainty the legends of his life
  • Born c. 563 BC in Nepal
  • At his birth, a seer prophesied the would be the greatest ruler in human history; UNLESS he saw four things:
    • Sickness
    • Old age
    • Death
    • A monk who had renounced the world
  • If he saw these four things he would renounce his earthly rule and discover a way of salvation for all mankind
  • His father tried to keep Sid from seeing these things; but he eventually saw them at 29 years of age
  • He left his wife and son, “determined to solve the riddle of life” the secret to peace a happiness
  • He studied the Upanishads but found no satisfaction in these writings
  • He tried self-denial but it brought him no happiness
  • He sat under a tree for 40 days and nights because he swore that he would not move till he found what he was searching for
  • He sat under a tree in the town of Bodh Gaya, which came afterward to be known as the “Bodhi Tree” or “tree of enlightenment.”
  • Though he was tempted to give up by Mara (the evil one) he did not give up
  • At the end of the 40 days he experienced nirvana – the highest degree of God-consciousness (literally means “blowing out” of the flame of desire and the negation of suffering)
  • He attained enlightenment, certainty about the Middle Way as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering from rebirths in Saṃsāra
  • At this time he became known as Buddha or the “enlighten one”
  • Buddha gave his first sermon in Sarnath, India.
  • He began to teach and preach about the meaning of life and his way to nirvana
  • He founded the Sangha (an order of monks)
  • 45 years later in Kushinagar, India at the age of 80 (c. 483 BC) Buddha died, many thousands had accepted his teachings


b. History of the Movement:

Major Branches of Buddhism

  • Within a century of his death, different factions within Buddhism were already arising.
  • “Buddha’s teachings were propagated by his followers, which … became over 18 Buddhist sub-schools of thought, each with its own basket of texts containing different interpretations and authentic teachings of the Buddha” – Wikipedia
  • By the time any of the Buddha’s teachings were written down centuries later, there were already many rival schools and subgroups offering their own interpretations and unique traditions of Buddhist thought.


  • Popular in India for several hundred years until it was absorbed into Hinduism
  • While Christianity spread Europe, Buddhism spread throughout the Orient
  • “It is impossible to quickly and meaningfully introduce every group, movement, sect, school of thought, and subdivision of Buddhism.”[3]

Many forms – Three basic kinds

  • Theravada
  • Mahayana
  • Tantrism


  • Which means the “way of the elders”. Derogatorily referred to as Hinayana “the doctrine of the lesser way”
  • Only a few fortunate lifelong monks can find nirvana by absolutely following they way of Buddha


  • “the greater way”
  • Nirvana is available to all people
  • Bodhisattvas – a savior god (of which Buddha was the first) can be called on by the faithful
  • Once one reaches nirvana they become bodhisattvas


  • A blend of Mahayana and ancient occult practices of Tibet
  • Tantric Buddhism uses incantations and occult signs


Buddhism in Modern America

From CARM.org Here[4]

American Buddhism

  • American pluralism has blurred the lines between the variety of Buddhist schools and thus is not “clearly defined and truly distinctive.”
  • A significant portion of Buddhism in America has taken on characteristics uncommon or even entirely unheard of in the history of Buddhism
  • The main focus of American Buddhism is meditation to attain personal peace of mind
  • Some question whether this westernized “Buddhism” is really still Buddhism at all


II. Doctrinal Differences

a. Primary

The Nature of the Universe

  • In metaphysics, the Buddha argues that there are no self-caused entities, and that everything dependently arises from or upon something else.[5]
  • For the Buddha, the universe has not been created by an all-knowing, all-powerful god that is the lord of the universe and father of all beings. Rather, the universe evolves following certain cyclic patterns of contraction and expansion.[6]
  • History is not linear but cyclical. There are no first causes or external causes.[7]

The Nature of Man[8]

  • In philosophical anthropology, the Buddha explains human identity without a permanent and substantial self.
  • Selves are conceived as evolving processes causally constrained by their past.
  • People are reborn and die again and again (saṃsāra) depending on their past actions (karma) until they attain salvation (mokṣa).
  • Only by putting an end to suffering (saṃsāra), where “one is not born, does not age, does not die, does not pass away, and is not reborn”


Summing Up Major Differences Between Buddhism and Christians

Buddhism Evangelical Protestant
God does not exist or that His existences is irrelevant God is personal, omniscient and omnipotent (Job 42:1-6; Ps. 115:3; Matt. 19:26)
Jesus is a good teacher but less important than Buddha Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

Jesus iis the unique Son of God who died for mankind’s sin (Matt. 14:33; John 1:34; Rom. 5:6-8)

Sin is the lust that comes from a persons life Sin is any though deed or desire contrary to God’s will
Salvation comes by ridding themselves of lustful desires by self-effort or by calling on Bodhisattvas for help Salvation is what God provides in Jesus’ death and resurrection to undeserving sinners (see Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3,4)

Through faith and the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, God transforms our desires to be more and more in conformity with God’s desires (Rom. 12:1-2)


b. Secondary

The Middle Way and the Eightfold Path

  • The middle way is a way between the extreme asceticism and unrestrained sensuality of Hinduism
  • The Middle way had Four Noble Truths:
  1. Suffering is universal
    • This is the universal problem and release from this is salvation
  1. The cause of suffering is craving (selfish desire)
  • People stay here because of tanha (attachment/desire) their attachment to and desire for stuff
  • People also stay because they are ignorant of reality
  1. The cure for suffering is to overcome ignorance and eliminate craving
  • Release comes through removing desire
  1. Suppress craving by following the Middle Way – the Noble Eightfold Path

More on the eightfold path Here[9]

  • The Eightfold Path
  1. Right viewpoint
  2. Right aspiration
  3. Right speech
  4. Right behavior
  5. Right occupation
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right meditation


  • “You are your own master. The future, everything depends on your own shoulder.”[10] – The Dalai Lama


  • Hinduism taught that life (and thus suffering) was an illusion; Buddha taught that both life and suffering were true realities
  • “Buddhism offers a precise definition of man’s problem along with an exact ‘plan of salvation’ for everyone.” (102)


Similarities and differences between Hinduism and Buddhism

  • Many of Buddhas teachings were rejected as heresies by leading Hindu teachers
  • Teachings rejected by Hindus:
    • Vedas and Upanishads were not divine
    • Man had no atman (soul)
    • The present world was unreal
    • Rejection of the caste system
  • Beliefs/Practices common to both Hindu and Buddhists
    • Reincarnation
    • Karma
    • Dharma (duty according to status)
    • Yoga/meditation


III. Sharing the Gospel with Buddhists


  • Testimony of a former Buddhist Here[11]


Some Basic Steps

  • Know some basic Buddhist terminology Here[12]
  • Ask lots of question and try to understand their particular Buddhist beliefs
  • “Much of what calls itself Buddhism in America today differs significantly in priority, emphasis, belief, form, and practice from the Buddhism of the East and of history. In any dialogue we have, this is something we must keep in mind.”[13]
  • When sharing your faith, be careful to define your terms

For example: God[14]

  • When Christians speak of God, we are not talking about a mortal and finite spirit who shares the cravings and petty desires of men like the gods in whom many have believed.
  • When we use the word “God,” we mean the unique, eternal, unchanging personal Being who brought all things into existence.
  • Be patient and prayerful
  • Know that you can reach them with the Gospel
    • Testimony of a former Buddhist Here[15]

[1] https://carm.org/buddhism

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpNhbpHjqpc

[3] https://carm.org/what-are-the-branches-of-buddhism

[4] https://carm.org/what-are-the-branches-of-buddhism

[5] https://www.iep.utm.edu/buddha/#SH3c

[6] https://www.iep.utm.edu/buddha/#SH3c

[7] https://youtu.be/dpNhbpHjqpc?t=7m27s

[8] https://www.iep.utm.edu/buddha/#SH3c

[9] https://carm.org/the-eightfold-path

[10] https://youtu.be/B42bbRvYhRg?t=4m22s

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Jn_YzTQcw

[12] https://carm.org/glossary-of-buddhism

[13] https://carm.org/what-are-the-branches-of-buddhism

[14] https://carm.org/the-gospel-for-buddhists

[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Jn_YzTQcw

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