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June 28th, 2010
11:57 AM ET

A Buddhist celebration in Sri Lanka

Editors Note: CNN Assignment Editor Maggie Mazzetti recently returned from Sri Lanka and filed this report.

The sharp crack of fireworks punctuated the night sky and drew my attention to the other side of the street.  People who had gathered to watch the Vesak ceremony quickly moved out of the way as a shower of sparks rained down onto the sidewalk.

About 10 yards down the road, a second firework erupted, sending another group scrambling for cover.  Over the loud speaker, the droning chant of the Buddhist monks inside the main temple grew louder.

As a murmur went through the crowd, I got up on my tiptoes to see what was going on.  The throbbing sound of drums announced a throng of ornate dancers emerging from the temple entrance.  As they moved through the crowd, I noticed that they were only the beginning of a large procession.

Orange-clad monks and prominent political figures followed in front a large tusked elephant, decked out in red robes that covered his entire body and face.  As the parade turned the corner and moved away from us, I turned to our guide.  "Kanishka," I asked, "should we follow them?"  He smiled and pointed down the street.

Off in the distance I could see the spinning orange-yellow glow of fire dancers.  The beating drums, whilst growing distant, could still be heard.  Kanishka leaned close to me so I could hear him.  "Don't worry," he said, "the parade will come back this way,"

Last month, I traveled to Sri Lanka, a prominent Buddhist nation that houses some of the religion's most important relics and sites such as a Bodhi tree, believed to have been cut from the one under which the Buddha himself had sought enlightenment. We planned to travel the whole month of May, a month considered very lucky by Buddhists.

It is around this time that the first full moon marks Vesak, the annual holiday that celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.  Weeklong celebrations ring out in Sri Lanka’s major cities and lavish parades and lantern displays pay homage to the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings of Buddha), and the Sangha (the community of Buddhists).  It was in the capital city of Colombo that I found myself on this particular holiday.

A rush of intense heat whipped my head around to face the oncoming parade.  With their faces wrapped in red rags, an endless line of men marched by on either side of the street.  Each one balanced a heavy, cast-iron fire basket on one shoulder.  Many of them looked seemingly ancient.

I looked at the faces of the people standing beside me.  To my left, a proud father was holding a baby who couldn’t be more than a year old.  She looked mesmerized by the spectacle unfolding in front of her.  I smiled, realizing that she too was seeing it all for the first time.  The drums were getting louder.  As I turned from the child, the crack of fireworks announced the parade’s arrival.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Buddhism • Holidays

soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. john g

    Oh never to suffer again ,to see the light in someone elses eyes,enlightment is a joy.I see you!!!

    June 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  2. pasyanti

    the athiest says that all religions are the same & bad. the mystic says that all religions are the same & good. i think they are both wrong.

    June 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • RonnieC

      ok, my former reply disappeared. apparently my stating that i am an atheist and that I don't find religion to be bad but that i do think it is nonsense motivated someone to "report abuse". sorry you felt that was abusive. you'll see a lot worse above.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  3. RonnieC

    Good part of religion – "I want to behave compassionately."
    Bad part of religion – Everything else.

    June 29, 2010 at 10:15 am |
    • TygerTyger

      Ha, ha –Amen! We get so attached to our ideas of what compassion is and eventually end up trying to cram them down other peoples' throats!

      June 29, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  4. cindy

    the original Christians also belived in reincarnation. The church (catholic) quashed that belief because it proliferated empowerment for the people. I still maintain that Jesus came accross Buddhism in his travels and study and attempted to translated to the hebrew world, in terms they could understand.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:15 am |
    • Reality

      Jesus traveled and studied?? By all accounts, he was a simple, illiterate preacher man who never got past Jerusalem in his travels.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:05 am |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      The problem with Christianity is that it is a religion designed for WORLDLY PEOPLE. Having that understood, you can perfectly understand why Christians are as they are – foolish, ignorant. Christian devotees are people who are bound to their earthly karma, hence they don't have the slightest notion of what Divinity is about – expect that it is to be feared. In this lifetime, the Christian devotee's can never have a any spiritual experience, because as Jesus said: "You are from below, and I am from above". This is the major problem with Christianity.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      To conclude my last comment, the point is that the only hope a typical worldly Christian has, is Salvation by faith. Because of his nature, his karma, all his virtue's, are EARTH BOUND, he must have faith in something Higher, that transcends Earth thinking. Hence, Christianity is all about Salvation, and the medium of Salvation is having faith in the Saviour – Jesus Christ.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  5. goodmorning Vietnam

    "Reincarnation violates all the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. The only thing that is recycled are molecules from our degraded or cremated bodies" ??? Here you are totally confused. you are talking about dead body, (which for most oriental philosophies is an empty box that carried the athma or soul of that person who lived within it, who has ALREADY LEFT IT. that is like any other object like sand dust or fallen leaves. Nobody tells you dead bodies reincarnate, they just "transform" into some other material. (nothing is permanent, everything transforms – Buddha) In other words its changing the chemical formulas. Reincarnation is some thing that the scientists have not yet discovered (illuminated). just imagine talking about world being a round planet just a few centuries ago... or talking about facebook in the 1800s

    June 29, 2010 at 3:21 am |
  6. Micho Pariso

    The fact that you talk so much and appear to have studied Buddhism proves that Buddhism is not dying but is growing into a global consciousness making you and your God centered reality and the institutions that makes a great business out of the concept of God, tremble in their feel knowing that in 50 years faith based religions will not be part of the developed world with the growth in education and enlightenment.

    June 29, 2010 at 12:30 am |
    • RonnieC

      I wouldn't say all of that follows from the premise.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  7. Reality

    Welcome to the 21st century. Reincarnation violates all the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. The only thing that is recycled are molecules from our degraded or cremated bodies. Just think some of you are walking around with a few of George Washington's water molecules flowing thru your veins.

    June 29, 2010 at 12:14 am |
    • TygerTyger

      To believe in reincarnation or not to believe in it is not the point of Buddhism at all. If we get stuck on concerning ourselves with reincarnation and all of its ramifications, then we are not a true Buddhist. When one can truly realize the truth in this moment, then the idea of reincarnation is pointless because one has transcended death. Doesn't mean that what is seen as this body will not pass away, just that one realizes that which is beyond death, similar to how your present consciousness is beyond the awareness of what's going on in the individual cells in your body.

      Anyway, what about a Christian going to heaven after death? Isn't that a type of reincarnation?

      June 29, 2010 at 12:33 am |
    • Bloke

      I think you might also want to research the difference between re-birth and reincarnation. They are two different concepts entirely. Buddhist believe in re-BIRTH, not reincarnation.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • Reality

      OK, please explain exactly how a Buddhist is reborn and/or is reincarnated using the laws of biology, biochemistry and physics.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  8. TygerTyger

    The trouble with Buddhism is that very few people actually practice it. Without practice, the truths revealed in the sutras can seem quite nihilistic and depressing because they are interpreted using the limited mind of the small self. Many people call themselves Buddhists, but they don't even meditatate, and most of those who do meditate do it incorrectly, without a teacher to guide them, and/or they don't do it long enough and intensely enough to taste the essence of the truth. Buddhist practice can dissolve the shell of limited, human understanding and reveal the truth of God's word in every moment. Buddhist practice can dissolve the barrier between the self and others, revealing the true universe that is comprised of loving compassion –the very flesh of what Christians call the Christ.

    June 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • meerkat21

      I agree with TygerTyger- in fact no one can actually practice it. So, Buddha watered it down and called it the Middle path- the 8 percepts of Buddhism – even that is tough going. According to buddhism every animal life is a human life is another athma. So if you eat a chicken .. that chicken could be someone's( or in fact your own ) Grandmother, grandfather, sibling etc. Thats the reason for the concept that one should not kill animals. But buddhists generally eat meat, chicken, fish- saying that Buddhism does not prohibit you from eating meat – as long as the animal is killed by a non – buddhist. So the buddhist can only thrive in countries where non – buddhists live!!

      Also Buddhism is highly theoretical. Basically It's like saying " anyone can be the President of United States( or Michael jackson) if one tries hard enough" - if you fail ... you have not tried hard enough... Simple!!! ...or basically what it says is that if you are not BORN you cannot SUFFER– how true!!!

      Tuk-tuk drivers, the elite of intellectual capital, has taken middle path to heart– they keep the front wheel on the middle line on the road.

      June 29, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • TygerTyger

      Sure, if you're not born you can't suffer...but that doesn't mean that non-existence is the Way. To consider ideas of existence or non-existence, being born or not being born, misses the point and traps you in theoretical, dualistic thinking. Ideas of birth and death, beginnings and ends, existence and non-existence are fabrications of limited human thought. Being, God, Buddha, Mohammed, or whatever you want to call the Ultimate, has nothing to do with birth or death.

      June 29, 2010 at 12:43 am |
    • meerkat21

      I would beg to differ. The whole of Buddhism revolves around and based on Re-birth, Karma- Vipaka, Middle Path and Nirvana
      ( 4 pillars of Buddhism)

      When discussing a religion it would be useful and productive to separate the following

      1. Founders of religions( birth, life and death)
      2. Religion or philosophy itself ( teaching/rules)
      3. The followers.( the faithful so not so faithful)

      Regarding topics 1 , suffice it to say that most of what is taught is a mixture of fantasy, fiction, heresy and hearsay.

      1. Founders : A word about virgin birth– So called virgin birth( asexual reproduction) was common in the royal courts of India, China, Greece, Rome and Egypt. The story goes like this. The king is away fighting a war- trying to to conquer another land. The queen, concubine or a lady in the Harem gets pregnant . Women are smart- they send a word saying that the queen is blessed with a child. The queen explains by the pregnancy by saying that she was impregnated by god, angel or some divine being. Or that she had a dream of her only love , the king, and voila – she got pregnant. Everyone is happy, the king, members of the royal court... and the place guards of course.!

      This ruse worked for sometime but the kings got wise to it. They realized that their beloved queens cannot be trusted with the Palace guards or the priests- so they invented a gadget called " a Chastity best'. This reduced the number of ' virgin births' and ' divine pregnancies' but did not eliminate the problem entirely. So the next step– Castrate all Palace Guards. THis is how eunuchs came to occupy high positions in the security of house holds. The Egyptians Royal house holds were well served by castrated well built Nubian slaves. In India it became a tradition amongst royal household servants and there are families of eunuchs in Rajasthani villages.

      2. Religions – Most religions preach love, care and compassion- nothing wrong with that although the reasons or incentives for doing good deeds vary from religion to religion. In Christianity if you have collected enough merits you go to heaven. Although I wonder about the level of merit( marks) required to satisfy St Peter and whether one can fail to enter heaven by not having one merit point? just like failing an exam? Condemned to hell for not having one miserly merit point?

      And what if Jesus ( and Moses) is right? If there is a god what would happen to all the Buddhists, atheists and agnostics? will they all end up in hell because they never go to church or confess? Or for that matter what would happen to all the muslims, christians and Hindus if Buddha is right?

      3. Anyone can say anything- so we can choose to ignore points 1 & 2.
      But what about those religious faithful who glorify religions and religious founders? Here are some interesting facts gleaned from several international and reputable sources.

      1. A religious person is more likely to commit a murder or crime than a non- religious person
      2. Religious persons are more violent than an atheist (a person who is more likely to be more educated and scientific)
      3. Most religious countries( Colombia, Brazil, Pakistan)are the most violent
      4. Non- religious countries are the most peaceful and most prosperous.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:36 am |
    • TygerTyger

      I don't mean to say that Re-birth, Karma- Vipaka, Middle Path and Nirvana are unreal, just that we must let go of our concepts about them are. If I think I understand the middle path or Nirvana, that doesn't mean I'm enlightened. We can't be satisfied with limited, human understanding; we must be able to see the source of that limited understanding and cut the root of that source.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  9. DAVINCIKODE

    What are you talking about? Book learning? I am talking about God, He who dwells within you. If you meditate on Him then He will simply reveals himself to you out of sheer Love!

    June 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • Mat

      You are even more special than I thought! You can talk of God and where He is and what He is....all without any reference materials or teachings...how superb you are. And how exquisitely deluded. Having no reference you profess understanding of God, without knowing if you have been tricked by Satan who is a billion times more clever than you.

      June 28, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      What? Do I need a book to uphold your standards? I told you, Buddhism makes you a depressed intellectual, devotion to the Lord however, will make you a Realized soul.

      June 28, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  10. Mat

    Wherefore do you come to the conclusion that you hold the monopoly on Truth? When even your own scriptures describe your SUPREME DEITY as being predisposed to anger, wrath and jealousy? You might as well worship Zeus or Hera or even a child in this case. Take some time to evaluate your teachings objectively and you will find absurdities beyond belief.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      The Supreme Deity exists because you didn't create yourself.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • Mat

      You are unskillfully avoiding answering the issue of you worshipping an angry jealous god. Good luck on that.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      PS. I don't know a Supreme Deity who suffers from human emotionality disorders, such as wrath, jealousy etc. I only know Him as Infinite Bliss. Buddhist meditation cannot take you there, it can only take you to the void.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • Mat

      My apologies DAVINCI... I was under the impression that you were of the Judeo Christian stock since you love referring to Jesus so much. Or are you just here to pass the time? If you are Christian, then do read the Bible again and come back when you really know it.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • Mat

      DAVINCI...What is the Void? It sounds like a scary place. Please enlighten me on your understanding of "The Void".

      June 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      Whats wrong with rffering to Jesus? What sin did He commit that it is so bad to refer to him ? All resistance to the Lord simply come from wrong cultural programming. He is blameless, as you yourself are. That is True Love – it's all blameless, dont you see!

      June 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      Haha, you are acting like you don't know. Anyway, for your entertainment: the void is the place Buddhist mediation will take you. It is simply having an empty mind which is devoid of any content, but lacks Love. Only Love, as *demonstrated* by Christ and Krishna will take you to Ultimate Reality. Remember, the Buddha submitted to Servicing humanity with his knowledge, this is what Love is – sharing for the higher good.

      June 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • Mat

      OOps, I totally get it now. You were just being ironic throughout all these comments. Sorry my bad. You really got me. Welcome Brother and thank you for the test. Peace be with all beings without exception.

      June 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      Spiritual power is something magnificent indeed.

      June 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
    • Bloke

      WOW! "The Void" is some non-Buddhist concept you seem to have created yourself. You have NO idea how wrong you are, your smug, self-righteous behavior is proof positive of that. Mat, you can't educate those who will not learn. Don't waste your time.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  11. Mat

    This DAVINCIKODE fellow sure does write alot about something which he knows very little of. He has again and again misinterpreted and misunderstood and misstated the Buddhistic teachings on fundamental levels...not to mention more profound levels. It is apparent that he did not read the MANY sutras which explicitly explain and refute the ways of Nihilism. Furthermore, his understanding of Karma is superficial and incomplete at best. Too bad. He could really use a dose of reality instead of fairy tales of an old man in the sky with a white beard who loves him.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      The fault of Buddhism in the first place is that it negated the Vedic culture. The Vedic Sages are the only ones who hold any Truth on this plane. If you want Truth, then read the Bhagavad-Gita, but not the Pali-canon. It's a waste of time. You will never attain the spiritual level of Gautama, only one of a depressed intellectual disillusioned in a prestigious lifetime of classical music and good food. I have seen it all on this plane. God exists, get over it, and then develop Love for Him, and you will be blessed!

      June 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • Mat

      I can't wait until you describe what God looks like and what kind of conversations you guys have whenever you have them. It seems that you are the only one who is deluded here friend. Why do you worship God? Because you are afraid of Him? Hellfire? Or you love Him? Or he will reward you? In any case, you are just bartering. Buddhism instructs people to do good out of understanding and empathy for others...simply put: it is good to do good and beneficial for all beings, while it is unconstructive to do evil.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      Nah, I thought we were debating Spirituality, not "doing good". Even your atheistic neighbor these days is a good person, this comes from the cultural dominance of Christianity, not Buddhism in case you didn't notice.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
    • Mat

      DAVINCI...take care not to confuse religion with spirituality, lest you reveal the profound severity of your ignorance about such matters. The good Atheist is much more spiritual than the most devout religious zealot who looks down on others for not agreeing with his own beliefs.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  12. JR

    It has always baffled me that Sri Lankan Buddhists, adherents of one of the most tolerant religions in the world, are so overwhelmingly intolerant of the Hindu Tamil minority of their country. Please would someone explain.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • VedicIndian

      the reasons are political not religious.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • meerkat21

      Say a lot about Hindu tamils. Christian Tamils, Muslim Tamils, Buddhist Tamils, Moors, Malays and Bughers are thriving in Sri Lanka. Get the gist?

      June 29, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • Kevin

      As with most long-term problems in that part of the world, the problem was caused by the British. (specifically, the
      British of the Victorian "Colonial" Era)
      Their "solution" to 'keeping the peace' was to forcibly relocate entire populations (the tamil) into the territory of a rival nation and then encourage conflict between the two...thus distracting them from rebelling against the English Raj. It quite literally is a textbook example of "quelling the natives" (no, seriously, it's in textbooks of the time!)
      What we are seeing are merely the aftermath of English arrogance, decades later.

      June 29, 2010 at 12:45 am |
  13. Sean

    davincikode- you're western historicist bias is disconcerting. If it weren't for the fact that you kind of know what you're talking about then I wouldn't bother. I do believe that what you say about Buddhism is true, yet your use of the western religions (or hinduism) as the counterpoint is seemingly a bit flawed. Just because the world in created (thus giving everything some 'mystical' purpose in your logic) doesn't mean that it has an eschatology– or that the eschatologies proposed are just as likely.
    You continue to say that this religion is inferior because it doesn't give you a reason why to act good- who says it has to? You?

    June 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      Sorry man, but only one who is versed in TRUE esoteric knowledge can explain why Buddhism is a flawed religion. This type of knowledge doesn't come from books, but from God only. I am speaking of personal experience. Buddhism likes to think this plane is simply a karmic machine, wherein you are simply a hopeless sentient being, going from lifetime to lifetime. This is simply existential nihilism. Therefore I say, if you think Buddhism is so correct, then follow it to the bone -if you dare-, and don't be surprised when you find yourself in a state of hell – that's how severe this nihilistic philosophy is!

      Christ was born to counter-balance this utterly non-sense of meditating until death. We don't need radical meditation, we need to simply accept the Love of God that was available to us since the beginning, and then all occult and esoteric knowledge gets revealed – at least, that is my personal case!

      June 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
    • Mat

      DAVINCIKODE is indeed a special person, since he/she has seen God and knows His nature and what He looks like.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
    • Bloke

      He's beyond "special" if he truly believes Buddhism is nihilist in any way. That shows his utter and complete ignorance based on a superficial study of the religion/philosophy. It's quite easy to come to that conclusion based on a surface reading and base study of Buddhism when coming from a Western point of view. While not in the Pali cannon, he might do well to find some texts on the Heart Sutra and the understanding that this is NOT nihilism.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Steve

    Reincarnation as in rebirth or transmigration of a soul is a Hindu holdover some, not all Buddhists believe or teach. Another more orthodox and original is that one's consciousness or mind is reborn every second or less and we can guide that by being and doing wholesome deeds instead of unwholesome ones. To be a Buddhist is not to believe in myths or anything but to practice, to do, to be compassionate and tolerant and kind to oneself and all other living creatures. Does that qualify as a religion? Who cares for semantics; actions count.

    June 28, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Mahinda Wijeratne

    It is sad to read so many discussing Buddhism on the surface level and to pass judgement on it. One sould study it It is a philosophy very logical and easy to understand provided you have the patience to do it.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • missadr

      I'm a christian and I absolutely love zen. I don't really think of it as a religion, but a philosophy of life. Most buddhist ideas do not contradict my christianity. I agree 100% that buddhism, in it's various forms, is very complex and full of precious insights. I have the utmost respect for it.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      I agree, the Buddhist practices, such as Zen meditation are very fruitful, but on the level of understanding, the Buddhist philosophy is extremely depressing. Therefore, I myself being a spiritual student, took a few practices from the Buddhist scene but left the intellectual and understanding part to Hinduism and Christianity. That is the way of one who doesn't believe in existential hopelessness!

      June 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • Bloke

      Davin, here again you are mistaken. Buddhism isn't leading people into depression. Quite the opposite. It isn't nihilist at all if you understood it at all you'd see that. It isn't based on negativity. It's based on reality. There's no sense in any of us trying to help you understand that because it's very obvious you don't care to learn. You're simply here to be the naysayer just as an atheist often is on Christian stories.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  16. DAVINCIKODE

    @Anne Onamis

    Yep, being a depressed intellectual listening to classical music all day long – that's the ultimate fruit of Buddhism, no more no less. Better believe in a Loving Creator, as Christianity and Hinduism propagate. That's called being realistic about the human condition.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • runaway

      You seem a very frustrated individual. Any person has the right to practice and believe in any religion of their choosing but it is not right to get rid of your frustration by putting down what another believes in. God/no god, reincarnation/ no reincarnation...... the list goes on but who cares. Lets live and let live.

      June 28, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      Yep, frustrated by HUMAN NAIVETY, just like the Buddha was. He didn't walk out of his prestigious royal castle for no reason, you know. People have the right to believe what they want to believe, but on the other hand, personal opinions are not Truth, therefore the messengers of Truth are authorized to speak of such matters. Buddhism doesn't know of such a tradition, but in Christianity they are known as workers for God. You see, another flaw in Buddhist philosophy, unable to explain the occurrence of personalities like mine.

      June 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      The human individual who settles for less is the source of samsara. Nothing more, nothing less. Workers for God do not settle for anything this world has to offer!

      June 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
    • Bloke

      You truly have no concept of Buddhism as it is in practice. None whatsoever. You seem to have these sticking points that make no sense to you, perhaps you found them on another site. It's obvious it isn't for you. No Buddhist would try to convert you. You shouldn't come here to try to convert others or put them down. There is no point in arguing with you; but, any true Buddhist will know without question you are sadly and deeply mistaken in what you think of our religion.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  17. lulu

    Whether you believe in the heaven/hell afterlife or re-incarnation, either one is hard for such a limited human mind to understand. Perhaps we do not have to take everything as a literal interpretation, i.e., Buddha coming out of the womb walking, talking, preaching, or Jesus actually rising from the dead. Jesus and Buddha, perhaps were simply at the highest state of spiritual consciousness possible for a human being. Perhaps it is best for we humans to study each and learn from their life and the wisdom they each possessed. Then, we can, perhaps come relatively close to the spiritual awareness that is available to us all. Just like we train our bodies and minds, it seems possible for us to train our spiritual consciousness, through prayer/meditation/contemplation/giving, so that we can experience a life of love, peace, level-headedness, a life free of conflict and suffering.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  18. DAVINCIKODE

    The problem with Buddhism is that it has some noble values to share with you, but that it's philosophy is utterly incomplete. Therefore, Buddhism is a dead religion, and if we look at the world, Buddhism is dead and obsolete indeed. Somebody in here said: "Blind faith is dangerious". Well, that is exactly the problem with Buddhism, because blind faith in "doing good deeds" without knowing or believing a God exists is indeed a form of zealousness. Don't get me wrong, I am not against compassion or Love, but a lot of Buddhist philosophies have a very dark edge. This dark edge is the over-importance on the suffering of sentient beings instead of taking opportunities with faith a Loving Creator, such as Christianity, Hinduism and virtually all other religions propagate. Therefore, I do not like Buddhism, it tells you to act 'good', but for what to act good, it cannot tell you, at best that you are stuck in a 'karmic wheel of life and death'. That is simply the poor mans way of understanding Reality. Not to mention it opposes faith. Which person can have any type of faith that believes he is stuck in a karmic washing machine of life/ death, without any Higher Being behind it? Therefore, Buddhism is simply a flawed religion and about to be extinguished. It was nice for a while, but luckily for mankind, we are marching out of delusion, and this includes religious delusion about our True Origin – namely God.
    Peace out.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Anne Onamis

      And stay out.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • runaway

      Buddhism is not a religion !!! There is no god to worry about. Do good for your own sake. If you do good deeds, good will come to you but if you do bad, you will suffer either in this life or the next. Very simple.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @runaway

      "Buddhism is not a religion !"

      Perhaps it is not officially, but people practice it nonetheless as a religion. The mindless chanting of Sutra's, that the same thing as an organized religion. Anyway, don't worry, humanity is progressing towards a bigger understanding of Conscious Awareness, one that isn't all about suffering and reincarnation, but about learning to Love & forgive. Once you learned that, Charity and such follow automatically.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • VedicIndian

      Your comments prove you are a devout Christian or a Muslim. In any case, belief in a loving creator is good but everyone doesn't need that belief to do the right thing. By the way, the vedic religion (Hinduism) is quite liberal when it comes to beliefs. So, you cant put it in the same category as monotheist religions like Christianity. Buddhism is an offshoot of vedic religion and Buddha used the techniques mentioned in the vedic religion to find salvation. He asked people to stop believing in a God because at that time, the people were too involved in rituals and had almost forgotten the real meaning of dharma. I prefer to choose the path that I believe in because I realize that I am not even same as my siblings so I cant be expected to believe in something just because everyone must believe in it. If God made us like that, He/She/It doesn't want us to believe in a single way to reach Him/Her/It. And yes, Buddhism is a difficult religion to follow but its not dead by any means and all vedic people love and respect the philosophies of Lord Buddha just as much as the teachings of Gods like Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Durga, Ganesh and so on.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      I agree, but I recognize in your comment that you do not think it through. If you really think about what the Pali Canon is talking about, then you end up in existential hopelessness. Therefore, most Buddhist practiconers in the west are depressed intellectuals, simply hunting oppertunities for practicing charity, but they don't know WHY they practice charity. To get a better life? Yeah sure, but WHAT is our underlying Reality? Christianity explains this, Hinduism explains this, but Buddhism doesn't. It simply comes up with a incomplete karmic wheel story, utterly depressing and if you really believe it, you will end up in hell because of the grief it generates in the Hearth.

      Indeed, spirituality is about the Hearth, and Buddhism simply lacks it. Therefore, it's inferior compared to other religions.

      June 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • VedicIndian

      But my point is why do you follow it if you cant find peace in its philosophies? What you call depression might just be a lack of interest in materialness..which is also one of the teachings of Buddhism. The whole point is: don't believe in anything unless you find it so engaging that you could defend it when your mind questions it. The people, who believe in Buddhism just because they think its fashionable or Buddha asked them to, are losing their precious time on the planet. Loving creator idea sounds beautiful but there is story of Krishna where one of his great devotees came to him and said that other devotees are so ignorant because they believed in his form and didn't know that he is formless and endless. Krishna told him that everyone had the right to see him the way they want, form, formless, or non-existent. I go by that philosophy and never consider judging others belief or lack of it in God. All paths lead to salvation except the ones based on selfishness and cruelty.

      June 28, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • silentlamb

      DAVIDCIKODE/Reality>> I agree to both of you...

      June 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @VedicIndian

      I find the strong point of Buddhism being it's personal additude, like not believing philosophies until you proved them for yourself. I am willing to go unto that point, but when you are going to prove Buddhism itself, and I mean, the Pali Canon – that contain the original teachings of Gautama, then you will find something is missing. What is missing? Check my comment to Sean. What is missing is an occult matter, and only God can introduce you to this level of understanding things. The conclusion in laymen terms is simply that Buddhism has become obsolete.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
    • VedicIndian

      You seem to be hell bent on selling your beliefs to others. Anyway, so be it; most of us are not out shopping, thankfully. I guess humans will never settle for one idea so I dont see any danger of Buddhist ideas being phased-out.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @VedicIndian

      'Selling my beliefs'. Dude, in the days of Gautama you would have to renounce the world and meditate in a grove cave to attain to the knowledge I am voluntary *CHOOSE* to share with you here today. This is Love in action, not a karmic causality machine. So I say to you, Peace brother and be blessed.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • VedicIndian

      In the days of Buddha, we had other paths to follow if we didn't feel like meditating in a cave and no one forcibly converted people by threatening death. Have you seen the loving creator? Can you give me one positive proof that it exists? If not, give up already! As per modern evidence, its possible that Christ was a Buddhist who studied in a Tibet monastery and learned yoga. That would account for his lost years from the age of 12-30. For all you know, you mind be offending the loving creator by you talk against HIS beliefs!

      June 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • Vipul.

      I feel you are far away from the all religions, in fact you don't have any understanding about buddhism. The arguments on your statement are useless and no value at all. If you do not like buddhism keep it to yourself. Do not try to show your stupidity to others. I am a buddhist and I respect all other religions as well. Thats what our lord buddha said. Do not belive blindly. As someone mension above, The Buddha himself was against "blind faith" which is very dangerous. Buddha said "do not believe just b'cos some one tells you... just believe things which you yourself have analyzed (meditated) and your mind is satisfied with it". Anyway the true spirit of buddhism lies on compassion, care and respect on other living beings like people animals trees (all on the same level of importance) etc. and do not create suffering to any of these creatures... So is cristianity... love your neighbour ... therefore I think the philosophical message of all the great religions is more or less the same

      June 29, 2010 at 12:52 am |
  19. Ryan

    Ultimately, what you believe in doesn't really matter. What matters is what kind of acts you engage in. Some Buddhists who believe in reincarnation and karma try to do good deeds and refrain from sins because they believe they will benefit from their deeds either in this life or then next. That's only one part of Buddhism, as the Buddha told his followers to do good for one of three reasons. To improve their Karma, because they would expect others to do similar good for them or because they just want to do good.

    The same goes for every religion. As long as a person is doing good, it shouldn't matter what their motives are.

    June 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • missadr

      I think you miss the point friend. What you believe determines what you do. Not what you SAY you believe, but what you really believe. Faith is an action.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  20. Reality

    As with all religions, Buddhist monks and Buddhism have some problems with reality. One is reincarnation. The other are the myths. For example: From Professor JD Crossan:

    When I look a Buddhist friend in the face, I cannot say with integrity, "Our story about Jesus' virginal birth is true and factual. Your story that when the Buddha came out of his mother's womb, he was walking, talking, teaching and preaching (which I must admit is even better than our story)-that's a myth. We have the truth; you have a lie."

    I don't think that can be said any longer, for our insistence that our faith is a fact and that others' faith is a lie is, I think, a cancer that eats at the heart of Christianity"

    June 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • ajay

      I'm a buddhist but I don't really believe in that "walking after birth story" and nobody compels me to belive it. These stories are for people who need "miracles" to have faith in something. The Buddha himself was against "blind faith" which is very dangerous. Buddha said "do not believe just b'cos some one tells you... just believe things which you yourself have analyzed (meditated) and your mind is satisfied with it". Anyway the true spirit of buddhism lies on compassion, care and respect on other living beings like people animals trees (all on the same level of importance) etc. and do not create suffering to any of these creatures... So is cristianity... love your neighbour ... therefore I think the philosophical message of all the great religions is more or less the same.

      June 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • Reality

      True about "loving your neighbor as yourself" but then there is all that reincarnation mumbo jumbo!!!

      June 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Soori

      "reincarnation mumbo jumbo"............ really "Realty"????? What about you guys waiting for Jesus to come back from the dead after 2010 years? Sounds funny to me....

      June 28, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • Reality

      Scoori,

      The second coming was first "prophesied" by Paul to occur in Paul's lifetime. Only those that suffer from the Three B Syndrome i.e. being Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Christianity, still believe he is still coming.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • VedicIndian

      Buddhism and Hinduism believe in reincarnation and so do many other religions. Even if you are an atheist, you cant prove that death is an end of a person's consciousness. On the other hand, there have been many strong cases to prove reincarnation but not strong enough to convince everyone. Therefore, its best not to debate. We will all know the truth when we die anyway. Its not like you will not get to face it if you dont believe in the "reality", whatever it is. So, just keep your views to yourself and if you can substantiate your claims and prove it beyond all reasonable doubts, please enlighten us.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • missadr

      Mr. Reality, Again you are pretty far from reality. Who are you to say that reincarnation is a myth? I mean, seriously, what scientific proof do you have that reincarnation doesn't happen? Second, I think most of the authors of the new testament knew that the second coming of Christ would not happen in their lifetimes. The precursors to that event were simply not possible in their day and they knew that. It's incredibly arrogant for you to say that anyone who doesn't believe as you do is brainwashed. Get over yourself. Your version of reality sounds pretty brainwashed to me – brainwashed by mainstream secular media.

      June 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
    • RonnieC

      missadr- I think the default position in life should be one of understanding the world with the scientific method. We should try to understand the world based on our senses and reasoning. And then if you have some type of evidence that there is something beyond, then prove it and it can be incorporated into my understanding of the world. All the god-talk, however is baseless because it is speculative. Instead of criticising someone else and asking them to prove that reincarnation DOESN'T happen, why don't you prove to him that it does? Because you can't. It's ok to believe whatever you want, as long as you don't hurt anyone. But don't expect others to believe it with you. Same goes for virgin births, rising from the dead, whatever.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Recovering Catholic

      Yeah for Zombie god worship (read: Jesus)!

      June 29, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
    • Anonymous Coward

      One could also think the reincarnation meaning reincarnation of ideas and the consequences of actions and inactions often rising after a person committed those acts has ceased. Reinventing the wheel and blood feud between families probably are probably familiar concepts to most people here. The emphasis is on the understanding of cause and consequence, not on the rebirth of a particular personality. The eternalness and soul so entrenched in Christianity are something Buddhist teachings consider delusion.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.