Of course Buddhists can commit suicide. They can also kill, steal, harm people, speak divisively, speak abusively, tell lies, be greedy, hate people and all the rest. The teaching is that doing any of those things is a misguided attempt to reach happiness. If someone tells lies or acts out of greed, it’s because he thinks it will lead to happiness. One way to look at it is that someone who commits suicide thinks that there is no hope for happiness at all, and death will at least stop the pain. What the suicide doesn’t understand from this point of view is that he will be reincarnated, and will have to deal with clearing the negative karma which brought him pain in the next life. Another way to look at it is that someone who wants to kill himself doesn’t understand that the circumstances of this life aren’t really that important; that with a deeper understanding of what reality really is, even the most terrible conditions can be experienced as happiness. People who commit suicide deserve sincere compassion.
Understanding why there is suffering is different than understanding what suffering is. Why suffering exists and what it is both spring from the same misunderstanding, however. We think that the every day reality in which we all live is the only one. We think that we have an “I”, a “self” which is different from our imperishable natures. We think that getting whatever the self wants and thinks is good will make us happy, and that getting things the self thinks are undesirable and bad will make us unhappy, but that isn’t true. It makes us grasp at the things we want, and that grasping doesn’t just lead to suffering, but it is suffering. The key to understanding suffering is that if you were to be without it, you would neither want certain things, shun other things, nor be indifferent to anything, either.
Wikkianswers is pretty much out of interesting questions to answer. All the questions left seem to be along the lines of “which countries are Buddhist?” and “Where did Buddhism come from?” In my opinion, the answers to those questions are easily obtained from Wikipedia, and from Wikianswers, for that matter. If you have a question about Buddhism or anything else, please feel free to ask me here. I may or may not have an answer, but I do like thinking about stuff.
Many Buddhists don’t consider Buddhism to be a religion, but a philosophy. There are many different sects within Buddhism, like Mahayana or Zen, which use different techniques to understand the true nature of reality, and interpret the teachings given by the Buddha somewhat differently. Most of those sects believe that the other sects are all valid interpretations of Dharma, though there are some who think theirs is the only way.
Buddhists don’t actually “worship” icons, symbols or relics exactly. They are considered more to be reminders of the concepts they represent. For example, the dorje is a ritual object which represents a thunderbolt, maleness, cosmic force and compassion, while the bell represents the female principle and the virtue of wisdom. Holding one of each represents the union of the two and the complementariness of their essences. Showing reverence for relics is another way of concentrating one’s attention on the teachings given by the Buddha. What happens when we “worship”, is that our minds are very precisely concentrated, which is a skill we want to develop in order to comprehend the true nature of reality. When the mind is concentrating single-pointedly, it is possible to exist on a different plane of reality, so “worshipping” icons can have very real, very profound effects which seem magical to our conventional minds
Of course! Practicing loving kindness for all beings is a cornerstone of the Buddhist philosophy. That kind of love is often compared to the love a mother feels for her child, which is not the same as the kind of love you fall into. The kind of love you fall into is quite real, but it is also a result of a misunderstanding about the true nature of reality. We all feel attachment and aversion for all sorts of things and people, and we become convinced that we will only be happy if we have the thing or person we desire, or if we avoid the things and people which we dislike, but it isn’t true. True happiness happens when we can let go of desire and aversion, and feel complete loving kindness for all beings, not just the person you fall in love with.
Emptiness is also sometimes called selflessness, and it refers to the ultimate nature of how all things, including people, exist in this world. Normally we think of ourselves as existing independently from anything else. But when you examine what existing is really carefully, you might realize that whatever it is that you call “I” or “me” isn’t easy to define at all. Is your “self” in your head? You my say “this is my hand”, but who is the owner of that hand? Is it that thing we call a spirit? You were once a little kid who believed in Santa Claus. Is that you? If you had an operation or an accident which caused you to lose your memory, would you still be you? You might be able to answer some of these sorts of questions with confidence, but as you delve deeper and deeper into the question of where and what your ’self’ is, it becomes less and less clear. In fact, what we think of as our ‘self’ doesn’t exist at all. Its just a construct of our minds that makes us able to function in the conventional world. In fact, the true nature of reality is called “dependent origination”. Without an observer, the observed doesn’t exist, and without an object to be observed, the observer doesn’t exist. That is what is meant by emptiness: the true nature of reality is that objects including people, are empty of inherent existence. It’s a very subtle distinction, which takes lots of meditation and practice to really understand.
Buddhist monks and nuns wear robes for much the same reason any monks and nuns do; to remind them that what is important is the inner life, rather than the outer trappings of life, like clothes. Robes also identify the wearer as a dedicated Dharma practitioner, so others will be less likely to tempt them to break their vows.
Buddhism arose from observations reported by Gautama Buddha, who had reached enlightenment. Because enlightenment involves understanding the world in a way that is more complete than is possible for minds which aren’t enlightened, that knowledge or point of view can seem magical or essentially powerful. Religions are concerned with those questions about the world which have no obvious answer, so the observations of an enlightened person can seem to be religious in nature. People have a fundamental urge to acknowledge the sacred in the world, and when an enlightened person speaks of deep truths, others tend to want to place the person, not just the truths, on a pedestal. Most religions require that adherents believe and adhere to a creed or a formal statement of religious belief, but Buddhism does not, so it isn’t really a religion, though it does garner veneration from people who recognize that the Buddha espoused deep and remarkable truths.
You can’t. Desire and aversion disappear “of their own accord” (to be overly simplistic) after you train your mind to be so focused that it can “see” desire and aversion coming. Normally we look at a cup of coffee and immediately think either “oh, great! I love coffee!” or “coffee is addictive and bad for me and I can’t stand it.” When your mind is trained and still, there is a space or a time before those thoughts arise. That is where desire and aversion aren’t. Desire and aversion are delusions, and when you rest in that tiny space before they arise, the space gets larger and larger, until desire and aversion can’t capture your mind anymore.