Do Buddhists believe in love?

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.

 

What is emptiness according to Buddhism?

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.

 

Is Buddhism a religion?

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.

What do Buddhists worship?

 

Buddhists don’t actually worship anyone or anything, though they revere Dharma practitioners who have achieved enlightenment, such as arhats, devas or buddhas. The Guatama Buddha said that no one should worship him, or even adopt his teachings unquestioningly. He encouraged his followers to examine the nature of the universe for themselves through analytical meditation to discover the truth.

 

Buddhists perform ceremonies in which they make offerings and ask the enlightened beings for guidance, but they consider all beings to have a Buddha nature, so we are all equal. Its just that some beings have a deeper understanding of the true nature of the universe than others.

 

 

How do we experience thought?

If you sit quietly and concentrate on just noticing that thoughts arise in your mind, at first it will seem that they just pop up suddenly, out of “thin air”. Not only that, but one thought immediately spawns a bunch of other thoughts, until you sort of snap out of it and realize that you’ve been thinking all sorts of things. With practice, however, you can learn to not get carried away from one thought to another, but just let them go.  With more practice, you can experience a state in which thoughts don’t arise at all. From that point of view, its easy to see that the thoughts we experience are a result of a misunderstanding about what is important, and more to the point, what is real.

 

So we experience thought as though it was urgent, important, and something we can’t ignore, but after practicing, we can see that thoughts are a distraction from true concentration. You have to experience this to understand. Its like explaining the color green to a blind person. We experience thoughts every single moment of every day, but we rarely if ever understand what it means to have a thought in comparison to what it is to comprehend without thinking. Its weird, and until you practice a bit, it sounds like gibberish. But you have to admit that it was a question without a clear target.

Does Buddhism consist of sacrifice?

Sacrifice, or giving up a desired object, in itself is not important in Buddhism. Buddhists make offerings and give to the poor, but not out of the conviction that sacrifice is important to spiritual well-being. Giving things up is important in Buddhism because it reminds us that desire and aversion are the source of suffering. We think that not having something we desire is what makes us unhappy, but really it is the desire itself that makes us unhappy. Being attached to some things and abhorring others is the source of suffering so making sacrifices reminds us true happiness can’t be found by getting what we want.

What do humans have to go on when the limits of science have been reached?

Who said science has limits? Many people believe that science, spirituality, the arts and really all other forms of human endeavor are simply different views of the same mountain. We have a mountain – or an elephant from the fable of the blind men examining an elephant and each one finding a different part of the elephant and thinking that was all there was to an elephant – and scientists, spiritual seekers and all the rest of us see the mountain from different aspects. The mountain is a comprehension of how the universe works and what it means to be alive. Each seeker sees a different aspect of the mountain, and as they become more and more adept at their approaches, they become closer and closer to each other. There is no reason to believe that there will ever be an end to the things we can learn about the universe and what it means to be alive. As we get closer to other peoples’ vantage points, the things we have learned about our mountain will take on new and more profound meanings, so there’s no end to what we can learn from science or from any other approach to understanding the world.

 

What concrete evidence does a Buddhist have that his faith is real?

Buddhism is not exactly a religion or faith. There is no requirement that a Buddhist believe or have faith in anything, as there is in most religions. Through various practices such as meditation, we can train our minds to concentrate single-pointedly on profound questions about the true nature of reality; of how the universe actually works. As in science or mathematics, the “proof” of the Buddhist concept of how the universe works is gained through rigorous logic and experience of the clarity of an un-deluded mind. The Buddha encouraged his students to not accept anything he said on faith, but to examine and test what he told them themselves. Most Buddhist practitioners will at some point in their practice experience “realizations”, which are leaps in understanding, allowing the person to comprehend a little more of the true nature of reality.  These realizations serve to reaffirm what has been taught.

 

Some experienced practitioners have been known to perform feats that do not seem logically possible in our day-to-day experience of reality. This is because with the power of their minds they have transcended day-to-day reality, into a more clear understanding of the true nature of reality. These feats don’t really serve a practicing Buddhist as “concrete proof”, however, since it is understood that our day-to-day minds are deluded. Fantastic physical feats serve more to impress lay people.

         

What is the Buddhist view of evolution?

Evolution is a fact. A fact is an agreed-upon observation made by competent observers. Before Columbus, it was a fact that the world was flat. The Buddhist view – if you are concerned about the differences between creationism and evolution, as I suspect you are because you posed this question – is that it really doesn’t matter. The things we find ourselves concerned with in this life, in this apprehension of reality, seem very important to us because when we aren’t enlightened we  live in the day-to-day world. Even so, we need to stay aware of the fact that there is a deeper understanding of reality, in which creationism and evolution are paltry distinctions, unimportant to bringing lasting happiness to all sentient beings.

What do Buddhists believe about the world?

Buddhists believe that the world we experience with our every-day minds is really an illusion. After following the path or the Dharma, we can become enlightened, and understand the true nature of reality. That sort of understanding about the world is said to be a form of “waking up”.  When you wake up from sleep and remember a dream you were having, you realize that the mind that was dreaming was deluded about the true nature of reality: after all, in dreams we can fly and find that our hands have turned into claws or any other fantastic thing. “Waking up” into enlightenment will be like that. We’ll look back on what we experience now in every-day reality as a dream.

 

Buddhists also believe that all sentient beings have a Buddha Nature, and so are capable of awakening. All beings have an inherent compassion for all beings, and practicing the Dharma involves enabling ourselves to touch on that loving kindness all the time. Cultivating loving kindness and recognizing that the true source of suffering is attachment and aversion are the cornerstones to Buddhist practice.