From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2004

Of all the religions in the world, perhaps the Asian religion of Buddhism (BOO-diz-um) is the most depressing. Some people say that Buddhism is not really a religion at all, but more of a philosophy or way of thinking about things.

Buddhism was started around 430 B.C., when a Hindu man began teaching a new way to think. He became known as the Buddha (BOO-duh), which means “the Enlightened One.” Buddha said that there is no God, and that men do not have eternal souls. One of his Four Noble Truths, which are the main teachings of Buddhism, says that “everything is suffering.” Buddhism teaches that life is nothing but suffering, and that the only way to end the suffering is to get to “nirvana.” Nirvana is not a place, like heaven, but it is the state of no longer living. Buddha taught that the only way to get to nirvana, or non-life, is to live enough good lives.

Buddhists believe that once you die, you are born again as someone or something else, which is called reincarnation (RE-in-car-NAY-shun). You can be born again as a ghost, a boy, a girl, a dog, a cow, or anything else. If you do enough good things in all your many lives and reincarnations, then you eventually stop being born and stop existing. That is nirvana. Isn’t that a sad thought? Once you die for the last time, you just stop existing. Buddhism teaches nothing about a heaven. It says that your reward for living a good life is no longer living at all. It’s kind of like saying, “You’ve lived many long and good lives as reincarnations of several different people, animals, and a few really nice ghosts. And now you get…absolutely nothing! Congratulations!”

But we know that none of that is true! The Bible promises us a better ending than nirvana. We know that there is a loving and caring God Who created the world (1 John 4:16; Genesis 1:1), and that He created every person with a soul that will live forever when the body dies (1 Corinthians 2:11; Romans 6:22). And if we do what God says, then we will get to be with Him forever in heaven. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).


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