A comparative study on Mahayana Buddhist and Adventist concepts on suffering
Unpublished Thesis (DMin)
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Suffering, the fundamental teaching of Buddhism, has occupied the minds of the Korean people for more than sixteen centuries. The concept of suffering has become the basis for Korean philosophy and lifestyle. The concept of human suffering is also a basic Adventist teaching. These two religions both have the concept of suffering in their beliefs. Both religions highly regard suffering as their religious framework. Adventists, although evangelical in doctrine, do not communicate well with Buddhists. The concept of suffering offers an avenue with Buddhists. The concept of suffering offers an avenue for dialogue, but Adventists are lacking in knowledge on the Buddhist understanding of suffering. Buddhists believe that suffering is inherent to all living creatures, including human beings, because of their relationship with the Five Aggregates and the Dependent Origination. Therefore suffering is the whole of human life and a person cannot escape from its pervasiveness. Buddhists concede that greed and ignorance are the main causes of suffering and separation from these causes means the liberation from suffering, called Enlightment (nibbana). The Eightfold Path is the noble guide for mental discipline to become a perfect one, a Bodhisattva. This path is crucial to be practiced by the enlightened ones for their achievement of final liberation. This path consists of morality, concentration, and wisdom. Adventists understand that suffering is a condition of all human beings, arising because of the weakness of human nature after the Fall. They claim that sin is the primary cause for all kinds of suffering. Sin is universal and therefore suffering is pervasive. Mankind is not left to suffer without hope of liberation, because of God initiated the plan of redemption for suffering people through Christ’s atonement on the cross. A person is justified in Christ and sanctified by Christ. A person is justified in Christ and sanctified by Christ. These two processes are the ways toward liberation. Adventists follow certain paths in the Scriptures, to perfect spiritual discipline. The two religions contain some points of contact between the two concepts of suffering but the two concepts are quite different in essence. A common point is that suffering is the experience of all human beings. Buddhists, however, attribute suffering to weakness of body and soul, whereas Adventists include weakness of spirit in addition to that of body and soul. A contrast point is that Buddhists do not have the concept of sin as the cause of suffering; therefore they do not feel a need of a being who can remove sin. A drastic confrontation is that to a Buddhist, salvation is self-salvation (anthropocentric), whereas to an Adventist salvation is God-salvation (theocentric). The two religions both describe religious paths to be followed by believers after gaining liberation. To a Buddhist, these paths are morality, meditation, and wisdom which are based on human effort. To an Adventists the paths are based on God and his power. The Adventists in Korean should perceive Buddhists not as pagans, who will perish without salvation, but as God’s children who should be given the message of salvation by Adventist evangelism. With this commitment in mind, Adventists are obligated to create programs for working for Buddhists. In this program, all possible points are contact should be used to create bridges for meaningful dialogue. Christ should be the center in the Adventist evangelical campaign toward Buddhists.
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