David N. Snyder wrote:
In Buddhism, there is no un-thinking worship of some deity in repetitive ritual for the sake of getting to heaven, where once there suffering will go away. According to Buddhism we can end suffering in the here and now. So an arahant will do more good to teach the Dhamma and lead people out of suffering than to get involved in feeding the homeless and other charitable acts.
I understand that that is the perspective. Christian would agree that the "spiritual works of mercy" are greater than the corporal ones. Buddhism, however, seems to have a history of which lack any great movement in this world of action. Trying to trace back and see which doctrines this stems from. It seems that it comes from the doctrine of rebirth. Interestingly, the one example given seems to support a view which is tantamount to soul, i.e., citta.
According to Christian theology, you can just give the followers some rules, such as a catechism and let them say their repetitive prayers and then the founder of the religion or other Saint can focus on the charitable activities.
And we can stereotype Buddhism too, right? Your vision of Christianity is distorted since we teach that we are saved by faith and good works. However, we don't seem to have corporal works of mercy as essentially outside of our path, whereas Buddhism seems to place it as something nice, but not necessarily part of the actual path.
But in Buddhism there is much work that can be done to end suffering in the here and now.
Christianity has a work, but different goals. We embrace suffering like Jesus did, because the goal of the path for Christians is perfect love. So going into the poor areas and feeding people is like being plunged into the 4th jhana.
To use an analogy, let's say you like Barack Obama or another politician such as Gingrich or someone else. If they were president in the White House, would it do more good for them to do the work of a president, fixing the economy, restructuring health care, or other presidential activity or to go and feed the homeless 40 hours or more per week? Sure, they might do it on Thanksgiving to provide an example, but the day-in and day-out work, they are more effective doing the duties where they can do the most good.
I understand, but by this analogy then Buddhists all want to be the president, while the people starve. People only hear the truth after the stomach is full.
Maybe it is jst an extreme of Western Buddhists, as the charity says in their description. Just trying to see if the attitude is rooted in the teachings of the Buddha, and if the whatever goes on inside an arahant is "touched" by the material sufferings of people. If arahants have been AWOL in this field, and Buddhism has really reached so few people in its history compared to the total people who have lived, I just wonder if this may be a factor.
Kim O'Hara wrote:You seem to want to frame your question in such a way that it is impossible for anyone to give you a positive answer to it (and you are certainly resisting positive answers and suggestions). I'm beginning to wonder whether you are conscious of doing so.
Well people can't answer because the arahant's inner state is ineffable according to Buddhists. Are they really anything like us? I think of qualities such as empathy and sympathy as involving suffering. That's because we identify with them. Back to the basis of love being the root, instead of freedom from suffering. Of course a Buddhist teacher may love his student, and that is his motive for teaching. Plunging the depths of the arahant's soul is no easy matter. And Buddhists don't help because it either is wrong view, ineffable, or against the monastic rules.