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Câu hỏi Tốt, Đáp Đúng “Good Question, Good Answer”
Bản gốc của Tỳ Kheo Shravasti Dhammika Việt dịch bởi Tỳ kheo Thích Nguyên Tạng -o0o-
Đạo Phật là gì?
What is Buddhism?
Đạo Phật là gì?
Từ Đạo Phật (Buddhism) bắt nguồn từ chữ “Budhi” có nghĩa là “tỉnh thức” và vì vậy, Đạo Phật là triết học của sự tỉnh thức. Nền triết học này bắt nguồn từ trải nghiệm thực chứng của Ngài Sĩ-Đạt-Đa Cồ-Đàm, được biết như một vị Phật, đã tự mình giác ngộ ở tuổi 36. Cho đến ngày nay, Đạo Phật đã tồn tại trong suốt 2500 năm và thu hút khoảng 300 triệu tín đồ trên toàn thế giới. Mặc dù Đạo Phật ban đầu chỉ là một triết học của Châu Á, nhưng ngày nay nó đã phát triển và có tín đồ ở châu Âu và châu Mỹ.
What is Buddhism?
The name Buddhism comes from the word “budhi” which means “to wake up” and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy is based on the empirical experience of Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, who attained enlightenment at the age of 35. Buddhism is now 2,500 years old and has approximately 300 million followers worldwide. While Buddhism was originally an Asian philosophy, it has grown and gained followers in Europe and America.
Vậy Đạo Phật có phải chỉ là một triết học không?
Từ “triết học” xuất phát từ hai chữ “philo” có nghĩa là “tình yêu” và “sophia” có nghĩa là “trí tuệ”. Vậy triết học có nghĩa là “tình yêu của trí tuệ” hoặc “tình yêu và trí tuệ”. Cả hai ý nghĩa này đều mô tả một cách đầy đủ triết học Phật giáo. Đạo Phật khuyên chúng ta phát triển khả năng tri thức của chúng ta để có thể hiểu biết một cách rõ ràng. Đạo Phật cũng khuyên chúng ta mở lòng từ bi và nhân ái để trở thành một người bạn đồng hành chân thành với tất cả chúng sinh. Vì thế, Đạo Phật không chỉ là một triết học đơn thuần mà còn là một triết học vượt trội.
So Buddhism is just a philosophy?
The word “philosophy” comes from two words, “philo” which means “love” and “sophia” which means “wisdom.” Therefore, philosophy is the love of wisdom or the love and wisdom. Both meanings describe Buddhism perfectly. Buddhism teaches us to develop our intellectual capacity to fully understand things. It also teaches us to cultivate compassion and kindness so that we can become genuine friends to all beings. Therefore, Buddhism is not only a philosophy, but a transcendent philosophy.
Who was the Buddha?
In the year 624 B.C., a baby was born in a kingdom in northern India. He was brought up in wealth and luxury but eventually realized that material comforts and the peace of the world were not enough to ensure happiness. He was deeply moved by the suffering he saw everywhere and determined to find a solution to bring happiness to humanity. At the age of twenty-nine, he left his wife and child and seeked teachings from great spiritual masters of his time. They taught him many things but none of them truly understood the cause of human suffering and how to overcome it. Finally, after six years of study and meditation, he had a experience in which all ignorance fell away and he attained enlightenment.
Since then, he has been recognized as the Buddha, the Awakened One. He remained in the world for 45 years, traveling throughout northern India to teach others what he had realized. His compassion and patience were amazing and he had thousands of disciples. Even at the age of eighty, despite old age and illness, he remained happy and peaceful until he passed away.
Was it irresponsible for the Buddha to leave his wife and child?
It was not an easy decision for the Buddha to leave his family. He had to contemplate and hesitate for a long time before making the decision to depart. At that time, he had a choice: to dedicate his life to his family or to the world. In the end, out of his immense compassion, he made the sacrifice to benefit the world, and the world has benefited greatly from his sacrifice. Therefore, it was not irresponsible. It can be said that it was the most meaningful sacrifice ever made.
Is the Buddha a god?
No, the Buddha is not a god. He did not claim to be a god, the child of a god, or even a messenger from a god. He was a human being who achieved self-realization, and he taught that if we follow his example, we too can achieve self-realization.
Then why do people worship the Buddha?
There are different types of worship. When people worship a god, they honor and offer prayers to that deity, hoping that the god will hear their prayers, accept their offerings, and grant their requests. Buddhists do not engage in this type of worship. There is also a different kind of worship, which is to show respect to someone or something that one admires. When a teacher enters a classroom, students stand up. When meeting someone important, bowing is a way to show respect. When the national anthem is played, people stand in respect. These are all gestures of respect and worship. This is how Buddhists approach worship. A statue of the Buddha, with its gentle hand in a robe and a compassionate smile, serves as a reminder for us to develop inner peace and love. The fragrance of incense reminds us of the influence of goodness that spreads everywhere, and the lamp reminds us of the light of knowledge. The withered flower reminds us of impermanence. When we bow, we express gratitude to the Buddha for his teachings. This is the form of worship for Buddhists.
But I’ve heard that many Buddhists still worship statues?
Such statements only reflect the misunderstanding of the individuals who made them. The dictionary definition of an idol is “an image or statue worshipped as a god”. As we know, Buddhists never believe that the Buddha is a god, so how can they believe that a piece of wood or metal is a god? Every religion uses symbols to express their own beliefs and faith. In Buddhism, the statue of the Buddha is regarded as a symbol of perfecting one’s character. The statue of the Buddha also reminds us of the humanistic aspect of Buddhist teaching. Indeed, Buddhism considers humans as the center, not gods. This reminds us to seek perfection and understanding within ourselves, rather than focusing on external appearances. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that Buddhists worship statues.
Why do people burn gold and silver paper and perform strange rituals in temples?
There are many things that may seem strange if we do not understand them. Rather than dismissing them as strange, it is better to try to understand their meaning. However, it is true that some Buddhists may engage in superstitious practices and misunderstand the teachings of the Buddha. But these misunderstandings are not unique to Buddhism; they can also be found in other religions. The Buddha taught very clearly and specifically, and if one does not understand his teachings, it is not the Buddha’s fault. There is a saying:
If a person suffers from a disease but does not seek treatment, even if there is a doctor nearby, it is not the fault of the doctor.
Similarly, if a person is oppressed and suffering from mental afflictions but does not seek the help of the Buddha, it is not the Buddha’s fault. (JN 28-9)
It is not just Buddhism, but any religion that cannot help someone if they do not practice properly. If you want to have a clear understanding of the truth of Buddhism, read the Buddha’s teachings or learn from those who truly understand them.
Why are there many different sects in Buddhism?
There are many different types of roads: yellow road, white road, crystallized road, curved road, sandy road, lime road… but they are all roads and have the same purpose. They are produced in different forms to serve different purposes. The same goes for Buddhism. There are primitive Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, Yogacara Buddhism, and Vajrayana Buddhism, but they are all Buddhism and share the same goal – liberation. Buddhism has developed different forms to exist and adapt to different cultures. Over the centuries, Buddhism has been able to exist and be relevant to each generation. On the surface, Buddhism may seem different, but the central focus is still the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. All major religions, including Buddhism, have split into various sects. However, the different sects of Buddhism have never conflicted with each other and have never expressed hostility towards each other. They come together in different temples and pray together. Tolerance and mutual understanding are truly rare.
You always speak favorably of Buddhism. Do you think your religion is right and other religions are wrong?
No Buddhist who truly understands the teachings of the Buddha thinks that other religions are wrong. No one who has genuinely attempted to explore other religions with an open mind would think that either. The first thing one notices when studying different religions is how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that the current state of human existence is unsatisfactory. All religions believe that in order to improve the human condition, there must be a change in behavior and attitude. All religions teach a code of ethics based on compassion, loving-kindness, patience, generosity, and social responsibility, and all accept the existence of some form of ultimate reality.
They use different languages, different names, and different symbols to describe and explain these concepts. And only when they cling narrowly to their own point of view, can selfishness, arrogance, and self-righteousness arise.
Imagine an English person, a French person, a Chinese person, and an Indonesian person all looking at a cup of water. The English person says, “This is a cup”, the French person says, “No, it is a tasse”, the Chinese person says “Both of you are wrong, it is a pei”, and the Indonesian person laughs and says “How foolish you are, it is a cawan”. The English person takes out a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, “I can prove that it is a cup. My dictionary says so”. The French person argues back, “Your dictionary is wrong, because my dictionary clearly says that it is a tasse”. The Chinese person sneers, “My dictionary is thousands of years old, so it must be right. Besides, more people in the world speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be a pei”. While they are squabbling and arguing with each other, a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. After drinking, the Buddhist says, “Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pei or a cawan, the purpose of the cup is to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and satisfy your thirst!”. This is the attitude of Buddhists towards other religions.
Is Buddhism a science?
Before answering this question, let us first define the term “science”. According to the dictionary, science is “knowledge that can be formulated into a system, which depends on observing and testing facts and confirming natural laws, to a certain extent also depending on what is studied accurately”.
In Buddhism, there are many aspects that do not fit this definition. However, the core teachings of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths, do fit. The First Noble Truth, suffering, is an experience that can be defined and experienced. The Second Noble Truth clearly states that suffering has a natural cause, craving, which can be defined, experienced, and measured. There is no need to explain suffering in terms of metaphysical concepts or myths. The Third Noble Truth states that suffering can be ended by removing its cause, and this is self-evident. The Fourth Noble Truth, the path to end suffering, also does not rely on metaphysics, but rather on specific practices. Furthermore, an open-minded attitude is required for examination.
Buddhism does not adhere to the concept of a supreme being, similar to science, and explains the origin and functioning of the universe in terms of natural laws. All of these demonstrate a scientific spirit.
It is also worth noting that Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, said about Buddhism: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal gods and avoid dogmas and theology. It should be based on religious experience, which encompasses nature and spirit, and have a meaningful unity derived from comprehensive knowledge”.
Therefore, we can say that while Buddhism is not purely scientific, it does possess a strong scientific inclination and is more scientific than other religions.