Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Correcting the misconceptions of Pastor Rony

Misconception 1: Pastor Rony commented about Buddhist chanting: “One could chant ee-ee-oo-ah- ah, ting-tang-wala- wala-bing- bang, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Buddhist chanting is definitely not meaningless. During chanting we recite the teachings of the Buddha and try to remind ourselves to follow accordingly. It is the same as Christians reciting the Bible - in order to understand the teachings of Jesus and follow them.

Misconception 2: Pastor Rony said, “The teaching is this, everybody is potentially a god … and you can be above God and be even more powerful than God.”

Buddhists do not believe in God. So there is no such concept in Buddhism claiming that we can be above God or more powerful than God. Instead, we believe that everybody has the potential to be awakened and bring an end to suffering.

Misconception 3: Pastor Rony’s interviewee (a former monk) didn’t know what Nirvana was, and said that his fellow monks didn’t know either, implying that Buddhists don’t know what they’re talking about when they refer to Nirvana.

If blind men cannot see the Sun, is it the fault of the Sun, or the fault of their own blindness? Likewise, if Joseph Wee and his former Buddhist companions do not understand what is Nirvana, is it the fault of Buddhism, or the fault of their own ignorance? Nirvana simply means "extiniguished". What is extinguished are the fires of craving, anger and ignorance, which are the causes of suffering as taught by the Buddha. When the causes of suffering are completely snuffed out, one reaches the end of suffering; a state of true happiness that is called Nirvana. As such, the Buddha said "Nirvana is the highest bliss".

Misconception 4: Pastor Rony said, “If something bad [happens], they say it’s because of your karma … If somebody falls sick, oh it’s because of your karma. It’s so easy to explain… It seems that you cannot do anything about the bad things that are happening.”

That is a wrong view rejected in Buddhism. According to Buddhist teachings Karma is but one of the 4 causes that cause things to happen the way that they have. And with regards to Karma, it is definitely not fixed and cannot be changed. If that was so then there would be no point in practicing the Buddhist teachings at all since we are all doomed to our fates. But the truth is quite the opposite. While it is true that we cannot change what we have done before in the past, we can certainly change what we are doing in the present for the better, which will influence our current lot and change our future destiny in a positive way.

Misconception 5: Pastor Rony claimed that Buddhism had simply ‘repackaged’ the doctrine of reincarnation as ‘rebirth’.

These are 2 different concepts altogether. Reincarnation is the concept of an immortal soul in us that moves from body to body during the process of birth and death. Buddhists reject the concept of an immortal soul. What we have instead are inconstant mental factors or a flowing mindstream that arises and dissolves during birth and death, in accordance to the causes and conditions that fuel it.
See my previous article http://waynedhamma.blogspot.com/2007/05/rebirth-without-soul.html for a more detailed explanation.

Misconception 6: Pastor Rony said, “How could you ever learn from your past life when you do not know what you were or who you were; whether you were a prince or a ****roach, you also don’t know… Surely there isn’t any past life because when you were born as a baby, you started with a new slate with no recollection whatsoever… There is no such thing as a previous life, or to be reborn into the next life.”

Such logic is flawed. If you cannot recall what you did yesterday, does that mean yesterday does not exist? Similarly, just because most people cannot recall their previous existences, we also cannot say that previous lives do not exist. The fact is that there are many documented cases of people (non-Buddhists) who can remember their past lives accurately and their stories can be verified by historical records. I myself was able to remember my past existence in Ayuttaya as a soldier during my Vipassana retreat in Wat Ampawan. Of course others can say I'm bias since I'm Buddhist, but surely they cannot dismiss the testimonies of those non-Buddhists who know nothing about Rebirth. To read more of those stories, one can go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Past_life_regression

Misconception 7: Pastor Rony said, “Ladies should be very offended [by the doctrine of rebirth]… One of the Buddhist persons who argued with me many years ago, he said, ‘…You are such an unbeliever, he said, next life ah, … you’ll be born as a woman!’ So you ladies, don’t believe in reincarnation.”

Buddhism is one of the first religions in the world to promote sexual equality. The Buddha clearly stated that women are just as capable as men in terms of the potential to reach enlightenment. He was the first religious leader to allow women to pursue the holy life in its fullness - as Bhikkuni or ordained nuns, despite strong cultural objection at that time. As such, the Sangha (Buddhist Community) is always made up of 4 pillars - Monks (Bhikku), Nuns (Bhikkuni), Laymen (Upasaka) and Laywomen (Upasika). And the Buddha also promoted equality among the different races, castes and even among humans and non-human beings. So there is totally no ground to accuse Buddhism as being sexist. Sexism comes from the Asian cultures that adopt Buddhism, not from Buddhism itself.

Misconception 8: Pastor Rony said, “The Buddha when he was about to die, said, 'I'm still searching for the Way', whereas Jesus comes and said, 'I'm the Way'.”

The Buddha never said such things. His final words were, "Impermanant are all compounded things. Strive on with dilligence." - Mahaparinibbana Sutta. With his last breath the Buddha exhorted those of his followers who have not reached the final goal not to be complacent, but to continue to work hard towards enlightenment. If the Buddha was still "searching for the Way" as the Pastor claimed, then he wouldn't be a Buddha at all!


Sendoh said...

Thanks buddho bro for clarifying.

hope buddhist followers and non buddhist will understand the true meaning instead of being misled by pastor rony comment

Anonymous said...

Saddhu, saddhu, saddhu

Anonymous said...

Poor Joseph wasted 2 donkey years with a wrong guru. Paster Rony must be a jocker or acting as a 'Religion Guru' whose knowledge in Buddhism is totally ZERO. When the Buddha entered Parinibbana, the Jesus not even born. So, what kind of 'The Way' he's trying to show?

Sahdu Bro

kenny said...

thanks for the read! very informative!

Anonymous said...

It is good to know that there are many people out there still searching for the way. I pray these unenlightened beings will someday realize the ultimate truth in whatever religion they practice. Learn the truth yourself don't just listen..there are no 7/11 or convenience store that sells wisdom.

Robin said...

Thank you for the wonderful clarification.

Anonymous said...

I really like your blog and this topic especially. I wonder if you could clarify on this point:

"According to Buddhist teachings Karma is but one of the 4 causes that cause things to happen the way that they have".

Could you please briefly elaborate on the other three causes? I would really appreciate it as I feel I am missing that knowledge and it would really help my Dharma practice. Thanks!

Wayne Woo said...

Actually there are 5 causes. The other 4 causes are:

Utu Niyama—
Seasonal changes and climate

Bija Niyama—
Laws of heredity

Citta Niyama—
Will of mind

Dhamma Niyama—
Laws of Nature

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Ask this Pastor Rony to explain. It is said that God created the universe and everything in it. Yet some centuries ago when scientist Galileo proved that the world is round and the earth moves around the sun, he was condemned. The Church at that time supposedly representing God's spokesman steadfastly said that the earth was flat and that the sun moved around earth. How could God claiming to have created the universe didn't even know that the earth is round and revolves around the sun???

hoangkybactien said...

Just to add a little more to what Wayne already explained:

Misconception 1: Pastor Rony commented about Buddhist chanting:
“One could chant ee-ee-oo-ah- ah, ting-tang-wala- wala-bing- bang,
it doesn’t mean anything.”

Chanting, for beginners of buddhist practice and outsiders problably mean "nothing" to them! However, Chanting, in essence, is one of many methods of practicing meditation. In chanting, the effort is made to know "who" is chanting. One can use any word(s) for chanting, as long as one makes an effort to find out "who" is
chanting. It is the same way a chan practitioner is holding a 'huatuo". On the surface, there is a difference. That is one is making 'noise' while the other is in 'silence'. But inwardly, the power of concentration is taking place in both cases.

Misconception 2: Pastor Rony said, “The teaching is this, everybody is potentially a god … and you can be above God and be even more powerful than God.”

"Everybody is potentially..."
In Buddha's teachings, there is NO "everybody is potentially". "Potentially" implies 'could be', or 'probable' which are an uncertainties. Uncertainty has NO place in
Budhism. In Buddhism, it is a certainty that everybody, every sentien beings possess the buddha mind as the Buddha himself, no more, no less! The only
difference between the Buddha and the rest of us is the way we and the Buddha use the mind. We have a habit of clinging to myriad thoughts, and other illusions
whereas the Buddha did not.

But who made us that way (being in deep ignorance)? us!

Who forbid us to be like the Buddha? us!

If one is determined to lay down everything inwardly and outwardly, then one is no difference from the Buddha.