Exploring the Four Noble Truths and the Baha’i Faith
Stephen C. Johnson of Ashburn, Virginia, is exploring the concepts of God, self, and meditation in his personal studies of Buddhism and the Baha’i Faith. He reports that the recent course on Buddhism for Deepening and Dialogue has “helped to sharpen” his “understanding and provide a deeper sense of many of those unanswerable questions.”
In this course I built upon my current understanding of Buddhism, which had primarily been focused on Zen and Vipassana meditation, especially their manifestations in the West. While I was comfortable with basic Buddhist teachings such the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Way, the Five Skandhas, and so on, I did not have a strong historical perspective, nor had I had a chance to dive more deeply into the metaphysical beliefs in Buddhism which prima facia appear as contradictions to Baha’i beliefs. It was great to spend time exploring these concepts and understanding the historical background to some of the sects in Buddhism, such as Ch’an and Pure Land.
I now feel much more comfortable having a reasonable conversation with both Baha’is and Buddhists on these concepts, because I am able to speak about commonalities while understanding some of the subtle differences in their paradigms.
Further, my shift in thought on several Baha’i metaphysical concepts in light of the teachings of the Buddha and practices of Buddhists will help guide my ongoing spiritual development and study of Baha’i writings, honing my understanding of the divine and self. My goal for this course was to make a presentation to my local community. This presentation was completed on August 5 with approximately forty attendees. It was a great experience to help solidify my thoughts and understandings from the course and led to a wonderful discussion on many of the Buddhist concepts and how they relate to Baha’i beliefs and philosophy.
Future Courses for Studying the World’s Religions
Christianity for Deepening and Dialogue, 11/01/12
Islam for Deepening and Dialogue, 11/15/12
Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue, 02/15/13
Zoroastrianism for Deepening and Dialogue 07/01/13