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About Lars

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  1. Hell = Garment

    maybe this hadeeth means that since the garment is so low it is at risk of catching on fire? (like if you walk near a camp fire or fire place? It could have originally been practical advice.
  2. Women And Islam

    Very true redeem, she was exposed as a complete fraud over a year ago. Sadly "former Muslim" and "former Terrorist" is a booming profession right now.
  3. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    The discussion has turned into a debate about which doctrine is more valid and I apologize for this, it was not my original intention in responding to this topic. My only reason for replying was to encourage understanding and harmony between Muslims and Buddhists. Please accept my sincerest apology if I have offended anyone.
  4. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    1) Thank you for illustrating an earlier point I made. When belief in an all powerful god exists there is no such thing as ethics/morality, only "gods will". Its through this ontological point that most of the holy books that claim to come from a god generally end up supporting the worst sin of all; killing. The worst example of this is the Torahs support for genocide. The Quran encourages all kinds of things that most modern people would consider immoral such as torturing and killing homosexuals. Killing people who insult Allah or his messenger in an Islamic state. Verse 4:34 is more controversial, because even in Arabic it doesn't make any sense. The Arabic word that most scholars translate as "beat" literally has 30+ other possible meanings, all of which are equally valid. so the end of verse 4:34 could be as mild as "and LEAVE your wife." or it could be Yusuf Ali's translation; "and BEAT HER LIGHTLY" or it could be as severe as; "and WHIP YOUR WIFE SEVERELY" all of which are equally valid translations. And so if one does accept the proposition that an all powerful creator god exists one would have to accept all of these positions in order to enact "gods will". But if there is no god then said individual is would be considered by most observers to simply be a bigot. 2) Very true, if you assume an all powerful creator god exists, then human life has no value. God demonstrates this when he drowned the entire world for simply not praying to him. If god has no need of our worship isn't it rather cruel of him to torture people for eternity simply for not praying to him? 3) Agreed, we have everything to gain from leading ethical lives: "For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, 'May freedom from remorse arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue. "For a person free from remorse, there is no need for an act of will, 'May joy arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that joy arises in a person free from remorse. "For a joyful person, there is no need for an act of will, 'May rapture arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that rapture arises in a joyful person. "For a rapturous person, there is no need for an act of will, 'May my body be serene.' It is in the nature of things that a rapturous person grows serene in body. "For a person serene in body, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I experience pleasure.' It is in the nature of things that a person serene in body experiences pleasure. "For a person experiencing pleasure, there is no need for an act of will, 'May my mind grow concentrated.' It is in the nature of things that the mind of a person experiencing pleasure grows concentrated. "For a person whose mind is concentrated, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I know & see things as they actually are.' It is in the nature of things that a person whose mind is concentrated knows & sees things as they actually are. "For a person who knows & sees things as they actually are, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I feel disenchantment.' It is in the nature of things that a person who knows & sees things as they actually are feels disenchantment. "For a person who feels disenchantment, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I grow dispassionate.' It is in the nature of things that a person who feels disenchantment grows dispassionate. "For a dispassionate person, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I realize the knowledge & vision of release.' It is in the nature of things that a dispassionate person realizes the knowledge & vision of release. "In this way, mental qualities lead on to mental qualities, mental qualities bring mental qualities to their consummation, for the sake of going from the near to the Further Shore." -AN; Cetana sutta: An Act of Will 4) "If we dont worship him that is our loss." When I considered becoming Muslim I contemplated this, and arrived at the conclusion that If I became Muslim it would make me less ethical. Islam encourages killing in some circumstances, I have killed no-one, nor do I encourage others to kill. Islam (in the popular translation) says I can beat my wife, I have never and will never beat my wife. Islam says I should persecute gay people, I have many gay friends who are wonderful people, even if there is a god who defines arbitrary rules, surely loving someone-even a sinner is a righteous action. It is for all these reasons that belief in god is not important to me. I dont actively deny god, I just dont care if he exists.
  5. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    Certainly not. You should read "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer. fascinating insight into mass movements.
  6. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    Oh I see, thank you for clarifying. If god truly is all powerful I'm sure he would be more concerned with people living ethical lives than being worshiped. I wonder what would please god more, ethical people who do not worship him, or hateful people who do.
  7. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    How is Buddhism ignorant? You really should read a bit first before making unfounded claims. If you want a free source google "accesstoinsight". Its to bad you cant go back in time and tell that to the Muslims who invaded India. The oldest universities in the world were five massive Buddhist temples, they were all burned and the monks killed. This is why it is so important to rid religions of such superstitious beliefs as "having statues is evil". How is praying to the Kaba any different? The biggest difference I see is that Buddhists are NOT required to pay respect to a statue, whereas to be a Muslim you MUST pray to the Kaba. Because there is only one Kaba and all Muslims must go on hajh at the same time, recently there have been massive stampedes that have resulted in great loss of life. I think in the past decade more than 9000 Muslims have been killed trying to pray to the Kaba, do you know how many Buddhists have been trampled trying to see a statue? ZERO, now who is the "idol worshiper"? The Buddha was not an athiest. He praised prophets as being worthy of respect because in general they teach their followers good virtues. The Buddha on prophets: “Once, monks, there lived a master and a faith founder named Sunetta, who was free from greed for sensual pleasures. And there lived once a master and a faith founder named Mūgapakkha - Aranemi - Kuddālaka - Hatthipāla - Jotipāla - Araka, who was free from greed for sensual pleasures. This master however had many hundreds of disciples. And he showed the way to rebirth under the Gods of Brahma to his disciples [Comm: as "Angels in the vicinity of God" - an alternative translation closer to the understanding of the Western culture]. Those now, which did not show confidence, when the master pointed out the way to rebirth in heaven, all those arrived with the decay of the body, after death, into lower existence, on a suffering track, into the abysses, to hell. Those however, who showed confidence, all those arrived after the decay of the body, after death, on the lucky track, into heaven. What do you think, o monks? If someone insulted with malicious thought these seven masters and faith founders, who had turned away from sensual pleasures and who had hundreds of disciples, wouldn't such a one load a debt on himself? “ - “Certainly, o Blessed One.†- “Who insults however, monks, only one human being, who has realized Nirvana with malicious intention or defames him, loads a still larger debt on himself." [Anguttara Nikaya.VII. 69 Defamation of the noble ones] The Buddha also taught the path to union with God in heaven, but he also showed that even gods and heaven are impermanent, so instead we should focus on the supreme security from bondage Nirvana. "[The Buddha]: when asked touching the path which leads to the world of God, there can be neither doubt nor difficulty. For God, I know, Vasettha, and heaven, and the path which leadeth unto it. Yea, I know it even as one who has entered the Heaven, and has been born within it!' 39. When he had thus spoken, Vasettha, the young Brahman, said to the Blessed One: 'Just so has it been told me, Gotama, even that the Samana Gotama knows the way to a state of union with God. It is well! Let the venerable Gotama be pleased to show us the way to a state of union with God, let the venerable Gotama save the Brahman race'! 'Listen then, Vasettha, and give ear attentively, and I will speak!' 'So be it, Lord!' said the young Brahman Vasettha, in assent, to the Blessed One. 40. Then the Blessed One spake, and said: Know, Vasettha, that (from time to time) a Buddha is born into the world, an Arahat, a fully awakened one, abounding, in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher of gods and men, a Blessed One, a Buddha. He, by himself, thoroughly understands, and sees, as it were, face to face this universe -- including the worlds above with the gods, the Maras, and the Brahmas; and the world below with its Samanas and Brahmans, its princes and peoples; -- and he then makes his knowledge known to others. The truth doth he proclaim both in the letter and in the spirit, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation: the higher life doth he make known, in all its purity and in all its perfect-ness. 'And he lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of Love, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with heart of Love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure. 77. 'Just, Vasettha, as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard-and that without difficulty-in all the four directions; even so of all things that have shape or life, there is not one that he passes by or leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and deep-felt love. 'Verily this, Vasettha, is the way to a state of union with God. 78. 'And he lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of pity [29], ... sympathy [30], equanimity [31], and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with heart of pity. . . . sympathy, . . . equanimity, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure. 79. 'Just, Vasettha, as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard -- and that without difficulty -- in all the four directions ; even so of all things that have shape or life, there is not one that he passes by or leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and deep-felt pity, ... sympathy, ... equanimity. 'Verily this, Vasettha, is the way to a state of union with God.'" -Digha Nikaya The Buddha on the worthlessness of mere prayer and faith: "'[The Buddha]: Again, Vasettha, if this river were full of water even to the brim, and over flowing. And a man with business on the other side, bound for the other side, making, for the other side, should come up, and want to cross over. And he, standing on this bank, should invoke the further bank, and say, "Come hither, O further bank! come over to this side!" ' Now what think you, Vasettha? Would the further bank of the river, by reason of that man's invoking and praying and hoping and praising, come over to this side?' 'Certainly not, Gotama!' 25. 'In just the same way, Vasettha, do the priests versed in the Vedas(or the Torah/Bible/Quran), -- omitting the practice of those qualities which really make a man a holy man, and adopting the practice of those qualities which really make men unholy -- say thus: " God we call upon" Verily, Vasettha, that those priests versed in the Vedas, but omitting the practice of those qualities which really make a man holy, and adopting the practice of those qualities which really make men unholy-- that they, by reason of their invoking and praying and hoping and praising, should, after death and when the body is dissolved, become united with God verily such a condition of things can no wisdom be found!'" Evil deeds take priests far from God and yet still they believe they will go to heaven. 31. [The Buddha]: 'Now what think you, Vasettha, and what have you heard from the priests aged and well-stricken in years, when the learners and teachers are talking together? Is God, in possession of wives and wealth, or is he not?' 'He is not, Gotama.' 'Is his mind full of anger, or free from anger?' 'Free from anger, Gotama.' Is his mind full of malice, or free from malice?' 'Free from malice, Gotama.' 'Is his mind tarnished, or, is it pure?' 'It is pure, Gotama.' Has he self-mastery, or has he not? 'He has, Gotama.' 32. 'Now what think you, Vasettha, are the priests versed in the Vedas in the possession of wives and wealth, or are they not?' 'They are, Gotama.' 'Have they anger in their hearts, or have they not? 'They have, Gotama.' 'Do they bear malice, or do they not?' 'They do, Gotama.' 'Are they pure in heart, or are they not?' 'They are not, Gotama.' 'Have they self-mastery, or have they not?' 'They have not, Gotama.' 33. 'Then you say, Vasettha, that the priests are in possession of wives and wealth, and that God is not. Can there, then, be agreement and likeness between the priests with their wives and property, and God, who has none of these things?' 'Certainly not, Gotama!' 34. 'Very good, Vasettha. But, verily, that these priests versed in the Vedas, who live married and wealthy, should after death, when the body is dissolved, become united with God, who has none of these things -- such a condition of things can in no wise be!' 35. 'Then you say, too, Vasettha, that the priests bear anger and malice in their hearts, and are tarnished in heart and uncontrolled, whilst God is free from anger and malice, pure in heart, and has self-mastery. Now can there, then, be concord and likeness between the priests and God?' 'Certainly not, Gotama!' 36. 'Very good, Vasettha. That these priests versed in the Vedas and yet bearing anger and malice in their hearts, sinful, and uncontrolled, should after death, when the body is dissolved, become united to God, who is free from anger and malice, pure in heart, and has self-mastery -- such a condition of things can in no wise be! 'So that thus then, Vasettha, the priests, versed though they be in the Vedas, while they sit down (in confidence), are sinking down (in the mire); and so sinking they are arriving only at despair, thinking the while that they are crossing over into some happier land. 'Therefore is it that the threefold wisdom of the priests, wise in their Vedas, is called a waterless desert, their wisdom is called a pathless jungle, their wisdom is called perdition!" Peace.
  8. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    Beautifully said, though Buddhism also offers forgiveness, but in a different way. For example, In the Buddhas time there was a serial-killer named Angulimala (finger garland) because he would wear the fingers of those he killed as a trophy. The Buddha confronted him alone and showed him the evil of his ways, causing him to abandon his weapons and ordain as a monk: "Then Angulimala saw the Blessed One coming from afar and on seeing him, this thought occurred to him: "Isn't it amazing! Isn't it astounding! Groups of ten, twenty, thirty, & forty men have gone along this road, and even they have fallen into my hands, and yet now this contemplative comes attacking, as it were, alone and without a companion. Why don't I kill him?" So Angulimala, taking up his sword & shield, buckling on his bow & quiver, followed right behind the Blessed One. Then the Blessed One willed a feat of psychic power such that Angulimala, though running with all his might, could not catch up with the Blessed One walking at normal pace. Then the thought occurred to Angulimala: "Isn't it amazing! Isn't it astounding! In the past I've chased & seized even a swift-running elephant, a swift-running horse, a swift-running chariot, a swift-running deer. But now, even though I'm running with all my might, I can't catch up with this contemplative walking at normal pace." So he stopped and called out to the Blessed One, "Stop, contemplative! Stop!" "I have stopped, Angulimala. You stop." Then the thought occurred to Angulimala, "These Sakyan contemplatives are speakers of the truth, asserters of the truths, and yet this contemplative, even while walking, says, 'I have stopped, Angulimala. You stop.' Why don't I question him?" So Angulimala the bandit addressed this verse to the Blessed One: "While walking, contemplative, you say, 'I have stopped.' But when I have stopped you say I haven't. I ask you the meaning of this: How have you stopped? How haven't I?" [The Buddha:] "I have stopped, Angulimala, once & for all, having cast off violence toward all living beings. You, though, are unrestrained toward beings. That's how I've stopped and you haven't." [Angulimala:] "At long last a greatly revered great seer for my sake has come to the great forest. Having heard your verse in line with the Dhamma, I will go about having abandoned evil." So saying, the bandit hurled his sword & weapons over a cliff into a chasm, a pit. Then the bandit paid homage to the feet of the One Well-gone, and right there requested the Going-forth. The Awakened One, the compassionate great seer, the teacher of the world, along with its devas, said to him then: "Come, bhikkhu." That in itself was bhikkhuhood for him." And so Angulimala was "forgiven" for his many murders, but notice even after he ordained it did not free him from responsibility for his previous evil actions: "Then Ven. Angulimala, early in the morning, having put on his robes and carrying his outer robe & bowl, went into Savatthi for alms. Now at that time a clod thrown by one person hit Ven. Angulimala on the body, a stone thrown by another person hit him on the body, and a potsherd thrown by still another person hit him on the body. So Ven. Angulimala — his head broken open and dripping with blood, his bowl broken, and his outer robe ripped to shreds — went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming from afar and on seeing him said to him: "Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!" [3] Then Ven. Angulimala, having gone alone into seclusion, experienced the bliss of release. At that time he exclaimed: Who once was heedless,[4] but later is not, brightens the world like the moon set free from a cloud. His evil-done deed[5] is replaced with skillfulness: he brightens the world like the moon set free from a cloud. Whatever young monk devotes himself to the Buddha's bidding: he brightens the world like the moon set free from a cloud. May even my enemies hear talk of the Dhamma. May even my enemies devote themselves to the Buddha's bidding. May even my enemies associate with those people who — peaceful, good — get others to accept the Dhamma. May even my enemies hear the Dhamma time & again from those who advise endurance, forbearance, who praise non-opposition, and may they follow it. For surely he wouldn't harm me, or anyone else; he would attain the foremost peace, would protect the feeble & firm. Irrigators guide the water.[6] Fletchers shape the arrow shaft. Carpenters shape the wood. The wise control themselves. Some tame with a blunt stick, with hooks, & with whips But without blunt or bladed weapons I was tamed by the one who is Such. "Doer of No Harm" is my name, but I used to be a doer of harm. Today I am true to my name, for I harm no one at all. A bandit I used to be, renowned as Angulimala. Swept along by a great flood, I went to the Buddha as refuge. Bloody-handed I used to be, renowned as Angulimala. See my going for refuge! Uprooted is [craving], the guide to becoming. Having done the type of kamma that would lead to many bad destinations, touched by the fruit of [that] kamma, unindebted, I eat my food. [7] They're addicted to heedlessness[8] — dullards, fools — while one who is wise cherishes heedfulness as his highest wealth. Don't give way to heedlessness[9] or to intimacy with sensual delight — for a heedful person, absorbed in jhana, attains an abundant bliss. This[10] has come well & not gone away, it was not badly thought through for me. From among well-analyzed qualities, I have obtained the best. This has come well & not gone away, it was not badly thought through for me. The three knowledges have been attained; the Buddha's bidding, done." -Majjhima Nikaya 86; Angulimala Sutta
  9. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    What is the "core" of your rope? Is it simply to believe in god? If you dont believe in the logic of ethics, and you truly believe that only "gods" perceived will is what constitutes "rightness" and "wrongness" then logically in your world view there is no such thing a right and wrong, only "gods will". because if that is the case I can prove right now that fervent belief in god does not make someone a good person. For example George Bush and Tony Blair believe very strongly in God and look at how many they have murdered. The settlers who are committing ethnic cleansing in Palestine believe very strongly they are practicing "gods will". The fanatics in Afghanistan and Pakistan who murder Sufi's and blow up Buddhist historical sites beleive they are doing "gods will."
  10. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    Dont sell Islam short! :-) Ive read most of the Quran, The entirety of Martin Lings "Muhammad; His Life Based on the Earliest Sources" and much of Ibn Ishaqs "Surat Rasul Allah" and I can see that if you truly practice the way Muhammad did it can be very difficult, for to follow the ways of the world is easy, to do good is noble and difficult. Well the passage is referring to meditation/salat what ever you want to call it. So certainly for a lay follower this would not involve renouncing the world, this is only for the monks and nuns. Lay people are simply expected to renounce unwholesome states give charity to the poor disposesed and orphans, feed the monks and nuns once a day, and to meditate/pray which is actually very similar to the 5 pillars of Islam. Of course simply believing in something and meditating/prayer doesn't make you a good person, it is necessary to understand and practice the teachings. I know a Buddhist who has been a monk for 3 years, but then disrobed, possesses an didactic memory and knows almost all of the suttas and who can meditate and concentrate very well, BUT he is selfish, hateful and racist. On the other hand I have a very good Muslim friend who is the embodiment of ethical perfection, her focus is simply practicing. She is one of the best human beings I have ever met. Quran/ Sutta, Salat/meditation, "Allah / God / Nirvana" are not the end of the path, they are a means to an end. they are conceptual tools that we have to USE to improve ourselves and others. When some individuals mistake these tools for the goal, and they develop dogmatic beliefs, worship the tools and feel threatened and frightened when they encounter others who use different methods, it defeats the entire purpose of the path in the first place. The inner Jihad is truly the ultimate Jihad, for to see the divinity and goodness in all cultures all practices is to conquer once and for all those who try to stir up fear of Islam as being "intolerant" and "backwards". (This is not directed at you Peace is Power) Im sorry but you cant expect people to learn about and respect Islam if Muslims are are willfully ignorant of and fearful of almost every other religion.
  11. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    First, I think its more productive to focus on the good things that all religions teach and to encourage each other to embody these noble ideals. When we try to assert "my religion is best!" "my practice is most complete!" this gives rise to pride, arrogance, conceit and possibly anger and hatred, which defeats the lofty goals of all religions, and is the realm of Mara (Satan). Secondly what you say simply isn't true. The Buddha explained in great detail logically, with out reference to blind faith in him or any god, the positive outcome of undertaking his teachings. "Abandoning the Hindrances" "Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, this noble restraint over the sense faculties, this noble mindfulness and alertness, and this noble contentment, he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore. "Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty... ...In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated." -Digha Nikaya 2 "The Benefit of The Contemplative Life
  12. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    Continued: 2. Who will be changing their form for them?? When they cannot even do it themselves? Will it be done magically??? They do say there are Gods, but again there is only one God, Allah, Lord of the Universe, hence why the Universe is running well. EXACTLY, if our "self" was our forms then we would be able to change them at will, but we cant. Everything arises due to preceding conditions, cause and effect, just like the universe around us. We take responsibility for our own actions and accept the consequences like adults. concern for others is our utmost concern. We are connected to the universe and its cycles by our causal interactions with it, the same as you. The Buddha said he could remember the expansion and contraction of countless solar systems and many universes. Gods are not enlightened so though they live for a very long time, they can only remember the beginning of one universe. No one, it is the unconditioned, it is a perfect state of peace and happiness beyond words. The universe has no creator nor does it arise without cause, it is simply dependent origination its beginning and ending take place in your mind. Peace.
  13. Buddhism -buddha Going To Hell

    First let me thank those of you who have spoken in defense of the Buddha and his teachings. Now on to the first post. Friend, what you have said is false, and filled with hatred. You do not harm the Buddha or his teachings by saying such things, you only harm yourself and by association Islam. For in the Dhammapada the Blessed One points out "anger is like a hot coal you grasp with the desire of throwing at someone else, you are the one who is most burned." Some of you have incorrectly claimed that the true teachings of the Buddha have been "lost" or corrupted. This is far from true, scholars such as Rupert Gethin (president of The Pali Text Society) and others, have proven that the teachings of the historical Buddha as found in the Theravada Nikayas and the Chinese Agamas have been preserved almost perfectly. We can state this with such certainty because the Nikayas and the Agamas are two different recessions of the same body of texts from the pre-sectarian period in Buddhist history (300 BCE), so only 200 years after the Buddhas death. These two sets of the Buddhas teaching have been separated by well over 2000 years of history, hundreds of miles of land and ocean, and by different languages. The Nikayas being preserved in Sri-Lanka by an ancient indian dialect known as Pali, and the Chinese Agamas in China in Chinese. recently scholars have compared the two collections, both collections use the same method of organization of four large books. In the Nikayas we have; 1) The Digha Nikaya 500 Pgs 2) The Majjhima Nikaya 740 Pgs 3) The Samyutta Nikaya 840 Pgs 4) The Anguttara Nikaya 840 Pgs The Agamas were preserved in Sanskrit as the Dirgha Agama, Madyhama Agama, Sumyukta Agama, Ekottara Agama The sermons and doctrine, though sometimes arranged a little differently, are identical. So as you can see we are not idol worshipers we are people of the book(s) :-) Now I will allow the Buddha to defend himself. Buddhism teaches the development of ethical perfection, charity, generosity, loving kindness. and then to develop your mind through concentration meditation which is gradually used to penetrate the true nature of reality to achieve liberation from suffering. I will only illustrate the ethical component here. The tradition of the Buddha image entered Buddhism roughly 200 BCE when the Bactrian Greeks in north western India converted to Buddhism. Originally the Buddha was never depicted in person, as were his wishes. The Greeks took their favorite god; Apollo and turned it into a Buddha image. This is why Buddha statues have a top-knot of hair-like Apollo. The historical Buddha shaved his head like the rest of his monks and nuns. Personally I think Buddha images are a very effective symbol for Buddhism. The visual arts, be it drawing painting or sculpture is a very effective way of communicating ideas, even across the boundary of language. Someone who speaks only arabic can look at a Buddha image, see his smiling face and the way he meditates, and walk away with a pretty good idea of what Buddhism teaches: peace. Buddhism teaches rebirth on both the macro scale - from lifetime to lifetime, and on the micro scale- from thought moment to thought moment. If you stop and think about the reality of our existence, the ONLY thing we can experience are our own thoughts. what we falsely perceive as a permanent "self" is in effect nothing more that a constant stream of sensory data provided by our 6 senses, mind being the sixth. a 6-dimensional virtual "reailty" if you will. Each thought moment is conditioned and arises as a result of the thoughts and actions that came before, this is what perpetuates our existence. The whole situation is very much like in the movie the Matrix. A recent physics experiment known as "the double slit experiment" practically proves that our presence as observers literally changes reality. To illustrate momentary rebirth, prior to developing salafist views, the "self" you were probably had no hatred of Buddhism. Upon reading the Quran, contemplating it and arriving at fixed views the "old" you died and a "new" you was born. It is the rapid continuity of experience and the mental proliferation of thoughts and ideas that trick you into believing you have a permanent "self" or soul. So you are paradoxically both the same person you were when you were born yet also different. like a flame as it burns through a candle, its the same flame but each moment it is unique because it is burning a unique part of the candle. All experience is subjective, their is no objective reality. If their were an objective reality we wouldn't have such vastly divergent opinions. ALL experience ALL existence is dependently originated. The thought(s) that you mistakenly believe is a computer is dependent on contact between your sensory apparatus and the matter that makes up the computer. What you perceive as a "computer" does not exist independent of your consciousness perceiving the physical components that make up a computer. consciousness itself does not independently exist, it arises dependent on contact with the six different kinds of consciousness, this cycle of co-dependent origination clearly has no beginning and no ending which logically brings us into rebirth beyond moment to thought moment into from life to life.
  14. What Do You Like About Islam?

    I find the emphasis on charity and helping others, and the dedication which so many of my Muslim friends show in this regard to be the most impressive aspect of Islam.
  15. Cousin Marriage

    Yeah marrying your own cousins definitely causes birth defects. Such as mental retardation and hermaphrodites (born with both male and female sex organs). Ive been to my friends Masjids near my house and Ive never seen such a high number of mentally handicapped people in one place in my life, the only other time was when I volunteered at the special olympics. At least six people with down syndrome, or some other form of physical deformity. This is an extremely high number for one community to have, in broader society you may see one mentally handicapped person in the span of say 5 years. If you still plan on marrying a cousin you should both get blood tests so they can detect any genetic defects that could adversely effect your offspring. There was a great article on this problem on Al-Jazeera english. It is reported that more than 50% in some gulf states marry their cousins, they now have mandatory genetic screening of both husband and wife if people wish to marry their cousins. salam.