12. Buddha, Jesus, Mohamed: God and His Judgement Day
(By Fadhili Haji Matambo, Tanzania)
All of us in our lifespan have had a certain kind of adherence to someone or something concerning faith and belief. If it is not so, then there is the possibility that one day you might still follow the teachings and philosophies of those people mentioned above in the heading.
According to religious literature there have been many noble persons (prophets) and messengers to the human realm. The work of these people has played a great role in shaping the society that inhabits the world today. But “shaping the society” does not mean that there are not bad effects in the process.
The three people mentioned above were human beings like us. Though they had unique characters and special powers and features that are perhaps not common to most of us, the fact remains that all of them were born from a woman. Also, because all of them came to the human realm, therefore they all must have done something similar, yet individually they did other things that were quite different from each other.
These three figures influenced humanity enormously, and I would like to have a little discussion of them because their teachings have also influenced my life. Some of the points in this passage are taken for granted, and others not. Here I simply express my feeling about what I think of the world in general, combined with some myths, and together with scientific facts and modern discoveries in relation to the prophecies of these people and our future life, as death is certain and the end of all.
The catalyst that pushes me to talk about these people is that all three figures are from the east. Why are all these people from the east and not other parts of the world? Another common element is that all three promised that there is future life when our lifespan ends or after we die. In Islam and Christianity people expect to reach heaven after doing wholesome deeds, and hell due to committing evil. However, there are differences: for example, while Muslims wait for the day of judgement to get payments for their deeds, Christians first have to wait for Jesus before the judgement day. Still, all of them expect heaven or hell in accordance to their wholesome and unwholesome acts respectively.
Buddhists are expecting nirvana after the struggle to defeat the wheels of samsara. Yet they also wait for the coming Buddha (Maitreya) who will teach them to realize the true nature of the self and the ultimate goal of life. The truth remains that every religion promises something soon after this life. The amazing thing is that while we are all human beings, we do not realize why we differ in faiths and beliefs, and this shows that even the purpose of life for all of us differs as well. Every religion campaigns that and complains that its methods and teachings are accurate, so for some of us it is difficult to understand the meaning and importance of all these different religions.
Additionally, you can also think of people like Sai Baba with his religion which embraces the teaching of all other religions. I have had a chance to attend the teachings and prayers of all these religions, so at least I have an idea about them, but think of people who know nothing about religion, and then you can ask yourself what will be the destiny of these beings? Now let us also ask if animals and plants have religion too? Questions like these are many, but how hard are you working to understand, so that you do not become a slave and be exploited by the things that you do know?
Before I finish, I want to make it clear that at one time or another I have practiced the teachings of the religions discussed above. I understand the big challenge when I imagine the coming of Jesus or the future Buddha: are they going to be accepted by the people of other faiths? And because before the judgement day comes the earth and the world are to be destroyed, what about those people who are still waiting for their lords? What will be the destiny of these people?
To be a follower of a certain religion is not just to believe in that faith, but you also have to understand your beliefs in relation to the practices of other people. This is so that you are able to live peacefully before enjoying what you are promised in your religion after your life ends. All the above questions are to stimulate your thinking ability, and how you consider religious life. So keep contemplating this in the next part.
The African Buddhist seminary is not only for the Buddhist students. Almost all students here are non-Buddhists. They have already their own beliefs and practices. While they study here they can make comparative study Buddhism and their own. This student tries to give some idea about his view of Buddhism and other faiths because he practiced Islamic faith before coming to African Buddhist Seminary. Now he is a Buddhist practitioner. I believe now he can be a good religious person as he is never ignorant to any faith. He respects all but he practices Buddhist way of life. This is one of good outcome from the Buddhist teachings. Our target is making a good society through self-understanding.
There important points from the presented opinions above and I have drawn some conclusion as follows:
African young men who have had the exposure for Buddhism find a lot of similar aspects from many ways of African culture, to those of eastern culture and religions. This predict the hope for prosperity of Buddhism, the religion in question, provided that it is propagated in such a way it integrates African cultural aspects indiscriminatively.
For the African to be able to make this comparative study that is a result of their willingness to learn things of others, shows how gradually Buddhism can be accepted in such a unique style. By studying it and understanding, it becomes a cornerstone for taking it as part of their life. Even if it may not be taken as direct faith, but as we have heard, it becomes a necessitating tool to understand their own original religions or way of life. In this way they learn to lead their lives in a more meaningful way. T he role of Buddhism here becomes more important than just propagating it.
The ability to see Buddhism in a comparative approach by most of these young men who understand Buddhism shows their maturity at the level capable of creatively and harmoniously apply the teachings in relation to their indigenous beliefs in daily life.
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