There is no clear-cut creation story in Buddhism, and the gods do not play a decisive role in man’s quest to reach nirvana. Moreover, according to many Buddhists, nirvana is not seen as an association or an encounter with the divine but as a state.
1. Is Buddhism a religion, where one worships something sacred, or is it to be regarded as a philosophical view of life? What do you think?
2. What does it mean to live as a Buddhist compared to living as a Christian or Muslim? What are the similarities and differences?
1. Why is vesak the most important Buddhist holiday?
2. Why are so few festivals celebrated by all Buddhists?
3. What do you think is the purpose of celebrating holidays?
4. Compare the Buddhist festivals with the festivals of other religions. What are the similarities and differences?
5. How are the central ideas of Buddhism expressed in the festivals and traditions?
6. Do men and women celebrate the holidays in the same way?
The road to Nirvana
Where the ultimate life goal of Hinduism is moksha, the union of the soul (atmans) with the world soul (brahman), the ultimate goal of salvation of Buddhism is nirvana. In this exercise, you will explain what nirvana is.
There are many interpretations of the word nirvana. Explain how the word describes the connection to suffering or desire. Motivate your answer.
2. Is nirvana a conscious state according to Buddhism or can it be described in other terms?
3. To what extent is it possible to compare nirvana with a paradisiacal existence, which is the ultimate goal in Judaism, Christianity and Islam?
4. The teachings of the Buddha are often symbolized as a wheel with different paths that can finally lead man to the goal of life’s journey – nirvana. The ethics, exercises and knowledge of the eightfold path lead man there, according to Buddhism. In this exercise, you will explain the different paths.
a. What exactly does this wheel give man guidance in? Give concrete examples and explain the meaning of the different paths.
b. What parts of this wheel of Buddhism do you consider valid for all people, even if they do not call themselves Buddhists?
c. What parts of this wheel of life are difficult to grasp today if one does not share a Buddhist belief?