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Buddhists/Just a few questions about what Buddhists believe.

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Question
I would like to talk to someone in person, but there are no temples near me.

What do Buddhists think about abortion?

What do they think about self-defense? Is violence OK if you are defending yourself?

What if you see someone being hurt in a fight? Is it ok to defend another person?

What if you kill someone in self defense?

What happens if you stray away from the teachings of Buddha? For example, what if you hire a prostitute or do drugs or drink alcohol?

I keep reading about visiting Buddhists temples that have all these rules? What happens if you break these rules? Not purposely, but if you forget or just don't know.

Can war ever be justified to Buddhists? If a country is hurting their own people, is it wrong for another country to intervene? Or should you look the other way and let people be abused?

I understand that Buddhism is not a religion, but a way of thinking. I have read that the Buddha did not want people to bow down to him and treat his teachings like a religion. So how come I am seeing all this stuff on the internet that makes it look like a religion?

I currently follow no religion. I feel anything is possible. I think I am one of very few people on the planet who TRULY has an open mind. It may sound silly, but if a homeless man came up to me and said "The universe was created by 9 trillion year old monkey by the name of Zwapoo", I would tell him  "Yes, you COULD be right".

I would like to visit some of these temples some day as I find myself agreeing and wanting to know more about the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Not to mention that many of these places look beautiful! I am a fan of history and culture.

I have no problem taking my shoes off or any other custom, EXCEPT I have made a vow to bow down to NO man or preconceived God. It is something that goes very deep in my philosophy.

I TRULY believe that no matter who you are, we are ALL equal. Women and children are no exception.

This has rubbed people the wrong way before and I truly mean no disrespect.

People always tell me that you should be respectful of other peoples customs. Well again, it is MY custom (no matter where I am in the world) to NEVER bow down to ANYONE. Why can't they respect mine?

LOL, I know you will most likely recommend that I practice from home and don't go visit!

Thank you Justin in advance!
Joe

Answer
Hi Joe,

As you have lots of questions here, I shall answer them briefly.  Should you need further clarifications, please follow up.

What do Buddhists think about abortion?
Per se, abortion implies the killing of life.  It is not encouraged.  However, probing deeper, life consists of consciousness.  When did consciousness begin in the fetus?  

What do they think about self-defense? Is violence OK if you are defending yourself?
Defending oneself is natural.  Sometimes there may be a better way than violence.  

What if you see someone being hurt in a fight? Is it ok to defend another person?
Would it be better to resolve the situation?  Also depends on what actually happened.

What if you kill someone in self defense?
Killing is killing.  There may be a mitigating factor.  Again, in real life, we may have other choices.  

What happens if you stray away from the teachings of Buddha? For example, what if you hire a prostitute or do drugs or drink alcohol?
What is done cannot be undone.  We are not saints.  If you realized the fault, then don't repeat it in future.

I keep reading about visiting Buddhists temples that have all these rules? What happens if you break these rules? Not purposely, but if you forget or just don't know.
Rules are man-made.  Not Buddhism.  They are more to do with tradition and culture.  If you broke the rules, no big deal, especially unintentionally.   


Can war ever be justified to Buddhists? If a country is hurting their own people, is it wrong for another country to intervene? Or should you look the other way and let people be abused?
In the real world, sometimes we need to defend ourselves to survive.  For another country to meddle with the affairs of another is diplomatically incorrect. There are so many reasons for or against it, depending on your stand.  I don't think you can generalize things here.


I understand that Buddhism is not a religion, but a way of thinking. I have read that the Buddha did not want people to bow down to him and treat his teachings like a religion. So how come I am seeing all this stuff on the internet that makes it look like a religion?
As with any other things in this world, there are always misrepresentations and false practices.  You may like read my article : http://goodguy.hubpages.com/hub/Misconceptions-about-Buddhism

I currently follow no religion. I feel anything is possible. I think I am one of very few people on the planet who TRULY has an open mind. It may sound silly, but if a homeless man came up to me and said "The universe was created by 9 trillion year old monkey by the name of Zwapoo", I would tell him  "Yes, you COULD be right".

I would like to visit some of these temples some day as I find myself agreeing and wanting to know more about the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Not to mention that many of these places look beautiful! I am a fan of history and culture.

I have no problem taking my shoes off or any other custom, EXCEPT I have made a vow to bow down to NO man or preconceived God. It is something that goes very deep in my philosophy.
Do what you feel is comfortable so long as it is harmless.

I TRULY believe that no matter who you are, we are ALL equal. Women and children are no exception.

This has rubbed people the wrong way before and I truly mean no disrespect.

People always tell me that you should be respectful of other peoples customs. Well again, it is MY custom (no matter where I am in the world) to NEVER bow down to ANYONE. Why can't they respect mine?

LOL, I know you will most likely recommend that I practice from home and don't go visit!
No respectable Buddhist monk will command you to bow to them.  Don't worry.

Regards,
Justin Choo

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Justin Choo

Expertise

All your questions will be answered, and you may not have to agree with the answers. Such is the beauty of Buddhism. I follow the Theravada tradition, and have been studying Buddhism for more than 50 years. As I am not a Buddhist scholar, I answer in simple language, and I prefer answering general questions rather than textual.

Experience

I was brought up in the 50's as a Buddhist. For the past 50 years I have read numerous books on Buddhism and listened to numerous talks on Buddhism by well-respected and learned monks and lay teachers. I have conducted Buddhist classes for parents of Sunday School children in a Theravada Buddhist Temple. My teacher was the late Chief Reverend, The Ven. K Sri Dhammananda of The Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can view the relevant website in memory of my revered late teacher @ http://www.ksridhammananda.com and my blog posting at http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-revered-teacher.html

Organizations
I am a life member of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

Publications
YOU ARE INVITED TO VISIT MY BLOG @ http://lifeislikethat999.blogspot.com/ Published a book called "The Rainbow And The Treasure". It is a compilation of extracts from various sources to introduce Buddhism to beginners. (Currently out of print)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Commerce And Administration, Victoria University Of Wellington, NZ.(1974)

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