1. LEADER PREPARATION

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1 apologetics: RESPONDING TO SPECIFIC WORLDVIEWS Lesson 7: Buddhism This includes: 1. Leader Preparation 2. Lesson Guide 1. LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW Buddha made some significant claims about his philosophies and how those teachings are able to transform someone to their core. Buddhism never denies the existence of God; it is an agnostic worldview. As you examine Buddhism, you will find that Buddhism does not claim to be a religion, nor is it a way of life. The goal of Buddhism is to give humanity a way out of suffering, while the claim of Christianity is that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sin and suffering is overcome through relying on God s power. This study will give students a clear vision of what the Bible teaches as compared to the teachings of Buddha. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1. WHAT: Fundamental differences exist between Buddhism and Christianity. 2. WHY: Buddhist philosophy has influenced many current movies, TV shows, and books that shape our culture and our students. 3. HOW: Students will look at the major questions Buddhism claims to answer about life, and they ll examine what the Bible teaches about each and how Christianity gives solid answers to these questions about life. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 SECONDARY SCRIPTUREs Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7; 3:16-19; Psalm 19:1; 34:19; 46:1, Romans 1:20; 4:1-8; 6:23; 8:9; 11:6; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 15:22-23; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 2:8-9; 5:18; Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 9:24-28; James 1:12-18; 1 John 2:15-17; Revelation 21:3-4

2 TEACHING PREP The overview below is designed to help you prepare for your lesson. We have included lots of content to help you prepare for the discussion on apologetics. While you may not want to convey this information word-for-word with your teenagers, you ll definitely want to refer to it as you lead and some of the content can help with further conversations with students. Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 Buddhism is a worldview that is a relative of Hinduism. It was birthed in India around the sixth century B.C., and from there it spread throughout Asia. Currently Buddhism is mainly located in Japan, China, and other nations in that part of the world, though it is also gaining great popularity within Western countries, including the United States. A man named Gautama Siddhartha started teaching Buddhist philosophy. He was born in 562 B.C. and was the heir to the throne in India. The people of the kingdom hoped that he would become the most successful king in India s history. He led a sheltered life and was not exposed to all of the suffering or problems other people in the kingdom faced. It was on his journey to the throne that he saw the Four Distressing Sights, which became the foundation for Buddhist teaching. The first three were a sick man, an old man, and a dead man. Gautama was deeply troubled by these newly discovered troubles of sickness, old age, and death. Then the fourth sight came, a beggar who had denied himself of all things to seek enlightenment. At age 29, Gautama abandoned his wife and son to devote his life to helping those who were suffering and to seek this enlightenment. As he wandered to search enlightenment, Gautama centered his wanderings around the question Why is man unhappy? Gautama tried almost everything to get the answer to this question. He starved himself, he indulged himself, he tortured himself, and finally after years of this quest he sat in full lotus position under the sacred Indian Bodhi tree and decided to remain there until he was enlightened. When he finally stood up, he declared that he was Buddha. The great mystery of life had been revealed to him. Like the word Christ (Messiah), the term Buddha is a title, not a name. It means the enlightened one or the one who woke up. Buddhism claims that we are all spiritually unaware until we become enlightened.

3 Buddhism takes on the characteristics of the experiences of its founder. In that respect, Buddhism is not a religion but a life philosophy that claims to open you up to experiences you wouldn t otherwise see. The genesis of Buddhist Dharma (doctrine) stems from the experience of Gautama Buddha, and Buddhist Dharma is encapsulated in the Four Noble Truths: Noble Truth #1 All life is suffering The word suffering in this context is similar to the Christian understanding of sin but differs in many ways. The brokenness that this suffering produces is not a broken relationship with God, but a break in consciousness. Noble Truth #2 The cause of suffering is selfish desires Humans suffer because there is a great divide between what we have and what we want. Our dissatisfaction, our wanting to get what we don t have and desire to hold on to what we do have all of this is the fuel that keeps the fire of selfishness burning. The only cure is to release oneself of all desires. But there is no distinction between good desires and harmful ones. In Buddhism all desires are bad, and to be enlightened, people must release themselves of all these desires. Noble Truth #3 Remove desire and you remove suffering If someone wants to be free from suffering, they must remove themselves of all desires. Noble Truth #4 The pathway to eliminating suffering This teaching tells how to empty yourself of desires. The Buddhist teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path is intended to eliminate the need to focus on self and gives people a roadmap to follow as they seek Nirvana and enlightenment. There are two types of Buddhists, the Theravada (Conservative) and Mahayana (Liberal). Buddhists follow three groups of writings named the three baskets or Tripitaka. It is over 10 times the size of the Bible and contains what Buddhist believes to be the sermons, teachings, and life philosophy of Gautama Buddha. The Tripitaka was written centuries after he died. There are no manuscripts detailing the life of Gautama, no recorded eyewitness accounts, and no transcripts of his teachings. Buddhists must rely on the traditions passed down from generation to generation.

4 THE BEFORE & AFTER [optional] Text Message Questions We ve provided a couple of different text message questions to send out to students prior to your meeting. Feel free to use one or both of the questions below. As with the rest of the curriculum, edit these questions to fit the needs of your ministry. Parent What do your desires say about you? Come out this week as we compare Christianity and Buddhism and search for truth. What things can we never attain through riches, knowledge, and influence? Join us tonight and share your thoughts. We ve provided you with an below that you can send to your parents following the lesson. Our hope is to encourage parents to continue the conversation at home. Feel free to edit and customize the to fit your ministry needs. Dear parents, We are continuing our series of apologetic Bible studies focused on other religions and worldviews. Our hope is to equip students and prepare them for intelligent dialogue when conversations about Christianity and other religions come up with their peers. This past week s study focused on the differences between the Buddhist philosophies of life and the Christian truths found in the Bible. You may want to ask your teenager what they learned about the way a Buddhist handles desires and what the ultimate goal for Buddhism is versus what it means to honor God with our lives and the surrender of our lives. Here are some other questions that can help spark dialogue: How would you summarize the major differences between Christianity and Buddhism? How have you seen Buddhist teaching influence the culture around you? What do people in our culture mean when they talk about good karma and bad karma? How is that view different from knowing that our actions have consequences? As we continue through this series, please contact me if you have any questions or would like additional resources to help answer your teenager s questions. Have a great week!

5 apologetics: RESPONDING TO SPECIFIC WORLDVIEWS Lesson 7: Buddhism 2. LEsson guide GETTING THINGS STARTED [optional] You ll need scrap paper and pens or pencils for the opening activity. Welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, and then have students form groups of three or four. Distribute scrap paper and pens or pencils, and then SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Our world is full of suffering. That isn t a happy reality, but it is reality. As a group, take a few minutes to create a list of examples of suffering in our world today. These can be examples from your life, the lives of people you know, or the lives of people you ve never met. Give groups about five minutes to create their lists. If groups struggle to come up with plenty of examples, consider allowing them to use smartphones to do online searches of news websites. What are some examples of suffering that your group included in its list? What are some typical ways you respond to suffering in your life? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Today we continue our series looking at different worldviews and religions, and how they fall short of God s truth found in the Bible. Our focus in this conversation is Buddhism, and a fundamental issue that Buddhism claims to address is the issue of suffering. In fact, one of Buddha s most prominent teachings is that the purpose of life is to end suffering. TEACHING POINTS The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen are (1) What does Buddhism teach about God?, (2) What does Buddhism teach about the human condition?, (3) How does Buddhism address suffering?, and (4) What does Buddhism teach about salvation?

6 Remember: All throughout these lessons, it s up to you to choose (1) how many questions you use, and (2) the wording of the main points keep ours, or change the wording to make it clearer for your audience. Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 together as a group. Consider dividing verses among your students so everyone has a chance to read. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Let s examine this passage and other Scriptures to gain a clearer understanding of differences between the teachings of Buddhism and the truths of Christianity. 1. What does Buddhism teach about God? Look at verses Solomon chose these sentences to end the book of Ecclesiastes, which is filled with wisdom and truth about the realities of human life. What do you think he was trying to say by ending with these words? How could Solomon confidently say that we ought to fear God and keep his commandments? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: The Bible points to creation, miracles, fulfilled prophecies, and Jesus resurrection as evidence for the existence of God. Moreover, the Bible tells us that we find the point and purpose of life through serving God and having a with God relationship. Buddhism, however, is silent on the existence of God. Read Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:20. What do these verses say about God s work and his power and how God can be revealed through things he made? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: As Buddhism claims to take no stance on God, even whether or not he exists, the Bible says that creation itself demonstrates God s existence. Religion without God is as meaningless as iced tea without ice, or fried chicken without chicken. So the Bible s teachings contradict Buddhist teaching on the existence of God. The Bible reveals that God exists and that the purpose of faith or religion is to please God.

7 2. What does Buddhism teach about God? What do people in our culture mean when they talk about good karma and bad karma? How is that view different from knowing that our actions have consequences? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: The intrinsic human tendencies of greed, anger, deception, ignorance, and longings are not new to humanity in the 21st century. Buddha called people unenlightened, fools, and blind for living this way, and modern-day Buddhism follows this same perspective on humanity. To this day, Buddhism teaches that only the enlightened ones can walk the Eightfold Path until all earthly desires are eliminated. The eight steps are right views, right intentions, right speech, right conduct, right mode of livelihood, right effort, right awareness, and right concentration or meditation. Perfecting these steps requires great self-control over many lives. One must pass through four stages overcoming 10 hindrances. Later stages require one to be a monk, abandoning family life. Buddhism teaches that Gautama took at least 550 lives to achieve perfection. According to Buddhism, the consequences of acts in this life will impact your next life through the process called reincarnation. Buddhism teaches that we must gain knowledge and meditate to gain release from this cycle of rebirth. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to achieve or enter into Nirvana. Buddhism teaching includes three core principles: Rebirth (reincarnation) Buddhism teaches that when a person dies, he or she returns to live as another person, animal, or god. The spirit or soul does not move on to another life, but the consequences of past actions karma continue from one life to another. Karma (action) The principle of karma teaches that everything that happens to a person in this life good or bad is the result of his conduct in previous lives. Buddhism teaches that your actions in this life will impact what happens to you in a future life. There is no coincidence, there is no divine intervention, and nothing results from chance. All we experience is basically a reward or punishment for what we have done in past lives.

8 Nirvana (release) Buddhism teaches that a person s ultimate goal is to be released from the cycle of rebirth and suffering. Nirvana is the state of rest when people have released themselves or emptied themselves of all earthly desires. Read Hebrews 9: What does this passage of Scripture tell you about the Christian view of life, our eternal destiny, and how many times we live? Is the judgment in verse 27 the same judgment Buddhism teaches regarding reincarnation and karma? Why or why not? Read Genesis 2:7 and Ecclesiastes 12:7. What do these verses reveal about God, how God created humans, and whose hand our lives are in? Read 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. How do the truths of these Scriptures differ from the Buddhist teachings of reincarnation and karma? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Christianity does teach of Jesus resurrection, his ultimate return to redeem his people, and the fact that when someone dies their spirit will be resurrected on the day of Christ s return. But this is different from the Buddhist teaching of reincarnation. Resurrection brings someone back to life who was dead the same spirit reunited with the body. And as you take a look at the teachings of Buddhism you come to realize that there is no hope of heaven for someone who follows this philosophy. Heaven does not exist in Buddhism. Like Buddhism, Christianity does address the issue of being judged for our actions. But in Christianity, there is a judge: Jesus Christ. In Buddhism, it is our actions that determine how we are judged, but with no judge this belief is extremely vague and lacking in merit. Ask students to form groups of two or three for these questions How does serving God and receiving his forgiveness and hope go hand in hand in receiving eternal life? Read Ephesians 5:18, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and Romans 8:9. What do these verses say we should be filled with? How is this different from Buddhism s idea of emptying ourselves? Read 1 Timothy 4:1-5. How does this passage address the desires God implanted in us when he created us?

9 Bring everyone back together, and ask for volunteers to share answers to the previous questions, as time permits. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Buddhism teaches that our desires are too strong and we must be released of them. Christianity teaches that our desires are too weak and we must lean upon God s strength to overcome them. Christianity tells us that there is a healthy and God-honoring way to fulfill the desires we have. Buddhism cures the human condition through losing yourself, while Jesus tells us life is found when we submit ourselves in Christ. 3. How does Buddhism address suffering? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Buddhist teaching about suffering is based on the Four Truths : (1) Suffering is an essential part of life. Troubles are basic and inherent to life. (2) The cause of suffering is human desire. (3) The solution to suffering is to eliminate earthly desires, especially the desire to exist as an individual. (4) The steps to defeat these desires are the Eightfold Path. Essentially, Buddhism teaches that humans deserve to suffer. No matter the level of suffering we experience, it all stems from our craving for personal enjoyment and possessions. Life as we know it is an illusion, and the ignorant ones doesn t realize the deception around them. A person will continue to be reborn into more and more lives until they are fully enlightened. And because life includes suffering, we will continue to suffer. The amount of suffering we experience in life is a result of actions from a past life and being uninformed about the reality around us. The way that suffering ceases is through having knowledge or being enlightened to the truth around us. Read Genesis 3:16-19, James 1:12-18, and 1 John 2: What do these verses tell you about the origin of temptation and hardships in life? Sometimes we face suffering that s the result of our actions. But sometimes we endure suffering that had no connection to our actions. How do you deal with the fact that you don t have control over where all the suffering in your life comes from? How does a relationship with God help you understand how to handle suffering well? Read Genesis 1: How does this passage contradict the Buddhist teaching that the goal of life is ceasing to exist?

10 What are you saying about God s work if you claim the purpose of life is to cease to exist? Read Psalm 34:19, Psalm 46:1, Philippians 4:13, and Revelation 21:34. What do these passages say about suffering and how we overcome hardships in our lives?- 4. What does Buddhism teach about salvation? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: There is no need for salvation in Buddhist teaching because there is no God to be offended by someone s actions. In Buddhism the ultimate goal of spiritual beings is not salvation, but eliminating desires so that Nirvana can be attained. Each step on the Eightfold Path must be perfected for someone to be enlightened and free of any personal desires. This process of perfection relies entirely on the effort and achievement of a person to free themselves of all desires. It depends entirely on our works. But Christianity teaches that we cannot earn salvation it is received through God s mercy and grace. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Why does Paul write that salvation is a work of God so we can t boast? Why is boasting such a big deal? Read Romans 4:1-8, Romans 6:23, Romans 11:6, and Titus 3:4-7. What do these verses tell you about Christianity s claim about salvation, God s part in it, and our response? ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION [optional] How would you summarize the major differences between Christianity and Buddhism? How have you seen Buddhist teaching influence the culture around you? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Buddhism s ultimate test of validity is found in experience. Its doctrine states that no one can tell another person when they are enlightened and no one can release you of your suffering. Basically you hear a teaching that resonates with you, through experience you find out whether or not it connects with your psychological makeup, and then you adopt it as your own spiritual path to enlightenment. Ultimately everyone is his or her own judge of reality and enlightenment.

11 Christianity offers undisputable evidence of God s existence, his Word, and the gospel of Jesus. All of this is confirmed through fulfilled prophecy, miracles, and Jesus resurrection. Christianity tells us that the only true sacrifice to forgive sin is by the death of the Son of God. To receive this benefit, we must trust Jesus and obey him in this life. APPLICATION What specific truths of Christianity from today s conversation give you confidence to embrace the suffering you face or will face in life? How can today s discussion give you a foundation to stand on when discussing differences between Christianity and Buddhism? Be as specific as possible. What next step could help you learn more about differences between Christianity and Buddhism, and how to explain those differences to other people? SUMMARY End your lesson here. Provide your teenagers with a quick summary or take-home challenge based on (1) the content of this lesson, (2) the dialogue that took place during the lesson, (3) your understanding of the issues and struggles your teenagers are facing, and (4) the big picture of your youth ministry and what your leadership team wants accomplished with the teaching and discussion time. FOR KEEPS [MEMORY VERSE] Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the passage below. Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

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