There are three principle problems outlined in Thai Buddhist teaching:
- Ignorance- “Awicha”
- Craving- “Tanha”
- Clinging- “Upataan”
In addition, there is the idea that everything in this world is unstable and transitory (“mai tiang”).
Talking with my Buddhist monk friends, it is said that these qualities are the root cause of all suffering and evil in the world.
If they are not eradicated, they will bring continuous suffering. We agree. How they are eradicated is where our paths diverge.
But where did these qualities originate from? What was their original cause?
There is an answer in Buddhism for how they originate in us as people, but not how they originated ultimately.
Here is how we speak of the three elements causing suffering and how they came to be; using the testimony of God’s Word
God’s Word speaks clearly about where these three things originated. They are a part of “the curse”, created by the disobedience of our common ancestors, Adam & Eve, and passed down to all humanity. (Genesis 3)
Because of ignorance they believed the lie of Satan that the forbidden fruit would make one wise and that they would become like God himself, knowing good and evil. Yet the truth was that their decision to disobey God would plunge the world into ignorance. The main thing that mankind would be “willingly ignorant” of is the very God who gave them life. (Romans 1:18-22)
Craving arose in the heart of Adam and Eve. They took the fruit, ate, and their eyes were opened. From this point on, sin entered the world and sinful cravings arose in the hearts of mankind.
Karma (Kum), or “cause and effect”, arose and entered in as well. We have been receiving the effects of one man’s choice throughout all of our history. This choice has reverberated to include our sinful choices and deliberate neglect of our Creator God and King. (Romans 5:12)
Clinging arose as man grasped at anything that he could find to fill the void in his spirit as his sin separated him from God’s presence. That separation caused further darkness and ignorance. Man still clings to his own ideas, to his own ways, even though God his Creator has spoken that the first commandment is for mankind to cling to Him alone for “he is our life and the length of our days.” (Prov 14:12 & Deu 30:20)
How Jesus Saves and Breaks the Power of Each Problem
Jesus Christ came into this world to reveal the Father God; who is He is, what he is like, and what he requires of humanity. Jesus is the light that destroys the darkness of ignorance. He teaches us that eternal life is “knowing” the Father. (John 17:3)
Jesus destroys craving by demonstrating his power over craving and tempation then leading us to the way of the cross. He says, “If any man comes after me, he must deny himself take up his cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) The way of the cross is the way to destroy sinful craving, both here and now, and ultimately.
Jesus is above the laws of “cause and effect” or “sowing and reaping.” He is able to “cancel the handwritten ordinances”, the record of charges, the record of debts that were against us. He destroyed it by nailing it to the cross. (Col 2:14). If we sin (tham bapt) we are able to confess our sins, and Jesus is actually just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9)
Finally, Jesus brings us back to our original purpose as humanity and that is to know God and cling to Him alone. (Deu 13:4)
In this world, everything is transitory (I Cor 7:31), but there is one thing that remains, and is not transitory (tiang ter) and that is Almighty God Himself.
When we cling (hold fast) to Him alone, we are freed from clinging to the unstable things of this world.
What do you think? Do see some aspects of Buddhism as possessing a portion of humanity’s common story? Isn’t all truth, by nature, God’s truth?