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Ecclesiastes and Buddhists

Sharingjesusholistically-1This morning's Friday Fax (I woke up early - 1:30am) has an interesting piece on Ecclesiastes and Buddhism from a new book called "Sharing Jesus Holistically with the Buddhist World" by David Kim and (DAWN Buddy) Stephen Spaulding.

From Friday Fax:
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Ecclesiastes: bridge for Buddhists
"Siddhartha Gautama alias Buddha and Kohelet, author of the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes, used very similar methods to describe the basic problems of human existence and suggest solutions," according to a recently-published book by David Lim and Steve Spaulding. "That makes Ecclesiastes an excellent contact point and bridge for explaining Biblical truths to Buddhists," they say.

Experience-based description
Buddha's statements are based on his own experiences and observations, as do Kohelet's. Both make similar statements about life, but have completely different analyses and hence different solutions. Ecclesiastes' foundation in experience is a helpful approach for Buddhists, because their own background helps them understand the statements.

Greed is humankind's basic problem
Buddha's "Four Noble Truths" declare (1) that life is suffering, (2) the suffering is caused by greed, (3) the suffering can be overcome by overcoming greed, and (4) there is a path to end suffering. Similarly, Kohelet sees humankind's basic problem in selfish desire and greed. Greed has its source in the human will and selfish motives which oppose the will of God. Instead of seeking God's will, people live as they see fit, with their own lusts and desires subjecting their own lives to suffering and unfulfillment.

Both look 'under the sun'
In the Bible, the expression 'under the sun' occurs only in Ecclesiastes. The author deliberately restricts himself to observing humankind's earthly activities, ignoring the possibility of a transcendent but immanent God. Both Buddha and Kohelet try to find sense in life outside of God. Basic ethics an some of the Creator's attributes are "written in each person's heart" according to Romans. If we do not reject Buddha's moral teachings out of hand, but understand them as part of God's general revelation to all people, it becomes possible to open God's specific revelation and laws to Buddhists.

Source: David Lim and Steve Spaulding: Sharing Jesus Holistically in the
Buddhist World"
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