What's So Special About Buddhism?
My Master always told that the way in which Buddhism differs from the other religions in the world is because of its emphasis on wisdom — the prajna transcendental wisdom of seeing the Tao, and the wisdom of understanding regular worldly and universal phenomena. The wisdom that is able to understand Tao, realize Tao, cultivate the self, release one from the bondage of birth and death and leap over the mundane.
This is not common intelligence. It is the wisdom which is the root and origin of the body of Tao. Hence, Buddhism discusses not just the cultivation path in all its various aspects, but goes into all sorts of worldly and supernormal phenomena that are not commented upon by other religions. If you want a great framework for things, you must turn to Buddhism.
The key thing, however, is prajna wisdom. You see the Hindu sages could reach the various dhyana. Their highest attainment, however, was to identify with Brahman, a code word that meant pure consciousness. They identified this with their highest self, or atman.
Buddhism goes beyond pure consciousness. It cultivates one step further: pure prajna wisdom that sees consciousness. Buddha specifically warned not to identify the alaya base of consciousness as a self, but Hinduism is built upon this. That's why he was the Buddha -- the first to go beyond it in a long time and teach this. The foundation of this wisdom is the void, or emptiness. What it is no one knows. What Brahman is is sat-ananda-bliss. A Hindu says "I am Brahman, I am Shiva." By cultivating to the alaya consciousness, that's what they can attain. But they don't know how to overturn the alaya and its basis to achieve true spiritual realization.
Truly remarkable is Buddhism in this regards. Other religions stop at realizing the realm of Jehovah (Desire Realm Asura angry god), God (Form Realm Christian god), Shakra, Indra, Mahesvara or some other god but Buddhism goes to the source ... as far as one can go. It puts an end to the higher self or consciousness that causes transmigration. This is done through cultivating the prajna wisdom of direct insight and non-clinging. By freeing oneself from the body of the alaya by transformin it into wisdom, one frees themselves from birth and death; the alaya is transformed, one triumphs over the Three Realms. One attains upon enlightenment not just the dharmakaya, nirmanakaya and sambhogakaya but the body of wisdom as all the forms of consciousness are transformed. The seeds of the basis of the alaya are overturned. In Hinduism the non-duality of the alaya is realized but it is still considered ignorance by Buddhism; going past this is the cultivation of prajna wisdom through emptiness cultivation.
In Buddhism we also have chakras, skandhas, levels of consciousness, superpowers, the various heavens and the beings within them, kung-fu (gong-fu), how to cultivate, stages of cultivation, reincarnation and karma, different types of emptiness, how to change your fortune and behavior, the makeup of galaxies, the microscopic world, hygiene, ethical behavior and merit making, … all sorts of things are discussed in Buddhism that appear nowhere else. But these are just tiny details to fill in the missing pieces.
Shakyamuni Buddha, unlike other religious teachers, always said: Don’t believe me or books of old or ancient stories but TEST and PROVE everything I say. So it’s a cultivation school of proof. You prove things. You don't believe or take things on faith. You test them.
What other spiritual path or religion can stand up to that? They just say believe and poof, you're dead and onto another round of reincarnation again ... who knows when you'll next get a chance to come into contact with the real dharma to cultivate.
Other schools, especially invented by intellectuals, want you to just BELIEVE without cultivating anything. So off you go, wasting your human life, following the thought patterns that some unenlightened individual simply preferred for whatever psychological reasons. You grow up into a family and get stamped with their metaphoric religious belief system. Result? Life wasted except perhaps for generating some merit. Real cultivation is truly hard to find.
The problem with these schools: "You don’t have to cultivate," "All you have to do is believe," "Only we are saved," "__is supreme" are all sorts of useless notions that waste your precious opportunity to cultivate as a human being.
Now if you want to discuss physical transformations of the human body, while Buddhism discusses these through the avenue of the "five elements", Taoism discusses them via the mechanism of jing, chi and shen transformations, as well as chi channels and elixir fields. Taoism, because its emphasis was on prolonging the life of the human body, has categorized these changes and transformations quite nicely so if you’re interested in THAT sort of thing, you should look at Taoism. If you use Esoteric Buddhism or the yoga schools, you only end up discussing chi channels and chakras and that’s about it.
If we’re talking about human behavior, the best schools to turn to are [[Wikipedia:Christianity|Christianity]], with its emphasis on charity, and Confucianism. Yes, Confucianism. On and on I could go — just pick from the best for whatever purpose you need — but the whole purpose of this blog post was to talk about wsidom. Wisdom and understanding.
Where do you get wisdom and understanding today? In schools? On TV? Hardly likely. What is promoted to the public is usually boiled down, politically correct messages that don’t teach you HOW TO THINK, or how to understand what’s really going on in the world. It used to be that I would have to buy all sorts of special books and magazines and newsletters to really know what’s going on in the world, but today the internet has made that easier.
And there’s one place to go to obtain a higher degree of WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING about what’s really going on inthe world. Where? Google video. In particular, the last section ont he page of google video that let’s you see educational videos.
Go to google right now and above the search box you’ll see the selections Web, Images, Video, News, … Hit the VIDEO button. Ont his page, you’ll see lots of vdeos available for watching. Later I’m sure google will charge but right now it’s free, so make use of it. WHere to go? The last section called EDUCATION.
Just spend some time watching the various videos on 911, UFOs, and other documentaries that you’ll never see on TV. This will exercise your wisdom muscles. As I always say, be open but skeptical, skeptical but open and exercsie your wisdom muscles as you watch the "forbidden topics" that the mainstream never wants you to know about.
And as for the spiritual schools of the world, most all the genuine ones can help you to attain samadhi - hristianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. They all can do this if uyou pactice correctly. But to cultivate past the alaya ground of consciousness, that is the realm of prajna wisdom cultivation. Try to find another school that goes that far.
Now we could cite other reasons why Buddhism is different than other religions such as the following: there is no ultimate god in Buddhism though the existence of many gods are recognized in the universe, for they indeed exist as do you and I; no one saves you for you are taught to liberate yourself and take responsibility for the task; the ultimate objective is enlightenment rather than rebirth in a heaven; compassion and kindness is extended to all beings, not just humans; and such concepts as karma, samsara, rebirth, ignorance and so forth.