Ten Questions I’d Ask If I Could Interview Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) Today

The Buddha.
The Buddha (“Enlightened One”) was born in Nepal and named Siddhartha Gautama (later known as Sakyamuni). He was an Indian philosopher. All accounts of life that are known today were written by followers, long after his death.

There are an estimated 500+ million adherents of Buddhism in the world, with up to two million here in America. But whether you’re Buddhist or not—just in the interest of further dialogue—we’d invite your response to the following.

  1. If there is no personal God, and if one can attain nirvana only as a result of the destruction of thirst (tanha) / desire, therefore the destruction of attachment, therefore the destruction of existence—from whence, do you suppose, did personality (or even the sense of personality) ever come? Exactly what is it, and where does it go when one ceases to exist?

  2. Without a personal God, on what basis can there ever exist any human moral standard or ethic—and therefore, in what sense do you mean for us to understand the terms noble and truth, i.e. The Four Noble Truths, or the term right in the eight-fold path of right views, resolve, speech, conduct, occupation, efforts, awareness, and meditation?

  3. If your teaching, which came on the scene in the sixth century B.C., alone represents truth and liberation—what provision was there for the millions who lived previous to the advent of your enlightenment and teaching? Why do you suppose that you, of all humankind, were the one to come on this insight when you did?

  4. If, as you are reported to have said, nirvana is "beyond…good and evil", then, in the ultimate sense, there is really no difference between Hitler and Mother Theresa, or between helping an old lady across the street and running her down—correct?

    “Living Buddha, Living Christ”
  5. Thich Nhat Hanh, bodhisattva (holy man) and author of Living Buddha, Living Christ © 1995 by Riverhead Books, attempts to homogenize Buddhism and Christianity. Though you never knew of Jesus Christ, it would seem that you too might suggest that one could conceivably be a “Christian Buddhist”. Yet how could that ever be possible given Christianity's categorical differences with Buddhism on matters like the nature of sin, reincarnation, and salvation—to name just a few. Jesus claimed to be the Truth. The Christian Scripture says that "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

  6. How do you feel about the many variations of your teaching that have evolved down through the years? Please comment on Theravada (38%), Mahayana (56%), Tantrism or Vajranaya, Tibetan (6%; Dalai Lama), and Zen Buddhism?

  7. Chuck Stanford says: "Like cloudy water, our minds are basically pure and clear, but sometimes they become cloudy from the storms of discursive thoughts. Just like water, if we let our minds sit undisturbed the mud and muck will eventually settle to the bottom. Once this happens we can begin to get in touch with our basic goodness. It is through this basic goodness that the Buddha discovered that we can lead sane lives." But, Mr. Gautama, what if you are wrong about our being basically good? The Bible says that we're conceived in sin. What if there is a personal God to whom we will all one day answer? What if your enlightenment (awakening) was really only a dream?

  8. Scene from “Beyond Rangoon”In the film Beyond Rangoon Laura's guide says that the (Buddhist) Burmese expect suffering, not happiness. When happiness comes, it is to be enjoyed as a gift, but with the awareness that it will soon certainly pass. If the ultimate Buddhist hope is to just leave the present wheel of birth and rebirth and enter into the ineffable bliss of Nirvana, where is the motivation to do good, and to actively oppose injustice, in this present life?

  9. How do we reconcile the Dalai Lama's observation that "Every human being has the potential to create happiness", with your own teaching that suffering is caused by desire? If one sets out to resist desire, why would one ever then entertain the desire for happiness, and thus work to create it?

  10. Personal Trivia: Did you really sit under that bo tree for seven full days—without ever eating any figs? Did your remarkably sensitive, compassionate, nature come more from your mother or father? How did your son, left to grow up without a father, feel about your “Great Renunciation”?

Also read

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Is Jesus Christ the answer?
Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is?

Christian Answers EffectiveEvangelism™ site - Learn how to be more effective in sharing the Gospel If you are a follower of Jesus Christ who is interested in sharing your faith with people who follow Buddhist philosophy, please visit our page about Buddhism in our Effective Evangelism section. It includes further articles, information about the history of the Buddhist religion, stories from those who have come out of Buddhism or who work with Buddhists, recommended resources, and more.

Author: Daryl E. Witmer of AIIA Institute. Originally published in Areopagus Proclamation, Vol. 6 No. 3.

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