Buddhists and Jehovah's Witnesses
Today, I'm going to do something different. In keeping with what I said yesterday, I'm not going to pick on the Jehovah's Witnesses today. In fact, I'm not going to make any argument at all. I'm just going to make what strikes me as an interesting observation about Buddhists and Jehovah's Witnesses. As you know, I'm taking a comparitive religion class, and we just finished Buddhism last week. I wanted to write about Buddhism, but I was sick. I've still got a few things I want to say about Buddhism, but I figured by making this observation, I could make a nice smooth transition from picking on Jehovah's Witnesses to picking on Buddhists.
What is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person according to Jehovah's Witnesses? You see, they don't believe God will send anybody to hell, but they do believe God punishes the wicked. So what's the most God-awful thing God can do to them? He can wipe them out of existence. In fact, that's what he does. To be extinguished is, to Jehovah's Witnesses, the absolute worst thing that can happen to you. Annihilation is reserved for the willfully wicked.
What is the ultimate goal of Buddhists? What is the absolute best thing that can happen to them? The best thing that can happen to a person according to Buddhists is they can enter Nirvana. Nirvana literally means "extinguished." You basically cease to exist. To reach Nirvana is to escape the cycle of birth and rebirth--to rise above karma. When you reach Nirvana, you get absorbed into the emptiness of reality, and cease to exist as an individual. The compassion of the Mahayana Buddhists is so great that they will take a vow not to enter Nirvana until every blade of grass is enlightened. That way, everything--every blade of grass--can enter Nirvana and become extinguished.
Isn't that interesting? One religion thinks being extinguished is the most horrible thing that can happen to a person, and it's the ultimate punishment of God. Another religion things being extinguished is the most wonderful thing that can happen to a person, and it's the ultimate goal. I just find that interesting.