Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Untold Story: My Journey Of Faith


I would like to talk about my 'Born Buddhism' background. A story that remains untold to the public. As it might be sensitive and provoking to our non believer's feelings.

Before my parents getting married in 60's, my father (18 years old) went to India and finished his studies in Management course for four years. At the same time he had learnt a lot Buddhism teachings from the local Buddhist, which is a turning point in his life. After few years he brought along Buddhism teachings back to Malaysia and spread the message of Buddhism, my grandfather and grandmother was originally Chinese Folks Religions followers, or I may say they were worshiping casual China deities.

After my parents getting married, my father became chairman of Buddhism organization and actively spreading the message of Buddhism. While I was brought along into their pace after came into this world in 80's.

It's very common for Chinese Buddhist to worship other deities than Buddha, there is no border line among Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. As quoted in wikipedia:

China has long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring religio-philosophical traditions of the world. Confucianism and Taoism, plus Buddhism, constitute the "three teachings", philosophical frameworks which historically have had a significant role in shaping Chinese culture.[1][2] Elements of these three belief systems are often incorporated into the traditional folk religions.[3] Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand exclusive adherence, allowing the practice or belief of several at the same time.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China 
For many years I had worshiped deities, I have a very strong belief that God is watching me. Something didn't feel right, there must be certain part about Creator that I had overlooked. I was looking for the God who creates everything instead of having 'inner faith', 'All you should do is just believe', 'get blessing from your ancestor's gods'.

Many people thought that I have very poor knowledge about Buddhism and Chinese religions therefore I may "slipped" into Islam. The fact is I don't confront with other religion's followers, I understand their feelings towards deities and there's nothing to debate about. What these people never know is that I was visiting temples during every weekend, sometimes I drove alone to the temple and seeking for the answers.

Until one day, I have learnt the TRUE teachings of Buddhism. The meaning of True teachings is we put aside every Confucianism, Taoism, folk religions and traditional belief. The so called 'three teachings".

To prove that I'm not telling lies, this is what I quoted from Buddhism website:

Question:
Was the Buddha a god?
Answer:
No, he was not. He did not claim that he was a god, the child of a god or even the messenger from a god. He was a human being who perfected himself and taught that if we followed his example, we could perfect ourselves also.
 http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda01.htm

That's another long story if we ask why Buddhist worships Buddha. The true teachings of Buddhist never worship Buddha, and he is not a "God". The real situation in Malaysia is different, Buddha is one of the "God" that being worshiped by the "Three Teachings" Chinese believer.

I was thinking that since Buddha never claimed that he is a god, then why are we worshiping his idolatry? This was a tough question that made me rethink about the meaning of life, god and religions. Therefore I had become an Atheist, Free Thinker.

"All you have to do is just believe, no one should ask more than that."
That's what people may react if I had shown my doubts about Chinese religions.

"We should be appreciating our ancestor's faith and traditions, no one should leave behind it."

For another few years of being Atheist, I can’t find the inner peace and answer. As long as there were anyone who trying to claim god is human, or son of god. I would just leave and say “I’m sorry but I prefer to be freethinker.”

However I have found this internet article that open my eyes, the fundamental knowledge of Islam is Five pillars of Islam, and the First Pillar is Shahada:
http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/193/
The Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith and the first of the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam. The word shahada in Arabic means ‘testimony.’ The shahadais to testify to two things:

(a) Nothing deserves worship except God (Allah).

(b) Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah).
“Alright, I would reject the teachings if this website telling me that god is in human form” I was thinking while scrolling down…

(a) Nothing deserves worship except God (Allah).
The first part of this testimony states that God has the exclusive right to be worshipped inwardly and outwardly, by one’s heart and limbs. In Islamic doctrine, not only can no one be worshipped apart from Him, absolutely no one else can be worshipped along with Him. He has no partners or associates in worship. Worship, in its comprehensive sense and all its aspects, is for Him alone. God’s right to be worshipped is the essential meaning of Islam’s testimony of faith: Lā ‘ilāha ‘illā Allāh. A person becomes Muslim by testifying to the divine right to worship. It is the crux of Islamic belief in God, even all of Islam. It is considered the central message of all prophets and messengers sent by God - the message of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon them.
“Ohh wait??? I thought Muhammad is god?” I was so shocked and continue reading the following statement from website.

(b) Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah).

Muhammad was born in Mecca in Arabia in the year 570 CE. His ancestry goes back to Ishmael, a son of Prophet Abraham. The second part of the confession of faith asserts that he is not only a prophet but also a messenger of God, a higher role also played by Moses and Jesus before him. Like all prophets before him, he was a human being, but chosen by God to convey His message to all humanity rather than one tribe or nation from among the many that exist. For Muslims, Muhammad brought the last and final revelation. In accepting Muhammad as the "last of the prophets," they believe that his prophecy confirms and completes all of the revealed messages, beginning with that of Adam. In addition, Muhammad serves as the preeminent role model through his life example. The believer’s effort to follow Muhammad’s example reflects the emphasis of Islam on practice and action.
I was a devoted Chinese religion follower, as you can see in the picture.

The moment I had realized that Allah in Islam isn’t in any creature’s form, He is the Creator and not being created.. While prophet Muhammad is only last messenger from God, and the same goes to prophets before him including Jesus.

I was crying alone in the room during reading the Internet article in my bedroom. Reciting Shahada again and again in front of my notebook. Until I have embraced Islam in the same year.

Whenever Buddhist or any other religion followers come to me and asking why would I embrace such religion (i.e. Islam).

I just smile and silent.



p.s. Brother Zhang Farish left a comment in Facebook as stated, Jazakallah Khyran... :

Most Buddhist Chinese in Malaysia are followers of Mahayana sect of Buddhism, hence their devotion to worship Buddha and other Buddhist deities. You can hardly find a Buddhist Chinese who declares he worships none of the deities nor Buddha himself.

Basically, Buddhism has 3 major sects:

1) Theravada -
Practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia.
They believe in seeking salvation through their own efforts such as meditation, reciting scriptures, monkhood, etc. To them, Buddha is never to be worshipped but seen as the source of inspiration in gaining enlightenment.
Their rituals and recitation are conducted in Pali language, believed to be the language spoken by Buddha.
For easier understanding, they are like Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah, as their teachings are closest to Buddha. Their scripture is Pali Canon.

2) Mahayana -
Mainly practiced in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam.
They believe in seeking salvation through worshipping Amitabha Buddha and Bodhisattva deities especially. Their scriptures include Heart Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Lotus Sutra. Originally in Sanskrit, Mahayana Buddhists believe it can still be recited in their own language, hence you'll find these scriptures nowadays are conducted in Chinese. Even Korean and Japanese monks recited it from that Chinese translation.

3) Vajrayana -
Mainly practiced around Himalayan regions such as Tibet, Bhutan, and parts of Nepal, as well as Mongolia.
Although they do based their teachings on Mahayana scriptures, Vajrayana followers have additional rituals and practices. They recite scriptures in Tibetan language. Like Mahayana, they worship many deities, and many local gods before arrival of Buddhism are absorbed into it, such as the fierce looking gods.

From there, we may see why many Buddhist Chinese worship Buddha, although actually the more popular Buddhist deity they worship is Bodhisattva Guanyin, the goddess of mercy.

In short, the worshipping nature of Buddhist Chinese is due to what their sect has been practicing all along.



(Thanks for reading this secret and controversial article, The planets picture has nothing to do with my story... please forget what you have read just now.)

1 comment:

  1. Bro.Ikhwan, cerita bagaimana anda daripada seorang cina buddha atheist sangat menarik. Pengalaman hidup anda sangat menarik. Anda mempunyai bapa beragama buddha dan membawa ajaran buddha daripada India berjaya nempengaruhi keluarga lagi menarik. Masa ayah anda di india berapa lama? Di manakah dia bertugas, . Adakah ibu dan nenek anda boleh terima ajaran buddha? Berapa umur anda masa tu?

    ReplyDelete

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