nomadbrah said:Who has answers for someone who suffers?
It is noteworthy that of all the major and minor religions, it seems that it's Buddhism and Christianity which spend the most time and effort contemplating the nature of suffering in this world and offering a way out of it.
I would also agree with other people in this thread that the number of lifestyle Buddhists in the West is regrettable.
Ususally if you ask these people questions like "Have you read the Pali canon?", "Which sutra are you studying right now?" they'll stare at you like a deer in the headlights.
What is Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, and what are the differences?
Over thousands of years of history, who are some influential monks, scholars, or schools of thought that you find interesting or insightful, and what did they ponder, preach or postulate?
I mean most can't even name the four noble truths or the eightfold path.
Also, while in the Western sphere of thought, religion and philosophy are more or less separate, in the Eastern world view this separation does not exist in the same way.
What we call "Buddhism" alone is an extensive, rich and deep edifice of ideas, spread over a vast continent and over the aeons built up and developed by numerous cultures, peoples and societies.
While they all had the same starting point, over time they went into many different directions. Some just stuck to the original teachings, some didn't. Some pray to statues for a good harvest or rain. Some ventured into mysticism. Some broke all taboos in their search for answers. And some even killed the Buddha.
"Buddhism" is a very convenient label, but doesn't reflect the world of ideas that are described by it.
You could compare the Western lifestyle Buddhist with some Asian person that comes up to you and says something like:
"Oh, Christianity is so fascinating! I read a book about it once. It's all about love and spreading the love, right? Jesus said love is the answer! It makes so much sense to me. I now consider myself kind of a Christian, you know. It's such a deep message, being compassionate, helping each other, being a good person. I even went to visit a Church once, it was an amazing experience, such a spiritual and mystical place. We just don't have that where I'm from! I'm thinking about doing a retreat at this monastery to learn more, you know, just living with the monks, praying, thinking about life and finding myself."
We've probably all met someone like that, usually with religions reversed though.
They don't see that they are barely scratching the surface of the real thing.
Anyway, in completely different news, that:
is a snake's head.
No way around it, and no way that it's just a coincidence. Especially considering what the rest of the building looks like.
I don't think that the architect and the artist just happened to be pranksters trying to stick it to the Church (and somehow absolutely nobody noticed).