Why Study Buddhism?

Usually, when one is affiliated with any religion, the question arises as to why people should follow it. The same is true of all religions. Surely there has to be some kind of benefit, right? Either people believe that they will receive some kind of “great luck” or fortune in the present, or be blessed with a good afterlife by following the prescribed practices of their chosen religion here and now.

From a general point of view, Pure Land Buddhism does not fall under any of these categories. The purpose of studying Buddhism, therefore, is to solve the crucial matter of life after death and achieve true happiness and salvation in this lifetime. This is really complicated, so further explanation is required.

First of all, with regards to the crucial matter of life after death, our soul has been transmigrating again and again since eons and eons ago. The reason we are here today is because we died in another, past life and accomplished the rare feat of being born human. Solving the matter of life after death means to be assured rebirth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land and cease the endless cycle of transmigration.

How do I do that? You might ask. Well, this is not easy to explain in a book or even an encyclopedia of words. However, the best way to do this and cease suffering, as recommended by Sakyamuni Buddha is to keep listening to Buddhism.

Going back to my second point, about achieving true happiness in this life and on this world – this is essentially what we human beings were born to do. There is no other purpose. Sure, there may be other goals in life, but do not confuse this with the true purpose of life.

For example, some people think that the purpose of life entails getting a good job, gaining money, raising a good family, or gaining fame. However, this is far from the truth. The truth is that no matter what we endeavor in, there will always be suffering.

If you suddenly come into a massive amount of fortune, for instance, at first it may seem good. However, as time goes by your friends and loved ones may beg you for money, or you may fear it being taken away from you, so you spend morning, afternoon and night trying to protect it. Soon enough, paranoia sets in and you find yourself alone. If not that, then surely you will get used to your life of luxury and fame and wonder how you ever lived without it. Sooner or later, you will be bored of your riches and seek something else. And soon after that happens, you will encounter death and be parted with your fame, fortune and wealth.

The reason that I study Buddhism is because I realized this pattern occurring to me. Day in and day out, everything seemed like an endless loop and the more I thought about the big picture, the more it occurred to me: money, status, material wealth and all that comes with it is definitely not the ultimate purpose of life and the reason why we were born. Sure, it is nice to indulge in what the world has to offer, but we have to keep in mind that these can only offer us temporary salvation as we draw closer and closer to the time of death. Encountering fame and fortune is a less than 1% chance whereas death occurs 100% of the time.

The true cause of suffering lies in ignorance. Therefore, we should invest our time and energy into listening to Buddhism seriously so that we can solve the crucial matter of the after death and cease the endless cycle of transmigration and suffering that we were intended to do since eons past.

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