If you die a Buddhist, where do you go?

And here is the #2 reason I am NOT a Buddhist: While I agree that suffering is a great problem, the greatest problem of all is death. What is Buddhism’s answer to the problem of dying?

So, according to tradition, a royal prince who was destined to become a powerful leader, stepped out of the palace where he had been sheltered for 29 years and saw suffering which he never knew existed. He abandoned his family, including his wife and small child, and went on a search to find the answer to the problem of suffering. After a while, he found it: suffering is the result of desire (lust); detach yourself from all desire and you will eliminate suffering.

One thing I have to agree with Buddhism: if you live, you will suffer. Don’t fight it, embrace it. Not in a masochist way, but with open eyes that lead to wisdom. I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is that this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Suffering is not simply an individual thing, it is a cosmic thing. Something is terribly wrong with human beings and the entire universe. Fighting suffering is not a deal for a lonely Rambo of the mind. If my solution only benefits me, it is no ultimate solution to the problem of suffering. Applying myself to meditation and discipline in some aspects of the four-noble truths or the eight-fold path may help me achieve some level of enlightenment, or even detachment from suffering as an individual, but how does that help alleviate the suffering in the entire universe?

Granted, I don’t have all the answers either, but let me propose to you that if the ultimate expression of suffering is dying, which is final and decisive, the solution must also be final and decisive. Going into the “great unknown” or becoming “one with the universe,” won’t do it for me. Sure, I don’t have “scientific” proof that the resurrection of Christ ever took place, but when I examine the written record, the story is more compelling than some abstract enlightenment.

500+ people saw Jesus alive. The tomb is empty. Women were the first to see him in spite of the fact that their testimony was worthless in those days. Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb and it had the seal of the Rome in it. All the disciples with the exception of John died for their belief that Jesus rose from the dead. I could go on and on. You get the idea…

Ivanildo C. Trindade