Education Week: A crash course on Buddhism

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Education week attendees walk towards the Harold B. Lee Library on BYU campus on August 20. (Cristina Bolaños)

Similarities between Buddhism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may seem few and far in between, but some include a focus on family, personal inspiration, a volunteer clergy and service to those in need.

On Aug. 22, BYU professor of ancient scripture Jared Ludlow taught an Education Week class on how recognizing these similarities and understanding symbols of other religions can help people as they interact with others from different religions.

There are six things people should do when interacting with other religions, according to Ludlow: treating sacred things with respect, observing other customs, avoiding ridicule and practicing kindness towards others.

Ludlow also warned all people will be judged by how they treat their neighbors.

Approaching other religions in a sympathetic, apathetic, antipathetic, and empathetic manner can help in having an open mind to other religions, according to Ludlow. 

Basics of Buddhism

“Buddhism is not a religion of God, it is a religion of wisdom, enlightenment, and compassion,” Ludlow said. 

Ludlow said many Buddhists interact with other faiths — a concept he said most Christians struggle to accept.

“What is interesting about Buddhism is that many people consider themselves to be Buddhists, but also affiliate with many other religions,” Ludlow said. 

Buddhism is predominant in the east and south Asia and is referred to as the middle way between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification, according to Ludlow.

This moderation can be achieved by the Noble Eightfold Path, which includes several steps to help place one in a serene, peaceful mindset. 

Enlightenment can also ultimately be achieved by thoughts, prayers, and especially by meditation.

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