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Tuesday, 07 December 2004 13:19

Taking a "Second Look" at Buddhism

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by Scott Noble

Last summer I went to Thailand to visit some friends. While there one of my friends had his college students take me on a tour of the city.

This particular city (Ayutthaya) is filled with Buddhist temples and other sites of historical significance. At one museum the students showed me a cabinet-like structure, which was said to contain a small piece of Sakyamuni Buddha's bones ("Sakyamuni" means sage of the Sakya clan- a.k.a. Siddhartha Gautama). They told me that the Buddha had instructed his followers to break his bones into tiny pieces so that each group could have a piece, and so that they would not fight over his body. At another site, the students showed me a life-size statue of the Buddha sitting in meditation position on the coil of a giant cobra, while the cobra (Mucalinda) held its hood over the Buddha's head. This, it was said, was to protect the Buddha from the rain.

Though I lived in Thailand for two years (from 1997-1999), and have read about the basics of Buddhism, these experiences made me curious as to the more exact nature, history and differences of the various branches of Buddhism. Later, when I was in Bangkok, I picked up a copy of "Thai Buddhism in the Buddhist World" by P. A. Payutto (2001). Having read this book, two others and many articles, I'd like to share some of my findings. I'm going to skip over the basics. If you're interested in a more basic approach to the subject of Buddhism, J. Isamu Yamamoto's four overview articles provide a good start:

http://www.equip.org/site/c.muI1LaMNJrE/b.2106253/

I'll be doing a lot of jumping around to different topics, reporting and responding to various items. In this day of being "politically correct" as opposed to "biblically correct," and having "inter-religious dialogues" as opposed to "debates," taking a critical view of any religion is taboo, but according to who? This kind of tolerance is not without inconsistency. For starters, some people who hold to this kind of tolerance have no qualms about using the name of Jesus or God as an expression of disgust, anger, or even surprise, in a way they would not even use the name of their boss. This kind of tolerance is something we also wouldn't hold to when considering a medical question. If someone with questionable qualifications were giving medicine to our child, surely we wouldn't stand back and ignore it on the basis of tolerance. Why then should we ignore dangers, inaccuracies, etc. when it comes to the well-being of the soul? Taking a critical stance is not always wrong. The Bible is not silent when it comes to speaking out against false teachings. Examples of this would be Elijah on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18), Jeremiah's satirical writings on idolatry (Jeremiah 2), Jesus rebuking those who replaced God's Word with man's traditions (Matthew 23), and Paul causing a riot in Ephesus because of his preaching (Acts 19). I'm certainly not a prophet, and it's not my intention to stir up controversy, but I do feel that as a Christian I have an obligation to examine truth claims and respond to them in the light of God's Word. Furthermore, false ideas produce devastating effects in people's lives. If in this paper I can show the beauty of God's Word as revealed in Jesus Christ, and the dangers of Buddhism, I will have accomplished my goals. If an idea has merit and truth to it, it will be able to withstand the heat of examination. Jesus Christ and the Old and New Testaments have long been targets for critics, but they have been found to be tried and true. For examples of this reliability, please see the following websites:

The Great "Theory Tale"

In his book, Payutto, who is speaking from a Theravada Buddhist perspective, repeatedly makes reference to how scientific Buddhism is. He says, "There is no God who created the world and controls man's destiny. Man is his own master. The way is one of self-effort, free from prayer and superstition" (10). Speaking of a Buddhist revival in Japan, Payutto writes, "Buddhism was then revalued as its teachings were found to be compatible with new discoveries and theories of modern science, such as Darwin's theory of evolution" (129). To say that humans are in the same category as animals (only more developed) is a denial of God as Creator and a denial of God as Judge. By saying that "Man is his own master" an affirmation is made of the Satanic Bible verse "Do what thou wilt." This autonomy from God is rebellion, whether clothed in black robes and deadly ceremonies or orange robes and "good works." "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jeremiah 2: 13).

The title of a Calvin and Hobbes comic book reminds me of evolution: "Scientific Progress Goes 'Boink.'" Macro-evolution, in the world of theories is like a dinosaur which is still on display, but doesn't have any life breath left. Here are a few resources that reveal just how boinky evolution is (without using the word boink)

A Boat Ride

The second of three books I read on Buddhism is "The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus talks with Buddha," by Ravi Zacharias (a Christian apologist from India). In this book, Zacharias imagines what would be said if Jesus and Buddha had a chance to talk to one another. This meeting takes place while on a boat ride. A prostitute dying of AIDS and the boatman also participate in this conversation. The book is based on library research as well as conversations with Buddhist monks and instructors in Malaysia, India, Singapore, and Thailand. In the introduction, Zacharias gives an appeal:

  • Jesus and Buddha cannot both be right. The lotus is the symbol of Buddhism; the cross, the symbol of the Christian faith. Behind the two symbols stand two diametrically opposed beliefs. I ask you, the reader, to examine the message of each, using both your heart and your mind. It is worth the exercise because it will determine your destiny. One day we will all find out that being respectful and sincere does not give us license to be wrong. Truth demands investigation and commitment. Our conclusions must be in keeping with Truth that can be tested. To be handcuffed by a lie is the worst of all imprisonments. (8)

Distance between Jerusalem and Northern India

Some have claimed that Christian teachings were copied from Buddhist teachings. When looking at the teachings of Christianity it's important to note that there were Old Testament prophecies concerning much of Christ's ministry. These preceded the New Testament by hundreds and even thousands of years. The virgin birth parallel which is claimed as evidence of a Christian copy of Buddha's birth, was prophesied by Isaiah about 700 years before Christ (Isaiah prophesied from around 740- 681 B.C.), and 300 years before Buddha (according to recent calculations of Buddha's birth). Information on Buddha's birth can be found on a page of the University of Virginia website:
Date of Birth: Many Western scholars place the Buddha's lifetime from 563-483 BCE, while the Sri Lankan tradition believes the Buddha to have lived from 624-544 BCE. More recent date setting suggests that some time around 410 BCE is more accurate (http://religiousmovements. lib.virginia.edu/nrms/buddhism. html).

The date of 410 BCE is from Damien Keown's 1996 book entitled "Buddhism: A very short introduction." Using this date, the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.") and the time that Sidhartha Gautama was searching for answers was separated by approximately 300 years. Even using the other dates separates the end of Isaiah's ministry and the beginning of Buddha's by about 90- 150 years.

How long would it take for a person to travel from Jerusalem to Northern India? Using an estimate that is on the slow side, if a person travels 4 miles per hour, for 3 hours a day, resting every seventh day, it would take approximately 285 days (c. 3000 miles as the crow flies) including Sabbath days. Adding another year for getting lost, crossing mountains and rivers, time for settling down before moving again, 10 years for language study, etc. it's not unreasonable to think that these prophecies about Christ could have been passed along within 15 years.

In 722 B.C., Jews in Northern Israel were removed from their homeland by the Assyrians, and in 586 B.C. more Jews from Southern Israel were taken away by the Babylonians. These people would not have had to be religious experts or even have any manuscripts with them. Even most non-Christians in the west are familiar with some of the basic teachings of the Bible. In the same way, to hear the prophet Isaiah or another prophet speak would have been a memorable event (this was the mass media of the day, in addition to manuscripts). The ideas could also have been passed along "by the grapevine," whether by Jews or outside merchants, not requiring one individual or group to make the entire journey there. Buddha's virgin birth is actually one of the least substantiated claims made by those who wish to see parallels here. Knowing the distances involved and the antiquity of the Old Testament, though, is important for some of the other claims. According to the Nidanakatha, which Thomas calls an example of "hagiographical industry" (xxi), after the Buddha was born there appeared signs. Among these, in a summary by Thomas, "" ¦the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, the cripples become straight-limbed, the lame walk, and the fire in all the hells is extinguished" (32). This is reminiscent of the much older text in Isaiah 35: 5-6, prophesying about Jesus: "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."

Other Parallels

While surfing the web, I came across two lists of parallels between Jesus and Buddha in a discussion forum, posted by the same individual. The first list has 27 parallels, and the second list has 13 parallels. On an Islamic sponsored website the first list mentioned above was given in a streamlined fashion, with 22 parallels. In these parallels, scripture references from the Bible are given for Jesus, but for Buddha, with the exception of one Buddhist scripture reference, these were referenced by giving the name of a scholar. This has made it difficult to track down the scripture locations for these items about Buddha, especially since the Pali canon alone (not taking into account all of the scriptures of other schools) is approximately 15 times the size of the Bible (http://www.akshin.net/ literature/budlitsourcespali.htm). Fortunately though, I did find a good book which did this work for me. This is the third book which I mentioned: "The Life of Buddha as Legend and History" by Edward J. Thomas. In this book there are 16 parallels which Edwards considers noteworthy (these are based on van den Bergh's work).

Incidentally, the one Buddhist scripture mentioned in the list of 40 parallels, comes from the 11th century AD! That reference was from the Kathasaritsagara: "Although its dates have not been conclusively established, the Kathasaritsagara is said to have been compiled by a Kashmiri Saivite Brahmin called Somadeva in AD 1070. Legend has it that Somadeva composed the Kathasaritsagara for queen Suryavati, wife of King Anantadeva who ruled Kashmir in the eleventh century." (amazon.com)

Of the 40 parallels mentioned above, many can be dismissed just by making the same comparisons with people in general or religious leaders in particular. Items such as

  • they both fasted for a long time,
  • they were about the same age when they began public ministry (Jesus 30; Buddha 35- though Buddha's age is debatable here),
  • the multitudes required a sign from both
  • both taught compassion
  • both were of royal descent (in the case of Buddha this is debatable), could be said of many people, especially a religious leader.

Thomas (1927) summarizes the work of several scholars in this area of study:

  • Seydel's fifty instances are reduced by van den Bergh to nine. In proportion to the investigator's direct knowledge of the Buddhist sources the number seems to decrease. E. W. Hopkins discusses five 'cogent parallels', but does not consider any of them very probable. Garbe assumes direct borrowing in four cases, Simeon, the Temptation, Peter walking on the sea, and the Miracle of the loaves and fishes. Charpentier considers Simeon the only unobjectionable example. Other scholars reject all connexion. In any case the chief events of the life- birth, renunciation, enlightenment, and the death, the very items which might give strength to the comparison- disappear from the question. (247-248)

Rather than going through all of these, I'll just address some of the key ones. In the case of Simeon seeing Jesus at the temple, and Asita going to see the infant Gautama, regarding the Buddhist scripture (Nalaka-sutta of the Sutta-nipata), Thomas says, "It is clearly late, as is shown by the reference to the thirty-two marks; and as it is in general agreement with the Sanskrit accounts, there is nothing to prove that it is as early as the pre-Christian era" (39). The thirty-two marks refer to physical characteristics used to identify a potential Buddha. This is thought to be a later Mahayana development (K.R. Norman, 1983, Pali Literature: including the canonical literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit of all the Hinayana schools of Buddhism, 42). James Kennedy (1917), in his article "The Gospels of the Infancy, the Lalita Vistara and the Vishnu Purana", addresses the walking on water parallel:

  • The story occurs in the introduction to Jataka No. 190" ¦in this case all we know is that the story of the monk, and the Jataka which follows it, were considered old enough to be included among 546 others, when the Jataka book was compiled in the fifth or sixth century A.D. (528)
  • Regarding the multiplying of food parallel, Kennedy writes, "Like the story of the monk we have just discussed, it occurs in the introduction to a Jataka [No. 78], and is subject to the same comment" (529).

Another parallel claim made regards the prodigal son stories of Buddha and Jesus. For an excellent description of the content differences in these stories, please see the following website: http://www.comparativereligion. com/prodigal.html. This story in Buddhist scriptures is found in the Saddharmapundarika sutra. According to the following Buddhist website, the composition date of this volume is later than the composition of Luke (the gospel in which Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son). Luke was Luke's first volume, the second being the book of Acts (both of which are dated before 63 AD). Here's the dating assigned to the Saddharmapundarika (also known as the "Lotus Sutra"):
Contains elements of various eras. The final edition is believed to have taken place around 200 CE, but a lot of later interpolations are found within it. The Buddha here is not a historical figure, but the manifestation of an eternal, abstract 'Buddhahood'. Further, it contains the doctrines of 'Expedient Means' (upaya) and of the 'One Vehicle' (ekayana). http://www.akshin.net/literature/budlitsourcessanskrit.htm

Shin Buddhism (a form of Pure Land Buddhism developed in Japan)

This form of Buddhism has been thought of by many to be very similar to Christianity, because the end goal is a "pure land," and achieving that goal is not based on self-effort, but through the merits of Amida Buddha. There are, however some serious differences between Christianity and Shin Buddhism. When seeking out a doctor, people want to be sure that the doctor's training has taken place at a reputable school, that the doctor is basing the diagnosis on medical facts rather than just speculation, etc. When it comes to the soul, how much more important is it to establish the reliability of the source and the content of claims? Looking at Shin Buddhism in this way, there are some serious insufficiencies:

  • Dharmakara's credibility: Dharmakara is said to have been a king who gave up his throne to become a monk and later became Amida Buddha. It is claimed he lived approximately 65 billion years ago- using the time unit of a kalpa, which can also be interpreted as being "inconceivably long" (http://www.akshin.net/pureland/pl-purelandbuddhism-partone. htm). If this is the case, why did he wait until the 2nd century AD (some say the 2nd century B.C.) to reveal this plan of his pure land? It seems rather suspect that this concept was not developed until after Siddhartha Gautama made his claims.
  • Dharmakara's limitations: Even if we are to believe this person existed, he was still just a man, who was preceded by another Buddha, and who spent approximately 22 billion years (apparently not as a man at this point), studying other Buddha lands, in order to develop his famed "Pure Land." Already it's apparent that he's not on the same level as God Almighty as revealed in the Bible.
  • No atonement: Shin Buddhists place their faith in Amida Buddha to secure salvation for them. Unfortunately, this is like trusting a homeless man to pay our million dollar bail to get out of jail. He barely has the means to sustain himself, let alone get us out of the jail caused by our sins. Anyone with their own sins to deal with (which is everyone, including Dharmakara if we are to suppose he existed), can only take the punishment for their own sins. Even then though, being imperfect, this bearing of sins can only fulfill justice. It can't pay for salvation. Only Jesus, being God in the flesh, and sinless, could take the punishment for others.
  • Shinran's choice of patriarchs (focusing on the first patriarch): Shinran is the man who developed Shin Buddhism into what it is today. He lived in Japan from 1173- 1262 AD. In an attempt to establish authority for his new interpretation of Pure Land, Shinran chose seven patriarchs: He acknowledged Sakyamuni Buddha as being the voice of Amida Buddha, and then named the first patriarch- Nagarjuna, a man in India who lived from c. 150 AD- c. 250 AD . This wide gap from the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, to the time of the first patriarch (500 years, if not more) shows just how far removed from the original it is. Also, Nagarjuna is said to have had interactions with giant snakes, just as Sakyamuni encountered Mucalinda:
    • Mahayana tradition explains the chronological discrepancy by contending that they were indeed taught by the Buddha to advanced disciples, but that he ordered that they be hidden in the underwater realm of nagas (beings with snakelike bodies and human heads) until the time was right for their propagation. The legend further reports that the second-century philosopher Nagarjuna (fl. ca. 150 C.E.) was the person preordained by Buddha to recover and explicate the Perfection of Wisdom texts.
  • After one of his lectures, some nagas approached him and told him of the texts hidden in their kingdom, and so Nagarjuna traveled there and returned with the sutras to India.
    This is a man who was taught by giant snakes! How can we entrust ourselves to such teachings? What parents would leave their baby in the care of a cobra? Half of Nagarjuna's name is of Hindu origin, and the other half comes from his interactions with these nagas:

    • When he preached the Dharma in the monastery park, the nagas performed acts of reverence such as six of the serpents forming a parasol to shade him from the sun. Having thus become the Lord of the Nagas, the Acarya was named "The Naga". Because his skill at spreading the Mahayana Dharma resembled the shooting speed and mastery of the famed archer Arjuna, he became known as well as "The Arjuna"
    • Shin Buddhism's scriptures: Shin Buddhism is based on the writings of the seven patriarchs, as well as on the three primary texts:
    • scriptures of this tradition [Pure Land in general] (which later became known as the Triple Sutras) appeared during the initial period of the Mahayana movement. Two of them are of Indian origin and date from about the first century B.C. The third scripture, which dates from about the fourth century, exists only in a Chinese version.
    • Apart from being late in and of themselves, Shinran, and other patriarchs made changes to the doctrines. Also, Amida Buddha is not even mentioned in the earlier Pali canon. The Pali canon itself is not exactly a history textbook, but it is closer to the time of the Sakyamuni Buddha.
    • Pure Land's change in status: One example of a changed doctrine is that originally the Pure Land was thought to be an intermediary place, ideally suited for obtaining nirvana. Later it was believed that the Pure Land is the end goal itself.

In summary, trusting in Shin Buddhism is like playing soul roulette with every barrel loaded. The founder (Dharmakara) is probably entirely mythical. Even if we suppose he existed, he is so human that he could not have even saved himself. And, the record of Shin Buddhism's teachings speaks of relying on snakes and late, revised ideas.

The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ as compared to Sakyamuni Buddha

  • There are over 300 prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament (the most recent ones are 400 years B.C.; most are older than that). In Thomas' book which gave a very detailed account, including perspectives from various schools, I found one prophecy at the time of his birth, when it was said he would become a great king if he stayed in the palace, but would become a Buddha if he left. Also, the Buddhavamsa text contains prophecies by the previous 24 Buddhas. Although the Buddhavamsa is part of the Pali canon, Thomas refers to it as another example of "hagiographical industry" (xxi), and being in the Pali, it would have been composed after the death of Sakyamuni.
  • Jesus had a forerunner to announce His arrival (John the Baptist- who was also prophesied in Isaiah 40:3)
  • Jesus' "mother" outlived Him (on earth, that is) [Buddha's mother died seven days after he was born (Thomas, 33)]
  • Jesus, being God in the flesh, created His "mother" and all people
  • Jesus was born into a poor family (as opposed to Buddha's royal upbringing- although it is in dispute as to whether Buddha was really of royalty)
  • Jesus didn't need teachers (whereas in the stories of the Buddha, he had several teachers, and words such as "searching" and "striving" are used)
  • Jesus could "borrow" a tomb (He used it for less than three days)
  • Jesus' public ministry lasted for 3 years. Buddha's lasted for 45 years
  • Jesus died at age 33 (by crucifixion). Buddha died at age 80 (by unintentional food poisoning). This difference also has a bearing on recording the events of their lives. If two people died today at these ages (33 and 80), in order to find eyewitnesses of these accounts for the person who was 33, we'd have to find people who were living around 1969 to the present. For the person who was 80, we'd have to find people who were alive (and at least 10 years old, such that they would have a clear memory of the events) around 1922. It becomes clear that there would have been far more eyewitnesses (both sympathetic and hostile- which meant the writers had to be accurate in their retelling of the events) for Jesus.
  • Jesus is not one in a series of greats- rather He is completely unique- God in the flesh. Buddha, depending on which text is used was preceded by 6, 24, 54, or more than a hundred previous Buddhas (Thomas, 27).
  • Jesus, though tempted, such that He could be understanding and compassionate, was completely sinless. Sakyamuni Buddha had many sins, as is evidenced by the many lives that are claimed for him (547 previous lives as recorded in the Jataka tales), in which he had to work off his bad karma.

Syncretism

Buddhism has a history of adopting practices and ideas of its surrounding cultures. If Buddhism were a business, this would be an admirable quality. Since it is a truth claim however, this quality undermines its authority. Choosing a religion is not the same thing as choosing a flavor of ice cream. One is based on preference and the other is based on truth. Customizing truth to suit people is another form of rebellion against God, who calls people, not truth to change.

Payutto explains the origination and spread of making Buddha images:
Around this time, through the Greek influence, there appeared for the first time the making of images of the Buddha. Within a century, this practice became common in northwestern India as a development of the Gandhara school of art and then spread and was accepted in all Buddhist lands. (46- 47)
Thomas concurs on these points, and provides a date:
It is in sculptures of the Gandhara school in the first century B.C. that the earliest figures of Buddha are found" ¦A type of the figure of Buddha modeled on that of Apollo was created, from which the Indian and all others are derived. (221)

Buddhism is incompatible with the attachment displayed in paying homage to ancestors. In an online article, the reason for this addition (in some countries and sects of Buddhism) is given:
"While Buddhism was not initially a religion of funerals and ancestor reverence, it developed this emphasis in China as a means to disprove the Confucian criticisms that Buddhism was unfilial in advocating monastic and celibate life which involved the leaving of home and withdrawing from society."

The Pali Canon

The Pali Canon is held to be the closest to the original teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha. Of course there are many other Buddhist scriptures besides the Pali Canon (such as Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese scriptures). Earlier I mentioned that the Pali Canon is approximately 15 times the size of the Bible. The Chinese Canon is approximately 120 times the size of the Bible! http://www.akshin.net/literature/budlitsourceschina.htm

Thomas in his biography of the Buddha, writes, "The earliest period at which we have evidence for the existence of a body of Scriptures approximating to the present Canon is at the third Council held B.C. 247" ¦" (xix). The reason he says "approximating" is because within the Pali canon some parts are considered to be much later than 247 B.C. Thomas goes on to say, "We have nothing, even in the Pali, at all like 'the real facts of the Gospel history' to put in the place of the Sanskrit legend. We have merely other forms of the same legend, some earlier and some later" (xxiv).

Amazing Grace

Stephen H. Short was a Zen Buddhist for 13 years before turning to Christ. In an online article he retraces how he became involved in Zen and how he decided to leave. Here are some excerpts:

  • I considered whether there might be truth beyond Zen that I would never find because through Zen I had lost all desire to look for it. Watching my desires and attachments appear and trying not to hold on to them, I also watched my attention becoming more and more focused on myself. Though we students bowed, chanted, meditated, ate, and slept together, we might just as well have been alone on a mountain top" ¦.The irony of becoming wrapped up in the self in order to lose the self was not lost on me. We were told that bringing our attachments to awareness was a prerequisite to letting them go. Might not increased awareness subtly lead to increased attachment? Were we trading bondage to desire for bondage to self-absorption?

Jim Stephens was a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist for 14 years. In his online account http://www.equip.org/free/DB555.htm he gives the reasons for his departure from Buddhism and how he turned to Jesus Christ. Here are three excerpts:

  • The accident report read, "Cause: Act of God." I was in a train station in Japan, making a pilgrimage to the head Buddhist temple Daisekiji at the foot of Mount Fuji, when a young man - in perfect English - warned: "Beware the winds of Himeiji!" Three and one-half hours later, I was leaning over to put some postcards into my travel bag and heard someone yell a warning in Japanese. The next thing I knew, a sign weighing nearly 200 pounds came crashing down on my back" ¦I was painfully lost in a spiritual wasteland and was weighed down with sin. I realized that while Buddhism had benefited me in many ways, it ultimately led to a spiritual dead end. As a great wise man, King Solomon, once said: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Prov. 16:25)" ¦That night, my wife- a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist for 16 years- also believed. What grace!

Lit-Sen Chang (1904- 1996) was a university professor at age 21, and his thoughts were influential among Chinese government leaders. In his Christian testimony he writes, "Though after my conversion I also wrote five million words as before my conversion, the fruits were different" (294). He goes on to say how feedback from his readers shows lives changed for the better. Some of his later books are "A Christian Critique of Humanism", "The Spiritual Decline of the West", "Transcendental Meditation", "Comprehensive Christian Apologetics" (four volumes), and "Zen- Existentialism." In his book "Asia's Religions: Christianity's momentous encounter with paganism," he tells of how he became a Christian at age 50, after deep involvement with various Asian religions. Here's an excerpt:

  • I was intoxicated with Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism as were many other Chinese scholars, and became the founding President of Kiang Nan University. The Yung De-sheng family donated five thousand acres of land, beside the most beautiful lake T'ai Hu. This was to be the center of a resurgence movement of Asian religions and culture. My purpose was to revive Asian religions and destroy Christianity. I was forty-five years old. (290)
  • Through a surprise change of plans he went to Indonesia instead of India, and was invited to the opening ceremony for a new church. This became the beginning of his life in Christ.
    Kaneki Masuda, of Omuta, Japan, became a Christian four and a half years ago. Here's part of his story:

    • I had been a Buddhist for 40 years. I did all of the many and varied ascetic practices of that religion, such as: standing under cold water falls, Zen practices, sitting in Zen meditation in the snow and ice, all-night meditations, fastings, etc. Furthermore, of the many sects of Buddhism, I chose to believe in the "Fudo"- the god of fire. In my own way, I endeavored to serve that sect. And, now, I suddenly realize I am 71 years of age.
  • According to A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts, "Fudo is a Buddhist deity who serves practitioners by defeating the obstacles and devils which hinder Buddhist practice" ¦He is popularly depicted as an angry figure surrounded by flames, holding a rope and a sword." Fudo is among the deities called myoo. The Kodansha Encyclopedia explains further:
  • Myoo were originally non-Buddhist Hindu deities who were adopted into the pantheon of ESOTERIC BUDDHISM" ¦The deities have been especially popular in Japan, chiefly since the introduction of esoteric Buddhist traditions in the 9th century" ¦the most popular of the myoo is Fudo; the temple Shinshoji (Naritasan) in Chiba Prefecture is the center of the Fudo cult.
    When Mr. Masuda went to the hospital for an operation, he took with him a book ("From Buddhism to Christianity" by former Shin
  • Buddhist priest Kamegai Ryoun) his daughter had given him. He explains:
    • I was totally ignorant of Christ, but as I continued to read, I felt the depth of love and Christ's sacrifice of Himself and his family to help others. I was half believing and half doubting, wondering if these things could possibly be true. Anyway, I couldn't put the book down and read all night long. It was time for breakfast the next morning when I finished the book.
      The story goes on, and he was transformed by the amazing grace of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters" (Luke 11:23). Buddha is a false teacher. The teachings of Buddha and Jesus cannot be mixed without causing a poisoning effect. To say that there are some good morals in Buddhism is not enough, when the spiritual effect is to poison the soul against God. If a glass of water is 99 % pure water, and only 1% poison, it's still fatal. Buddha is often thought of as a man who was a spiritual pioneer searching for answers. The picture is not quite as innocent as that though. He was also a man adrift on the fascination of his own status. In the Acchariyabbhutadhamma-sutta (of the Pali canon), Buddha and other bodhissattas are quoted as saying at their birth, "I am the chief in the world, I am the best in the world, I am the first in the world." Also, in the Pali canon (in the Majjhima) he is quoted as saying, "Alone am I the All- enlightened." This puts him beyond being a mere innocent seeker. And yet, in other places, Buddha takes more of an agnostic view of things: "" ¦the Buddha often declared that he was merely a 'guide' (Dh 276), not an authority (D 2:100, 154), and that all propositions, including his own should be tested (A 1:188 f)" (New Light From An Old Lamp- 5 lectures by Tan Beng Sin, Piyasilo). He gave people mere speculations which in truth lead people farther from God and reality.

Coming back to my opening remarks about the Buddha sitting on a giant cobra, this story is from the Udana of the Pali canon. Concerning the breaking of his bones for distribution, this story seems to be a legend developed later. Working out of the Mahaparinibbana of the Pali, Thomas writes, "But the Mallas of Kusinara in their assembly refused to make a division, as the Lord had attained Nirvana in their domain. Then the brahmin Dona counseled concord, and proposed to divide the relics into eight equal parts for each of the eight claimants" (155). These relics are apparently his robe and bowl and such items, since the Buddha was said to have been cremated: "It burned without leaving behind any of the skin, flesh, sinews, or fluid of the joints, or any ash and soot" (155). There are however two lists which mention five teeth as relics.

By contrast, Jesus Christ is alive and well, and has the power to transform any repentant sinner. Our problem as humans is not that we have no SELF, as Buddhism asserts, but that our SELF is in rebellion against God. But God made us, and He knows what's best for us. Our choice here boils down to the sure Word of God as revealed in the Bible, or the empty speculations of Buddhism. We are in fact commanded to make the right choice, and we are also shown demonstrable love in Jesus' crucifixion on our behalf, but we have the ten witnesses (the ten commandments) testifying to our guilt if we refuse. I want to ask you the reader, please make the right choice.

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Read 6086 times Last modified on Sunday, 24 February 2013 02:33