THE BUDDHIST AND CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION COMPARED
Posted on February 5th, 2012

AggaDhamma 2003

CONTENTS:

         INTRODUCTION

          1.00  THE BUDDHIST’S PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION

          2.00  THE BUDDHIST DEFINITION OF  “ƒ”¹…”GOOD’ and “ƒ”¹…”BAD’

          3.00  CHRISTIANITY’S  PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION

          4.00  PARTICIPATION  AND INVOLVEMENT BY DEVOTEES

          5.00  RELATIONS WITH OTHER RELIGIONS and PEOPLES

 Introduction:

Have you ever wondered why there have been so few wars in the “East”, but in contrast, so many major and world wars, purges, pogroms, etc., in the “West”?

European history and mindset has demanded their kings and politicians to be war-like. This required the development the finest weapons of war over recent centuries.

And they used them, causing hundreds of millions of people to die.

 Why no massive wars in the East? 

This is a good question, and should be answered.

 1.00 THE BUDDHIST’S PHILOSPHICAL POSITION

 Given below are the four main positions held by Buddhists of all the different “Noble Paths to Wisdom and Nirvana”.

These core teachings are the same for all Buddhists.

 a) CAUSALITY: Conditions and their effects.

     This is at the Centre of all Buddhist thought.

   –   everything in the world is here due to causes; things and   

          events are caused by conditions.

NOTHING  IS  OCCURRING  BY  ACCIDENT

      –   the law of Karma and its result, Vipaka applies; in

          Buddhism, it applies to the individual.

 b) THE MIDDLE WAY:

    The intermediate way, avoiding one-sided positions,             

    both theoretically and practically:

          – between one-sided opposing viewpoints,

        – between dogmatism and skepticism,

        – between attraction and repulsion (lust and hate)

        – between expression and suppression of emotions.

        – etc.,

            The most difficult way!

 c)  NON-AGRESSION:

     Non-confrontational, negotiation not conflict.

        – the principle of least harm and most benefit to all

          beings applies.

       – finding pragmatic solutions to problems;             

          flexibility. (i.e., not dogmatic)

          (All within a secure nation state – Buddhists must          

         defend themselves to be free to practice)

 d)  A RELATIVE TRUTH     (OR A MULTILATERAL TRUTH)

         – Buddhism recognizes the complexity of ‘TRUTH’ by     

          allowing for a relative truth which recognizes other,

         concomitant truths too.

         (i.e., Buddhism is non- absolutist.)

        An important characteristic of the multilateral or   pragmatic  conception of truth is that it is dependent on context.

 2.00 THE BUDDHIST DEFINITION OF  “ƒ”¹…”GOOD’ and “ƒ”¹…”BAD’

 “ƒ”¹…”GOOD’ is defined as whatever is beneficial or brings social harmony and happiness to society. These actions are good Karma which brings its own good reward. Importantly they help the Buddhist to progress in putting in place his “ƒ”¹…”Arya Marga.’

 ‘BAD’ is whatever hampers, hinders or prevents people following the “ƒ”¹…”Eight-fold Noble Path.’

(That is, whatever results in pain, harm, anger, conflict, or causes disharmony in society in general.)

 Most actions of people fall within these limits of “ƒ”¹…”GOOD’ or “ƒ”¹…”not BAD’ as defined. This can also be seen as a way of minimizing societies overall unhappiness.(ie. Maximizing overall happiness in society).

      Buddhist society was built on good-natured tolerance, a warmth totally unknown in the “West.”

 All this amounts to a philosophy of rationality and the supremacy of reason, which examines and rejects blind beliefs and wild emotions – the cause of great harm in the world.

 This philosophy is distilled from the teachings of the BUDDHA, who taught his followers, compassion, tolerance and harmlessness.

(For more information please see “The History of Buddhist Philosophy” by Professor D.J. Kalupahana.)

 3.00  CHRISTIANITY’S  PHILOSOPHICAL   POSITION

 Christianity is based on one philosophical statement:

“All things flow from GOD”

For Christians, that edict is immutable, unchangeable, and unquestionable. It is taken as the absolute truth – all subsequent deductions flow from this statement.

 The book, “The Bible” contains the words of God (Biblical God) and his holy Prophets.

It is unrevised by Jesus. Jesus says: ” I come to fulfill (the Hebrew) Bible and not destroy it: not one iota shall be changed in the Hebrew Bible.”   

It lays down codes of conduct, advice, etc.

 The Bible has given guidance to millions of Europeans for 1682 years since its formulation in 325CE.

For long periods in the past it has strongly influenced religious thinking, judicial decisions and commentaries in law. These then have percolated into the thinking of whole societies, strongly influencing the attitudes and thinking of most of people around the world.

 Powerful governments and religions implement “God’s will on earth”, and those individuals seen as transgressing God’s laws must be punished on authority of the Bible. People swear to speak the truth by placing one hand on the Bible.

 Unfortunately, this book frequently sends out a confused message, as demonstrated by the following:

 a) A death sentence for those identified as witches (many now identifies as mentally sick) according to: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”  (Exodus Ch.22; Vs.18) (“Shalt” being strongly coercive.)

 b) The Bible promotes genocide:

    “After capturing the Hittites and the Girgashites and the    Amorites and the Caaananites and the tribe of Perizzites and the   Hivites and the Jebusites (seven nations greater than thou).”(- Deuteronomy Ch. 7.)

     – “And when the LORD thy GOD shall deliver them unto thee, thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant (agreement) with them nor show any mercy unto   them.”  (Deuteronomy Ch.7; Vs.2)

 c) The Bible recommends raping defeated, helpless women:

   – “Their children, also, shall be dashed to pieces before their (mothers’) eyes, their houses shall be spoiled (ruined) and their wives ravished.” (Isaiah Ch.13; Vs.16)

 d) Similarly:

    And the Lord said to Moses “take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites”

    They fought against the Midianites, as the LORD had   commanded Moses, and killed every man.

    Now, the LORD commands: ” Kill all the boys. And kill everywoman who has slept with a man”  (Numbers 31. Vs.17)

 4.00  PARTICIPATION  AND INVOLVEMENT  BY

         DEVOTEES:

 A comparison:

For Buddhists, they must first understand, but also PRACTICE the teachings.

Buddhism is not about reading theories or the enjoyment of learning; it is firstly the understanding of some basic principles and importantly, the subsequent practice.

 For Christians, they are called upon to simply believe and be baptised. (Mark xvi, Vs16) and must accept the word of God as contained in the Bible. This is requirement for a full-bloodied belief.

But when Christians try to understand and implement the Bible, they must be confused by the message it gives.

 5.00  RELATIONS WITH OTHER RELIGIONS and

         PEOPLES:

 A comparison:

Throughout its history, Buddhism has been spread by Monks and lay people peaceably, by discussion and debate. Never has a Buddhist army been sent to impose its will on others.

 But in contrast Christianity has usually been imposed by Emperors, Kings or Soldier-Missionaries known as “ƒ”¹…”conquistadors’.

 TWO QUOTATIONS FROM THE BIBLE:

a) “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved,

  but he that believeth not, shall be damned ”   

   (Mark xvi: 16).

 b) “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than

    that ye have received, let him be accursed”  

   (Gal. i: 9).

 An explanation is due here.

The general principle applies that only those who “Believe and are Baptised” will have the LORD’s grace and go to paradise, also known as heaven.

Therefore, all those peoples who refuse baptism are still at the level of animals, and can be treated as such. (i.e., used, abused or killed).

 The Bible says that God provided animals for use and consumption by God fearing Christians.

“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” (Genesis Ch 9:Vs3)

 [St. Augustine explained that “to refrain from the killing of animals and the destroying of plants is the height of superstition” (from “ƒ”¹…”Practical Ethics’ by Peter Singer p.267 Cambridge University Press, 2000)]

So, all animals are the property of mankind, but only people belong to GOD. So, it is necessary to convert the heathen and baptise them to save them from Damnation (Eternal Hell Fire).

 Thomas Aquinas said that taking a human life is a sin against God in the same way that killing a slave would be a sin against the master. By implication, one can kill slaves and subjected peoples. 

(Practical Ethics by Peter Singer p. 89. Cambridge University Press, 2000).

This killing has been the practice whenever Christian Explorers and soldiers encountered peoples of other lands and cultures. They doubted that these strange peoples had souls.

 The Negroes of Africa were considered soulless, and as such could enslaved and just shipped off. (c40m died at sea) This explains the popularity of the Southern Baptist Church in the USA. “”…” Black Americans HAD to get baptised to protect themselves!

Bull fighting in Spain, is ritualised slaughter, one young bull after another – pure entertainment, to be enjoyed accompanied by light refreshments and even Champagne. Saint Paul asked “Does God care for oxen?” – and expected a negative answer.

 Until two famous court cases in Victorian times involved ships’ captains and crew having eaten cabin boys in order to survive shipwreck; one can deduce that ship’s (unbaptised) cabin boys were a (unspoken) consumable commodity for the Ship’s Captain in dire circumstances.

 Two Major Events affecting Peoples of the East :

 On 8th. January, 1455 C.E., His Holiness Pope Nicholas V, being God’s representative here on Earth, issued his Papal Bull “Pontifex Romanuwa” which gave all the territories – kingdoms, principalities and lordships in Africa and Asia “discovered” by Portuguese conquistadors, to the King of Portugal and his heirs and successors in perpetuity.

 “In 1494 C.E., the reigning Pope, Alexander Sixth divided the world into two under the Treaty of Tordesillas, all done on the basis that the earth belonged to God. Therefore, this gave him the authority to give away distant lands and regions not yet discovered.

The Portuguese had been given the “Eastern Hemisphere”.

 Portuguese soldiers had two roles to fulfill as emissaries of the various Popes: firstly as soldier, but also as Christian missionary. Subsequent to these Holy pronouncements, when such soldiers arrived anywhere in the world, they claimed legal rights to all that they saw.

 “They arrived in Sri Lanka 1505 C.E. and demanded vassalage to the King of Portugal plus the conversion and baptism of the King followed by all his subjects.

When this request was not accepted a soldier “accidentally” killed the king, Bhuvaneka Bahu, and the Friars brought in his son, Don Juan Dharmapala and then they took recourse to forced baptism.

Sri Lankans had no choice, they had to accept baptism or flee from their villages. King Dharmapala made a gift of his coastal kingdom to the Portuguese.

Subsequently, De Mello, the Portuguese Captain, embarked on a campaign of destruction and demolished the hallowed and time honoured Buddhist citadel and shrine at Kelaniya in 1575 c.e.because it was the very nerve centre of Buddhism at that time. The protesters were either summarily killed or thrown into the Kelaniya River to be eaten by crocodiles. This crime was then followed by the mass destruction of over four hundred temples and four seats of Buddhist learning along with their inmates.

 All this is far from being the Buddhist approach.

 —————————-

Motto:

“The Gift of Truth, which leads to Wisdom, is the

Greatest of All Gifts”

 

Motto:

“Ignorance is the Crowning Corruption”

Venerable Piyadassi, Maha Thero.

 

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3 Responses to “THE BUDDHIST AND CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION COMPARED”

  1. sena Says:

    what ever the differences in the teachings, I think christians in Sri lanka are better when it comes to practicing the religious teachings in day to day life than buddhists, most of whom are mere ritualistic.

  2. Dham Says:

    Mara Sena,
    true. look at Lalith Kotalawala who stole millions and dollars from the poor and provided computers for christians.
    Follow your friend Kasippu josoph who aid the killers.
    Christians are practicing very well.

  3. Andare Says:

    Here is another view of the material world taking into account the unseen behind the material which is the real sustaining power of the universe.

    Both Buddhists and Christians are correct regarding ‘God’. There is a God who is sustaining the whole universe and provides life to all living things. However it is not a personal creator as the Christians believe. This Power is what keeps the breath flowing in and out of all living things, keeps the sun, the planets and the stars all together. It is not kind or unkind. It is a Force which has set certain physical laws in motion. These laws then run their course starting with the Big Bang and the evolution of all life. There is no permanent ‘soul’ which transmigrates. Only that energy which has been within us can transmigrate. If the Heart (Citta) has not been quenched then the energy will take another life form to come back to experience this incredible world of beauty. Why It has set up this cycle is beyond us. Even the Buddha said that what I am telling you is like the leaves in my hand while what I know is like the leaves in the forest. He spoke 2600 years ago of the solar system, the constellations and the beings in different dimensions.

    All living things are conscious, including plant life. The degree varies. There is a book written by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird “Secret life of plants” where the authors have proven it. If we think about it we can see we are clay dolls which can see, talk, dance, and walk. It is this Power within us which allows us to do it. The day this Power leaves us then the dust falls back to its elements it came from and gets recycled. The Kirlian photographs allow us to see the aura and the bio-magnetic field surrounding all life, including plants. There is a picture of a leaf with a part cut away but still you see the bio-magnetic field of the cut away part intact.

    All the religions talk about this Force with different words. The Christians call it ‘God’ and to make the simple people of the time understand Jesus spoke of a creator God which was easy for them to grasp. Now mankind has evolved more and find it hard to accept the mythology of a personal creator God in the sky sitting in judgement and watching everything we do. In Hinduism the word is “Tat vat asim” – Thou art that. This means our true nature is Divine and we can feel it not with our mind but with our Heart. When we do, the Heart dances with joy. In Hinduism they say that we are in the state of duality, when we become Advaita (non-dual) then we are one with that Power. For those who are Hindus I would recommend the writings of Swami Vivekananda or Saint Kabir. Kabir used to say that the fish is thirsty in the water and it makes me laugh. He also said the drop is in the ocean – anyone can understand that but only a few will understand that the ocean is in the drop. I would also recommend “Conversations with God” Vol 1 by Neil Donald Walsh for all.

    There is a thirst built into our Heart which pushes us to search and grow. The need for realization of our true nature is not a desire, it is a NEED, which can drive us crazy if not responded to correctly. When the seeker is earnest a teacher appears from somewhere. When the call of the Heart is sincere then it is heard by the Universe. As they say the flapping wings of a butterfly can cause a tornado somewhere in the Universe !

    The religions are the shell of words left behind by great teachers who come on earth again and again. When they are alive those who come in contact with them experience this reality directly through them. Then the words of the teachers are alive and help us to gain direct Knowledge of the reality. However when they are gone only the words are there and people because they cannot experience anything keep interpreting and revising and trying hard to understand what the teachers were trying to say. One can BELIEVE almost any thing if it is taught at a young age. However the important thing is to KNOW by actual experience. Once you KNOW then there is no need for belief. One does not have to believe the sun is in the sky. One can see it and know that it is there.

    Buddha spoke of this power when asked about Nirvana he said “O bhikkus, there is the Unborn, the Ungrown, and Unconditioned. Were there not the Unborn the, Ungrown and the Unconditioned, there would be no escape for the born, grown and conditioned.—- etc”. He goes on to say “Here the four elements of solidity, fluidity, heat and motion have no place; the notions of length and breadth, the subtle and the gross, the good and evil, name and form are altogether destroyed; neither this world or the other, nor coming or going or standing, neither death nor birth nor sense objects are to be found.” See page 37 (hard copy edition) of “What the Buddha Taught” by Walpola Rahula.

    Most of the techniques to realize this thing involve stilling the mind. Jesus said “be still and thou shalt know me”. He said the “Kingdom of Heaven is within you”, Buddha said ”Nirvana is within you’. Buddha showed the techniques to meditate which calm the mind and gradually remove ignorance. Heaven is not out there. It is within us. When we connect with our consciousness to “It” then the experience is bliss. All those experienced this Power within, after a certain stage of evolution, lived in joy for the rest of their lives whatever happened in the outer world. The Arahats were in a state of joy so much so that King Kosala asked the Buddha what is the source of your happiness. Buddha said that we are experiencing the transcendent joy which is not of this world. Read “Thera Gatha and Theri Gatha”. We sometimes connect to it for a moment when watching a sunset or beauty in Nature, and in the state of awe we feel that other side for a moment.

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