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Author Topic: Article considering common Ground for Orthodoxy and Buddhism - Anyone read it?  (Read 4464 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: February 13, 2010, 11:56:47 AM »

It seems like the article overemphasizes the similarities and ignores some key differences. The fact that the author says there are "seemingly" irreconcilable differences makes me very suspicious that we are dealing with some kind of syncretism. For instance, Buddha-nature is immanent and is the nature of every sentient being- this is different from God who is active in his creatures but ultimately transcendent and unattainable. No one can become God in his essence, but in Buddhism, human beings can become fully Buddhas. Also, Buddhist cosmology is cyclical- there are infinite cycles of time, and infinite beings being reborn, in infinite worlds, through both the past and future. The Christian cosmology is basically geocentric and understands that the universe (and time) were created at a particular point in time, and will end at a later point.
You're comparing apples and oranges. Buddha-nature would be analogous to the "image and likeness" of God in humanity. The manifestation of one's Buddha-nature would be analogous to the process of theosis. "Nirvana" would be roughly analogous to the transcendental God of Christianity.

You are evidently not familiar with the rather pantheistic conceptions of "Buddha-nature" and Tathagatagharba which developed in the Mahayana, which posit the Buddha as the ground of being. How can Buddha-nature be analagous to the image of God when there is no God to imprint his image? Buddha-nature is Buddha.
Buddha-nature is the potential within each being to become a Buddha. To equate the Buddha with Buddha-nature is like equating God with "the image and likeness of God".

Buddha-nature is analogous to the image and likeness of God, because both refer to one's potential to be either (1) a Buddha, or (2) God (by grace).

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Quote
The cyclical cosmology of Buddhism is only cyclical for those still bound by cravings, fears, and delusions. Once one steps "off" the wheel of samsara, the cycle ends. The presumed beginning of this cycle, in Theravada Buddhism, is simply "not to be seen", "not visible" -- implying that it's completely beyond human understanding.

The cycle ends only for one individual consciousness- the cyclical character of existence continues to still, provisionally, exist. The Buddha, having attained nirvana, manifests in the samsaric world for the enlightenment of beings. The form of Buddhism under discussion here is Mahayana, which proposes, among other things, that samsara and nirvana are the same state. The divergent teachings of Hinayana schools are kind of irrelevant since the article is a comparison of Orthodoxy with the system expounded in the Mahaparinirvana sutra.
The reason I brought Theravada into the discussion is because the author himself critiqued Buddhism using critiques often applied to Theravada:

Quote
Buddhist soteriology places the power of salvation in the individual through correct knowledge and practice in the Noble Eightfold Path; salvation in Christian soteriology, on the other hand, is decidedly not within the power of the individual to obtain themselves—it is only through God's grace and Christ's atonement.

I would argue that the notion that salvation in Buddhism is purely within the hands of the individual is not only inaccurate when applied to Mahayana Buddhism, but also when applied (as it most often is) to Theravada.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 11:58:24 AM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: February 14, 2010, 03:51:46 AM »

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Buddhist soteriology places the power of salvation in the individual through correct knowledge and practice in the Noble Eightfold Path; salvation in Christian soteriology, on the other hand, is decidedly not within the power of the individual to obtain themselves—it is only through God's grace and Christ's atonement.

 I would argue that the notion that salvation in Buddhism is purely within the hands of the individual is not only inaccurate when applied to Mahayana Buddhism, but also when applied (as it most often is) to Theravada.

Iconodule,

But isn't salvation attained by cooperating with God's grace? Of course, the ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit is a grace, but the individual isn't merely saved by God's grace and Christ's atonement without some imput. 

Jetavan,

You seem to be knowledgeable regarding Buddhism, would you please expand on this.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 03:53:50 AM by Riddikulus » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: February 14, 2010, 03:17:17 PM »

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Buddhist soteriology places the power of salvation in the individual through correct knowledge and practice in the Noble Eightfold Path; salvation in Christian soteriology, on the other hand, is decidedly not within the power of the individual to obtain themselves—it is only through God's grace and Christ's atonement.

 I would argue that the notion that salvation in Buddhism is purely within the hands of the individual is not only inaccurate when applied to Mahayana Buddhism, but also when applied (as it most often is) to Theravada.

Iconodule,

But isn't salvation attained by cooperating with God's grace? Of course, the ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit is a grace, but the individual isn't merely saved by God's grace and Christ's atonement without some imput. 

Jetavan,

You seem to be knowledgeable regarding Buddhism, would you please expand on this.

Riddikulus- The words that Jetavana quoted were not my words, but from the article. I would agree with Jetavana that they are not really an accurate presentation of Buddhist or Christian soteriology. One could say, within Buddhism, there are a number of different paths to enlightenment which depend in varying degrees on the individual's efforts. Which path one chooses depends on the individual's propensities and the environment/ era in which he lives. In Theravada, the only person who came to enlightenment completely by his own efforts, in our age, was Shakyamuni Buddha. All others must depend on the Buddha's teaching and the guidance of the sangha, and strive to become arhats. The Mahayana posited a new path, the bodhisattva path, whereby everyone should strive to become a Buddha; they also maintained that Shakyamuni himself had been instructed by previous Buddhas. Within the Mahayana continuum, there are paths that, like Theravada, rely greatly on the individual's efforts, but there are other paths which rely largely on faith and "other power", such as Pure Land, where one calls on the name of Amitabha Buddha who has vowed to save anyone who puts faith in his name.
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« Reply #48 on: February 14, 2010, 04:05:36 PM »

Iconodule,

Unfortunately, because I don't have the first inkling regarding Buddhist terminology, everything you said is a clear as mud!  laugh Clearly I'm going to have to do some reading on the topic if I want to understand. A friend has loaned me Buddhism for buzy people; I guess I might have to actually read it. Wink
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« Reply #49 on: February 24, 2010, 02:51:01 PM »

Specificaly, Fr Rose was Chinese philosophy and Taoism in the end ... not sure how closely tied that is to Buddhism.
Taoism or "Daoism" is a different philosophy to Buddhism. "Tao" means "Way", and the similarities to Christianity which is the Faith of those who follow "The Way" are also interesting, and I would recommend the book "Christ the Eternal Tao" By Heiromonk Damascene which explores this. In Chinese versions of the Gospel, the word "Logos" is translated as "Tao", so the opening of St. John's Gospel reads: "In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God......".
There is a famous Chinese allegorical painting called "The Vinegar Tasters" which shows three men tasting the "vinegar" of life out of a pot. One man has a sour look on his face, one has an indifferent look, and the third is smiling. The man with the sour look represents Confucianism, the man with the indifferent look represents Buddhism, and the man who is smiling represents Taoism.



Thanks ozgeorge for sharing that image.  Coincidentally, I'm currently reading "Seven Taoist Masters" at the moment, ( & highly recommend it btw).  I read this passage a few hours before seeing your post, I thought I'd share because its as if it's a subtext to the image:

Quote
If you wish to eradicate the bad temper and the desire for riches, listen to the sages.  They give good advice.  The Confucians say, 'Riches that do not rightfully belong to me I see as empty as the floating clouds.  Take control of your reason, and you will not lose your temper.'  The Buddhists say, 'Do not crave rewards.  Virtue comes from the ability to resist provocation.'  The Taoists say, 'Know the illusion of material goods.  Cultivate compassion, and your temper will be calmed.' 

"To eradicate the four obstacles to health-liquor, sexual desire, riches, and bad temper-one must cultivate the heart.  Once the heart is tamed, the cause of ill health will disappear.  The Confucians tell us to 'awaken'.  The Buddhists tell us to 'understand.'  The Taoists tell us to 'act intuitively.'  First, we need to awaken to the fact that we have fallen pray to the obstacles.  Second, we need to understand what the obstacles are and their causes.  Lastly, we need to act intuitively, that is, to act spontaneously from the heart that is tamed of desire and craving.  If you can do these things, then you will have no problem attaining the Tao."

That's in chapter 8, read the whole thing if you can get your hands on it.  It's a late period Folk Novel from the "Complete Reality" school of Taoism.  I personally find the triad/myriad of asian tradition largely harmonize well with Holy Orthodoxy, and also provide much practical value in how to live well and practice virtue, among other things. 

As far as buddhism is concerned, my family doctor (who is a surgeon/fully licensed western doctor + a licensed traditional Chinese physician trained in Hong Kong) has recommended me to pursue mindfulness excercises and meditation as a way to manage behavior difficulties and inner anxiety.  I have been spending time learning more and more through Thich Naht Hanh, who comes from a synergy of Mahayana and THeravada (including Pure Land).  Thich Naht Hanh also is interested in Christianity and advises Christians to remain Christian and invites them to use mindfulness as a way to deepen their own faith.  It has done nothing but help me and my family.  I feel no conflict with my faith, and admit it has even deepened my faith.

Thanks to the Holy Trinity for making it all possible.
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« Reply #50 on: February 24, 2010, 04:54:19 PM »

Quote
Buddhist soteriology places the power of salvation in the individual through correct knowledge and practice in the Noble Eightfold Path; salvation in Christian soteriology, on the other hand, is decidedly not within the power of the individual to obtain themselves—it is only through God's grace and Christ's atonement.

 I would argue that the notion that salvation in Buddhism is purely within the hands of the individual is not only inaccurate when applied to Mahayana Buddhism, but also when applied (as it most often is) to Theravada.

Iconodule,

But isn't salvation attained by cooperating with God's grace? Of course, the ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit is a grace, but the individual isn't merely saved by God's grace and Christ's atonement without some imput. 

Jetavan,

You seem to be knowledgeable regarding Buddhism, would you please expand on this.

Riddikulus- The words that Jetavana quoted were not my words, but from the article. I would agree with Jetavana that they are not really an accurate presentation of Buddhist or Christian soteriology. One could say, within Buddhism, there are a number of different paths to enlightenment which depend in varying degrees on the individual's efforts. Which path one chooses depends on the individual's propensities and the environment/ era in which he lives. In Theravada, the only person who came to enlightenment completely by his own efforts, in our age, was Shakyamuni Buddha. All others must depend on the Buddha's teaching and the guidance of the sangha, and strive to become arhats. The Mahayana posited a new path, the bodhisattva path, whereby everyone should strive to become a Buddha; they also maintained that Shakyamuni himself had been instructed by previous Buddhas. Within the Mahayana continuum, there are paths that, like Theravada, rely greatly on the individual's efforts, but there are other paths which rely largely on faith and "other power", such as Pure Land, where one calls on the name of Amitabha Buddha who has vowed to save anyone who puts faith in his name.
Even in Theravada, Shakyamuni Buddha did not become a Buddha by his own efforts: he had (Buddhist) teachers in his past lives, e.g.

Mahayana emphasized what was already present in Theravada. Faith plays a huge role in Theravada.
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« Reply #51 on: February 24, 2010, 04:58:12 PM »

Quote
Buddhist soteriology places the power of salvation in the individual through correct knowledge and practice in the Noble Eightfold Path; salvation in Christian soteriology, on the other hand, is decidedly not within the power of the individual to obtain themselves—it is only through God's grace and Christ's atonement.

 I would argue that the notion that salvation in Buddhism is purely within the hands of the individual is not only inaccurate when applied to Mahayana Buddhism, but also when applied (as it most often is) to Theravada.

Iconodule,

But isn't salvation attained by cooperating with God's grace? Of course, the ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit is a grace, but the individual isn't merely saved by God's grace and Christ's atonement without some imput. 

Jetavan,

You seem to be knowledgeable regarding Buddhism, would you please expand on this.
I would say that an understanding of Theravada Buddhism, or Buddhism in general, that downplays the importance of the spiritual importance or necessity of the "other" (like the Buddha, or one's fellow Buddhists) is an reflection of the early Western understanding of Buddhism shaped by rationalistic Protestants of the 1800s.
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« Reply #52 on: February 24, 2010, 05:13:29 PM »

I would say that an understanding of Theravada Buddhism, or Buddhism in general, that downplays the importance of the spiritual importance or necessity of the "other" (like the Buddha, or one's fellow Buddhists) is an reflection of the early Western understanding of Buddhism shaped by rationalistic Protestants of the 1800s.

To be fair, I think some Buddhist thinkers encouraged this rationalistic presentation of their religion in the West. Even today, some Buddhist teachers steeped in the tradition will cater to this kind of thinking in front of Western audiences. You'll still hear Buddhist teachers tell the knee-slapper that Buddhism is simple and non-dogmatic.
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« Reply #53 on: February 25, 2010, 02:22:57 AM »

Mahayana Buddhism is the extreme messianic type of Buddhism , the type which says Buddha had a virgin birth and ascended to become a "divine master" and will re-appear in the end of times as Maitreya Buddha by the way.


Ohhhh , Maitreya ... I did research into this character two years ago. Bad, very bad.

Yeah, I remember when I was seriously considering the B'hai faith. Everything appealed to me, and I was coming very close to reconciling it with Christianity. And then I discovered the B'hai belief in Maitreya. I ran as fast as I could from it!


Selam
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« Reply #54 on: February 25, 2010, 02:56:51 AM »

Mahayana Buddhism is the extreme messianic type of Buddhism , the type which says Buddha had a virgin birth and ascended to become a "divine master" and will re-appear in the end of times as Maitreya Buddha by the way.


Ohhhh , Maitreya ... I did research into this character two years ago. Bad, very bad.

Yeah, I remember when I was seriously considering the B'hai faith. Everything appealed to me, and I was coming very close to reconciling it with Christianity. And then I discovered the B'hai belief in Maitreya. I ran as fast as I could from it!


Selam

Lol! The Maitreya guy by the way (Benjamin Creme, who says that he is the "prophet of Lord Maitreya") is still around. He's making some wild predictions about comets being seen in Finland and so forth. You have heard about the "Lord Maitreya" and his profit Benjamin Creme right?
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« Reply #55 on: February 25, 2010, 06:37:48 PM »

Ok, fair enough. I read a bit on Taoism and found it to be... well, what's the right wording here... intentionally confusing?

I think Taoism being intentionally confusing was Lao Tzu's point.

Perhaps you are correct.

"My teachings are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them,
and if you try to practice them, you'll fail." - Tao Te Ching, 70
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« Reply #56 on: February 25, 2010, 06:42:20 PM »

Mahayana Buddhism is the extreme messianic type of Buddhism , the type which says Buddha had a virgin birth and ascended to become a "divine master" and will re-appear in the end of times as Maitreya Buddha by the way.


Ohhhh , Maitreya ... I did research into this character two years ago. Bad, very bad.

Yeah, I remember when I was seriously considering the B'hai faith. Everything appealed to me, and I was coming very close to reconciling it with Christianity. And then I discovered the B'hai belief in Maitreya. I ran as fast as I could from it!


Selam

Lol! The Maitreya guy by the way (Benjamin Creme, who says that he is the "prophet of Lord Maitreya") is still around. He's making some wild predictions about comets being seen in Finland and so forth. You have heard about the "Lord Maitreya" and his profit Benjamin Creme right?

No, I haven't heard of Benjamin Creme. But everything I heard about the Maitreya, especially from the B'hais, makes me think this may be the Antichrist. Scary stuff.


Selam
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« Reply #57 on: February 25, 2010, 07:27:35 PM »

That's in chapter 8, read the whole thing if you can get your hands on it.  It's a late period Folk Novel from the "Complete Reality" school of Taoism.  I personally find the triad/myriad of asian tradition largely harmonize well with Holy Orthodoxy, and also provide much practical value in how to live well and practice virtue, among other things. 

I think there are worthwhile moral and philosophical teachings in all three schools, but there are also aspects which I would steer clear of. Taoism, of course, is intensely pantheistic and polytheistic, and often involves sorcery and the summoning of spirits; of course you don't need to subscribe to any of these things to appreciate the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, but Taoism, like other religions, can't be reduced to the teachings of a single book. Traditionally Taoism has been associated with a large number of teachings and traditions that go far beyond this.

Quote
I have been spending time learning more and more through Thich Naht Hanh, who comes from a synergy of Mahayana and THeravada (including Pure Land).  Thich Naht Hanh also is interested in Christianity and advises Christians to remain Christian and invites them to use mindfulness as a way to deepen their own faith.  It has done nothing but help me and my family.  I feel no conflict with my faith, and admit it has even deepened my faith.

From what I've seen, Thich Nhat Hanh waters down the traditional Buddhist meditations enough that they might be harmless, but can this generic Buddhist "mindfulness" really be compared to the mindfulness of God we can practice through the Jesus Prayer? Is Orthodoxy really lacking something for you that must be filled with Buddhist practices? I'm aware that Thich Nhat Hanh is okay with Christianity- that's because he thinks of Christ as one great spiritual teacher among many. Do you believe that?
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« Reply #58 on: February 25, 2010, 07:29:07 PM »

Mahayana Buddhism is the extreme messianic type of Buddhism , the type which says Buddha had a virgin birth and ascended to become a "divine master" and will re-appear in the end of times as Maitreya Buddha by the way.


Ohhhh , Maitreya ... I did research into this character two years ago. Bad, very bad.

Yeah, I remember when I was seriously considering the B'hai faith. Everything appealed to me, and I was coming very close to reconciling it with Christianity. And then I discovered the B'hai belief in Maitreya. I ran as fast as I could from it!


Selam

Lol! The Maitreya guy by the way (Benjamin Creme, who says that he is the "prophet of Lord Maitreya") is still around. He's making some wild predictions about comets being seen in Finland and so forth. You have heard about the "Lord Maitreya" and his profit Benjamin Creme right?

No, I haven't heard of Benjamin Creme. But everything I heard about the Maitreya, especially from the B'hais, makes me think this may be the Antichrist. Scary stuff.

Relax. According to the Buddhist prophecies, Maitreya will come after Buddhism has completely declined and been forgotten.  There are of course a ton of New Age people claiming to represent Maitreya. Even L. Ron Hubbard claimed to be Maitreya. Smiley
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« Reply #59 on: February 25, 2010, 07:37:12 PM »

Mahayana Buddhism is the extreme messianic type of Buddhism , the type which says Buddha had a virgin birth and ascended to become a "divine master" and will re-appear in the end of times as Maitreya Buddha by the way.


Ohhhh , Maitreya ... I did research into this character two years ago. Bad, very bad.

Yeah, I remember when I was seriously considering the B'hai faith. Everything appealed to me, and I was coming very close to reconciling it with Christianity. And then I discovered the B'hai belief in Maitreya. I ran as fast as I could from it!


Selam

Lol! The Maitreya guy by the way (Benjamin Creme, who says that he is the "prophet of Lord Maitreya") is still around. He's making some wild predictions about comets being seen in Finland and so forth. You have heard about the "Lord Maitreya" and his profit Benjamin Creme right?

No, I haven't heard of Benjamin Creme. But everything I heard about the Maitreya, especially from the B'hais, makes me think this may be the Antichrist. Scary stuff.

Relax. According to the Buddhist prophecies, Maitreya will come after Buddhism has completely declined and been forgotten.  There are of course a ton of New Age people claiming to represent Maitreya. Even L. Ron Hubbard claimed to be Maitreya. Smiley

"You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, but even now many antichrists have already come, by which we know it is the last hour." [I John 2:18]

Selam
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« Reply #60 on: February 27, 2010, 03:34:56 PM »

From what I've seen, Thich Nhat Hanh waters down the traditional Buddhist meditations enough that they might be harmless, but can this generic Buddhist "mindfulness" really be compared to the mindfulness of God we can practice through the Jesus Prayer? Is Orthodoxy really lacking something for you that must be filled with Buddhist practices? I'm aware that Thich Nhat Hanh is okay with Christianity- that's because he thinks of Christ as one great spiritual teacher among many. Do you believe that?
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Thank you for such excellent questions.  I started to work on my answer, but realize I must take my time and be careful with my words.  Therefore, I will make it a goal to answer it within the next 5 years.

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« Reply #61 on: March 18, 2010, 07:43:55 AM »

Quote
Lol! The Maitreya guy by the way ... You have heard about the "Lord Maitreya" and his profit Benjamin Creme right?

The one sure giveaway that the Benjamin Creme 'Maitreya' isnt the antichrist is his age ... any anti-christ that appears on the scene will need to be 30 years old when he announces himself as 'christ' ... if he is 'instead of' Christ then this anti-christ will look to mimic Christ in everyway.

Personally, I expect this character to come out of the church ... Saint Kosmas the Aetolian prophecied that it would be from the Roman Catholic church (ie. a Pope) ... it is totally plausible that he could come from within Orthodoxy is as well.

Always on our guards, it is the person who will preach without a Cross ...
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