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Featured Where Christianity and Buddhism Agree?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Buddha Dharma, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. sandy whitelinger

    sandy whitelinger Veteran Member

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    Somewhere I have a thread on this topic from a few years ago. The best that is offered is that its unpleasant and to be avoided yet it's an integral part of life. I don't judge it.
     
  2. sandy whitelinger

    sandy whitelinger Veteran Member

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    Taoism continually corrects my Christianity.
     
  3. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Assuming Buddha's own enlightened state is relevant for us in understanding Buddha Nature, here is how he described it. It's characterized by a state of mind and states of knowing:


    When my mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability,

    I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many eons of world-contraction, many eons of world-expansion, many eons of world-contraction and expansion: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my lifespan; and passing away from there, I was reborn elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my lifespan; and passing away from there, I was reborn here.’ Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives.

    I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and rebirth of beings. With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and being reborn, inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understood how beings fare on according to their actions thus: ‘These beings who behaved wrongly by body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong view, and undertook actions based on wrong view, with the breakup of the body, after death, have been reborn in a state of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell; but these beings who behaved well by body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right view, and undertook action based on right view, with the breakup of the body, after death, have been reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’ Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and being reborn, inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understood how beings fare on according to their actions.

    I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering. This is the origin of suffering. This is the cessation of suffering. This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘These are the taints. This is the origin of the taints. This is the cessation of the taints. This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’ 43. “When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of existence, and from the taint of ignorance. When it was liberated, there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated. ’ I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the spiritual life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming back to any state of being.’

    Prima facie, the state of enlightenment described by Buddha is quite distinctive from the Christian mystical experiences you described.
     
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  4. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Thank you for that sayak!

    The most obvious difference raised by your quotation above is the emphasis placed upon rebirth and knowledge of other beings' rebirths. For us, the mystical state does involve so-called "natural contemplation” of creatures, or insight into the created world and other beings, but certainly not in terms of them having had prior lives. For example, consider the following from the medieval German Catholic mystic Blessed Henry Suso in his Little Book of Truth:


    "…Whoever wants to achieve a true return and become a son in Christ, let him in true detachment turn to him and away from himself. Then he will come to where he should be - true detachment…Take note with careful discrimination of these two words: oneself and leave. If you know how to weigh these two words properly, testing their meaning thoroughly to their core and viewing them with true discernment, then you will quickly grasp the truth...

    Take, first of all, the first word - oneself or myself - and see what it is. It is important to realize that everyone has five kinds of self. The first ‘self’, one has in common with a stone, and this is being. The second one shares with plants, and that is growing. The third self one shares with the animals, and this is sensation. The fourth one shares with all other men, and this is that one posseses a common human nature in which all men are one. The fifth - which belongs to a person exclusively as his own - is his personality, one’s individual human self, both with respect to one’s nobility and with respect to accident. Now, what is it that leads a person astray and robs him of happiness?

    It is exclusively this last self . Because of it a person turns outward, away from God and toward himself, when he should be re-turning inward, and he fashions for himself his own self according to what is accidental. He thoughtlessly makes himself a ‘self’ of his own. In his ignorance he appropriates to this ‘self’ what is God’s. This is the direction he takes, and he eventually sinks into sinfulness.


    But whoever would really leave this self should have three insights. First, he should turn his thoughtful gaze upon the nothingness of his own self and see that this self, and the self of all things, is a nothing, removed and excluded from that something which is the sole productive force. The second insight is that it not be overlooked that in this state of utter detachment one’s own self rests entirely upon one’s operative being, (as one realizes) after one becomes concious of oneself again and is not utterly destroyed. The third insight occurs as one becomes less and less, and freely surrenders oneself in everything in which one had become involved by looking to one’s creaturely existence in unfree multiplicity, as opposed to divine truth..."

    - Blessed Henry Suso (1295-1366), German Catholic mystic & Dominican priest

    As you can see, Blessed Suso gains contemplative insight into the state of other beings and the natural world - such as the understanding that his own "self" and the "self" of other beings is in fact "nothing", with God alone being the "sole productive force" in all things (which is probably the closest the Christian tradition gets to the concept of anatta "not-self").This is why Abba Evagrius had stated way back in the early fourth century:


    "...Christianity is the teaching of Christ our Saviour. It is composed of the ascetical life, of the contemplation of the physical world, and of the contemplation of God.

    The Kingdom of Heaven is apatheia [imperturbable calm, dispassion] of the soul along with true knowledge of existing things..
    ."

    - Abba Evagrius Ponticus (345-399 AD), Early Desert Father

    Reincarnation, however, has no pedigree in the Christian tradition, such that liberation from samsara is not deemed a problem because the cycle of birth and rebirth is not thought to exist in the first place. We are very firm on the idea that human beings have only one life, so for us the description of enlightenment as involving "recollection of past lives" would not really make any sense in the context of our doctrinal framework. This is a genuine distinction between Abrahamic and Dharmic religions in general. That said, while "birth and rebirth" holds no meaning for Christian asceticism, conditioned and unconditioned do.

    Over and above that though, the other themes raised here by the Buddha actually do have significant parallels, particularly in terms of the cessation of suffering caused by inordinate desire and liberation from the taint of ignorance, which I'll show later (in work at the moment!)

    My assessment thus far is that Buddhism and Christianity are doctrinally distinct but psychologically, spiritually and ethically (in relation to the ascetic) very similar in terms of our mystical tradition.
     
    #204 Vouthon, Feb 12, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  5. Srivijaya

    Srivijaya Active Member

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    When defining Buddha Nature or the enlightened state, re-birth stories are wide of the mark.

    There needs to be reference to the unconditioned, as follows:

    Where do water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing? Where are long & short, coarse & fine, fair & foul, name & form brought to an end?

    "'And the answer to that is:


    Consciousness without feature,[1] without end, luminous all around: Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & short coarse & fine fair & foul name & form are all brought to an end. With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness each is here brought to an end.'"


    Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from SN 12.64:

    "Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?"

    "On the western wall, lord."

    "And if there is no western wall, where does it land?"

    "On the ground, lord."

    "And if there is no ground, where does it land?"

    "On the water, lord."

    "And if there is no water, where does it land?"

    "It does not land, lord."


    "In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food ... contact ... intellectual intention ... consciousness, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, there is no growth of fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair."

     
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  6. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    This will be opening a fun little can of worms @Vouthon @sayak83

    One of the things Christianity and Buddhism also share in common is acknowledging that there is an Evil One. Mara and Satan respectively. Buddhists have different beliefs about Mara, but Shakyamuni taught he is real.

    Mara for whatever reasons of his own, tries to hold things bound in Samsara. He tried to obstruct the Buddha's enlightenment when the time had come- though my own school has historically thought that he could never have succeeded. Shakyamuni was born to become what he is.

    Mara and Satan strike me as somewhat similar concepts, if 'concept' is the right word I'm looking for. I accept the Buddha's word that there is a Mara. Traditional texts say that Buddhists are protected from him because when we live by the Dharma or chant Mantras we bring ourselves limitless good merit. That protects us from the Evil One.

    Typically, it was thought in tradition that Mara cannot do anything to a Buddhist other than tempt us to violate the precepts and generate negative karma. Usually it is not thought that Mara or demonic entities have the power to possess a Buddhist, and yes- Buddhism historically has exorcism.

    Christians believe similar things about Satan I am sure.

    Nagarjuna and other traditional Buddhists tend to peg Mara as among the Asuras, which is a demonic kind of being- something like an anti-god. You would know that @sayak83 as a Hindu.

    Nagarjuna seems to have taken quite literally myths similar to what we find in the Mahabharata. That Indra and the others once fought a great cosmic war against the Asuras. Given Indo-European connections, this is almost certainly the Giant War of Greek mythology. They recall the same event.
     
    #206 Buddha Dharma, Feb 12, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  7. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Mara and Satan are depicted as being able to move from individual to individual, suggesting a collective/egregore element. Dhammapada 1 speaks of Mara overcoming ones mind, and a strong individual can resist Mara.

    7. Just as a storm throws down a weak tree, so does Mara overpower the man who lives for the pursuit of pleasures, who is uncontrolled in his senses, immoderate in eating, indolent, and dissipated. [1]

    8. Just as a storm cannot prevail against a rocky mountain, so Mara can never overpower the man who lives meditating on the impurities, who is controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, and filled with faith and earnest effort. [2]

    9. Whoever being depraved, devoid of self-control and truthfulness, should don the monk's yellow robe, he surely is not worthy of the robe.

    10. But whoever is purged of depravity, well-established in virtues and filled with self-control and truthfulness, he indeed is worthy of the yellow robe.

    11. Those who mistake the unessential to be essential and the essential to be unessential, dwelling in wrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential.

    12. Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential.

    13. Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind.

    14. Just as rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion never penetrates a well-developed mind.​

    So Mara seems to refer to collective egregores that have been contaminated by the poisons of greed, hatred, or delusion. (Egregores can take on a life of their own.) It seems that knowing the impurities for what they are and being a strong individual able to identify and resist the an egregore contaminated by the impurities from overcoming ones mind is the key to resisting Mara.
     
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  8. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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