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Featured Where Christianity and Buddhism Agree?

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

  1. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    My tradition doesn't rely on different core texts from most other Mahayana schools, but we do differ and share with Shingon, as well as Vajrayana generally- the notion that there is a true Buddha nature being taught. A transcendental reality akin to Brahman.

    Vairocana whom you see in my avatar is seen as a true expression of Nirvana, as all Buddhas are including Shakyamuni when he entered Nirvana on his death. It is a mystery Buddhists won't say much about because we'd be saying human concepts- but in many Mahayana texts Nirvana is an actual reality.

    There's a lot esoteric Buddhism says about Buddha-nature. It is the light within everything. A lot of things are said. In fact Vairocana's mantra is called the Mantra of Light.

    Even the traditional Theravadan liturgy talks about Nirvana as a reality where Shakyamuni is in it's opening words. Theravadans ask Shakyamuni that even though he has long passed into Nirvana, look upon these meager offerings (the liturgy being said) with a heart of sympathy for later generations.
     
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  2. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    @sayak83 the Diamond Sutra is an important text in my school, and though it's a Prajnaparamita Sutra, the Buddha ends it by telling his disciple Subhuti not to suppose that the auspicious marks on a Buddha's body, etc don't matter. That he isn't saying the world is unreal.

    The Diamond Sutra is full of inferences that reality is both not how we see it, yet is. The Buddha says to Subhuti for example that there are no grains of sand as we call it in the Ganges River, therefore the statement that a practitioner's good deeds send out karmic benefits as immeasurable as the sand in the Ganges is an ACCURATE STATEMENT.

    In other words, there is a realness to this reality, but Samsara is inability to see the realness. This is the ignorance in every person that deceives that I mentioned in the OP- that gives rise to the poisons that people do evil acting on. Buddhism's view is that our animal faculties are deceptive.

    Venerable Subhuti and Venerable Shariputra were the Blessed One's foremost, esteemed disciples and he conveyed a lot of the deeper teachings to them. Venerable Shariputra was analytical and Theravada favors him for being of that mind, but the Buddha says his faith in him is to be a model to all Buddhists. Because Venerable Shariputra doubted, yet he believed with his whole heart in the Blessed One.
     
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  3. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Haven't looked into Buddhism enough to know the difference and I haven't met a Buddhist that understood Christianity with it's philosophical underpinnings to truly give credence to what it is they are exactly saying.
     
  4. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Yes, it's unfortunately the case that a good many people practicing Eastern religious traditions, such as the Dharmic faiths, tend to harbor a very limited and one-dimensional understanding of Christianity and other Abrahamic religions. In terms of the Christian side of things, this is often based upon some passing familiarity with Evangelical Protestant theology or the limited comprehension of some members of the laity or caricatures of Catholicism as being a legalistic creed, rather than engaging with our rich intellectual and contemplative heritage.

    All the same, this swings both ways. Many Christians entertain vague and stereotypical views of Buddhism that bear no relation to the actual dearth of wisdom and sophistication one finds in the Tripitaka and Mahayana Sutras. How often do you find Christians spouting nonsense about Buddhism? Very often, I'd say.

    So to really get to grips with a good interfaith discussion, all preconceived notions about our respective traditions need to be left at the door.
     
    #144 Vouthon, Feb 5, 2018
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  5. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    @Srivijaya @sayak83 @Buddha Dharma

    One of the commonalities between Mahayana Buddhism and Christianity that most intrigues me is the early belief among followers of both religions that their founders were somehow "supramundane", rather than just ordinary human beings. The Christian belief in Jesus as a divine being who pre-existed his birth and assumed human form for the sake of humanity, sets it apart from other Abrahamic religions: where the very concept of an incarnated saviour-figure is blasphemous and offensive to their sensibilities.

    But, of course, in the Dharmic religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc. incarnated divine or supramundane beings is very much common, meaning that - even if Christians don't often want to admit it - we are much closer to your way of thinking on this issue than we are to other Abrahamics such as Jews and Muslims, who are frankly appalled by the idea.

    It used to be thought that the divinity of Jesus and the supramundane nature of the Buddha were late accretions (by Trinitarians and Mahayanists) to earlier beliefs about them being akin to "wise sages". But now, the consensus in both New Testament scholarship and Buddhist studies is that these doctrines emerged remarkably early in both traditions - albeit in an unsystematized manner (the concept of the Trinity was not yet articulated in the New Testament).

    As the eminent New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado has noted on his blog:


    NT texts clearly ascribe to Jesus a status and role that goes beyond that of a human: e.g., as the agent of creation (e.g., 1 Cor 8:4-6), and as bearing “the form of God” (Philip 2:6).

    For instance, Hurtado contends on pages 119 - 124 of his now standard treatment of the topic in the book, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity:


    "…The overwhelming majority of scholars in the field agree that there are at least a few passages in Paul’s undisputed letters that reflect and presuppose the idea of Jesus’ preexistence

    Most scholars take these verses to reflect a belief in the personal preexistence and incarnation of Christ

    Paul’s formulaic statement in 1 Corinthians 8:6 indicates that already at that early point in the Christian movement believers were attributing to Christ not only preexistence or foreordination, but also an active role as divine agent in creation.…This is a suitable point at which to underscore certain key results of this discussion of Jesus’ preexistence…It appeared astonishingly early in the Christian movement. Second, the condensed nature of the references indicates that Paul was not introducing the idea but presumed acquaintance with it already among his converts…Third, these references include reflections of the idea that Christ was actively involved as divine agent in creation

    One final point: in these Pauline statements it is the historic figure Jesus who is referred to as preexistent…These passages directly attribute to Jesus personally a preexistence and a central role in creation…"


    (continued.......)
     
    #145 Vouthon, Feb 5, 2018
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  6. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    The consensus opinion among scholars now - called "the emerging consensus" around an "early high christology" - is that soon after his death, probably in the first few months or years (and certainly well in advance of the composition of the Pauline epistles some 20 years later), Jesus quickly became regarded in early Jewish Christian circles as the personally pre-existent divine agent of creation and the exalted Son of God who had been subsumed within the cultic worship owed to God the Father. He was worshiped as a divine being by the earliest Christians following his crucifixion, albeit not yet "the second person the Trinity" but certainly not a mere human.

    If I get anything wrong in my discussion of Buddhism, please correct me.

    For Buddhism, we have evidence that the early Mahāsāṃghika school (which split from the Sthaviras - from whom the Therevadins trace their lineage - at the Second Buddhost Council) who believed the historical Buddha possessed a transcendental, supramundane nature: probably had the oldest and most orthodox vinaya. Scholarly examination, pioneered by the likes of Jan Nattier and Charles Prebish, has yielded a consensus to this effect:

    Mahāsāṃghika - Wikipedia

    The Mahāsāṃghikas advocated the transcendental and supramundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the fallibility of arhats...

    A doctrine ascribed to the Mahāsāṃghikas is, "The power of the tathāgatas is unlimited, and the life of the buddhas is unlimited."[19]According to Guang Xing, two main aspects of the Buddha can be seen in Mahāsāṃghika teachings: the true Buddha who is omniscient and omnipotent, and the manifested forms through which he liberates sentient beings through his skillful means (Skt. upāya).[20] For the Mahāsāṃghikas, the historical Gautama Buddha was merely one of these transformation bodies (Skt. nirmāṇakāya), while the essential real Buddha was equated with the Dharmakāya.[21]...

    In the view of Mahāsāṃghikas, advanced bodhisattvas have severed the bonds of karma, and are born out of their own free will into lower states of existence (Skt. durgati) in order to help liberate other sentient beings. As described by Akira Hirakawa:[23]

    The Sarvāstivādin also taught that the Bodhisattva was subject to the law of karma. If one attained arhathood, he was free of the karmic law; and once the arhat died, he entered nirvāṇa never to return to the world of saṃsāra. But living in the cycle of saṃsāra, the Bodhisattva was bound to the law of karma. In contrast to this school the Mahāsāṃghika held that the Bodhisattva has already sundered karmic bondage and, therefore, is born in durgati out of his own free will, his deep vow (praṇidhāna) of salvation.
    Andrew Skilton has suggested that the problems of contradictory accounts are solved by the Mahāsāṃghika Śāriputraparipṛcchā, which is the earliest surviving account of the schism.[7] In this account, the council was convened at Pāṭaliputra over matters of vinaya, and it is explained that the schism resulted from the majority (Mahāsaṃgha) refusing to accept the addition of rules to the Vinaya by the minority (Sthaviras).[7] The Mahāsāṃghikas therefore saw the Sthaviras as being a breakaway group which was attempting to modify the original Vinaya.[8]

    Scholars have generally agreed that the matter of dispute was indeed a matter of vinaya, and have noted that the account of the Mahāsāṃghikas is bolstered by the vinaya texts themselves, as vinayas associated with the Sthaviras do contain more rules than those of the Mahāsāṃghika vinaya.[7] Modern scholarship therefore generally agrees that the Mahāsāṃghika vinaya is the oldest.[7] According to Skilton, future historians may determine that a study of the Mahāsāṃghika school will contribute to a better understanding of the early Dhamma-Vinaya than the Theravāda school.[8]

    It is exactly the same for Christianity, although not a lot of people outside scholarly circles know this. Indeed the doctrine described above that Buddhas are "born out of their own free will into lower states of existence (Skt. durgati) in order to help liberate other sentient beings" is so similar to the earliest Christian beliefs in Jesus' pre-existent divinity that it's startling:


    Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:
    Who, existing in the form of God,
    did not consider equality with God something to cling to,
    but emptied Himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
    And being found in human form,
    He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—

    even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

    New Testament scholars are agreed that this poem about Jesus' pre-existent divinity, quoted from Paul's epistle to the Philippians, is a pre-Pauline tradition dating to the 40s CE - that is in the first decade after Jesus' death, as the scholar Bart Ehrman states:

    What is clear is that it is an elevated reflection on Christ coming into the world (from heaven) for the sake of others and being glorified by God as a result. And it appears to be a passage Paul is quoting, one with which the Philippians may well have already been familiar. In other words, it is another pre-Pauline tradition...

    Scholars have long considered the passage to be a pre-Pauline tradition that Paul includes here in his letter to the Philippians
    . It is not simply something Paul composed on the spot, while writing his letter. There are several reasons for thinking this...a poem whose composition must therefore date as early as the 40s CE...

    If the majority of scholars are correct in their opinion that it embodies an incarnational Christology, then the basic perspective on Christ that it paints is clear: Christ was a preexistent being who chose to come in the “likeness” of human flesh, who, because he humbled himself to the point of death, was elevated to an even higher status than he had before and was made the Lord of all. This view of Christ makes sense if we think of him as existing before his birth as an angelic being who abandoned his heavenly existence to come to earth to fulfill God’s will by dying for others. I want to stress that Christ appears to be portrayed here, in his preexistent state, as a divine being...If someone as early in the Christian tradition as Paul can see Christ as an incarnate divine being, it is no surprise that the same view emerges later in the tradition
    ..."​


    You don't have anything even remotely like this in other Abrahamic religions.

    Read in particular Bart Ehrman’s argument in this part of his 2014 book How Jesus Became God:

    How Jesus Became God The Exalt Bart D

    "…If Jesus was the one who represented God on earth in human form, he quite likely had always been that one. He was, in other words, the chief angel of God, known in the Bible as the Angel of the Lord…If Jesus is in fact this one, then he is a preexistent divine being who came to earth for a longer period of time, during his life; he fully represented God on earth; he in fact can be called God

    And as it turns out, as recent research has shown, there are clear indications in the New Testament that the early followers of Jesus understood him in this fashion. Jesus was thought of as an angel, or an angel-like being, or even the Angel of the Lord—in any event, a superhuman divine being who existed before his birth and became human for the salvation of the human race. This, in a nutshell, is the incarnation Christology of several New Testament authors. Later authors went even further and maintained that Jesus was not merely an angel—even the chief angel—but was a superior being: he was God himself come to earth

    As the Angel of the Lord, Christ is a preexistent being who is divine; he can be called God; and he is God’s manifestation on earth in human flesh. Paul says all these things about Christ…[He believed] that Jesus was in God’s form before he became a human; that he had open to him the possibility of grasping after divine equality before coming to be human; and that he became human by “emptying himself.” This last idea is usually interpreted to mean that Christ gave up the exalted prerogatives that were his as a divine being in order to become a human..."
     
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  7. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I'll only mention that the way in which Mahayana evolved probably only differs from this because Nagarjuna was skeptical of any explanation for 'the way things are'. Though Mahayana moved past Nagarjuna on this (and not long after either with Yogacara), this lasting influence of the Indian master at least inclines Mahayanists to be less hardlined dogmatic than some of the early Indian schools. There's more of a passive agreement with a lot of this. Mahayana loves paradox and that is largely owed to Nagarjuna.
     
  8. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I've always suspected that Theravada doesn't represent early Buddhism exactly, and I'm not just saying that with a Mahayana bias, but because of something the authors you cited said- that we're discovering some of the literary traditions go further back than Theravada. Many of these textual lineages made it into Mahayana in some form or another- particularly Tibetan Buddhism.

    Prajnaparamita is thought to represent a kind of fundamental return to the Buddha's true teaching, which coincidentally enough- Nagarjuna believed it was. We are finding the Prajnaparamita texts are probably based on a literary tradition that predates Nagarjuna.
     
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  9. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    That's true, interesting information.

    The really fascinating part of this for me is that the school of Buddhism which seems to have the most primitive vinaya, also happened to hold an extremely elevated understanding of the Buddha as some kind of transcendental, supramundane pre-existent being who'd freely chosen to be born for the sake of liberating other human beings from samsara.

    I find it a strange coincidence that scholarship on early Christianity has reached a similar consensus (i.e. that the belief in Jesus' pre-existent divinity and incarnation go back to the earliest days of the movement after his death, rather than being a late interpretation).

    Compare this scholarly assesment:

    In the view of Mahāsāṃghikas, advanced bodhisattvas have severed the bonds of karma, and are born out of their own free will into lower states of existence (Skt. durgati) in order to help liberate other sentient beings

    With this scholarly assesment:

    There are clear indications in the New Testament that the early followers of Jesus understood him to be a superhuman divine being who existed before his birth and became human for the salvation of the human race. This, in a nutshell, is the incarnation Christology of several New Testament authors.

    In the latter instance, scholars are still trying to work out how and why early monotheistic Jews like the first Christians managed to reach such a radical conclusion. In the Indian matrix of early Buddhism it wasn't radical but in the context of first century Second Temple Judaism, it most certainly was.
     
    #149 Vouthon, Feb 5, 2018
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  10. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    It is a rather astonishing thing for monotheists to believe @Vouthon. I can admit that from a purely scholastic standpoint. It has commonalities with some pagan and Dharmic notions, as I believe you acknowledged.

    Probably much more Dharmic though as you say- then compared to, as an example: Dionysus.

    Jesus is lot like Krishna too, I've often thought. I've discussed in the Dharmic forums between Hindus and Buddhists- I'm not sure how far back the view of Krishna as the Supreme Godhead goes. Because it is hard for me to pinpoint this view in the Buddha's time, when the Greco-Buddhists not long after syncretized Krishna with Hercules.

    I may be missing something, but this suggests Krishna was viewed like a demigod. I'm sure opinions abound here though.
     
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  11. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    @Vouthon you're delightful to swap discourse with. I could do it all day.
     
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  12. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Undoubtedly, which is why scholars were at first dismayed they had to reach this conclusion (i.e. that early Christians before Paul circa 50 CE. already regarded Jesus as an incarnated divine being alongside God the Father) but the evidence was incontestable and has led to an overwhelming consensus in the field.

    Hurtado, one of the other scholars I mentioned, calls it a "mutation" in monotheism:


    "…I would myself add that what we seem to have in the early Christian texts is a novel “mutation” (to use a term I’ve deployed for a few decades now) in Jewish “agent” traditions. For one thing, Jesus is accorded a grander set of roles than any previous agent-figure. E.g., he is both agent of creation and agent of redemption and eschatological judgement. Even the august figure of the Similitudes of 1 Enoch doesn’t match this. Further (and in my view even more significantly), Jesus is accorded a programmatic place in devotional practices that has no analogy in 2nd temple Jewish tradition, such that he is invoked, acclaimed, etc., in ways that are otherwise confined to God. So, it’s inadequate simply to say that Jesus is God’s agent. The presentation of him in terms of belief and practices comprises a remarkably innovation “mutation” in agency tradition, such that it was a “natural” development that Christian theologians had to consider how to define “God” in light of this…”

    As you say, it's one helluva mutation for Jews living in the first century to make - which is why the Judean authorities persecuted the fledgling Jesus sect as heretical. It really was heretical from a Jewish perspective, hence why it did eventually need to evolve into an entirely separate religion.

    The later Trinity doctrine was worked out by theologians, beginning in the second century, to try and give a more rigorous philosophical foundation to the idea of Jesus' pre-existent divinity in the New Testament - because on the face of it, the idea was challenging to square with pure monotheism.

    There was no influence from India, I should note, so the same idea of an incarnate divine being arose completely separately in two cultures. It's also very different from Graeco-Roman ideas,
    so the Dharmic model is the closest cognate.

    Yes, my understanding is that the divinization of Krishna was kind of similar to the divinization of Jesus.

    I believe the cult of Krishna Vasudeva originated between 4th century BC and the 2nd century BC, when the historical figure (a son of the Satvata tribe) was worshiped as the incarnate supreme deity in a strongly monotheistic fashion. This Krishna was then amalgamated with other traditions to result in the figure we know today.
     
  13. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Thanks, I really enjoy discussing these matters with you as well!
     
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  14. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    @Vouthon does Christianity teach vegetarianism is virtuous in any way, and/or merciful? Because for me that's always stood out as a difference between Dharmic and Christian non-violence. I've only heard from an Eastern Orthodox Christian that a St. Milos (?) advocated for vegetarianism?

    I think I already know the Church doesn't teach animals are unsentient automatons right? That animals have feelings and experience pain?

    I guess I've simply wondered from time to time- did Jesus want non-violence to go all the way ideally, and his followers not engage in the slaughter trade?

    I'm sorry if this question seems unfair like I'm trying to hold Christians to a Buddhist standard- just because vegetarianism is an important aspect of non-violence for Dharmics. It's seen that way because we're ceasing to destroy, entrap, torment, etc sentient creatures that feel terror. Essentially, not inflicting mental violence, and stopping a kind of destructive karmic act.

    I guess also, as I understand the Buddha seeing vegetarianism as ideal for his followers to gradually adopt- does the Church see any indication that Jesus ideally wanted his movement to gradually adopt a vegetarian diet?
     
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  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Not at all, I think that's a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

    The answer is that we know from the earliest evidence in Paul's letters - the first Christian documents - that the early church had both meat-eaters and vegetarians among its members, because people interpreted Jesus differently on this issue, for whatever reason. He hadn't written anything down, it was an oral culture in which people remembered things he'd said, so there were some differences of interpretation on certain things.

    Accordingly, the attitude was one of tolerance for the "conscience" of each individual believer:


    Welcome a man whose faith is weak, but not with the idea of arguing over his scruples. One man believes that he may eat anything, another man, without this strong conviction, is a vegetarian. The meat-eater should not despise the vegetarian, nor should the vegetarian condemn the meat-eater.

    Again, one man thinks some days of more importance than others. Another man considers them all alike. Let every one be definite in his own convictions. If a man specially observes one particular day, he does so “to God”. The man who eats, eats “to God”, for he thanks God for the food. The man who fasts also does it “to God”, for he thanks God for the benefits of fasting. The faith you have, have as your own conviction before God. Let us therefore stop turning critical eyes on one another. If we must be critical, let us be critical of our own conduct and see that we do nothing to make a brother stumble or fall.

    We should be willing to be both vegetarians and teetotallers if by doing otherwise we should impede a brother’s progress in faith. Your personal convictions are a matter of faith between yourself and God, and you are happy if you have no qualms about what you allow yourself to eat. Yet if a man eats meat with an uneasy conscience about it, you may be sure he is wrong to do so. For his action does not spring from his faith, and when we act apart from our faith we sin.


    (Romans 14:1-23)

    So, from the beginning, Christianity was tolerant about dietary matters but emphasized that every individual Christian had to live in accordance with their own conscience: if you feel guilty about eating meat, then it's sinful for you to do so but don't impose your personal conviction on others, was the advice from Paul.

    However some early Christian sects were vehemently vegetarian, for instance the sect that produced the Gospel of the Hebrews. In this gospel, Jesus has a confrontation with the high priest and condemns them for sacrificing animals in the temple, saying,


    "I am come to end the animal sacrifices and feasts of blood; and if ye cease not offering and eating of flesh and blood, the wrath of God shall not cease from you; even as it came to your fathers in the wilderness, who lusted for flesh, and did sat to their content, and were filled with rottenness, and the plague consumed them."

    This same sect also wrote the Clementine homilies, a second-century work purportedly based on the teachings of the Apostle Peter, which states:


    "The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils."


    It's obviously folks like these whom St. Paul was asking to "take a chill pill and live let live", because there had been a fierce debate over it.

    On the "vegetarian" side of early Christianity was Jesus' own brother James the Just - the first bishop of Jerusalem and the most powerful person in the early church - as the 3rd century ecclesiastical historian and church father Eusebius tells us:


    CHURCH FATHERS: Church History, Book II (Eusebius)


    James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James.

    5. He was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath.

    Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, 'Bulwark of the people' and 'Justice,' in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.


    Later on, many Catholic monastic orders such as those based on the Rule of St. Benedict as well as the Carthusians, Cistercians and Order of Minims have made either Pescatarianism, Vegetarianism or Veganism part of the vows taken by monks or friars; the laity have only ever been obligated to abstain from meat on Holy Days and particularly solemn seasons of the year such as Lent or Good Friday. So there is a clear difference in what is expected of monks/religious and lay persons when it comes to dieting.

    Nevertheless the most rigorous ascetic 'ideal' in dieting within my religion is the "black fast" and it is explicitly Vegan:


    Black Fast - Wikipedia

    The Black Fast is a severe form of Catholic fasting...

    The details of the fast, as they were prior to the tenth century, are as follows:

    • No more than one meal per day was permitted
    • Flesh meat, eggs, butter, cheese and milk were forbidden
    • The meal was not allowed until after sunset
    • Alcohol was forbidden
    • During Holy Week, the meal consisted exclusively of bread, salt, herbs, and water
    Despite my discomfort with the severity of some of the austerities associated with this fast, I do admire the veganism.

    St. Francis di Paola (1416 – 1507) and his followers known as the 'Minim Fathers' observed this vegan fast ALL-YEAR round:

    Francis of Paola - Wikipedia

    Saint Francis of Paola, O.M. (or: Francesco di Paola or Saint Francis the Fire Handler; 27 March 1416 – 2 April 1507) was an Italian mendicant friar and the founder of the Roman Catholic Order of Minims...

    The two major movements in this order were humility and non-violence. The word "Minim" refers to living as the smallest or least, or embracing humility, simplicity, and plainness. The call to non-violence and absence of cruelty was expressed through veganism, or not doing harm to any creature.[6]

    He followed a vegan diet, not only free from animal flesh, but also from all animal-derived foods, such as eggs and dairy products.[7]
    One of the vows of the order he founded was the abstinence from meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese and milk.[8]

    There are some truly charming 'hagiographical fables' written by the disciples and later Minim followers of St. Francis which illustrate his 'vegan way of life'. See:


    There are several stories about his compassion for animals, and how he gave back life to animals that were killed to be eaten.[11] For example, a biographer writes: “Francis had a favorite trout that he called ‘Antonella.’ One day, one of the priests, who provided religious services, saw the trout swimming about in his pool. To him it was just a delicious dish, so he caught it and took it home, tossing it into the frying pan. Francis missed ‘Antonella’ and realized what had happened. He asked one of his followers to go to the priest to get it back. The priest, annoyed by this great concern for a mere fish, threw the cooked trout on the ground, shattering it into several pieces. The hermit sent by Francis gathered up the broken pieces in his hands and brought them back to Francis. Francis placed the pieces back in the pool and, looking up to Heaven and praying, said: ‘Antonella, in the name of Charity, return to life.’ The trout immediately became whole and swam joyously around his pool as if nothing had happened. The friars and the workers who witnessed this miracle were deeply impressed at the saint’s amazing powers.”

    St. Francis also raised his pet lamb, Martinello, from the dead after it had been eaten by workmen. “Being in need of food, the workmen caught and slaughtered Francis’ pet lamb, Martinello, roasting it in their lime kiln. They were eating when the Saint approached them, looking for his lamb. They told him they had eaten it, having no other food. He asked what they had done with the fleece and the bones. They told him they had thrown them into the furnace. Francis walked over to the furnace, looked into the fire and called ‘Martinello, come out!’ The lamb jumped out, completely untouched, bleating happily on seeing his master.”[12]

    St. Francis Paola called the animals by their names even after their lives had ended. He apparently believed they continued to exist after their deaths
     
    #155 Vouthon, Feb 5, 2018
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  16. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    As an example of monastic vegetarianism, consider the medieval Carthusian Order, also called the Order of Saint Bruno.

    In 1142 Peter the Venerable, who visited their alpine hermitage once every year, described the Carthusian diet as follows:

    "They always abstain from the eating of meat, whether in health or ill. They never buy fish, but accept them if given in charity. Cheese and eggs are allowed on Sundays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, they eat cooked vegetables, but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they take only bread and water. They eat once a day only, save at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany and on certain other festivals."
    These kind of strict diets were never imposed on the laity, though. Lay persons were only expected to refrain from eating meat at certain times of the year, such as holy days.
     
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  17. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    While the exalted standing of Jesus was different from late 2nd temples Judaism, it does fit within the eschatological strands of Judaism that were more prevalent at that time. If Jesus called himself the Son of Man, then, as in Daniel, he is clearly identifying himself with at least a Heavenly Angelic being who is to bring the final Kingdom on Earth.

    Similarly Buddha's ascription of himself as Tathagata (one who has come thus, one who has gone forth from thus) is a wordplay where he is calling himself both an incarnate in and one who has liberated himself from the world. However, this was not by itself very unique, as we know that Mahavira and the Jainas were also making similar claims.
     
  18. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Good points, though I should note that "Son of Man" didn't actually exist as an established eschatological title in the Second Temple period. It was a unique moniker Jesus used for himself by subtly adapting the idiom for "a human being" so that it became "the human being". If I might reference Professor Hurtado again:

    “The Son of Man”: An Obsolete Phantom

    At least from the 1970s onward, it has become increasingly widely granted that, in fact, there is no evidence for the supposed use of “the son of man” as a fixed title for any figure in second-temple Jewish tradition.[1] There are texts that describe a heavenly being who will come and lead God’s people in triumph, such as the Melchizedek figure in the Qumran text, 11QMelchizedek. But he’s called “Melchizedek,” not “the son of man”! And it appears that some expected the archangel Michael to serve in this role, but he too isn’t ever referred to by the title “the Son of Man.” As for the messianic figure of the Parables of 1 Enoch, I’ve repeatedly reminded readers that there too we don’t actually have “the son of man” as a fixed title for this figure (e.g., here). (The English translations all too typically mislead readers by rendering several Ethiopic expressions used in the Parables by this one fixed translation.)

    We are left, thus, with what is rather clearly how the Evangelists read and intended the expression: a peculiar self-designation idiom used in the Gospels only by Jesus (some 80x). A “son of man” is, of course, an idiomatic way of designating a human being in ancient Semitic languages (Hebrew & Aramaic), and “sons of man” the plural equivalent. But the particularizing forms in Greek (ο υιος του ανθρωπου), or Aramaic (בר אנשא), or Hebrew (בנ האדם) are hard to find. So “the son of man” seems to have been something of a linguistic innovation, and would have had the sense of “the/this son of man” (in particular).

    So, “the Son of Man” wasn’t actually a familiar title for a well-known eschatological redeemer being/figure in second-temple Judaism.

    And certainly, the idea of a divine agent of creation pre-existing eternally with God before his birth and then incarnating in human form - which Hurtado notes "appeared astonishingly early in the Christian movement" - is totally alien to Judaism, of any time then and now. Jesus was even included or subsumed within the cultic devotion and invocation in the shema (see 1 Corinthians 8:6), the strict monotheistic worship statement offered to the one almighty God by Jews, which was really pushing it to say the least i.e.

    Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8:6)​

    This was an already established early Christian creedal statement which scholars believe Paul quoted in this letter dated AD 53–57, so again it goes back to the circles of the very first disciples after Pentecost, and here the shema from the Torah which affirms God's oneness ("Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one" ) is adapted to include Jesus, the historical Galilean preacher, as both "the one Lord" and eternally pre-existent co-creator of the universe "through whom we exist".

    Now, that was one way to ruffle some feathers and play the blasphemy game.

    So nobody really has any clue how the early Christians came to understand Jesus in this radical, heretical way so soon after his death. Hurtado thinks it might have had to do with ecstatic revelatory experiences of the glorified Christ, following his crucifixion, in which they came to believe he had been a divine being and so was eternal even though he'd just been executed. But that's just an educated guess, of course, though he may well be right.
     
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  19. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    This is similar to the historical approach of Buddhist vegetarianism. That if someone offers it to you as a gift that you didn't ask for- you can accept it both to approve the virtue of generosity, and so the animal's life is not wasted for you. I think though, the Buddha wanted vegetarianism to eventually prevail in his Sangha.

    He allowed this for reasons relevant to India in his day.
     
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  20. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    I never knew this before, and after you said it I did a bit of reading and found this:

    An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics

    the Buddha explains that a monk receives food as a gift from a donor, and his lovingkindness for donors and other creatures is not compromised by such eating
    That's a neat little parallel there between the Carthusian monks of the Catholic Church and Buddhists.

    By the way, if you're wanting to know what our ideal for treating animals is consider Saint Philip Neri (1515 – 1595), known as the Third Apostle of Rome. In the biography of his life we find some really exemplary anecdotes that remind me of Buddhist and Jain practice towards other sentient beings. Kindness for animals has traditionally been seen as an important indicator of saintliness:

    THE LIFE OF ST PHILIP NERI - BOOK 2

    The tenderness of his heart was not confined to men; it seemed to flow over even upon animals, in whose lives and movements he lovingly contemplated the Creator. A father of the congregation, passing through a courtyard one day, and seeing a lizard, put his foot upon it; whereupon Philip said to to him, “Cruel fellow! what has that poor little animal done to you?”

    Another time passing near a butcher’s shop, he saw a butcher wound a dog with one of his knives, and notwithstanding the Saint’s usual equanimity, he was greatly troubled at this action, and had some difficulty in calming himself.
    One of his penitents once found a little bird and took it to him; as soon as he saw it, he was moved with pity, and said, “Do not hurt it; open the window and let it go.” The youth obeyed; but a little after the Saint called him back again, and asked him what he had done with the little bird; he answered that he had let it go in obedience to his order. Philip replied, “It would have been better to have kept it and brought it up, for it was so young that it would not know where to go to, and perhaps will die of hunger.”

    Indeed, he could not bear to see the slightest cruelty shown to animals under any pretext whatever. If a bird, or any other creature, happened to get into a room, he would have the window or door opened immediately that it might escape; and if any one caught an animal alive he begged of them to set it at liberty forthwith, or if it was mischievous to put it somewhere where it could injure no one.

    When he was in a carriage he always warned the coachman to take care not to run over any one, nor even over any animal; and if live animals were given him as presents, which was sometimes the case, he entrusted them to some of his penitents to take care of, or gave them away to some one else and in all these little ways his tenderness of heart was continually appearing.
     
    #160 Vouthon, Feb 5, 2018
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