Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

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BlackBird
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:47 am

marc108 wrote:I believe that Jesus was likely a stream-enterer due to the way he speaks and teaches around the 1st 3 fetters. I also think his contact with God and angels was not a delusion or some sort of story made up after his death, but rather that he was in contact with sort of deva(s), perhaps what had become called the Brahma Deva in Buddhism. It's interesting to think about how much of the Judeo-Christian religions central teachings have been effected by contact and influence from devas.


I don't think there's any evidence of that what so ever. Jesus never spoke of Dukkha, or anatta. He never spoke of having a personal insight into paticcasamupada. These things are necessary for stream entry. Though an admirable man, with many good qualities, he was possessed of wrong view, and advocated eternalism, which the Buddha spoke against.

I don't think there's a valid argument that Jesus was a stream enterer - On the basis of what I have said above, in fact it seems like a rather erroneous conclusion, no offense intended.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:58 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:The Buddha taught that we make our own future conditions by our own actions, and we alone are responsible for them whether they are good or bad.
Jesus (plus the compilers of the OT) taught that a supernatural being can and does alter our future conditions by excusing us (being merciful), rewarding us (heaven for choosing the right teacher) or punishing us because we have offended him.

All the Christians I have ever heard or read maintain a stance to the effect of "we make our own future conditions by our own actions, and we alone are responsible for them whether they are good or bad" - they don't see karma as opposed to God somehow.
In effect, to them, God and karma are functionally the same.
According to them, if you choose wrongly, you can end up in hell for all eternity: and it will have been your own action that has brought you there. If you choose correctly, you've boarded the train to everlasting bliss.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:39 pm

binocular wrote:In effect, to them, God and karma are functionally the same.


That's how it seems to me. "Do good things, go to heaven" doesn't seem all that different from "Do good things, get a better rebirth".
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:10 pm

The difference is, what is "good" is defined not based on understanding of action or intention, but on the dictates of a God. You can still go to eternal hell being what a Buddhist would think of as a good person. Besides, even though Christians may believe our own actions determine our fate, they do not determine other things, like tenancies (towards sin/akusala) or other trials and tests - these come from God alone, or sometimes from the devil. Ultimately, things are under Gods control, even if free will is taken into account. Hence a tendancy towards inaction and bias against "spirituality" in especially deterministic sects like the Calvinists - "sola gratia" ect.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:25 pm

I think i will just follow the mainstream assertion that Jesus was a noble figure but the bible is corrupted.

Form my perspective, the biggest problem in Christianity lies under the belief of the Creator.
Why did God creates human if He is self sufficient?
Buddhism makes it clear that when one is content there is nothing to want. Some Christians say God creates us to share His love(i assume it is metta in Buddhism), and this leads to a few more questions;
1. why did He wanna share something with someone who doesn't exist in the first place?
Delusion.
2. why is the reality of this world more dukkha than metta?
God is a liar.
3. and what about the creation of animals? had God sacrificed them just to show his metta to humans?
Holy cow is Poor cow...

*The above statement is my personal view and it does not represent DW.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:23 pm

daverupa wrote:You can google the parable if you'd like to generously hunt for alternatives.


i really do not see those things in that parable... but i'm also not a christian :jumping: i think that is a very course interpretation... akin to saying the 1st Jhana simile is about taking a bath.

BlackBird wrote:I don't think there's any evidence of that what so ever. Jesus never spoke of Dukkha, or anatta. He never spoke of having a personal insight into paticcasamupada. These things are necessary for stream entry. Though an admirable man, with many good qualities, he was possessed of wrong view, and advocated eternalism, which the Buddha spoke against.

I don't think there's a valid argument that Jesus was a stream enterer - On the basis of what I have said above, in fact it seems like a rather erroneous conclusion, no offense intended.


No offense taken at all. I actually don't have a valid argument that Jesus was a stream enterer. I'm not familiar with the Canonical nuances around stream entry, but only around the destruction of the first 3 fetters: Self-view within the aggregates, Skeptical doubt about the truth, & clinging to rights & rituals... all of which Jesus speaks about often. Granted the NT is extremely course compared to the Suttas and maybe I'm digging here a bit, but these are just my musings... the purpose of this is to keep me interested enough in Christianity to actually do all the reading necessary to do well in this class. :jumping:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:36 pm

marc108 wrote: I'm not familiar with the Canonical nuances around stream entry, but only around the destruction of the first 3 fetters: Self-view within the aggregates, Skeptical doubt about the truth, & clinging to rights & rituals... all of which Jesus speaks about often


Could you elaborate? Jesus never talked about anatta as far as I am aware and encouraged clinging to rites and rituals by performing baptisms, laying on of hands, eucharist, not to mention the "ritual" of faith in him being the path to salvation.
Silabbata paramasa IMO is about seeing something other than the "cooling" of the three unwholesome root defilements as being essential to the spiritual path.

http://www.jesusanswers.com/bible/friday.htm
Last edited by Coyote on Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:02 pm

marc108 wrote:
daverupa wrote:You can google the parable if you'd like to generously hunt for alternatives.


i really do not see those things in that parable... but i'm also not a christian :jumping: i think that is a very course interpretation... akin to saying the 1st Jhana simile is about taking a bath.


Have a look at the wiki for it, if you like. You may feel that it's a coarse interpretation, but divine retribution resulting in eternal (!) consequences is ever-present in the Gospels, to say nothing of the Pauline Epistles (Xian Abhidhamma, if you like).

The Parable of the Minas is simply one example which highlights a core difference between the 'Good News' v. the Dhamma.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:20 pm

daverupa wrote:
Have a look at the wiki for it, if you like. You may feel that it's a coarse interpretation, but divine retribution resulting in eternal (!) consequences is ever-present in the Gospels, to say nothing of the Pauline Epistles (Xian Abhidhamma, if you like).

The Parable of the Minas is simply one example which highlights a core difference between the 'Good News' v. the Dhamma.


I can't find the bit about eternal consequences, here or in an "ever present" form.

On a more general level, there are a huge number of sophisticated and impassioned debates over the meaning of what Jesus said. I probably live among liberal and tender-minded Christians, but the idea of eternal damnation does not gain much favour with them. Nor the idea of an eternal soul which can suffer it. Some angry right-wing Christians believe it, but then again there are some people who call themselves Buddhists who think and say some decidedly odd things...

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:46 pm

Sam Vara wrote:I can't find the bit about eternal consequences, here or in an "ever present" form.

On a more general level, there are a huge number of sophisticated and impassioned debates over the meaning of what Jesus said. I probably live among liberal and tender-minded Christians, but the idea of eternal damnation does not gain much favour with them. Nor the idea of an eternal soul which can suffer it. Some angry right-wing Christians believe it, but then again there are some people who call themselves Buddhists who think and say some decidedly odd things...


For what it's worth, from the wiki:

Failure to use one's gifts, the parable suggests, will result in judgement.


The judgment, as you note, can receive different explanations depending on which sort of Xian one asks. The point, however, is that talk of the Last Judgment is found everywhere in the Gospels, with the consequences described as 'everlasting'.

Now, the Gospel texts nominally form part of what a Xian considers authoritative. I cannot find an interpretation of the Gospels in general, or this Parable specifically, which convincingly argues for the absence of such a judgment. It's an essential aspect of Christian soteriology (to wit, ever-present).

Perhaps many modern Xians prefer that things be otherwise due to trouble reconciling omni-benevolence with eternal hellfire. One approach might be to consider that Hell isn't a permanent destination - just a really long Purgatory, say - but there doesn't seem to be any scriptural support for such a claim.
Last edited by daverupa on Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:52 pm

Sam Vara wrote:I can't find the bit about eternal consequences, here or in an "ever present" form.

Maybe that's because you read the Bible in the original languages. ;)

Otherwise, per NIV:


Matthew 18:8:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.


Matthew 25:41, 46:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”



2 Thessalonians 1:
5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.


Jude 1:6
6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.



On a more general level, there are a huge number of sophisticated and impassioned debates over the meaning of what Jesus said. I probably live among liberal and tender-minded Christians, but the idea of eternal damnation does not gain much favour with them. Nor the idea of an eternal soul which can suffer it. Some angry right-wing Christians believe it, but then again there are some people who call themselves Buddhists who think and say some decidedly odd things...

Probably most people in the world have known Christianity to be the fire-and-brimstone religion, though.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:05 pm

daverupa wrote:I cannot find an interpretation of the Gospels in general, or this Parable specifically, which convincingly argues for the absence of such a judgment. It's a key aspect of Christian soteriology (to wit, ever-present).

Perhaps many modern Xians prefer that things be otherwise due to trouble reconciling omni-benevolence with eternal hellfire. One approach might be to consider that Hell isn't a permanent destination - just a really long Purgatory, say - but there doesn't seem to be any scriptural support for such a claim.

There is reason to believe that the majority of the currently popular translations of the Bible are biased or inappropriately translated.

For example:

THE GREEK WORD AIÓN -- AIÓNIOS, TRANSLATED Everlasting -- Eternal IN THE HOLY BIBLE, SHOWN TO DENOTE LIMITED DURATION.

The verbal pivot on which swings the question, Does the Bible teach the doctrine of Endless Punishment? Is the word Aión and its derivatives and reduplications. The author of this treatise has endeavored to put within brief compass the essential facts pertaining to the history and use of the word, and he thinks he has conclusively shown that it affords no support whatever to the erroneous doctrine. It will generally be conceded that the tenet referred to is not contained in the Scriptures if the meaning of endless duration does not reside in the controverted word. The reader is implored to examine the evidence presented, as the author trusts it has been collected, with a sincere desire to learn the truth.

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Aion_lim.html


and

What is truly timeless? This book explores the language of eternity, and in particular two ancient Greek terms that may bear the sense of "eternal": aiônios and aïdios. This fascinating linguistic chronicle is marked by several milestones that correspond to the emergence of new perspectives on the nature of eternity. These milestones include the advent of Pre-Socratic physical speculation and the notion of limitless time in ancient philosophy, the major shift in orientation marked by Plato's idea of a timeless eternity, and the further development of Pre-Socratic insights by Epicurean and Stoic thinkers. From the biblical perspective, the intersection of Greek and Hebrew conceptions is reflected in Septuagint, as well as new inflections in popular terminology in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and in the role of eternity in the theology of the New Testament. The profound cross-fertilization of Christian and classical philosophical conceptions in the works of the Church fathers and their contemporaries is explored, bringing the topic into the Patristic period. Christian theology in the first five centuries of the Common Era and its choice of vocabulary prove to be most revealing of larger doctrinal commitments. Above all debate raged on the question of eternal damnation versus the idea (deemed heretical in the Christian church after the formal condemnation of Origenism) of apocastastis or universal salvation -- that is, the belief that the wicked are not condemned to eternal punishment but will eventually be included among the saved. Terminology for "eternity" is often at the core of how these issues were debated, and helps to identify which writers inclined to one or the other view of the matter.

Ilaria Ramelli, David Konstan, Terms for Eternity: aiônios and aidios in Classical and Christian Texts. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2007
http://www.gorgiaspress.com/bookshop/sh ... 9333-694-3

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:06 pm

daverupa wrote:
For what it's worth, from the wiki:

Failure to use one's gifts, the parable suggests, will result in judgement.


The judgment, as you note, can receive different explanations depending on which sort of Xian one asks. The point, however, is that talk of the Last Judgment is found everywhere in the Gospels, with the consequences described as 'everlasting'.

Now, the Gospel texts nominally form part of what a Xian considers authoritative. I cannot find an interpretation of the Gospels in general, or this Parable specifically, which convincingly argues for the absence of such a judgment. It's a key aspect of Christian soteriology (to wit, ever-present).

Perhaps many modern Xians prefer that things be otherwise due to trouble reconciling omni-benevolence with eternal hellfire. One approach might be to consider that Hell isn't a permanent destination - just a really long Purgatory, say - but there doesn't seem to be any scriptural support for such a claim.


Yes, but the quote is from the wiki, not from the Gospel. Even the author of the wiki seems to lack confidence in the interpretation, as they use the term "suggests".

The "last judgement" is often mentioned in the New Testament, but again there is a huge range of interpretations. Those Hebrew "Judges" were wise kings and lawgivers, and judgement was seen as a form of putting things to rights, rather than convicting and punishing. Why not this interpretation?

Your point that you can't find an interpretation of the Gospel which argues for the absence of such a judgement is a bit odd. If the authors of the Gospel never intended that interpretation, it would not need to argue it - any more than any other text would need to.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:08 pm

Though many Christians seem to manage it, it seems impossible to ignore in my reading of the bible, the idea of eternal punishment after death for those who are not saved at the last judgement, especially when taking into account the many early Christian writings in which this teaching is a central point.

However, the idea of universal salvation has had proponents from early times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocastasis#New_Testament, not to mention the idea that those outside of the physical church while on earth will be saved due to conversion during the last judgement.

Maybe your lectures will go into this Marc, but there are separate words for "hell" in the NT only one of which is the damnation after the last judgement - "gehenna".

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats, and He will set the sheep on His right hand but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” ... “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My Brethren, you did it to me.”
"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” ... “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."(Matthew 25:31-36, 40-43, 45-46 NRSV)
Last edited by Coyote on Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:10 pm

Coyote wrote:The difference is, what is "good" is defined not based on understanding of action or intention, but on the dictates of a God.

As long as God is the one who runs the whole Universe, there's no problem then, as God also set the standards for action/intention.

Christian theologies face problems as it turns out that they operating out of inferior definitions of God, presenting God as a mere demigod.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:16 pm

binocular wrote:
Coyote wrote:The difference is, what is "good" is defined not based on understanding of action or intention, but on the dictates of a God.

As long as God is the one who runs the whole Universe, there's no problem then, as God also set the standards for action/intention.

Christian theologies face problems as it turns out that they operating out of inferior definitions of God, presenting God as a mere demigod.


In practice I would agree with you that they are the same. Could you explain what you meant by the last sentence?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:18 pm

[quote="binocular"]
Otherwise, per NIV:


Matthew 18:8:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.


Matthew 25:41, 46:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


Well, it says the fire and the punishment are eternal, not an individual soul's experience of it. Maybe a bit like the "regularity of the Dhamma", which endures whether or not Tathagatas arise.

You are probably correct about most Christians seeing hell as a place of perpetual punishment. But they might have got it wrong, just as most Buddhists who have ever lived have got at least something wrong about the Dhamma. The trick is, I think, to keep searching, and not take Sheol for an answer.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:28 pm

The NT did not just fall out of the air to be interpreted as the individual sees fit (especially if you are approaching from a scholarly perspective).The NT is a product of 4th century compilation of early writings, some of which is genuine (i.e from Christ and his disciples), some of which is not, and leaves out much of what early Christians read and where taught as doctrine, some of which may be as old as the epistles, which are usually thought of as being the oldest section of the NT.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:33 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Well, it says the fire and the punishment are eternal, not an individual soul's experience of it.

The other passages I provided say otherwise:

2 Thessalonians 1:
5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Jude 1:6
6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.


The trick is, I think, to keep searching, and not take Sheol for an answer.

Why? To make Christianity seem more palatable, and to re-present the whole damnationist business as an unfortunate mistake?

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:41 pm

binocular wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Well, it says the fire and the punishment are eternal, not an individual soul's experience of it.

The other passages I provided say otherwise:

Yes, but note that these are not Gospel, are they? More important than the distinction between Buddhavacana and commentary, when talking about God himself.

As for intentions in a reading of the Gospel, what would be a better one?


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