BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN THE LIGHT OF HINDUISM

BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN THE LIGHT OF HINDUISM
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BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN THE LIGHT OF HINDUISM

EXERPT FROM CHAPTER 1

COMLEMENTARY RELIGIONS

 

There is a complementarism between Buddhism and Christianity which appears in some ways as similarity and in others as direct opposition. Certainly they are not in all respects alike. Buddhism is more akin in its basic doctrinal affinity with the other two religions of the Semitic, monotheistic group, Judaism and Islam; nevertheless a remarkable parallel exists. The purpose of this book is to examine and explain it. The first chapter will cover only its more superficial aspects, leaving its fundamental doctrinal basis to be dealt with later.

In the first place, both religions are based on the teachings of a founder revered as divine. This is often taken for granted by their followers as a natural condition for a religion, but it does not apply, for instance, to Judaism or Hinduism, which have no single founder, or even to Islam or the Chinese religions, which have. It is expressly asserted in the Quran that Mohammad was a man like any other, to whom a massage has been revealed. Lao Tsu and Confusius are revered as Sages and Moses as a Prophet, but that is not the same as a Christ or a Buddha. Hinduism has a doctrine of Divine Incarnation, but these were not its founders; they merely reiterated the sanatana dharma, the ‘eternal doctrine’ which existed already before their appearance on earth. The position of Christ and Buddha as founders of religions is different. In the first place, neither word is a name; both are titles and should therefore correctly be used with the definite article. ‘Christ’ is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, the ‘Anointed’ who had been foretold and long awaited, while the Buddha is the incarnation of buddhi, the Sanskrit word for divine, intuitional intellect, the intermediary between Ablolute Truth and man’s mind, andtherefore fundamentally the same as the Word or Logos which descends from God to man, from Absolute Being to limited and reflected being. Incidentally, the word buddhis is sometimes translated as

‘mind’ or ‘reason’, but this gives a false impression; the mentality or reason is manas.

There is also a remarkable parallel in the two life stories, starting from the birth and early life and the apotheosis of the Mother. This, of course, never implies identity, and the differences are no less significant than the similarities, reflecting as they do the profounder differences of doctrinal approach. Before commenting on the life stories, however, it may be well to anticipate two criticisms that are commonly made: one that these stories are not proven and are probably to a large extent mythological, and the other, rather similar, that such birth and childhood stories normally grow up around the founder of any religion and are therefore not to be taken seriously.

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