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Christianity as extension of Buddhism: A thought experiment

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posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 02:48 PM
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I've got a thought experiment I'd like to share. I don't believe what I am about to say is necessarily true; I just wanted to share it.

Suppose reincarnation and karma are real. Consciousness "recycles", and improving karma means a better reincarnation.

In the Dhammapada, attributed to the Buddha, there are many moral teachings that coincide with those of Christ. For example, for the Christian message to "love your enemies", in the Dhammapada we have:


3. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"--in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease.

4. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"--in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease.

5. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.

6. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here;--but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once.


Now let's look at the world from the secular standpoint of memes. Let's say this particular meme (basically that one can find happiness through realizing life is temporary and having compassion and forgiveness for all) goes viral. What we would see collectively is the world's quarrels start to settle down. This would, psychologically speaking, require enough people to awaken from neurosis and raise their children with proper love, thus preventing the continuation of neurosis. This progress in human decency makes the people who reincarnate in the future happier because less neurotic, and that humanity, if this meme goes viral, will improve morally. This coincides with the idea that improved karma means a better reincarnation.

But here's the rub. This will ultimately mean humanity, as a species, will be at peace with nature and not destroy it, for a degraded and toxic earth would not mean happy times.

Now, our current population requires modern industrial civilization to sustain itself. When that fails (the oil runs out, etc.), then in dynamical terms, one might say the population is "too high" and will crash to something low in a sort of "apocalypse", before human-planet relations finally stabilize into something sustainable (in dynamical terms, "equilibrium" is established).

But this is a problem for reincarnation. More souls are alive today than will be when the population stabilizes. The answer Revelation gives is that continued reincarnation in the happy Earth ("eternal life") is given to some and denied others according to some criteria.

One wonders then what happens to the denied souls that cannot continue to reincarnate. Are they destroyed?


[edit on 25-7-2010 by NewlyAwakened]




posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 05:08 PM
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Bumpmanship.

Secondline



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 05:12 PM
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reply to post by NewlyAwakened
 

The catch is that Christianity does not believe in Reincarnation.
The Christian concept of Resurrection is a one-off event.
So your "Christian extension" is not Christian.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 05:56 PM
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You should check out Aldous Huxley, I think you would like him. Yes, he's the guy who wrote "Brave New World" but he also wrote "The Perennial Philosophy." I think you should check that one out, specifically. He seemed to be fond of finding common ground between Buddhism and Christianity.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 06:18 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
reply to post by NewlyAwakened
 

The catch is that Christianity does not believe in Reincarnation.
The Christian concept of Resurrection is a one-off event.
So your "Christian extension" is not Christian.


You raise a good point. Maybe this whole thought experiment is really just to highlight a little-discussed problem of Buddhism?

Of course Buddhists could respond with the whole "we create our own reality" thing where the Earth is all an illusion and all that (and there is some support from their scriptures), but I've always seen that as a cop-out. The material history of the Earth is too richly developed. To me there's clearly more to it than pure anything-goes illusion.



[edit on 25-7-2010 by NewlyAwakened]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 07:59 PM
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Religions can, and do, mutate. So there is no reason why a hybrid Christian-Buddhist religion could not emerge. Buddhism in particular has a long history of adapting to native climes by subsuming local gods and traditions and recasting them as Boddhisattvas, etc. And Christianity has not always been associated with the extreme textural literalism taht characterizes today's fundamentalists.

An interesting example to chew on is the long historical relationship between Shinto and Buddhism in Japan.

In the earliest years, when Buddhism was first introduced, it was violently opposed by some Shintoists -- there was a civil war between the pro-Buddhist Soga clan and the pro-Shinto Mononobe and Nakatomi clans. The latter were defeated and forced to accept Buddhism, but the native religion of Shinto was not eliminated either.

Later, You have the phenomenon of Shinbutsu Shugo in the middle ages, which was a kind of hybrid Shinto-Buddhist mixture. This is a very complex topic and the concept was represented in many different ways by different streams of thought. Some interpreted the Kami (Gods) of Shinto to be manifestations of Buddhas and Boddhisattvas -- a viewpoint that privilaged Buddhism. Others turned this on its head and said the Kami were really at the root and that Buddhism was secondary. For most people the line between the two was thin or non-existant in the medieval and early-modern period.

Then, eventually a much more radically pro-Shinto group came to power with Meiji Restoration in the 1800s, and there was a formal, government-mandated separation of the two religions. Today the two remain fomally separate. So the two have a long and complex history. Looking into it provides many possible examples of ways Christianity and Buddhism could wrap themselves around each other.

In fact, if you look carefully within Christianity and Buddhism themselves, you might find some interesting evidence that its not really such a new idea on either side of the issue.


[edit on 7/25/10 by silent thunder]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 08:05 PM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 

There may be no difficulties from the Buddhist end, but there are very powerful objections from the Christian end.
Once Christianity starts getting involved in syncretism with other religions, it ceases to be Christianity.
The command "You shall have no other gods but me" is at the heart of Biblical religion, it is part of the essence of Biblical religion.
So anyone who values Biblical religion must see any tendancy towards syncretism as a dangerous enemy.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 08:08 PM
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I believe Jesus was more influenced in bringing back traditional Judaism back to his people, while he was preaching the Gospels. Both Christianity and Islam bring a good example in Jesus being a rebel in his time for displeasure in the head of the Jewish temples.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 08:09 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


That's a fundamentalist viewpoint, and it is not the final word on what defines "Christianity." Biblical literalism itself is a relatively recent phenomenon for most Christians:




...It is, for example, crucial to note than an exclusively literal interpretation of the Bible is a recent development. Until the 19th century, very few people imagined that the first chapter of Genesis was a factual account of the origins of life. For centuries, Jews and Christians relished highly allegorical and inventive exegesis, insisting that a wholly literal reading of the bible was neither possible nor desireable.

-Karen Armstrong, "The Bible; A Biography."



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 08:35 PM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 

I'm not a literalist, by any means.
I'm running a series of threads on Revelation which don't always have literalistic interpretations.
I'm even perfectly comfortable with the theory of Evolution.

But the fact remains that "You shall have no other gods but me " is the very first commandment attributed to Sinai. It is not disposable. It is fundamental, it is at the heart, it is of the very essence. Once Biblical religion merges with others, it has died.

That was why it was necessary for the early church to exclude the teachings of the Gnostics, and that is why it would be necessary for the present church to exclude the teachings of the Buddhists.
For Biblical faith, syncretism is death.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 08:49 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


The thing is, words can be endlessly twisted to suit anyone's needs. You noted the Gnostics. And of course there are countless other heresies down through the ages. But what if "their side" had won for any nuber of reasons -- better advertising, political maneuvering, even at swordpoint? Christianity would look very different.

And who is to say that 100 or 500 years hence, Christianity won't look more like Gnosticism or Catharism?

Let's take your specific example: "You shall have no other gods but me." Define "me" as co-extensive with the universe (pantheism) or perhaps as manifested in various forms with different names. For example, ate "Dios" (Spanish), "God" (English), and "Bog" (Russian) the same or different? In Japanese, the word "Kami" is used for both the Christian God and the Japanese Gods. Who says which is which? The issue gets very murky if you rely purely on text. "The devil can quote scripture" and "Christ spoke in parables." Who is to set the limits on how far biblical metaphors can be taken?


[edit on 7/25/10 by silent thunder]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 09:07 PM
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Originally posted by silent thunder
[Let's take your specific example: "You shall have no other gods but me." Define "me" as co-extensive with the universe (pantheism)..

I don't imagine that the universe, as such, could communicate with a portion of itself, because communication necessarily takes place between two distinct parties.
So the fact that the Biblical God is a communicating God defines his nature-
If he communicates with, has any kind of relationship with, what is within the created world, that defines him as distinct from the created world, which necessarily rules out pantheism.
So "You shall have no other gods but me" means "You shall have no other gods except the Creator of all things, which is me".

You shall not worship trees, you shall not worship animals, you shall not worship the spirits of the dead, you shall not worship the sun or the moon or the stars, you shall not worship nature, you shall not worship the planet, you shall not worship the universe.
You shall have no other gods except the source of all these things.

And you want to water that down with Buddhism? Over our dead bodies.

[edit on 25-7-2010 by DISRAELI]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 09:14 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
I don't imagine that the universe, as such, could communicate with a portion of itself, because communication necessarily takes place between two distinct parties.


That's a pretty clever answer, but what about the following: Your brain communicates with your hands through your nervous system.

Or, how about a scheme under which the universe is defined as God "playing hide and seek with himself"? Why? Well, perhaps eternity gets pretty boring. We could have a single divine being that has deliberately split itself into seemingly separate beings, connected underneith the way separate waves are part of the same ocean, for example.

[edit on 7/25/10 by silent thunder]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 09:23 PM
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Originally posted by silent thunder
That's a pretty clever answer, but what about the following: Your brain communicates with your hands through your nervous system.

The analogy is inaccurate, because my brain is not "my whole self".
In any case, my brain does not have a personal relationship with my hands.



Or, how about a scheme under which the universe is defined as God "playing hide and seek with himself"? Why? Well, perhaps eternity gets pretty boring. We could have a single divine being that has deliberately split itself into seemingly separate beings, connected underneith the way separate waves are part of the same ocean, for example.

That can be your understanding, but it is not compatible with Biblical faith.
It is not what the Biblical God says about himself.
If that viewpoint is true, then Biblical faith is a lie, and vice-versa.
If you replace Chistian teaching with that viewpoint, then you have not "merged" with Christianity- you have killed it, as I've been saying from the beginning.


[edit on 25-7-2010 by DISRAELI]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 09:45 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
That can be your understanding, but it is not compatible with Biblical faith.


Ok, here we reach the nub of the matter, IMHO. Youi are correct...it is not compatible with a Christianity that puts the BIBLE in the center. But not all Chrisitianity is bible-centric. In addition to the Gnostics, Cathars, and other traditional "heresies," consider, say, the Catholic Church, where the Pope is infallable, or existing strains like Hesychasm in Orthodox churches (Syriac, Russian, Greek, etc.), where inner contemplation and prayer is given center stage.

As I posted, religions can and do mutate from time to time and place to place. Bible-centric Christianity is not the only way to construe Christianity, and it never has been. In fact, I would predict its days are numbered because of the conflicts with science, among other factors.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 10:17 PM
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Originally posted by silent thunder
or existing strains like Hesychasm in Orthodox churches (Syriac, Russian, Greek, etc.), where inner contemplation and prayer is given center stage.

In a Christian context, inner contemplation and prayer and even Hesychasm, are still relating to a God other than oneself. The Orthodox church is no different in that respect.
When I referred to "Biblical faith", I was not talking about spending time on reading the Bible. I was referring to believing in the God described in the Bible, that is the Creator God, The Catholics and the Orthodox are no different.

Yes, I have no doubt that the future possibility you suggest is one of the dangers facing the Christian church.
Let me refer you to the following two threads;
Warnings to the seven churches- part1
Warnings to the seven churches- part2

In these threads, I was commenting on the recurrence, all through Biblical history, of two different dangers facing God's people.
On the one hand, the physical danger of persecution and oppression.
On the other hand, the spiritual danger of the temptation towards other religions or syncretism.
I was arguing that Revelation was warning the Church not only about the first danger, but also about the second.
What you are doing now is a classic example of what I was talking about, so you are proving the point I was making in the second of those two threads.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 10:48 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
In a Christian context, inner contemplation and prayer and even Hesychasm, are still relating to a God other than oneself. The Orthodox church is no different in that respect.


To this, one could argue that to the limited self (ego), the divine appears to be outside of oneself, but actually there is no inside and outside. ("The kingdom of heaven is within"). We can't say the divine is separate, nor can we say it is completely coextensive with the limited self, in the same way a wave is not separate from the ocean BUT ALSO cannot be said to equal the ocean as a whole. Given this, the argument would go, either inner-directed effort (such as Zen meditation) or outer-directed effort (such as praying to a God outside yourself) would be acceptable as different paths that lead to the same source. Most Mahayana Buddhist schools see a distinction between what they call "Self-power" (jiriki) and "Other-power" (tariki) to denote inner-directed and outer-directed paths, respectively. It is important to note that most such schools accept both self-power and other-power as valid paths leading to the same place from different perspectives. A zen saying: "Many paths, one mountain." From this perspective, both internal cultivation and external devotionalism would be acceptable, and here, too, one can see a possible common ground for Christianity and Buddhism.

Although we don't really agree in this thread, I respect your views and efforts, as well as the polite tone and biblical erudition you've demonstrated here. I'm now going to leave this thread because IMHO this debate could be endless (or at least a lot longer than I'm willing to slog away at it).


Best regards,

Silent thunder



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 11:48 PM
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Here is a few things.

First, in ancient Buddhist scripts it talks about how both Christian crusaders and Islamic crusaders invaded India and stole 100's of Buddha Gautama's teachings. The time date on this would of been before they wrote their holy books. Also, when studying other ancient civilizations beliefs such as, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greeks, Indus Valley... we can see many similarities in the stories wrote inside of the Islamic and Christian holy books. Also it has been thought by some Christian and Muslim scholars, that in Jesus's 'lost years' in the Bible, from 12 to 33, that he may of traveled (after Egypt) to India to study from their Mystic Schools and Monks. Just some things to think about.

Now about reincarnation and why there is more 'souls' on earth now than will be when it 'stabilizes'. My reasoning would be, that the human 'soul' is in fact intelligent energy, and understanding that energy cannot be created or destroyed but only transferred (reincarnated), insofar as that the Universe is expanding and so as it expands and life forms continue to grow this energy becomes less concentrated and weaker, leaves us with two options for life (energy) on earth. One, life (energy) forms, such as Humans, populations decrease while with-holding the same, or similar, levels of energy within each individual life form, or two, life (energy) form populations increase causing less energy available for each individual life form. This could be why our human population is less stable. As it grows there is less concentrated energy available for each individual soul. It is the cause and effect of karma. Now, we know our Universe is not a linear progression, rather a cycle that will expand and then decrease (like our lungs), and as it decreases/shrinks the energy will again become more concentrated, allowing for greater amounts of energy for individual life forms to become stabilized. I don't think this is happening yet, nor will it happen any time soon, so as human populations grow, they will continue to become less stable. So we must use our great gift of intelligence, to figure out ways to counter this, so to ensure our survival. Although again the cause and effect of karma, may then still be working against that from happening. Anyway I am done for now,
, I need to think about it more.



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 12:45 AM
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Just two comments. First, if an armeggedon type event did happen here, that is no conundrum for reincarnation, because reincarnation does not necessarily have to happen on THIS world....or even in THIS universe.

Secondly, For christianity to embrace buddhism should pose no dillemma for the first commandment, as buddhism does not have dogma, or propose any gods. Buddhism espouses no creation myth, nor does it name a diety, or put rules on how you are demanded to live by such a diety. Buddhism is more a philosophy, praising past sages for their wisdom, and proposing their path to freedom from socially imposed limits on thought and judgement. It is an exercise in conscious expansion, and self exploration, not a system for worship to ensure a heavenly afterlife. Indeed, it is truly a guide for one path to freedom and love on earth, just as jesus message was also a path to freedom and love on earth.



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 04:00 AM
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Might be interesting to note reincarnation was once a theory in Christianity until it was finally dismissed as heresy in 553 AD.

Buddhist doctrine states there are many different realms of existence, earth (samsara) being one of them. Consciousness can be reborn there and can remain there for a long time. Buddhism does not exclude other worlds similar to earth in this universe one can be born into.



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