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Buddhist Doctrines

ALL cults have some good in them and some truth in them. Satan is extremely cunning. If he were to have all bad or wrong or dangerous doctrines, people would not be so attracted.

The Truth of the Way (Mârgasatya), which is the Middle Way, between the extremes of asceticism and indulgence.

  1. Right Knowledge
  2. Right Resolve
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Conduct (or Action)
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness, and
  8. Right Meditation (or Concentration)

The Buddha established a monastic Order (the San.gha), with five basic Precepts:

  1. not to kill,
  2. not to steal,
  3. not to be unchaste,
  4. not to drink intoxicants, and
  5. not to lie.

The monastic discipline soon involved many more rules, and the Five Precepts became simple moral injunctions that applied to the laity as well as to the monks and nuns -- until debate began about whether the Precepts needed to be observed at all. Practice and Enlightenment then lead one to Nirvân.a ("Extinction"), which the Buddha refused to positively characterize. Do we even exist when we achieve Nirvân.a? The Buddha denied that we exist, denied that we do not exist, denied that we both exist and do not exist, and denied that we neither exist nor do not exist. This kind of answer is called the Fourfold Negation and becomes a fundamental Buddhist philosophical principle to deal with attempts to characterize Nirvân.a or ultimate reality: we cannot either affirm or deny anything about them.

Buddhist scriptures are called the Tripit.aka, or the "Three Baskets," consisting of the Sutrapit.aka, the Buddha's sermons, the Vinayapit.aka, the monastic rules, and the Abhidharmapit.aka, early philosophical treatises. The Buddha himself spoke the Mâgadhî, but the oldest version of the Tripit.aka that is extant was committed to writing in Sri Lanka using the Prakrit Pâli, which had become a literary language. These texts are called the "Pâli Canon." The version of the Tripit.aka that exists in Chinese used to be regarded as derived from the Pâli Canon, but they are now both seen as based on older versions.

The Buddha is essentially a philosopher and Buddhism is quite unlike other world religions. Maybe it isn't a religion at all, since there is no God or soul in Buddhism, which is in contrast with religions like Judaism, Christianity, or Islâm. But, the contrast is less sharp with other historical and world religions. So, while there is no God, there are gods (idols) in Buddhism, gods like Indra and Brahma who turn up as guardians of Buddhist temples. Quite important is the sanctity of the Buddha himself, who is is immediately obvious. After his death, the ashes of the Buddha became relics in much the same way that we find relics of the Saints in Catholicism. Especially noteworthy is the belief that in achieving Enlightenment, the Buddha acquires supposed supernatural powers. These powers were:

  1. Psychokinesis, the power to move objects with the mind;
  2. Clairaudience, the power to hear sounds at extraordinary distances;
  3. Telepathy, the power to read the minds of others;
  1. Retrocognition, the power to know one's own previous existences;
  2. Clairvoyance, the power to see and know things at a distance; and,
  3. Knowledge of the destruction of the defiling impulses, such as would lead to Enlightenment and Nirvân.a.

These supposed supernatural and extrasensory powers, are NOT in any way omniscience or omnipotence, like that of the Creator God of the Bible.

1. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgment Day. The Bible sates that Almighty God created the Universe (Genesis), AND that ALL people shall stand before the Great Judge on Judgment Day at one the the following: (Rev.20:11-15; 1 Cor.3:11-15).

2. Buddhism is not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being. The Bible states that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb:11:6), and that there is ONE Almighty God who is made up of three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (Mat.28:19; Rom.8:9). The Bible also tells us that we are to love God (Mat.22:37) and obey God (Mat.12:50) or we are not worthy of Him (Mat.10:37-38).

3. There is no saviour in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a saviour who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no sacrificial surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. The Bible tells us that we have a Saviour who died on the cross for us (John 3:15-18; Mat.20:18; Gal.3:13) and that it is His prscious and Holy Blood that washes us whait as snow (1 Pep.1:18-19; Heb.9:12; Rev.7:14). We do have a Saviour and it is our faith in Him that saves us from Hell(Eph.2:8; Rom.6:23). ONLY Jesus righteousness can make us righteous in GOD'S Eyes (1 Cor.1:30).

4. A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student alone. Almighty God the Father is NOT an "incarnation." Jesus the Son was incarnated with a physical Body so that He could die on the cross to pay the penalty for or sins - - - a debt that we could never pay. Both God the Father and God the Son were/are eternal (John 1:1-2). The relationship of believers with God is that we are His children (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8). We are either children of God OR children of the devil (1 John 3:10; Eph.2:1-2). IF we are children of God, we willingly become the followers of Jesus, and become His disciples. We are to walk in the Light (John 8:12; 12:35; Rom.8:1,4; 2 Cor.5:7; Eph.5:2,8).

5. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one's own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving. The Bible tells us that it IS our "blind faith" that makes us God's children (Eph.2:8; Rom.3:21-30; 5:1; Acts 10:43; 13:39; John 6:40,47). Believers in Jesus must NOT rely on self in any way. We must trust God to take care of our every need (Mat.6:25-34; Phil.4:19). We must have faith and NOT doubt.

6. Taking refuge in "The Triple Gems" i.e. the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha; does not mean self-surrender or total reliance on an external force or third party for help or salvation. The "Triple Gems" is the Buddist scriptures. It is my opinion that we as Christians must have total reliance on an Almighty God who is in my mind - - - our "Triple Gems" - - - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

7. Dharma (the teachings in Buddhism) exists regardless whether there is a Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha (as the historical Buddha) discovered and shared the teachings/ universal truths with all sentient beings. He is neither the creator of such teachings nor the prophet of an almighty God to transmit such teachings to others. The Bible tells us that Christ Jesus is the Creator of ALL things (Heb.1:1-2; John 1:1-3), and that Jesus is the Prophet (Deut.18:15,18; Mat.2:11; 7:29; 11:29), and Great Teacher (John 3:2).

8. Especially emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism, all sentient (aware, alert) beings have Buddha Nature/ Essence. One can become a Buddha (a supreme enlightened being) in due course if one practices diligently and attains purity of mind (ie absolutely no delusions or afflictions). Sounds like the false Mormon belief that all men can become gods.

9. In Buddhism, the ultimate objective of followers/practitioners is enlightenment and/or liberation from Samsara; rather than to go to a Heaven (or a deva realm in the context of Buddhist cosmology). In Christianity, the main object is to choose right paths in this life so that we can have eternal life in Heaven (John 14:2-3; 2 Cor.5:6,8).

10. Karma and Karma Force are cornerstones in Buddhist doctrines. They are expounded very thoroughly in Buddhism. Karma refers to an important metaphysical concept concerned with action and its consequences. This law of karma explains the problem of sufferings, the mystery of the so-called fate and predestination of some religions, and above all the apparent inequality of mankind. Karma is fate, luck, chance. With Christians, there is no luck or karma. That is being superstitious, or depending on the devil. We depend on Christ. And there is no inequality of mankind in Christianity. ALL peoples can come to Christ for salvation; but there is NO "brotherhood of man" as to the false doctrine of all people being children of God. If a person rejects Christ (as most people do (Mat.7:13-14), they are enemies of God (Rom.5:10).

11. Rebirth is another key doctrine in Buddhism and it goes hand in hand with karma. There is a subtle difference between rebirth and reincarnation as expounded in Hinduism. Buddhism rejects the theory of a transmigrating permanent soul, whether created by a god or emanating from a divine essence. Christians believe in the transmigrating of the eternal soul (moving from one place to another). The soul from the person's body at death goes back to God who gave it (Ecc. 12:7; 2 Cor.5:6,8). God then sends that soul to one of two places: Heaven or Hades (temporary Hell) to await judgment.

12. Maitri or Metta in Pali (Loving Kindness) and Karuna (Compassion) to all living beings including animals. Buddhism strictly forbids animal sacrifice for whatever reason. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory. The Bible clearly states that animals were sacrificed in the Old Testament. This was looking forward to the "once for all Sacrifice" (Heb.10:10) of Jesus on the cross. The Bible tells us that we can eat every creature if it is received with thanksgiving (1 Tim.4:4; Rom.14:6,22-23).

13. The importance of Non-attachment. Buddhism goes beyond doing good and being good. One must not be attached to good deeds or the idea of doing good; otherwise it is just another form of craving. When a Christian does good, it is because we are thankful for what God has done for us.

14. In Buddhism, there is consideration for all sentient (aware, alert) beings (versus human beings, as in other religions). Buddhists acknowledge/accept the existence of animals and beings in other realms in Samsara. The Bible tella us that we must always be aware, awake and watchful for the Coming of the Lord (Mat.24:42; Mark 13:33; 1 Thes.5:6).

15. There is no holy war concept (theory) in Buddhism. Killing is breaking a key moral precept in Buddhism. One is strictly forbidden to kill another person in the name of religion, a religious leader or whatsoever religious pretext or worldly excuse. Quite different than Islam.

16. Suffering is another cornerstone in Buddhism. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths. Sufferings are very well analyzed and explained in Buddhism. Christians suffer for the cause of Christ (Acts 5:41; Rom.8:17; 1 Cor.4:12; Phil.1:29; Heb.11:25).

17. The idea of sin or original sin has no place in Buddhism, quite different than Catholicism. Also, sin should not be equated to suffering. The Bible tells us that we should not compare sin with suffering. Suffering from sin is brought on us by our disobedience to God. We deserve that pain. But, if we suffer for the cause of Christ and give Him all glory always, we shall one day be glorified (Rom.8:17).

18. Buddhist teachings expound no beginning and no end to one's existence or life. There is virtually no recognition of a first cause, of how does human existence first come about? The Bible tells us everything was created by Almighty God (John 1:1-3; Heb.1:1-3).

19. The Dharma provides a very detailed explanation of the doctrine of anatman {anatta in Pali} or soullessness , i.e. there is no soul entity (whether in one life of many lives ). The Bible does NOT teach reincarnation.

20. The Buddha is omniscient but he is not omnipotent. He is capable of innumerable feats but there are three things he cannot do. Also, a Buddha does not claim to be a creator of lives or the Universe. Only the Almighty God of the Bible is omniscient or everywhere at one time.

21. Prajna [Panna in Pali] or Transcendent Wisdom occupies a paramount position in Buddhist teachings. Sakyamuni Buddha expounded Prajna concepts for some 20 years of his ministry. One is taught to balance compassion with prajna i.e.emotion (faith) with rationale (right understanding / truth / logic). The Bible tells us we can acquire "wisdom" only from God (Ps.51:6; Pro.2:6; Job 12:13; 28:28: Jam.1:6).

22. The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism are relatively important and strong. While all religions teach some forms or variations of stabilizing/single-pointedness meditation, only Buddhism emphasizes Vipassana (Insight) meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment. The Bible tells us to meditate on God's Word (Ps.1:2; 63:6; 77:12; 119;15,23,148).

23. The doctrine of Sunyata or Emptiness is unique to Buddhism and its many aspects are well expounded in advanced Buddhist teachings. Briefly, this doctrine asserts the transcendental nature of Ultimate Reality. It declares the phenomenal world to be void of all limitations of particularization and that all concepts of dualism are abolished. Transcendental meditation is of a supernatural (demonic) nature. Christians are NOT to mess around with ANYTHING of this nature (Lev.19:26-28; 19:31; 20:6; Deut.18:9-14).

24. Conditioned Arising [Paticcasamuppada in Pali] or Dependent Origination is another key doctrine in Buddhism. This doctrine explains that all psychological and physical phenomena constituting individual existence are interdependent and mutually condition each other; this at the same time describes what entangles sentient beings in samsara. I don't get this one.

25. The concept of Hell(s) in Buddhism is very different from that of other religions. It is not a place for eternal damnation as viewed by 'almighty creator' religions. In Buddhism, it is just one of the six realms in Samsara [i.e. the worst of three undesirable realms]. Also, there are virtually unlimited number of hells in the Buddhist cosmology as there are infinite number of Buddha worlds. There is only ONE Hell (the Lake of Fire where the wicked and unbelievers are sent for eternity) in the Bible. HELL exists!

26. The Buddhist cosmology (or universe) is distinctly different from that of other religions which usually recognize only this solar system (Earth) as the center of the Universe and the only planet with living beings. The Buddhist viewpoint of a Buddha world (also known as Three Thousand-Fold World System) is that of one billion solar systems. Besides, the Mahayana Buddhist doctrines expound that there are other contemporary Buddha worlds like Amitabha's Pure Land and Bhaisajyaguru's world system. There is only ONE sun that was created by Almighty God (Gen.1:3-5).

27. Samsara is a fundamental concept in Buddhism and it is simply the 'perpetual cycles of existence' or endless rounds of rebirth among the six realms of existence. This cyclical rebirth pattern will only end when a sentient being attains Nirvana, i.e. virtual exhaustion of karma, habitual traces, defilements and delusions. All other religions preach one heaven, one earth and one hell, but this perspective is very limited compared with Buddhist samsara where heaven is just one of the six realms of existence and it has 28 levels/planes. The Bible clearly tells us that there is ONE Heaven, ONE Earth and ONE Hell. The Jews perception of "heaven" consisted of: #1 the firmament (Gen.2:19; 7:3,23; Ps.8:8; Lam.4:19). #2 starry heavens (Deut.17:3; Jer.8:3; Mat.24:29) and #3 the Third Heaven, where Almighty God is (1 Kings 8:27; Ps.115:16; 148:4; 1 Cor.12:2).

Buddhist Doctrine and Popular Religion

Important are the spirits, thought to have power over human beings. The category includes spirits believed to have a permanent existence and others that are reincarnations of deceased human beings. Phi exist virtually everywhere--in trees, hills, water, animals, the earth, and so on. Some are malevolent, others beneficial.

The ghosts of persons who died violently under mysterious circumstances or whose funeral rites were improperly performed constitute another class of phi; almost all of these spirits are malevolent (hateful and hostile). In contrast, the ghosts of notable people are said to reside in small shrines along the roads and are referred to as "spirit lords." They are often petitioned in prayers and can enter and possess the bodies of mediums to give oracles. Among the more important of the spirits and ghosts is the evil phi pop (ghoul spirit), which, at the instigation of witches, can enter human beings and consume their internal organs.

Another category consists of the chao (guardian spirits), of which perhaps the most important is the chao thi, or guardian of the house compound (an alternative name is phra phum). Fixed on a post in the compound of most houses in Thailand's central region is a small spirit dwelling. Food offerings are made to the chao thi on the anniversary of the spirit's installation in the house, on New Year's Day, and on other special days. The spirit is told of the arrival of guests who are to stay any length of time, of projected journeys by members of the family, and of births and deaths. The spirit's intercession is also sought during illness and misfortune.

Other spirits protect gardens, the rice fields, and the wat. The spirit of the rice field is worshiped only once a year, at the beginning of the rice planting; the Rice Goddess receives offerings when the seedbed is to be prepared and when the harvest is ready. The Mother Earth Goddess often receives offerings at transplanting time. Sounds like New Age falsehoods.

In addition to the rites dedicated to an assortment of spirits either regularly or as the occasion demands, other rites intended to maximize merit for the participants are practiced. The Buddhists have no ceremonies for birth, death, and marriage, but the Hindu rites, which were adopted by the Thai people, entail the participation of Buddhist monks. The ceremonies, which are held at home rather than in the wat, have no scriptural sanction. The monks limit their participation to chanting the appropriate Buddhist scriptural texts or to providing holy water.

Of all the life cycle and family ceremonies, funeral rites are the most elaborate. When a person is dying, he or she should fix his or her mind on the Buddhist scriptures or repeat some of the names of the Buddha. If the last thoughts of the dying person are directed toward the Buddha and his precepts, the fruits of this meritorious behavior will be repaid to the deceased in the next incarnation. After his or her death, other meritorious acts are performed for the benefit of the deceased, such as attendance at the wake and provision of food to the officiating monks. Every effort is made to banish sorrow, loneliness, and fear of the spirits by means of music and fellowship. The Bible tells us we need NO works, just faith alone, and Almighty God gives us comfort in our time of sorrow.

Ceremonies in the wat consist of those that benefit the entire community and those that primarily affect the sangha. The first kind include the rites held on such occasions as Mahka Bucha (an important February holiday that marks the beginning of the season for making pilgrimages to Phra Phuttabaht, the Buddha's Footprint Shrine), Wisakha Bucha (a festival commemorating the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death), Khao Phansa (the holiday marking the beginning of the three-month Buddhist holy season, July to October), and Thot Kathin (a festival during which robes and other items are given to the monks by the laity). Ceremonies that primarily concern the sangha include ordination, confession, recitation of the 227 monastic rules, and distribution of new robes after Thot Kathin. The Bible in NO place tells us to commemorate or celebrate the birth of Christ. Jesus instead tells us to celebrate His death (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor.11:24).

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