Buddhism and Public Policy parts 1 and 2 By Pastor Steve Cioccolanti… A Review

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA

Translation: May veneration be presented to the exalted one who is a Buddha and who has achieved enlightenment by himself righteously.

It is true that according to many Christian’s that I have spoken to about this Christian Pastor, all seem to sincerely find him to be a great embarrassment to their religious faith. Because I can’t consider the pastor Steve Cioccolanti without a minimal level of intelligence, it becomes painfully clear that what he writes is a combination of both sheer stupidity and a willful effort to slander the Buddhist religion. Although it is true that I have written much that many a Christian and Muslim might find offensive, the fact of the matter still remains that I at least know how to reference the Christian Bible and the Qur’an, in an honest attempt to give substantiation to what it is that I write.

Pastor Steve Cioccolanti  knows no such virtue. Pastor Steve Cioccolanti apparently doesn’t care about the knowledge and practice of such an approach. He seems to have a childish and dysfunctional need to give his best effort at insulting and provoking others with the most outlandish of claims. How many people does he think will be won over to Christianity with this type of behavior? The Buddhist community has never been a proactive proselytizing force as Christianity for the reason that Buddhism is simply not as traditionally aggressive in it’s imperative or world view centered approach. Accordingly there are many who identify themselves as Buddhists who have never actually studied the teaching, of any I believe that these are perhaps some of the most vulnerable to believe the twisted story telling that has become Pastor Cioccolanti’s trade mark. Is Pastor Cioccolanti unaware of this potential? For the before mentioned reasons, I doubt it. It is a shame an no good testimony for the promotion of any religious belief that some who talk the loudest about good morality, good character and the like are many times the biggest of violators themselves and often don’t care about that fact as long as they can convince themselves that it may be wrong otherwise… but as long as their doing such wrong for the “right” reason… well you know it’s…O.K.! Anything for “Christ”, right? Perhaps we should feel compassion for the damage done to the reputation of the congregation of the Discovery Church in Melbourne Australia. After all, as Pastor Cioccolanti himself put it in his “Buddhism and the family” section… “People become who they follow”.

Much of this is rehashed material that has been previously published and to which I and others have already given a response to. There are also times here that he repeats himself intermittently throughout this piece and because of that I have decided to in some areas to give excerpts. The full article as well as much more can be found at the site that promotes his book ” From Buddha To Jesus”. I will give that link at the end of what I have to write here, prior to the reference section.

 

Buddhism and Public Policy parts 1 and 2 By Pastor Steve Cioccolanti… A Review

 

 

Buddhism and Public Policy ~ Part 1

 

The Introduction of Buddhism

“Buddha was a spiritual teacher who was born in India roughly 2,500 years ago. Not a single nation on earth is built on the foundation of Buddhism. Not a single nation ever will be. In fact, Buddhism is the only major religion in the world that has died in its country of origin – India. Buddhism is a religion that is introduced to a country, is always foreign (unless you are northern Indian), and can win converts only by adapting itself to the pre-existing beliefs of the locals”.

 

“Not a single nation ever will be.”

It’s not surprising that Pastor Cioccolanti will talk as if he is the God that he professes to worship.

 

“We must understand Buddhism, but not from an academic point of view. You can get that kind of information off the internet from Wikipedia. That kind of information also makes little difference to promoting the welfare of our society, since every Australian is entitled to believe what he/she wants to believe. No, we must understand Buddhism from a social, spiritual and political perspective, because that is what will shape our society and our children’s future”.

 

“We must understand Buddhism, but not from an academic point of view”…..

“No, we must understand Buddhism from a social, spiritual and political perspective”…..

It’s interesting to take a look here at how Pastor Cioccolanti tries to grab a free pass here for just about everything that he writes that is simply false and untruthful, claiming that the domain of the “academic” is not best to be looked at.

The author here seems unaware of the reason why the national flag of India has a symbol of Buddhism, the Ashoka Chakra which is a depiction of the Buddhist Dharmachakra, represented with 24 spokes, right smack in the center of it. The Buddhist B.R. Ambedkar was the chief architect and father of the Indian constitution which was adopted on Nov.26th 1949 by the constituent assembly, and was a Buddhist activist amongst other things. Ambedkar’s study of sangha practice among early Buddhists and his extensive reading in Buddhist scriptures were to come to his aid when writing the constitution of India.(1) Although India today as a result is a secular constitutional republic, not necessarily founded on Buddhism, we can be glad that Buddhism was the guiding light. I would not say of course that India is the most perfect place on the planet, I don’t know of any place that could say that. However, India has made important improvements, as an example in the area of racism in the form of caste prejudice, something that the Buddha was very much opposed to.

Buddhism is not a native religion to any country. It is a religion that adapts itself to the original religion of a people. When a nation has many Buddhists, Buddhism becomes superimposed on the foundational beliefs of that country, but the foundation remains the same”.

Is it any surprise that any religion has its origins somewhere and then travels and adapts to local cultures?
Just where would Christianity be most native to? …..Ancient Jerusalem?

  The reason women are prohibited from becoming nuns, or discouraged from becoming one, is that in Buddhism women are viewed as a hindrance. When Buddha was meditating under the Bo Tree, three demons came to tempt him – Naga, Tanha, and Ahradi. All three appeared in the form of women. They were the personifications of jealousy, lust and evil cravings. Women are seen as the impediment to spiritual enlightenment, that is why Buddha had to leave his wife to attain enlightenment and all monks have to vow celibacy.

“The reason women are prohibited to be nuns or discouraged from becoming  one is that in Buddhism women are viewed as a hindrance. When Buddha was  meditating under the Bo Tree, three demons came to tempt him – Naga,  Tanha, and Ahradi. All three appeared in the form of women. They were  the personifications of jealousy, lust and evil cravings. Women are seen  as the impediment to spiritual enlightenment, that is why Buddha had to leave his wife to attain enlightenment and all monks have to vow celibacy.”

It would be more accurate to say that sensual desire is a fetter to spiritual enlightenment. That would be the fourth fetter of the ten, although at that, he was referring to what would be considered mundane physical sensual desire as a distraction to what can be obtained spiritually, not the spiritually sensual.

Buddhism & the Family

“2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) tells us, “And we all, with unveiled face, BEHOLDING the glory of the Lord, are BEING transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…”

In other words, we become what we behold. We become who we follow. It’s a powerful principle that explains more than all of psychology, sociology and the economy!

Why is there more infidelity, HIV AIDS, transvestites, child prostitution, and sexual slavery in Buddhist Asia than in the Christian West?

Politicians who don’t understand that nearly all human behaviour has its basis in worldviews miss the obvious. They blame economics. But poor economics has not made Latin Americans sell their children into the sex trade or caused rampant sexual diseases. Blaming poverty is too simplistic. Worldview is what defines a people. People become who they follow”.

“Why is there more infidelity, HIV AIDS, transvestites, child prostitution, and sexual slavery in Buddhist Asia than in the Christian West”?

This is another great example of how Pastor Cioccolanti will just reel off about topics pretty much making up supposed “facts” without ever being concerned about the truth of the matter. Does he give any source material for making such a statement? Of course not!

1.Infidelity

Depending on which “Christian country” in the West that we’re talking about, where the religion of Christianity is predominate, infidelity was given as the reason for between 25 to 50 percent of divorce. (2)

2. HIV AIDS

Pastor Cioccolanti of the Discovery Church in Melbourne Australia might want to take a look at this…

As of December 2010 an estimated 21,391 people were living with an HIV diagnosis in Australia.

From the start of the epidemic until the end of 2010, there have been 30,486 diagnoses of HIV and 10,446 diagnoses of AIDS. Australia has recorded 6,776 AIDS deaths. (3)

 

Trying to blame these social problems on the religion people follow is really a poor approach, which is why he would seem to know better than to think about giving any substantiation for such statements. As an example, Swaziland which is heavily one form of Christian or another and whose 30% of the population suffers from HIV AIDS infection (4) is ranked # 1 for HIV AIDS in the world while a country like predominately Buddhist Thailand is ranked # 46.(5)

 

“Who do Buddhists follow? A man who at the age of 29 not only left his royal palace in search for truth, but also abandoned his wife, Yashodara, and newborn son, Rahula”.

During this time in Hindu culture as well as for many still today, the forth and final part of your life was considered a time for “the going forth”, at such a time you would leave your wife and children (or “abandon” them as Mr. Cioccolanti put it) and live the holy life. The venerable Gotama started a bit earlier. Someone might counter: ” But later on in life, the children are grown and capable of providing for the mother if she is still alive.” This would be true, but is balanced out here by the fact that this was Prince Siddhartha that we are talking about. He knew that they would be well taken care of. Now seriously, how can Mr. Cioccolanti not be in possession of such knowledge? If one were to research the matter just a bit, you would find that not only did he keep in touch with his family, but that his son Rahula became a disciple a few years later and I will add that the Venerable Gotama proved an excellent father figure. The Sutta Pitaka, Maha-Rahulovada Sutta found in the Majjhima Nikaya (Sutta #62) would be a good place to start for this. As well, It would be good to mention here that Venerable Gotama’s wife Yasodhara , (referred to in many of the texts as Rahulamata) in the Apadana text of the Khuddhaka Nikaya as well as the Manorathapurani Anguttara Commentaries is recorded as becoming a disciple herself of the Buddha a few years later after the Bhikkhuni sangha (community) was established.

Now the question is this: If the Buddha’s son Rahula and his wife could console themselves to the fact of his leaving them for his spiritual journey at least to the extent that that were willing to become disciples of his several years later, taking this into consideration, whose opinion of the matter should be considered more important? The opinion of his wife and son or the opinion of someone close to two thousand five hundred years later with their own Christian or otherwise religious agenda to comfort and promote? 

Buddhism and Public Policy ~ Part 2

 

Buddhism & Love

Because Buddhism adapts itself to the Christian foundation of its host countries, it comes as a surprise to most Westerners that Buddhism teaches against love. In Buddhism, love is one of the causes of suffering (tukka). Love is one  of 3 bonfires or greatest sins of Buddhism. Love is the fourth fetter that stands in the way of Buddhist enlightenment. Western converts who learn that Buddhism teaches against love, specifically loving a woman, choose not to emphasize it and opt to let their Christian influence hide and override this core teaching. Christianity exalts love because Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbour.

“Another little known fact among Westerners is Buddhism teaches against love.  Love is the fourth fetter that stands in the way of Buddhist enlightenment. Love is one of the causes of suffering. Love is one of 3 bonfires or greatest sins of Buddhism. Westerners who know Buddhism teaches against love, specifically loving a  woman, choose not to emphasize it and opt to let their Christian  influence shine through instead.”

In the Cambridge Dictionary Love is defined as a verb as in to like something very much. On the other hand, Sensual is defined as an adjective expressing or suggesting physical, especially sexual, pleasure or satisfaction. These are the most common definitions. Now although it is true that the word love could be construed to mean sensual desire as in the term “making love”, the author here then asserts that “love” to be taken apparently as he would have it for Christianity as the forth fetter of Buddhism! This is of course deceptive. I can love a woman or a man without having sexual intercourse with either. Now what if I were to write that Christians enjoy being Christian because their savior Jesus has sexual intercourse with them and that they really love that sensual love thing! Pastor Cioccolanti seems fond of declaring his “love” for Buddhists while writing this piece, should we entertain the notion that he enjoys sex with Buddhist’s?
That would be the same thing that he has done here.

“Christianity exalts love because Jesus  said the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor. In Buddhism, love is the enemy….”

Notice here the further deception and word play regarding the word “love”.
For those who know Mr. Steve Cioccolanti’s previous behavior, we have grown accustomed to this sort of three card monte styled word play deception. That love is one of the causes of suffering in Buddhism? Or that love is one of the greatest sins of Buddhism? It is true that for a monk, one of the first four precepts entailing defeat as a monk would be sexual intercourse. Now should we believe that Mr Steve Cioccolanti is unaware of his own shoddy deception? This sort of thing is meant as both insulting as well as deceptive and the author has demonstrated that he is intelligent enough to know it. Because of that he displays the fact once again that he has very little credible moral character. Not that he really cares what lack of moral character others consider him to have or not, as long as he thinks that such distortions of truth are acceptable to preach what he would like to deceive others to be the truth.

 Sutta Pitaka/ Sanyojanautta Sutta: Fetters / Anguttara Nikaya 10.13

“There are these ten fetters. Which ten? Five lower fetters & five higher fetters.And which are the five lower fetters? Self-identity views, uncertainty, grasping at precepts & practices, sensual desire, & ill will. These are the five lower fetters. And which are the five higher fetters? Passion for form, passion for what is formless, conceit, restlessness, & ignorance. These are the five higher fetters. And these are the ten fetters.”
Venerable Gotama (Buddha)

In the Cambridge Dictionary Love is defined as a verb as in to like something very much.On the other hand, Sensual is defined as an adjective expressing or suggesting physical, especially sexual, pleasure or satisfaction. These are the most common definitions. Now although it is true that the word love could be construed to mean sensual desire as in the term “making love”,the author here then asserts that “love” to be taken apparently as he would have it for Christianity is the forth fetter of Buddhism! This is of course deceptive. I can love a woman or a man without having sexual intercourse with either. Now what if I were to write that Christians enjoy being Christian because their savior Jesus has sexual intercourse with them and that they really love that sensual love thing!
That would be pretty much the same thing thing that he has done here.

“Christianity exalts love because Jesus  said the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor. In Buddhism, love is the enemy….”

Notice here the further deception and word play regarding the word “love”.
For those who know Mr. Steve Cioccolanti’s previous behavior, we have grown accustomed to this sort of three card monte styled word play deception. That love is one of the causes of suffering in Buddhism? Or that love is one of the greatest sins of Buddhism? It is true that for a monk, one of the first four precepts entailing defeat as a monk would be sexual intercourse. Now should we believe that Mr Steve Cioccolanti is unaware of his own shoddy deception? This sort of thing is meant as both insulting as well as deceptive and the author has demonstrated that he is intelligent enough to know it. Because of that he displays the fact once again that he has very little credible moral character. Not that he really cares what lack of moral character others consider him to have or not, as long as he thinks that such distortions of truth are acceptable to preach what he perceives to be the truth.

Buddhism’s Popularity

“Most Buddhists have not studied their own religion and would not be able to articulate why their lives, families and nations are so different from Christian ones. Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka are very different from Australia. In these countries, Buddhism has been passed down as a tradition that must be accepted without question”.

 

And if you were born into a Christian family you wouldn’t be faced with the same assumption that Christianity is the ultimate truth and that it must be accepted without question? If such a person decided to convert to Islam or Buddhism, they would all throw a big party for you and give you going away presents?

We must remember that freedom of religion is largely the product of Christianity. Christian leaders who founded the legal systems of Australia, America, Canada and Europe all believed God made us free moral agents, and we should be able to exercise free choice, even the choice to reject Christ and die with our sins unforgiven.

But the concept of free speech is utterly foreign to non-Christian countries. Should anyone doubt that, simply go abroad and try to criticise the government of any Buddhist or Muslim country. You will find out there is no such thing as free press or free speech where non-Christians are the majority. Nearly everything is censored. Non-conformity is secretly monitored and tightly controlled.

 

From my review of his article “Why is Buddhism different in the East than in the West?”
Part 1 and Why is Buddhism different in the East than in the West? Who is the God of All Nations? (Part 2):

“Christian nations emphasize freedom of religion, freedom of  conscience, and individual responsibility before God. Christianity is  the source of our freedom to think and reason.”

…. “individual responsibility before God”? So that would be why according to Christianity all of humanity has had to pay the price by way of the doctrine of “original sin” for the mistake of Adam and Eve? Because of “individual responsibility before God”? As far as the rest of this is concerned… “the source of our freedom to think and reason.”?! Science and reason have always been opposed by the blind faith of a religion such as Christianity. The astronomer Galileo (1564-1642) was certainly not the only well know example!

“But the concept of free speech is utterly foreign to non-Christian countries. Should anyone doubt that, simply go abroad and try to criticise the government of any Buddhist or Muslim country. You will find out there is no such thing as free press or free speech where non-Christians are the majority. Nearly everything is censored. Non-conformity is secretly monitored and tightly controlled”.

 

That there is less tolerance in many Buddhist countries, would depend on what you’re looking at. Are any the epitome of free expression? If you’re publicly insulting the king in Thailand you might be thrown in jail, and in the United States we have the “Patriot Act” (6) which can legally have you thrown in jail for an indefinite period of time without having to charge you with anything because they have decided to consider you a threat to national security for whatever reason that it is chosen to consider it so. There is no need for the Government to substantiate their ideas in the slightest. You will not be allowed to call a lawyer.  Recently America has been treated to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (7), including Sections 1021 and 1022, which build off of legislation approved during the Bush years and give the military power to arbitrarily detain American citizens at home or abroad for as long as the government deems necessary. With the NDAA, trial and representation for anyone who falls under the category of a vague national security risk are things of the past.

Would Pastor Cioccolanti like to compare?

 

The fact that the author would like to put Buddhist and Muslim countries in the same category is incredibly twisted. As an example, Pastor Ciocolanti would fare much better in a Buddhist country preaching Christianity then in a Muslim country. Muslim countries are governed with Sharia law at least with matters involving the Muslim populace and their interaction with non-Muslim. I would not advise Pastor Cioccolanti to go to a Muslim country and write or say the type of slanderous lies about their prophet Muhammad that he enjoys spouting off with about the Buddhist faith.

Not unless he looks forward to being shot, stabbed, stoned to death or set on fire!

Actually, even telling the truth could be quite dangerous.

Come to think of it, Buddhist’s aren’t in the habit of murdering someone as an “apostate” for leaving the Buddhist religion (8), or cutting someone’s hand off for stealing a loaf of bread either (9).

The list here could get quite extensive, but I’ll leave it at that.

The main way that some religions have been able to claim the minds of millions is that they have prohibited their people from really knowing about other religions. Book banning, Internet policing and state control of information are how people are kept homogenous and under control.

 

Pastor Steve Cioccolanti needs to be reminded, blatantly lying and seeking to deceive others about another religion for the sake of promoting his own is just another tool of what he’s discussing here. His persistent efforts to do so with the Buddhist faith put him in the same category. Not that he seems to care really…..

 

 Bhikkhu aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)

 

 

 

Where this article being discussed appears:

http://buddhabook.org/bookblog/?m=201207

 

References

 

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._R._Ambedkar

(2) http://www.infidelityhelpgroup.com/infidelity-help-statistics/3/

(3) http://www.avert.org/aids-hiv-australia.htm

(4) http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108004.html?pageno=2

(5) http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_hiv_aid_peo_liv_wit_hiv_aid_percap-aids-people-living-per-capita

(6) http://www.aclu.org/free-speech-national-security-technology-and-liberty/reform-patriot-act-myths-realities

(7) http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.1540:

(8) Qur’an 4:89

(9) Qur’an 5:38

For both (8) and (9) reference as well : http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia

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