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. X3
“From Buddha To Jesus”
An Insiders View Of Buddhism and Christianity
By Steve Cioccolanti
Published by Sweet Life International Pty.Ltd.
By Bhikkhu aggacitto
a.k.a. Brother Mark:)
This is to advise Sweet life International Pty.Ltd.that the signed copy of this review is being sent via post to the office of Sweet life International Pty.Ltd.
A copy of this review shall soon be published in as many a place online as possible.
I would like to express the fact that I can relate to a missionary’s sense of purpose, as a forest trained missionary bhikkhu I know that it takes a great deal of courage to bring a spiritual message to the world.
Please do not perceive this as an attack on Christianity.I simply have a responsibility as a Buddhist missionary to do my very utmost to duly address the efforts that have been put forth with a book of this type.
It has come to my attention that there is a difference in the page placement regarding the U.S. edition and the one that I now possess. I regret any inconvenience.
I sincerely wish all of you at Sweet Life International the very best of all things spiritual.
UPDATE: AS OF FEBUARY THE 13TH 2009 SWEET LIFE INTERNATIONAL
HAS BEEN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN A MAILING ADDRESS FOR. WHILE PUBLISHING A BOOK OF THIS TYPE I DO BELIEVE I CAN UNDERSTAND IT IF THEY THINK IT IS BEST THAT IT SHOULD BE DIFFICULT TO AQUIRE A MAILING ADDRESS, OR EVEN AN E MAIL ADDRESS FOR THEM.
I SHALL CONTINUE TO DO MY BEST TO MAIL THEM A COPY OF THIS REVIEW.
I would like to start off with discussing something that is very typical of this book and an indicator that this book was designed with the intentional purpose to deceive people who do not know anything or much about the Buddhist religion.
You would think that he has never heard of the term “good karma”!
On page 47 of the same chapter he writes: Sin (gum) is accumulated through…….
Unless one were fluent enough in the Thai language, or on the lookout for such deception, one would easily think that the word sin (gam) and karma are recognized as being synonymous with one another simply because you could use the same word while employing a different context. The proper Thai word to use for kamma which of course Mr. Steve Cioccolanti fails to mention, would be “gi ri yaa” which is a word which simply means an action or deed without necessarily any moral value judgment and is reserved specifically for the teachings of Buddha. A classic example of deceptive word play. I don’t know of any word in any language where the word “sin” is synonymous with the word for “Karma” or the Pali equivalent “kamma”.
Mr. Steve Cioccolanti plays the same sort of game with words such as heaven and nirvana (nibanna in Pali) as well.
This type of three card monte styled word play huckster game is prevalent through out this entire book. I must ask myself, how can any credible publishing company publish this sort of material?
“Buddha taught that human nature is a sinful nature”(pg 47)with a foot note he tries to rationalize this by discussing reincarnation, but forgets that there is a difference between saying that we have done moral wrong in a previous lifetime and that there will be consequences and saying that our nature is sinful.
Mr. Cioccolanti discusses what he calls the 227 rules of a Buddhist monk (pg 51 and elsewhere).
First off, Venerable Gotama never declared that perfect obedience of these rules was necessary for nibbana (not nirvana Mr. Steve Cioccolanti), and as well someone might remind our “insider” friend Mr. Steve Cioccolanti that there are actually 220 rules of training not 227, the last 7 are an (a) through (g) listing of different ways to resolve disputes within the Sangha pertaining to rule number 220. Many of these training precepts were simply considered training in politeness for the monk.
“No bathing more than once every half a month, unless it is the last month of the hot season.”(pg 52) Our “insider” friend Mr. Steve Cioccolanti needs to check his Patimokkha, there are actually 5 exceptions to this rule of training one being if you have done work around the temple that day etc.“If you can do all of the above (plus more!) consistently every day of your life, you may have hope of going to heaven. But if you can’t you have absolutely no hope. It is hopeless according to Buddha!”(last paragraph pg 53).
This is complete nonsense, this is never taught in the Tipataka, regarding the 220 precepts! Digha Nikaya sutta # 16 the Maha-Parinibbana sutta “After I am gone the Sangha if it wants, may abolish the lesser and minor training rules.”
If anyone would like to know, the Patimokkha is the catechism of the Vinaya, our monastic code.
If we then go to the Vinaya, regarding this matter you will see how this matter then played out after the Venerable Gotamas final nibanna. The Vinaya Pitaka Cullavagga XI.9 tells the story of how the monks of the first council could not come to an agreement on which were to be considered the lesser and minor precepts. Since many of the rules are rules that affect the laity there were concerns that the laity would resent the monastic Sangha for abolishing them. The monastic Sangha then decided that accordingly none of the precepts would be abolished.
Whydo people become monks? pg 57
It states “because in Buddhism ‘we’ believe that if we become a monk, we can go to Heaven. But if I can’t be a monk, then I will go to hell.” This is a slick way of implying that this was The Venerable Gotama’s teaching. It is not.
It is not surprising that Mr. Steve Cioccolanti does not mention the fact that there are many who become Buddhist monks to seek a higher spiritual life.
In this chapter on page 71 and 72 Mr. Steve Cioccolanti states:” Technically speaking a Buddhist can’t even kill bacteria, and every time you take antibiotics, you kill not only bad bacteria, but probiotics (good bacteria) as well.”
To state the matter as simply as possible, there is simply nothing in our Vinaya that would even remotely suggest this. Why this lie? I believe it becomes apparent that a tactic of this book is to misrepresent the Buddhist religion as so impossibly hard and impractical an approach. Therefore the message being, why not just take the “easy” Christian way out instead?
As well on the same page (pg 72) Mr. Steve Cioccolanti regarding the first and second precepts (not “commandments”), quotes the Thai Dictionary of Buddhism.
As altruistic as it all sounds the Thai Dictionary of Buddhism is not the Tipataka.
Mr. Steve Cioccolanti seems willing to quote anything and everything but the Tipataka!
The Tipitaka which he himself has identified as our religious scripture.
Is there a hell? (pg 91) Our ‘insider’ friend Mr. Ciuoccolanti forgets to talk about the fact that because one of the three characteristics of life in samsara is impermanence, unlike the Christian version our understanding of hell is not a thing to be endured for all eternity. Depending on the fruit of your kamma it could last for only a second.
By the way, when working with the Pali, once again the word is kamma not karma.
“Fourthly, what many westerners don’t realize is that most believers in reincarnation
are racist….” The word Aryan which Nazis used to refer to a “master race” actually comes from a Sanskrit word meaning noble.” Actually the word Aryan (ariya) became
to be known as “noble” not because of the Hindu caste system. The word referred to the goat herders who were considered noble because they were those who were considered to be “of means” and therefore “noble”.
Whatever Adolph Hitler chose to do with it was simply of his own choosing.
This is merely an opportunity for Mr. Steve Cioccolanti to associate the image of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis with reincarnation and Buddhism. This is nothing more than another cheap trick from Mr. Cioccolanti.
In this chapter Mr. Cioccolanti writes “You are in an absolutely hopeless and vicious
Cycle according to Buddha himself. Isn’t that powerful?” This is simply yet another of Mr. Cioccolanti’s lies about the Venerable Gotama’s teaching.
If this were true then the Venerable Gotama’s ministry would have been in vain for the sake of salvation, which is precisely what he would like to have others believe with such lies. This particular type of silliness I will look at more closely after my comments on the “Our Source” section.Mr. Cioccolanti may wish to use the Wikipedika for more than just a date reference or two, as he mentioned in one of his footnotes, instead he might actually find it productive to look up a few words and subjects like: Hindu or Aryan or Buddhist Councils or perhaps he should just start off with something like ‘Buddhism’ and gradually take it from there.
“Nearly all Hindus and Buddhists who believe in reincarnation desire to come back in the next life with whiter skin as Aryans are at the top of the caste system”
It’s a rather nice thing for our ‘insider’ friend Mr.Cioccolanti to decide to speak for millions of people as to why we believe in reincarnation isn’t it?
To be sure there are millions of people in this world who subscribe to the notion of reincarnation, who know that there are far greater things to achieve rebirth as than a human being with white skin.
It’s also interesting to see that Mr. Cioccolanti considers the theory of evolution and Hinduism to be “anti Christian”. There are Christians whom I know who don’t think that the theory of evolution and the theory of creationism are exclusive. Hinduism anti Christian? No, I believe it won’t take to much history research to show that Christianity has been far more “anti Hinduism”. Of course the moment someone should wish to discuss this fact, we hear stuff like “well that’s not real Christianity!” My response? Oh really? “They were someone’s “real” Christian weren’t they? Perhaps not yours or mine but someone’s! Read Mahatma Gandhi’s auto biography for just a taste. Although there will always be people individually who will do what they wish, as a mass movement against the liberties of others or as an actually declared war for no small reason do I know of none carried out in the name of Buddhism.I know of no other major religion that can honestly say this.
In case anyone is wondering, Japan’s involvement in WW2 was never actually carried out as a declared war in the name of Buddha or Buddhism either, although some did take advantage of the terminology of Buddhism to exhort the Kamikaze.“Until today we can see Buddha’s wisdom in commanding to abstain from meat.”
Tipitaka : (not Tripataka) Sutta Pataka, Majjhima Nakaya Sutta # 55 teaches us what The Venerable Gotama’s actual teaching was regarding this matter.
The disciples come to him and ask;” Of what they put into our alms bowl what do we eat?” His response was “You will eat what they give you.” This is because the word
Bhikkhu in Pali literally means “to beg”. Although to what degree the Bhikkhu begs can be subject to differing perspectives, never the less, if you say “Ill have the broccoli but I won’t have the fish”, then that’s not much like a beggar now is it? The Venerable Gotama then went on to say that the three instances where animal flesh is not to be consumed by the monk are as follows; when the monk sees with the eyes or hears with the ears or suspects with the mind that the animal was killed specifically for the monk.
Why? Because then there would be an actual kammic tie in to the death and suffering of the animal. This is why the only Buddhists in the world who are vegetarian are the Chinese Mahayana who prefer to be so.
Women In Buddhism chapter 17 pg 109
…“The doctrine of reincarnation is also sexist.”
Presumably because we live now in a world that is more patriarchal inclined than not, we should deny that reincarnation exists because some men can have an advantage in some areas of life in this world? This of course makes no real sense but then again neither does this book, if your looking for something more factual than not.
“Women do not have the same status as men. Buddhist nuns have 311 laws to keep, while monks have 227.Since women are considered inferior, they have 196 more laws to control their flesh than men!”
First off, the word is Bhikkuni not nun. second, it’s (once again) 220 not 227, and if we were to subtract 220 from 311 we get 91 not 196. (This simple math is an inaccurate way to discuss this matter but that we shall soon see.) “A menstruating woman can not enter a temple or go near a monk; she is unclean.” “A woman can never give food directly into a monks hands, nor can she receive anything directly from a monk. (A man can do both.)A woman has to pick things up from the floor, not from a monk. There is no gender equality in Buddhism.” On the later three comments, there is a difference between our Vinaya (monastic code) and what has developed as custom. The actual portion of our monastic code which would apply would be the Patimokkha precept: #2 of the precepts of the Sanghadisesa section. In brief it instructs us not to touch a woman with passion or desire on our mind. A woman does not have to pick anything up from the floor. Over a period of time the custom (more so in Thailand) is to try to avoid physical contact when at all possible. This avoids the possible accusation that the monk may have had such passion on his mind when doing so.
It would interest those who are actually concerned about learning something factual about the Theravada Buddhist religion, that of the 311 rules that the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha contain, 181 of these are shared with the Bhikkhu Patimokkha: 4 parajikas, 7 sanghadisesas, 18 nissaggiya Pacittiyas (NP) 70 Pacittiyas, all 75 Sekhiyas, and all 7 Adhikaranasamatha rules. In addition, the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha contains 13 Pacifistic rules that are identical to rules for Bhikkhus that are contained in the Khandhakas;one Parajika rule similar to a Bhikkhus’Sanghadisesa rule; one Parajika rule similar to a Bhikkhus’Pacittiya;2 Sanghadisesa similar to Bhikkhus’Khandhaka rules 2 N P rules similar to Bhikkhus’ NP rules;3 pacittiyas similar to a Bhikkhus’ Sanghadisesa; 7 Pacittiyas similar to Bhikkhus’Pacittiyas and 8 Pacittiyas similar to rules for Bhikkhus’that are contained in the Khandhakas. As well the 8 Patidesaniya rules for the Bhikkhunis are elaborations of a single Bhikkhus Pacittiya rule.
Therefore it would be correct to say that the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha contains 85 (Not 196) precepts for which there are no direct correspondences in the rules for Bhikkhu. In case someone like our “insider” friend Steve Cioccolanti would like to claim this as “sexist”, let us make a note of the fact that more than one third of these extra rules were constructed as a way to protect Bhikkhunis from being the direct recipients of abusive or careless behavior of other Bhikkhunis,two of the extra rules (Pacittiyas #6 and #44)prevent Bhikkhunis from putting themselves in a position of servitude to Bhikkhus or laypeople; and all but three of the extra rules (Pacittiyas 59,94,and 95)were indeed created only after Bhikkhunis complained to the Bhikkhu Sangha about an errant Bhikkhunis behavior. The last three exceptions were formulated after complaints by members of the Bhikkhu Sangha and deal with the formal subordination of the Bhikkhuni Sangha to the Bhikkhu Sangha. However, they are balanced out by two rules that are exclusive to the Bhikkhu Sangha(NP 4 and 17),that were created as a way to prevent the Bhikkhus from abusing their position in a way that would interfere with the Bhikkhunis practice of the Dhamma (Vinaya Suttavibhanga). You can reference more of this from “The Bhikkhunis’ code of discipline” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu from the translators introduction if you would like.
Although there was a formal subordination of the Bhikkhuni Sangha to the Bhikkhu Sangha taken into context this was clearly a way of tempering what must have been nothing short of sheer outrage at the Venerable Gotama for having the courage to actually accept women as direct disciples! The Venerable Gotama to this day remains known as the first spiritual master in recorded human history to ever have done so. Did Jesus of Nazareth? We know that there were women whom he showed compassion to, but were any of his direct disciples actually women? No., which is why the next lie of Mr. Cioccolanti’s that we shall now discuss demonstrates only that much more audacity. Why would he take a direct disciple who would periodically (no pun intended) be considered ‘unclean’?
I sincerely mean this as no disrespect to story of the ministry of Jesus, whom I believe perhaps did a great deal of good for this world. This is only an attempt to honestly discuss such a matter, given the fact that Mr. Steve Cioccolanti has decided to make such a false claim regarding our religious scripture.
Concerning the statement that “A menstruating woman can not enter a temple or go near a monk; she is unclean.” Now where would a lying Christian propagandist get the material for such a lie? Answer: The Christian Bible itself! The book of Leviticus Chapter 12 Vs.1; And the lord spake unto Moses saying, Vs.2 speak unto the children of Israel saying, If a woman have conceived seed and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.Vs.3: and in the eight day the flesh of the foreskin shall be circumcised. Vs.4: And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. Leviticus Ch.15: And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days and whomso ever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. Vs.30: And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her before the lord for the issue of her uncleanliness”.
Towards the end of this paper I will be discussing the different reasons why it is highly unlikely that this book of slander, insults and outright lies was simply the product of simple ignorance, before then though, I would like to pose the question of just how likely it should be that Mr. Steve Cioccolanti would “confuse” the Tipataka and our teaching with that of his own scripture? A fair question, no? I would like to end the discussion of this chapter by making mention of the fact that according to the Visuddhimagga, which is canonical literature, the fifth of twenty three types of cloth to be made into a robe permitted to the monks who practice “ciivaradhuta”nga (the highest austerity of the robe) is “cloth discarded after wiping birthing waste”. In Buddhism “blood from the womb” is not considered as something ‘sinful’ or ‘unclean’, but simply another bodily fluid amongst many types of bodily fluids and in this case, something to be given great respect. If the teaching itself were actually that “sexist”, nobody would try going the extra mile for austerity sake in this way.
The Last Words of Buddha chapter 22 pg 133
“Buddha’s prophecies of the Maitreya are scattered in many places. Some were passed down orally. Some were recorded on palm leaves. Buddha’s prophecy may have once been in the Thai Tripataka, but some have told me that this passage has been ripped out of the sacred texts, because it is all too clear who it is referring to. I can not confirm or deny this rumor.”
“All I can say is the following version was found by former monk Tongsuk Siriruk in Kampee Khom meaning the Cambodian or Khmer Canon, so we have the Cambodians to thank for preserving this text for us”, even though he admits in the very same paragraph that “Thai Buddhism came from the Khmer (Cambodian) people,”…
So… can the rumor be confirmed or not?
Let me state in case anybody has trouble figuring this out for themselves, that the reasonable evidence shows that this entire story of a sutta where the Buddha gives a prophecy about Jesus (presumably) being the one who will come and save the world is nothing but a complete lie.
Allow me to explain; if I had any credible evidence that Jesus of the Christian Bible actually learned his lessons in spirituality from the teachings of the Buddha, (a popular theory) I would not simply tell someone a story or a rumor about it. No, I would hold a press conference, demonstrate the evidence and tell the entire world about it! This story about some sort of secret sutta hidden away from the rest of the world is simply complete nonsense. Would you like some more evidence of this being complete nonsense? O.K.! Here it is: in this chapter on the bottom of page 137 he writes: ”Buddha replied,” The holy one who will rescue the world in the near future will have scars in his hands and scars in his feet like the shape of a gongjak.” Then at the footnote at the bottom of the page (footnote #115) he then writes: “Thai: gongjak-a sharp cutting wheel with jagged edges, an ancient Weapon.” When writing this bodacious fairy tale of a lie, our ‘insider’ friend Mr.Cioccolanti forgot that this story was supposedly a part of the Khmer (Cambodian) canon not the Thai! I’m sure that the reason for this lie telling mistake of his is because of a propaganda technique that he uses through out this book; That of giving the Thai word for something in footnote or otherwise, as a way of trying to give some sort of academic look and feel in the absence of a single Tipitaka scriptural reference! This is another reason why it is difficult to just presume that this sort of book, constructed of insults, slander and outright lies is simply the result of an innocent sort of ignorance.
Let me ask you all something. What if I were to write a book about the teachings of Jesus, and although I mention the Bible, I fail through out the entire book to give a single scriptural reference to the Bible? A cause for suspicion would you not say?
I’ve got an idea!, better yet how about if I write a book about Jesus and say that I know of scripture that comes from your Bible, that due to a conspiracy on the part of your church elders, you haven’t been told of! Page 148 as well as else where, Mr.Cioccolanti strongly suggests this of us!
Then to make matters worse, I write that according to this “Biblical” scripture it has been “revealed” that the true name of your messiah is actually someone who went by the name of Peter Pan and also commanded his disciples to eat jelly beans for breakfast every Sabbath! To back up my claim I then talk of scripture that has never been substantiated as if it were fact! Then to further “substantiate” my claim I give a footnote at the bottom of the page that says, The word for jelly bean in Peterpan Land is …………………………………get the picture?
The Three Baskets (Tripitaka) Chapter 24 pg 157
“So the roots of all languages obviously go back to Babylon”
Obvious to whom?
Regardless of what the book of Genesis might read, we know today that most languages in the world today go back to the Egyptian hieroglyphics not Babylon.(Wikipedia: Egyptian Hieroglyphics)
“No one is sure when the Tripitaka was written”. (Same chapter pg 160)
Another lie. The Tipitaka was first put down on palm leaves at the forth council (First Century C.E.)The occasion was because there was a famine at the time and the monastic Sangha was not sure if there would be enough monks left living to carry on the oral tradition. Wikipedia: “Buddhist Councils” would be a good place to start the research on this as well as the Pali Canon commentaries (canonical literature).
Same chapter, page 162:“The Tripitaka is full of instructions for one to be a better person, but does not address questions like where we came from, where we are heading, or what is the purpose of life.”
This is because when some call Buddhism a philosophy they are incorrect. This is because the Venerable Gotama considered such questions irrelevant to the purpose of nibanna. (Digha Nikaya sutta #9 Potthapada sutta and elsewhere.)
The Three Baskets Chapter 24 pg 165
“The number of letters in the Torah is 304,805…” “That’s how we know the bible was faithfully transmitted” Someone needs to remind Mr. Steve Cioccolanti that the Bible is something more than the Torah.
Same page; “Fifthly unlike the Bible the Tripataka has undergone many major revisions and corrections.”
I will point to the fact here that the New King James Version of the Bible (The version that the page opposite of the table of contents would suggest that Mr.Cioccolanti most enjoys using) is only one of about twenty eight different versions of the bible printed prior to the “New King James version.”
There are those who say; “Those were translations not versions!”
Too bad for such that most of them as a matter of record themselves do not agree!
Starting with the “Wycliffe Version” (first published in 1384) on through to “The New King James Version” (first published in 1979) there have been twenty one self described versions of the Bible versus only three translations, those of course being “An American Translation” (first published in 1923) “The New World Translation” (First published in 1950) and finally the “Good News Translation” (first published in 1966).Of course then there is the “Challoner Revision” (first published in 1749) but that is a different story altogether!
Such people who claim “translations not versions” lose that argument by the score of at least twenty one to three! The author’s claims here are simply laughable!
In case anyone would like to get a bit academic with this,we are not talking about any Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, the translation from the Greek which are called versions.
The Six Buddhist Councils chapter 25 pg 167
“The fact that the Tripataka was revised as recently as modern times means that modern monks had ample opportunity to “clean up” any resemblance between Buddha’s words and Jesus”.
The fact of the matter actually is that there is simply no evidence to suggest that from the Tipitaka writing of the oral tradition anything at all has ever been revised anything near that which The King James Version experienced with the revision’s at Cambridge in 1629 and 1638, the 1762 Cambridge revision, the 1769 Oxford revision, or the revision done by Robert Aitken in the United States in 1782 which I believe is considered the most important revision to date.
He continues…“ I am not saying that it was done deliberately. It may have been done out of sincerity to prevent confusion.” This is nothing more than a transparent attempt to patronise his slander of the monastic sangha in a condescending way. Here as well as elsewhere in this book he actually finds such ways of accusing the Monastic Sangha of “cleaning up” or “purifying” our scripture by using assumptive language that assumes that this was ever done in the first place! The term “clean up” or the word “purify” can be used in a negative way or in a positive way. Mr. Steve Cioccolanti usually chooses to imply the negative.
Our Source pg 169
Actually gives no such thing! “We are privileged to be among the first group of people to translate and publish these Buddhist texts”…
This implies that Mr. Steve Cioccolanti is actually in possession of such Buddhist Texts and should be able to demonstrate them to be authenticated.I and many others the world over to be sure, would love to see it! If this were true it would be a major find of great historical importance!Why then just merely resort to unsubstantiated story telling?
End Times Predictions of Buddha and Jesus chapter 28 pg 192
“Only Buddha never found a solution, he never came to a stage where he said, I’ve got it, do this and you’ll be free from karma.”
While we are looking at the topic of such lies….
The King & the Ungrateful Debtor chapter 20 pg 125
“Whereas Buddha offered no solution,”…..
These have got to be as a matter of principal, the most outrageous lies of this entire book!
Lets see what the Tipitaka says shall we? In the Majjhima Nakaya sutta #36:
“While my Sakyan father was busy and I (as a child) was sitting in the shade of a rose apple tree, then quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unprofitable ideas, I had direct acquaintance of entering on and abiding in the first jhana meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion.
Might that be the way to enlightenment?” And following that memory came the recognition “This is the path to enlightenment” (nibbana).
Now let’s take a look at the Vinaya Pitaka, Mahavagga Chapter #11:
And the blessed one said to the bhikkhus, “I am delivered O bhikkhus, from all fetters human and divine, You O bhikkhus are delivered from all fetters human and divine, Go now O bhikkhus and wander for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the gain, and for the welfare of gods and men. Let not two of you go the same way. Preach O bhikkhus the doctrine which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious in its completion. In the spirit and in the letter, proclaim a consummate, a perfect, and pure life of holiness. There are beings whose mental eyes are covered scarcely by dust, but if the doctrine is not preached to them,
they can not attain salvation, they will understand the doctrine. And I will go also O Bhikkhus, to Uruvela, to Senaninigama, in order to preach the doctrine”.
The tactics that Mr. Steve Ciocccolanti uses in his book regarding the telling of slander, insults and outright lies about the Buddhist religion are quite varied. For the most part he just outright lies! The usage of assumptive language, and replacing Buddhist terminology with Christian terminology, such as the term heaven for nibanna , sin for karma (kamma).He mentions that most Buddhist don’t mind the different term heaven replacing Nibbana . This is because many who consider themselves Buddhist have either not been taught the Dhamma adequately or don’t mind the general reference of terminology. This becomes his excuse for replacing terms, and therefore misrepresenting the Buddha’s teaching. He gives what is reflective of Christian Biblical scripture for Buddhist teaching( Tipataka scripture), as well as giving the Thai definition for a word in footnotes and elsewhere instead of giving a single Tipataka scriptural reference through out this entire book, these are key things for anyone to look at. Different forms of the Tipataka? O.K., so pick one and give some Tipataka scriptural reference! Mr. Steve Cioccolanti apparently knows better with the framework of knowledge that he writes within. Much of his work I will admit though reveals an absolutely staggering amount of sheer ignorance. The combination of the two has produced a book wherein the ignorance is only matched by deceitful audacity. The fact as some may point out, that there are different types of Buddhism, as an excuse for this type of book, is no excuse. There are two schools of Buddhism, the Theravada (some would use the pejorative “Hinayana”) and the Mahayana. Aside from the Maha Nikaya and the Dhammayuttika of the Theravada, all other sects are Mahayana. The Mahayana also acknowledge the Tipataka as being the foundation of Buddhism. Furthermore, if the approach of this book was merely to write about “Buddhism as it is lived and practiced in the largest Theravada country in modern times.” as is written in the Which Denomination Chapter on pg 154, and these are just academic issues best saved for the academic or the professional or the person with a “Western perspective” as discussed at his “From Buddha to Jesus” book blog ,then why write so many things about the Venerable Gotama’s teaching that are simply not true and can be shown as such by referring to the Tipitaka which he admits to be the scripture of Buddhism? The Three Baskets (Tripataka) Chapter 24 first paragraph: “It should be accepted by all that what Buddha taught is recorded in a sacred text called the Tripataka…”
The answer of course is that the purpose of this book is to lie about and slander the Venerable Gotama, his teaching, the monastic sangha, and Buddhism as a whole. If Mr. Steve Cioccolanti has any other suggestions to answer this question I would certainly be willing to listen! To say as well that this book was written as Buddhism is lived and practiced is not a correct reflection of Buddhists who know the teachings of Buddhism and practice it as such in their daily lives. There are many who know the teachings of the Tipataka. I will also remind Mr.Cioccolanti that the Tipitaka is the same for the person with a ‘Western’ perspective as anyone else.
Question and Answers pg 137
“You have not yet mentioned the Buddhist concept of “No Soul” ”…….
It is claimed here that the doctrine of “no soul” contradicts the premise of rebirth.The actual teaching here is called “not self” not “no soul”. The difference? The Venerable Gotama was denying the “self” as a permanent or stationary substance to be identified. Why? Because our spiritual potential is infinite!(Anguttara Nikaya 10.60 Girimanada sutta, the “second perception” and elsewhere)
I believe that this time would be an appropriate one to discuss in brief the “Three Factors of Existence” as taught in the Tipataka.
1. Impermanence 2. Unsatisfactoriness 3.Not self
1.Impermanence (Anicca) pertains to the fleeting nature of Samsara. (Majjhima Nikaya #109)
2. Unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha) is self explanatory. This is often mistranslated as ‘suffering’.I have had people state to me; “Life is not suffering, life is precious”. This is because of this misunderstanding of the first noble truth. (Majjhima Nikaya #141 and Samutta Nikaya #56.11 would be two good places to start as a reference to this.)
3. Not Self (Anattaa) Pertains to the insubstantiality or “infinite potential” of one’s “ego self”. (Majjhima Nikaya #22 Alagaddupama Sutta and elsewhere)
No soul? The Buddhist name for it is called “mind”. I will reference you to the Majjhima Nikaya sutta #77(and elsewhere),where the Venerable Gotama refers to it as” the mind made body” notice, the Venerable Gotama’s description of it! In the medical community this is called an
“Out Of Body Experience”(O.O.B.E.).For this discussion I would also advise a reading of the Khuddhaka Nikaya the last text titled “Questions Of King Milinda.”
(Tipataka Burmese edition)
Appendix pg 219
Here Mr. Cioccolanti makes many claims in the appendix that simply can’t be
verified.Those that possibly can aren’t capable of actually verifying his claims about the scripture of the Tipitaka presumably foretelling the future arrival of some one who apparently would fit the description of the Christian savior Jesus.
Another final example: Question and Answer pg 132 Q: “Was Buddha sinless?”
A: “Buddha abandoned his young wife and newborn child. If I abandoned my wife and child, would it not be considered a very bad sin?”
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. Some one 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?
For more reasons than one I believe this to have been the worst mistake made by Mr. Cioccolanti in his book, that of slandering a Buddha and his forty five year ministry of which nothing but the sincere intention of compassion and the benefit of humanity was constantly striven for in every possible way.
This book is simply one slander, insult and outright storytelling lie after the other! Can any one imagine the outrage that would occur if a comparable book were written about Jesus or the prophet Muhammad?
There are those who believe that simply because you follow a spiritual path in life, that this means that we should just bend over and lick up what ever someone has to offer, otherwise our refusal to do so they believe should be judged as some sort of mark against the sincerity of our spiritual conviction! I would beg to differ.
Of course we should be kind and compassionate, as we do our best to demonstrate a genuine effort of spiritual maturity. There must be a balance though, or else the worthiness of our spiritual efforts will be in vain.
Please keep in mind that wherever there’s a “ying” there’s a pesky “yang” not too far away! Showing Mr. Cioccolanti’s book of lies to a recently converted Christian woman and her recently converted Christian daughter, we all agreed that if you have something worthy to give that is of a good spiritual nature you should not have to seek to deceive others regarding someone else’s religion.
At the end of the day I was giving them the three refuges and five precepts as renewed members of the Buddhist laity.
In case Mr. Steve Cioccolanti or others would like to consider this review an “attack against Christianity”, I will make a note of the fact here that after showing this book to several of my good Christian friends they all seemed quite embarrassed by it.
After all Mr. Steve Cioccolanti himself in the Is There a Hell? Chapter on pg. 97 of the Question & Answer section writes: The New Testament says, “…All liars will have their part in the lake of fire” (Revelation 21:8).
If this is true I would graciously suggest that Mr. Steve Cioccolanti get down on both knees and humbly ask his Christian savior Jesus to please forgive him for writing such a book of lies about the teaching of the Venerable Gotama (Buddha), for the sake of promoting the Christian religion.
I would like to make a statement here that is very clearly understood.
If anyone can demonstrate and authenticate by objective and verifiable means, which is to be understood as a properly accredited and objective third party any Tipataka scripture that even remotely resembles what has been written in this book, alleging that the Venerable Gotama gave a prophecy that could in any reasonable way be interpreted as him having foretold of the one spoken of as Jesus in The New Testament of the Christian Bible, I will get on my knees in front of ANY and ALL and be glad to take the name of Jesus as my Lord and Savor.
I have put this in writing and will sign my spiritual name to that effect.
Before that happens of course, Mr.Steve Cioccolanti is going to have to come up with the goods. Either he can do so, in which case I shall be glad to keep my promise, or Mr. Steve Cioccolanti owes every Buddhist on this planet a sincere apology. After reading this book though, I doubt that he would ever be capable, Although who knows? He might surprise me.
Bhikkhu aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)