Let Us Reason?

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

Here’s something that I found interesting at the “Let Us Reason” ministries website. They seem to enjoy quoting Pali Canon Tipitaka scripture to make the Christian propaganda they dish out sound more authoritative when discussing Buddhism.

Any scripture quoted is either from the New International Version of the Christian Bible or the Pali Canon Tipitaka.

I will give what they have written and then section by section give my response.

Many Christians who have adopted a missionary approach seem to be more and more threatened by the Buddhist teaching.

This is where this piece can be found:

http://www.letusreason.org/Buddh8.htm or the archived link: http://www.webcitation.org/6fFsRZP9Q

 

This is fairly typical of the anti Buddhist pro Christianity propaganda to be found at their website.

Shall we begin?

 

 

Women

According to the Pali Canon, it is said that someone can be born as a woman in one life and then as a man in the next, etc. But, nowhere in the 500 plus Jataka lives (though not an exhaustive list of Buddha’s lives), nor elsewhere in the Pali Canon, does Sakyamuni appear as a woman (although it is sometimes inferred that he must have been a woman at one time or another). Jones writes, “The most striking single fact is that, in spite of the tremendous diversity of forms which the bodhisatta assumes, he never once appears as a woman or even as a female animal. Even when he appears as a tree-spirit or fairy, he is always masculine.” (20) His close friend Ananda who appears in many of his lives, appears only once as a woman (Jones, 113). Going further, Jones contrasts the doctrine of the Jatakas with the Pali Canon in general:
“But whereas the corrupting influence of an evil woman is the norm in the Jatakas, virtuous women being merely exceptions which prove the rule, the possibility of a friend’s becoming a corrupting influence is so remote that it is hardly ever mentioned. This differs from the canonical position. There, unquestionably, sex and marriage are bad, but so are love and friendship, since these involve one in personal attachments and painful (or potentially painful) emotions. The only love which the canon can bless is that which is quite detached and general; a ‘boundless friendly mind for all creatures’.” (115)
Commenting on one of these virtuous women, Jones writes, “That rare thing in the Jataka stories, a virtuous woman, owes her virtue to merit acquired in a former birth- as a male!” (43) In the Pali Canon itself, the depiction of women is hardly better: “…yet, women never tire of sexual intercourse and childbearing (GS I 72) and they never sit in court or embark on business because ‘they are uncontrolled, envious, greedy and weak in wisdom’ (GS II 92f).” (Jones, 78). Regarding the establishment of an order for nuns, Jones writes, “When Ananda prevailed upon Gotama to allow a separate Order for women, he is reported to have been very gloomy about this. It would, he said, halve the length of time for which the Dhamma[xvi] would be preserved in pure form.” (Jones, 77; GS IV 184f). In the Vinaya Pitaka (Book of Discipline V), a similar prediction is made by Sakyamuni, when addressing Ananda:
“If, Ananda, women had not obtained the going forth from home into homelessness in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, the Brahma-faring, Ananda, would have lasted long, true dhamma would have endured for a thousand years. But since, Ananda, women have gone forth…in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, now, Ananda, the Brahma-faring will not last long, true dhamma will endure only for five hundred years.” (356)
Since women did “go forth” and five hundred years have already passed, the question arises, is the above canonical passage false, or is it true in saying that “true dhamma” will only endure for five hundred years? If we say it is false, then there is falsity in the Pali Canon. If we say it is true, then it is still false, since five hundred years have already passed, and thus “true dhamma” would no longer be around. In this same text, the Buddha compares the influence of women to mildew: “Even, Ananda, as when the disease known as mildew attacks a whole field of rice that field of rice does not last long, even so, Ananda, in whatever dhamma and discipline women obtain the going forth…that Brahma-faring will not last long.” (356) Also in the above text (Book of Discipline V), the eight conditions for allowing the women to join, are spelled out. Among these, here are two examples, which highlight women’s subordinate role to men in Buddhism:
“A nun who has been ordained (even) for a century must greet respectfully, rise up from her seat, salute with joined palms, do proper homage to a monk ordained but that day. And this rule is to be honored, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed during her life.” (354); “From to-day admonition of monks by nuns is forbidden, admonition of nuns by monks is not forbidden. This rule too is to be honored, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed during her life.” (355)
Elaborating on this basic attitude, Tibetan (Tantric) Buddhism has taken it to more extreme extents. Victor and Victoria Trimondi, in their book “The Shadow of the Dalai Lama: Sexuality, Magic, and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism,” devote a large portion of their 816 page volume (in German) to the topic of misogyny:
“In light of the complexity of the topic, we have resolved to proceed deductively and to preface the entire book with the core statement of our research in the form of a hypothesis. Our readers will thus be set on their way with a statement whose truth or falsity only emerges from the investigations which follow. The formulation of this hypothesis is necessarily very abstract at the outset. Only in the course of our study does it fill out with blood and life, and unfortunately, with violence and death as well. Our core statement is as follows:
The mystery of Tantric Buddhism consists in the sacrifice of the feminine principle and the manipulation of erotic love in order to attain universal androcentric power”
(this book is not currently available in hardcopy in English, but the entire English translation of the German can be found online: http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Contents.htm)
Coming back to Theravada Buddhism, Jones explains the doctrinal gymnastics behind the scenes of the Jatakas and the Pali Canon proper, related to women:
“Why such an onslaught on the fair sex? I am convinced that JS 61 gives us the most reliable clue to an answer. The stories are designed mainly to discourage young men from family life and sexual involvement. Now, as we have seen, the canonical reason for turning away from the entanglements of family life is that these are “fetters”, nourishing the illusion of “self” and of attachment to other “selves”; only in the detachment of the realisation of anatta (selflessness) can true peace be found. We have also seen that the Jatakas studiously avoid the doctrine of anatta, since this would undermine their basic premise: that the same person moves on from life to life….Thus women pay very dearly for the Jatakas’ need to avoid the anatta doctrine. In becoming the scapegoat, they must have found it very hard to retain any self-respect. A Theravada woman, bred on the Jatakas, must have felt the dice were very heavily loaded against her- as must a layman who hoped that his marriage, against all the odds, would turn out well.” (99)
Instead of rebelling against Buddhism though, many women in Buddhist societies accept their lower status as something they deserve based on supposed karma from previous lives. Cleo Odzer, in the book “Buddhism and Abortion,” writes, “Typically, women in Thailand are undervalued in respect to men, a situation endorsed by the Buddhist religion…”(33), and in surveying women in a Bangkok slum area, it was discovered that “Mostly, the women accepted their lot in the Buddhist belief that they were born ‘as a woman because of bad karma or a lack of sufficient good merit.’”(35)
In the Bible women are not seen as “mildew,” incapable of doing business, of lesser status than even junior men, the cause of men being defiled, and deserving of any suffering they may be facing. Women and men do have different roles and responsibilities in the Bible, but the inheritance for believers in God’s economy is equal: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3: 27- 29) In the book of Proverbs chapter 31, written by King Lemuel’s mother, the virtuous woman is praised for being wise in business dealings, being clothed in strength and honor, having words of wisdom on her lips, and being trusted by her husband.

Now we shall review….

“In the Pali Canon itself, the depiction of women is hardly better: “…yet, women never tire of sexual intercourse and childbearing (GS I 72) and they never sit in court or embark on business because ‘they are uncontrolled, envious, greedy and weak in wisdom’ (GS II 92f).” (Jones, 78).
“In the Pali Canon itself “…… this is the typical type of deception being offered by our Christian friends. This implies that this is something from the Pali Canon. It is not.

“Even, Ananda, as when the disease known as mildew attacks a whole field of rice that field of rice does not last long, even so, Ananda, in whatever dhamma and discipline women obtain the going forth…that Brahma-faring will not last long.” (356)
Although if the Buddha actually spoke this, one could consider the suggestion that the Buddha was using graphic language because of something deficient on the part of the woman. They would not be considering that neither the man nor the woman live in a vacuum. Women being the object of desire to be chased after as is the custom in any patriarchal society would make this a more pressured situation over all over a period of time as well as the fact that there was certainly great pressure from the society at large who to be sure didn’t believe that women should be taken as disciples in the first place. Combine this with the problems that women have had traditionally during the time of war being looked upon as a commodity to be won as the spoils of war……. As an example, the Bhikkhuni lineage is lately being revived after about seven hundred years of being defunct because of all of this.1 This could also be something that was discussed or spoken in some way because of this that was later taken out of context as discussed, either inadvertently or later as a purposeful sort of interpolation.

“If, Ananda, women had not obtained the going forth from home into homelessness in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, the Brahma-faring, Ananda, would have lasted long, true dhamma would have endured for a thousand years. But since, Ananda, women have gone forth…in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, now, Ananda, the Brahma-faring will not last long, true dhamma will endure only for five hundred years.” (356)

“Since women did “go forth” and five hundred years have already passed, the question arises, is the above canonical passage false, or is it true in saying that “true dhamma” will only endure for five hundred years? If we say it is false, then there is falsity in the Pali Canon. If we say it is true, then it is still false, since five hundred years have already passed, and thus “true dhamma” would no longer be around”.

It is also true that the commentary on the Abhidhamma text, the Dhammasangani tells us that when the first Buddhist Council was convened by the Ven.Maha Kassapa and the Pali Canon was rehearsed at the first council this then made it possible for the for the true dhamma to last 5,000 years as opposed to 500. The first council was convened exactly for this type of reason, that being concern for the dhamma.

The commentaries of the Vinaya Pitaka and Anguttara Nikaya also state as well that the Eight garudhamma (special precepts) would enable the the true dhamma to last 5,000 years as opposed to 500. As shall be discussed later, there is also good evidence I believe to suggest that there were later interpolations added although we can easily recognize them. If we look at the Tipitaka as a whole we can choose to believe that most of what the Buddha said and did regarding the topic of women is the interpolation, but to do that we would have to believe that there was some sort of great women s liberation movement that added all of the pro equality type of scripture prior to the Tipitaka being canonized that none of us know about, or that because there were men who were really pissed at the Buddha’s fair minded approach, the comparatively small amount of this material is clearly what is the interpolation.
There is a difference between the truthful dhamma not being taught and it not existing for the one who truly is an aspirant. As an example of this we can draw great encouragement from the fact that the Venerable Gotama (Buddha) himself was an aspirant with no one there to teach him the ‘true’ dhamma but the knowledge that was available combined with his own perseverance. He did not have to be a ‘God’ or son or brother or cousin of any of the God’s to do it either. The Hindu religious culture was and is full of such celestial family associations. Christianity today has it’s own version. Should any of us expect that close to 2,500 years later the dhamma would still be taught verbatim as it was during the time that he lived as a Buddha? Even areas that show potential interpolation have nothing to do with the actual dhamma being taught. No religion that I know of can actually produce anything extant to the time that their spiritual master lived for a representation of their teaching. Today our best guide for reasons that will be discussed in this article further, is the knowledge that we have available in the Pali Canon Tipataka. And what if there are interpolations in the Tipataka as we now have it? The author of this article of course would see this as a grave and fatal flaw, because such are used to judging matters based on the perceived infallibility of his Christian Bible. We shall discuss this.
In the book of Matt. and the book of Luke,.we have two entirely different stories about the paternal genealogy of Jesus. It is the Christian and their like who feel the need to justify every word of their scripture believing it to be the unerring sacred word of their unerring sacred divine creator. This is why they must make excuses for their being two different versions of the genealogy of Jesus as it is recorded in both Matt. and Luke (Matt.1:13 and Luke3:23-37) with a story about how one is actually the genealogy of Mary because Mary’s father supposedly adopted Joseph so that there would be a male heir to the family, and that’s why one is actually the genealogy of Mary not Jesus even though the Bible tells you something much different, why would you need a story that says something totally different than the Bible on this, in order to explain what the Bible says if the Bible is the unerring word of an unerring and perfect creator God? I’ve heard people talk about the “original” or “authentic” scriptures or manuscripts when discussing this but I have yet to see any that say anything different. Mind you, this is only one example.

Should any of this necessarily have any bearing one way or the other, on the message that Jesus preached or the validity of that message, or should we use other analysis to decide that issue aside from whether or not the Christian Bible is the “unerring” word of “God”?

“This differs from the canonical position. There, unquestionably, sex and marriage are bad, but so are love and friendship, since these involve one in personal attachments and painful (or potentially painful) emotions. The only love which the canon can bless is that which is quite detached and general; a ‘boundless friendly mind for all creatures’.” (115)

This is simply not true. The author of this article seems to be unaware of these two suttas of the Pali Canon Tipitaka:

The Sigalovada Sutta 2 of the Pali canon (Digha Nikaya #31) Tipataka discusses that a husband should be faithful to his wife. And the Mangala Sutta 3(Khp 5 and Snp 2.4)talks about cherishing one wife and children as one of the greatest blessings!
Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings.” Karaniya Metta Sutta 4 (Snp 1.8)
And while were at it… What’s so wrong with that?

“Also in the above text (Book of Discipline V), the eight conditions for allowing the women to join, are spelled out. Among these, here are two examples, which highlight women’s subordinate role to men in Buddhism:
‘A nun who has been ordained (even) for a century must greet respectfully, rise up from her seat, salute with joined palms, do proper homage to a monk ordained but that day. And this rule is to be honored, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed during her life.” (354); “From to-day admonition of monks by nuns is forbidden, admonition of nuns by monks is not forbidden. This rule too is to be honored, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed during her life.’ ” (355)

There are those who understandably believe that the eight special precepts simply can’t be historically accurate. I respect such an opinion although there are many assumptions to make with that theory that they will call ‘irrefutable’ evidence if one is willing to do so. What such have are at best a collection of theories that are based on more assumptions that are in turn based on other assumptions of relevance or validity. None of this is hardly anything near conclusive evidence of the “impossibility if not improbability” of the garudhamma’s historical accuracy. They seem to want to try very hard though. As an example they will tell of a theory that the eight garudhamma were at first an early form of original Vinaya. At least they acknowledge this to be merely a theory, or that seven of the eight special precepts are else where a part of the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha as pacittiya precepts (the violation of which would entail only confession) and that there fore this is more ‘evidence’ that the eight special precepts were added later. The line of thinking here is that it would have been unnecessary for the pacittiya precepts being discussed to have been added later if this was already there as the garudhamma. As if the other precepts being used for the compareison could not be the result of anything else. It is quite possible that the eight garudhamma were being down graded from what could be viewed as a more serious offence to the infraction of pacittiya offence in a kind gesture of compassion for the Bhikkhuni sangha, and or to codify most into a category with the rest of the Bhikkhunu patimokkha while leaving the first garudhamma ambiguous as there might have been disaggrement as to whether it was really a necessity when the time as it was felt came to codify. It is as well of course possible that certain measures were taken to help temper the sheer outrage that must have been felt by the rest of a very patriarchal dominate society as it would have given more of an hindrance (temples being burned down etc.) to the practice of the dhamma then what ever inconvenience any of the four special precepts would have offered.

Given the fact that it’s that first one that understandably rubs many a female monastic the wrong way it certainly should not surprise any of us. One could point out that it would have been unnecessary for the adding of the eight special precepts later as is speculated if most had already existed as pacittiya precepts in the first place! There would have been the need from that perspective on their part to add only one. They will also state that the eight garudhamma are not a part of the ordination procedure for the Bhikkhuni or that the Ven. Gotama accepted disciples the simpler way as a procedure without mentioning these special precepts. However I know of nowhere where it was mentioned then or now where all of the precepts are ever a part of the ordination procedure for the Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni regardless of what method was or is used. If they would rather not believe that the Buddha was not infallible and could not be when discussing future events, such as the time period for the true dhamma to last or the presumed theoretical necessity for the eight garudhamma approxamately two thousand five hundred years later, and should not have to be in order for the dhamma of nibanna to be just as valid I suppose that I can understand that. He could only have been discussing things as they were to be at that time of consideration. As time moves forward so to speak, probabilities can change. The Buddha dhamma is not based on a God type of infallable fourtune telling deity worship, although Christianity is. If there is any interpolation regarding this type of thing I would suggest that the discussion regarding the dhamma not lasting more than five hundred years would perhaps be one of the areas suspect. As we learn from the Parinnibanna sutta of the Digha Nikaya the Ven.Gotama had already foreseen the establishment of the female monastic order, and why plan for something ahead of time that would be detrimental to the dhamma? This would also be consistent overall wherever the Bhikkhuni are discussed elsewhere in the Pali Canon.

‘I shall not pass away until the monks and the nuns, the lay men and the lay women are accomplished and trained, skilled and learned, knowers of Dhamma, trained in Dhamma, walking in Dhamma, who can pass on to others what they have learned from their Teacher, declare and establish it, clarify, explain and elucidate it, not until they can use the Dhamma to refute false teachings that arise and spread the wondrous Dhamma far and wide’. (The Dîgha-Nikâya #16 Parinnibanna Sutta)

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. (emphasis mine)

If You didn’t know any better you would think that this was Superman’s temple and Lex Luthors girlfriend was trying to sneak in some Kryptonite!

The point being here is that the tradition that Jesus came from would consider a woman dirty or “unclean” simply because she was menstruating or because she had recently given birth to a child making her worthy of a sin offering and atonement! Should we expect that he would rush to make one of his direct disciples a woman? In case any one would like to say that this was just that old time old testament I will remind you that in Matt. 5:17 -19 we are told that all Old Testament laws still apply,(Although Matt.5:38-39 contradicts that in part) . This sort of Taboo fetishism regarding a woman’s menstrual cycle is very common for the comparatively primitive and backward mentality that Christianity is still obsessed with. This is why there is talk of animal sacrifice during the Christian “millennium” at this website when that day does supposedly come by the same sort that wrote this article.

“Mostly, the women accepted their lot in the Buddhist belief that they were born ‘as a woman because of bad karma or a lack of sufficient good merit.’”(35)

This is not the Buddhist belief. Let me give an example as to how such things can be misconstrued….. or at least termed “misconstrued” according to some Christian women who would disagree.

1Tim Ch.2
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

There are those who say that this is explained by the Artemis cult that was popular at the time when this was written to the Ephesians. So then the thing to do is over compensate with something like this? If the gospel is about equality then that is what should be expressed.

Ephesians 5:22-24
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

There are those who would suggest here that ‘head’ means ‘source’ as opposed to authority. If we read the example though.. “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”. How creative! As if that were true there would be any meaningful difference!
There are Christian women who have told me that as a woman they should be submissive to their husband. Other Christian women of course would disagree.

Lets look at something from the Pali Canon Tipitaka now….. shall we?

Soma Sutta: Soma

translated from the Pali by
Bhikkhu Bodhi

Setting at Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Soma dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Savatthi for alms. When she had walked for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Blind Men’s Grove for the day’s abiding. Having plunged into the Blind Men’s Grove, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day’s abiding.
Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Soma, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:
That state so hard to achieve Which is to be attained by the seers, Can’t be attained by a woman With her two-fingered wisdom.
Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Soma: “Now who is this that recited the verse — a human being or a non-human being?” Then it occurred to her: “This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from concentration.”
Then the bhikkhuni Soma, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” replied to him in verses:
What does womanhood matter at all When the mind is concentrated well, When knowledge flows on steadily As one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’ Or ‘I’m anything at all’ — Is fit for Mara to address.
Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, “The bhikkhuni Soma knows me,” sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.

Meditation

Buddhist meditation is often presented as something neutral– just meditation, as opposed to being a “religious” activity. People from various world view backgrounds are encouraged to try it, on the assumption that it’s just a kind of mind training– just as physical exercise is body training. This is an attraction for someone who just wants to have a unique, peaceful, or meaningful experience without necessarily buying into the doctrines of the Buddha. But how neutral is meditation really?
In a rarely referred to portion of the Pali canon, a meditation time gone haywire is reported:
“Indeed there was one occasion so damaging to the Buddha’s reputation as a ‘peerless charioteer of men’ that it is hard to think it would have been invented. I have never seen it referred to in any of the books on Buddhism I have read. In KS V 284, we read that the Buddha had commended ‘the unlovely’ as a subject for meditation before he himself went off for a fourteen-day retreat. On his return, he found the Order sadly diminished because so many of the monks, contemplating ‘the unlovely’ had ‘as to this body…worried about it, felt shame and loathing for it, and sought for a weapon to slay themselves’- and had in fact, committed suicide. Ananda suggests that in future it might be better if the Buddha ‘would teach some other method’ of meditation. Gotama replies with this suggestion and advises his monks to base their meditation on their breathing in future.” (Jones, 76)
To this day, ‘the unlovely’ (such as a human corpse) is still a valid object of Buddhist meditation, although other types of meditation, such as focusing on breathing, are far more common. The above canonical passage raises the question of Sakyamuni’s omniscience (which is claimed for him in other canonical passages). Did he know the monks would commit suicide, and gave them this harsher form of meditation anyway, or did he not know, and thus was not omniscient (this latter view is more commonly held today).
Even in the more standard types of meditation, such as focusing on one’s breathing, or observing one’s thoughts as though they were not one’s own thoughts (being detached from the concept of “self” and “objectively” observing the thoughts), there are dangers. Rahula nonetheless encourages such meditation: “Try to examine it as if you are observing it from the outside, without any subjective reaction, as a scientist observes some object. Here, too, you should not look at it as ‘my feeling’ or ‘my sensation’ subjectively, but only look at it as ‘a feeling’ or ‘a sensation’ objectively. You should forget again the false idea of ‘I.” (73) In his chapter dealing with “Meditation on Breathing,” Paravahera Vajiranana relates Vipassana[xvii] meditation to breathing:
“At the moment of insight he breathes in, breathes out, setting free the mind from the idea of permanence by contemplating impermanence, from the idea of happiness by contemplating painfulness, from the idea of self by contemplating non-ego, from the idea of delight by contemplating repulsion, from passion by contemplating detachment, from cause of origination by contemplating cessation, from clinging by contemplating renunciation.” (255)

Also related to a breathing meditation, Vajiranana writes, “Thus in these two stages the bodily element of respiration is said to be completely tranquilized. It is with a view to attaining this state that ‘he practises mindfulness of breathing in and out’” (243) In this instance, the goal of breathing is not breathing! In a footnote, and based on Visuddhimagga[xviii] 283, Vajiranana points out, “There are eight states in which there is no breathing: within the mother’s womb, when one is drowned in water, in unconscious beings, in the dead, in the fourth Jhana[xix], in the unconscious form-world, in the formless world, and in Nirodha-samapatti, the attainment of the cessation of all feelings and perceptions” (243). Ernest Valea in his online article points out some further dangers with Vipassana meditation:
“…the experiences that accompany Buddhist contemplation on the mental states (citta samapatti) can be explained as misperceptions of the surrounding reality due to the imposition of an abnormal way of functioning on the senses and mind:
‘As meditators passively watch their own mental states come and go without trying to control them, these begin to fluctuate more and more rapidly and unpredictably. After a while this chaotic activity creates the strong impression that the mental events are springing into life on their own, from some separate source, rather than the observer’s own mind. As meditators persist with this practice, they also notice that there is a definite separation between the mental events being observed and the mind that is doing the observing. As meditation progresses still further, both the mental events and the observing mind begin to seem alien and impersonal, as if they do not really belong to the observer. At about this point the meditator’s sense of “self” becomes confused and weakened, and finally it disappears entirely for brief periods of time… (E. Hillstrom, Testing the Spirits, IVP, 1995, p. 114-115)’” (http://www.comparative/religion.com/Buddhism.html)
When a person becomes a “third person” observer of themselves, and even renounces the idea of “self”, it is like relinquishing the steering wheel and sitting in the passenger seat. This presents the possibility of outside spirits entering in and having a very real and dangerous influence, even if it’s “only” deception. Why does a person have to move into an altered state of consciousness, in order to accept the “higher truths?” Would we not be suspicious if a real estate agent told us we needed to take mind altering drugs before appreciating the full value of the house being sold?
The ultimate goal of meditation, canonically speaking, is nirvana- freedom from suffering via the non-existence of the individual. Many meditators who try Buddhist meditation at the basic levels, do not have this as their goal. Their goal may be inner peace, mental health, or just to experience something unique. Nonetheless, travelling farther along the pathway of meditation, when the stated goal is nirvana, meditators become more and more detached from their feelings, and become spiritually leprous. A person with physical leprosy is someone who has lost the sense of touch (and thus is in danger when leaning on a hot stove, not having an impulse to pull away, etc.). A person who becomes completely detached from emotions becomes spiritually leprous, and may appear to be quite peaceful, but is also unaware of emotions which give needed warning and provide other healthy functions.
There are said to be states of bliss and even supernormal abilities attainable along the pathway of meditation, but according to canonical teachings, these are supposed to be rejected as distracting from the ultimate purpose- that of complete cessation (nirvana). Thus the “positive” experiences of meditation are mere “lures” leading to the “hook” of cessation. Speaking of the highest level of meditation (Nirodha-samapatti), Vajiranana writes, “But that which is experienced in the Nirodha-samapatti is the state of Nirvana, namely the cessation of all mental activities, which is comparable to that of final Nirvana. The final Nirvana is called ‘Khandha-pari-nibbana,’ the complete cessation of the five aggregates, and is attained by the Arhat at his death” (467).
Apart from the dangers of meditation on a personal level, meditation does not deliver the objective standard it claims. Meditation is sometimes labeled as scientific, because in it, the claims of the Buddha are said to be experienceable. However, as mentioned before, the meditators are instructed beforehand in what they can expect to experience. This expectation removes objectivity since it conditions people to generate what is expected. If the instructor tells them they can expect to see previous lives, they are already predisposed towards that. Also, it is not objective, because there are “wrong” or heretical views described in the Pali Canon. In other words, if someone meditates and experiences something heretical- such as “I do have an eternal soul,” this will be rejected.
Buddhist meditation takes people who are relational by nature, and makes their mind more like a machine. Even when the meditation is “spreading compassion to all beings”, the focus is on one’s own ability to direct the mind to this challenge, and the compassion is meant to be a detached one. When the meditation is a concentration upon one object, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, this silences the voice of conscience calling us to a relationship with God, and sets the mind instead on a path toward increased detachment and isolation. Proverbs chapter 18, verse 1 states, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” In isolation one’s own desires may be accomplished, but this situation can be compared to a child who would reject the care of loving parents who provide good food and friendship, and wants to instead go live in the forest- rejecting offers of food, rejecting clothing, rejecting offers for education, etc. Such a child would have difficulty surviving and would eventually lose the ability even to communicate with the parents. Meditation in the Bible means to consider God’s principles and character, spending time with God. It’s a relational process of God “feeding” His children and communicating with them, taking away the burdens in life and providing wisdom.

Let us review…

“Indeed there was one occasion so damaging to the Buddha’s reputation as a ‘peerless charioteer of men’ that it is hard to think it would have been invented. I have never seen it referred to in any of the books on Buddhism I have read. In KS V 284, we read that the Buddha had commended ‘the unlovely’ as a subject for meditation before he himself went off for a fourteen-day retreat. On his return, he found the Order sadly diminished because so many of the monks, contemplating ‘the unlovely’ had ‘as to this body…worried about it, felt shame and loathing for it, and sought for a weapon to slay themselves’- and had in fact, committed suicide. Ananda suggests that in future it might be better if the Buddha ‘would teach some other method’ of meditation. Gotama replies with this suggestion and advises his monks to base their meditation on their breathing in future.” (Jones, 76)

This would only be damaging to the Buddha’s reputation as a ‘peerless charioteer of men’ if the Buddha were looked upon as some sort of divine infallible human being instead of some one whose mission it was to give the teaching regarding the the method of spiritual liberation that he had discovered. It is the Christian who must constantly strive to dream up such excuses for the areas in the Christian Bible that are uncomfortable to them for this reason.
It is the cult of Jesus as the divine unerring God as the personal son of God who is somehow really God as a part of God that rightfully has this burden, not the Buddhist.

When a person becomes a “third person” observer of themselves, and even renounces the idea of “self”, it is like relinquishing the steering wheel and sitting in the passenger seat. This presents the possibility of outside spirits entering in and having a very real and dangerous influence, even if it’s “only” deception. Why does a person have to move into an altered state of consciousness, in order to accept the “higher truths?” Would we not be suspicious if a real estate agent told us we needed to take mind altering drugs before appreciating the full value of the house being sold?

O.K. I always wondered just where people get the old wives tale about meditation being dangerous because you might get “possessed” while doing it… now I know. If there is going to be spiritual influence of any sort first you have to be unmindful to allow it to happen in the first place. This can’t happen if your practicing mindfulness! Further on here the author equates meditation with mind altering drugs. This would presume that the undisciplined mind is the “natural mind”!
Imagine that you raise a child and do not discipline the child very often if at all. You just let the child go and do as he or she wishes. When it comes time to give the child discipline what can you expect to happen? The child will rebel. This is why at first, learning a meditation routine is not always easy but well worth the effort. Now if the child were to rebel against the discipline and went out breaking street lamps, would you tell the police…Well officers! What do you expect? That’s the natural child for his age! If you did they might wish to take you to jail for stupidity! We are not talking about smoking cocaine or shooting heroine here, just disciplining the mind, in that respect the natural mind is what we make of it.

“This expectation removes objectivity since it conditions people to generate what is expected. If the instructor tells them they can expect to see previous lives, they are already predisposed towards that. Also, it is not objective, because there are “wrong” or heretical views described in the Pali Canon. In other words, if someone meditates and experiences something heretical- such as “I do have an eternal soul,” this will be rejected.”

It would be up to the meditator to decide just what is possibly simply a suggestion of thought or not. That is the valued thing about subjective experience. You get to decide, not someone who has written an article.

“But that which is experienced in the Nirodha-samapatti is the state of Nirvana, namely the cessation of all mental activities, which is comparable to that of final Nirvana. The final Nirvana is called ‘Khandha-pari-nibbana,’ the complete cessation of the five aggregates, and is attained by the Arhat at his death” (467).

This is not anything from the Pali Canon and is simply not true, it can be expected that the author here would quote someone with such a misconception in order to then critique and criticize.

“In this instance, the goal of breathing is not breathing! In a footnote, and based on Visuddhimagga[xviii] 283, Vajiranana points out, ‘There are eight states in which there is no breathing: within the mother’s womb, when one is drowned in water, in unconscious beings, in the dead, in the fourth Jhana[xix], in the unconscious form-world, in the formless world, and in Nirodha-samapatti, the attainment of the cessation of all feelings and perceptions’ “

Of course one would not think that this would need an explanation, but never the less for those who seem to need it, here it is…..”no breathing” here is a term being used as a conventional figure of speech. The body’s metabolism slows down to such an extent that the individual would appear not to be breathing.
If the person would really not be breathing then suffocation would occur.

“When the meditation is a concentration upon one object, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, this silences the voice of conscience calling us to a relationship with God, and sets the mind instead on a path toward increased detachment and isolation”.
The author writes as if we should just believe him because he says so. I would just love to hear his explanation of this. If their understanding of God’s power and control encompasses all things then how could the concentration on one object silence the voice of conscience calling us to a relationship with anything including what they would call God?

“but according to canonical teachings, these are supposed to be rejected as distracting from the ultimate purpose- that of complete cessation (nirvana). “
“The ultimate goal of meditation, canonically speaking, is nirvana- freedom from suffering via the non-existence of the individual.”

The Canonical teachings teach that the the complete cessation talked of is the cessation of the process of Samsara or the classification of form. Nibbana or Nirvana as the Sanskrit as opposed to the Pali is used here simply does not mean the “non existence” of the individual, at least in a conventional context. Would the author be so kind to discuss the lack of “individuality” when one is liberated with the release of the binding of the classification of form? Of course not. He will imply instead that Nibbana is some sort of spiritual suicide! At the end of this article we will discuss this further, where this claim is repeated again at the conclusion. The author seems to want to capitalize on this misconception as much as possible. Should we be surprised?

“Nonetheless, traveling farther along the pathway of meditation, when the stated goal is nirvana, meditators become more and more detached from their feelings, and become spiritually leprous. A person with physical leprosy is someone who has lost the sense of touch (and thus is in danger when leaning on a hot stove, not having an impulse to pull away, etc.). A person who becomes completely detached from emotions becomes spiritually leprous, and may appear to be quite peaceful, but is also unaware of emotions which give needed warning and provide other healthy functions.”

Nowhere in the Pali Canon does it suggest that we detach ourselves from our emotions or from anything during meditation. This makes use of popular Buddha dhamma type language used by many but not found anywhere in the Pali Canon and certainly not regarding meditation. There is a difference between detaching and stilling.

SN 36.31
Niramisa Sutta: Not of the Flesh
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (excerpt)

“And what is pleasure not of the flesh? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ This is called pleasure not of the flesh. Again, it’s easy to criticize the Buddha dhamma when your lying about it….or perhaps he just needs to do some more research.

Science

This is the topic which brings to light Sakyamuni’s claims to omniscience (or the Pali Canon’s claims on his behalf). How credible is the Pali Canon as a book of facts? If Sakyamuni Buddha did not inspire these writings either directly or indirectly, where is the standard by which truth is measured? And, if it is claimed that the Pali Canon was inspired by the Buddha why does it contain so many factual errors? If the Pali Canon is a mix of truth and error, entrusting one’s destiny to its teachings would be like entrusting oneself to a doctor who prescribes both good and harmful medicines– a real gamble. All of the scriptural quotations in this science section are from the Pali Canon proper, not its commentary.
In the Digha Nikaya (Dialogues of the Buddha III; 137-139), are listed the 32 marks of one who is supposed to become either a Buddha or a universal ruler. Among these marks, it says he must have 40 teeth [as a baby! – the time when such an assessment is made (Dialogues of the Buddha II; pp. 13-18)]. Ordinarily children have only half that amount- 20 teeth. A mature adult will have 32 teeth total (assuming they didn’t play too much hockey), or 28 teeth if the four wisdom teeth are removed. Fitting eight extra teeth into the jaw of an adult would be quite a feat, but fitting 20 extra teeth into a baby’s jaw would be a real stretch- both of the jaw and of it’s credibility!
Among the 32 marks, another one is that the potential universal ruler or Buddha must have a large tongue. Just how large? In the Majjhima Nikaya (Middle Length Sayings II), a brahman named Sela came to talk with the Buddha and was looking for the 32 marks on him…”Then the Lord, having put out his tongue, stroked it backwards and forwards over both his ears and he stroked it backwards and forwards over both his nostrils and he covered the whole dome of his forehead with his tongue.” (335). Wow. Although there are many statues of the Buddha with various expressions, and in various postures, I’ve never seen one highlighting this aspect of his anatomy, and yet this is canonical.
When responding to Ananda’s question about the cause of an earthquake (Gradual Sayings IV; pp. 208-210), the Buddha gives eight reasons. The first is a natural explanation relating to the structure of the earth, while in the next seven reasons the Buddha says the earth responds with quaking when various “enlightened” ones make monumental accomplishments. In the first reason for earthquakes, we see some real differences between what he says and what modern science knows about the structure of the earth and the causes of earthquakes: “Since, Ananda, this great earth rests on water and the water rests on wind and the wind subsists in space; what time the great winds blow, they cause the water to quake, and the quaking of the water causes the earth to quake. This, Ananda, is the first cause, the first reason, of a great earthquake becoming manifest.”
This example and some of the following examples, demonstrate a lack of correspondence with “the way things are” (the kind of insight the Buddha claimed to provide). These are not just examples of miracles, which would have to be examined on an individual basis according to the evidence for or against them. Rather, they are examples of “reality claims”, which can be tested against modern and non-controversial knowledge of our world (such as the layout of the continents, the height of the tallest mountain, the size of the oceans, etc.).
In the Dialogues of the Buddha III, a description is given of human ancestors who lived to be 80,000 years old, but gradually through various vices, their life-spans were reduced to only ten years. At that time it is alleged that these humans married at five years of age, and presumably conceived children at least by the age of nine if not earlier (since at age nine “old age” would have already set in). These are clearly referred to as humans in this text, and not monkeys. Then, with an increase in moral living, the humans are said to increase their life-spans once again. If this story is only allegorical, why does the text refer to a well known city as being part of this history/prophecy: “Among such humans the Benares of our day will be named Ketumati…” (73). Also, if it is allegorical, so is the prediction of the future Buddha Metteyya, who is supposed to appear when human life-spans are back to 80,000 years.
In another “reality claim” coming from the mouth of the one who “can fall into no error” (Dialogues of the Buddha III, 25), the Buddha says that there are fish in the great ocean, which are anywhere from 100- 500 yojanas long:
“And again, monks, the great ocean is the abode of great beings; these beings are there: the timis, the timingalas, the timitimingalas, asuras, nagas, gandhabbas. There are in the great ocean individualities a hundred yojanas (long), individualities two hundred…three hundred…four hundred…five hundred yojanas (long).” (Book of Discipline V, 333)
According to the Pali Text Society Dictionary, one yojana is said to be equal to 7 miles. That means a fish which is 500 yojanas long would be 3500 miles long. That’s quite a claim, considering that this distance would be about 700 miles longer than the USA is wide (west to east)! Also, it would be quite a disproportional fish since the deepest spot in the world’s oceans is about 7 miles deep, with the average depth being about 3 miles.
For one who claims to omnisciently describe things “as they are” whether in the spiritual or the physical realm, it seems not too much to ask that he would be able to diagnose physical ailments and prescribe suitable cures. In the fourth volume of the Book of Discipline, there are a number of stories which make it plain that the Buddha’s knowledge does not even match up to modern standards, much less omniscience. In one such case the Buddha puts his approval on consuming raw flesh and blood from swine:

“Now at that time a certain monk had an (sic) non-human affliction. Teachers and preceptors, although nursing him, were unable to get him well. He, having gone to the swine’s slaughter-place, ate raw flesh and drank raw blood, and his non-human affliction subsided. They told this matter to the Lord. He said: ‘I allow, monks, when one has a non-human affliction, raw flesh and raw blood.’” (274)

“A non-human affliction” here may refer to demon-possession as the footnote for this passage points out. The cure approved of by the Buddha, is to let the “non-human” spirit (a.k.a. demon) indulge itself in raw flesh and blood. Is there any disease for which this would actually be a wise practice?
Why didn’t the Buddha cast out such a foul oppressor as Jesus Christ often did? In another contrast to the ministry of Jesus Christ, whose healing was often described using the word “immediately,” the Buddha gives permission for various remedies, which are often followed by the words, “he got no better” (278-279). Following such incidents is another passage showing the Buddha’s lack of appropriate remedies:
“’I allow, monks, a piece of cloth for tying over the sore.’ The sore itched. ‘I allow you, monks, to sprinkle it with mustard-powder.’ The sore festered. ‘I allow you, monks, to make a fumigation.’ The flesh of the sore stood up. ‘I allow you, monks, to cut it off with a piece of salt-crystal.’ The sore did not heal.” (279)
When someone is so much in the dark regarding physical realities, why should we trust him concerning much weightier, eternally significant, spiritual realities?
Lastly, because the theory of evolution seems to align itself to Buddhism pretty well (no need for a Creator), does this mean Buddhism is therefore scientific? Firstly, the Buddha didn’t explain ultimate origins and said that speculating about origins is one of the useless endeavors in life (since such speculation doesn’t lead to Nirvana). But, also if there is no Creator, how can we expect our world to have any morals (or any karmic justice), or any beauty if everything came into being through random, mutated, impersonal chance? Apart from the lack of cohesion between evolution and Buddhism, there is the more fundamental problem- evolution is still a theory- and after all these years since Darwin’s “discovery”, the evidence for evolution is not increasing, but decreasing. The famous line-up of monkeys to men, for example, have been shown to be hoaxes, or completely ape, or completely human. The missing links are still missing. The website http://www.answersingenesis.org has articles, audios, and videos, presented by Ph.D. creation scientists, offering evidence in support of a Creator of this world. To someone raised with evolutionary thinking, a Creator may sound “unscientific”, but the evidence is there. To dismiss this evidence without a fair examination would itself be unscientific. Should we accept something just because it is the opinion of our age or in agreement with our moral preferences in life? An objective person would be willing to follow the evidence where it leads, even if that means to God.
“This example and some of the following examples, demonstrate a lack of correspondence with “the way things are” (the kind of insight the Buddha claimed to provide). These are not just examples of miracles, which would have to be examined on an individual basis according to the evidence for or against them. Rather, they are examples of “reality claims”, which can be tested against modern and non-controversial knowledge of our world (such as the layout of the continents, the height of the tallest mountain, the size of the oceans, etc.).”

We shall review…

“This is the topic which brings to light Sakyamuni’s claims to omniscience (or the Pali Canon’s claims on his behalf). How credible is the Pali Canon as a book of facts? If Sakyamuni Buddha did not inspire these writings either directly or indirectly, where is the standard by which truth is measured? And, if it is claimed that the Pali Canon was inspired by the Buddha why does it contain so many factual errors? If the Pali Canon is a mix of truth and error, entrusting one’s destiny to its teachings would be like entrusting oneself to a doctor who prescribes both good and harmful medicines– a real gamble.”

The author here seems to be willfully ignorant of the many demonstrated  contradictory errors of the Christian Bible, a few of which have been discussed in this review.

This is the type of approach that you can expect from those who have been taught to have what can best be described as a divine scriptural fetishism with their scripture. This is why such always feel the need to fit the world into their scripture instead of their scripture into the world. Instead of a historical document that is a guiding light or road map, it becomes the unquestioned word of a personified almighty God!
This approach has always been a potentially very dangerous one as it subjugates the reasoning ability of humanity to what is perceived as the will of God.

There is certainly nothing wrong with understanding the fact that interpolations may very well exist within the Pali Canon, Buddhist teaching does not advocate the divine scriptural fetishism approach, or as it is expressed in Christianity, The Doctrine Of Inerrance”.

If any interpolations do exist how do we tell the difference?

AN 8.53
[The teachings that promote] the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome’: You may categorically hold, ‘This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher’s instruction.’
[As for the teachings that promote] the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’: You may categorically hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’

A safe bet for what might well be an interpolation is when it goes against this teaching as to how to tell the difference as well as when it is contrary to the overall teaching of the Tipitaka. Again, it is the Christian who must instead make up one excuse after another when discussing the Bible because of the need to justify everything written as the unerring word of an unerring perfect God. Again, let us remember the example mentioned earlier of the two different genealogy stories of Jesus in the bible, one in Matt. and the other in Luke. (Matt 1 1-16 and Luke 3: 23-37) Both are given specifically as the genealogy of Jesus. There is a story of how this is because Mary’s father adopted Joseph and how therefore one is really the genealogy of Mary! Now again, the question is this…if the Christian Bible is really the unerring word of an unerring perfect God… then why have a story that contradicts the Bible explain what it is that the Bible tells you? This is only one of many different examples . Or we could look at the four different stories of the resurrection of Jesus in the Christian Bible as another of many such examples…….

1. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James go to the tomb and find guards and boulder which move after earthquake. One flying angel on the boulder tells what happened.
Matt.28

2. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome go to the tomb, find no guards or boulder and one young man in the tomb tells what happened. But women told no one.
Mark 16
3. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and some other women go to the tomb, and two men in the tomb tell what happened.
Luke 24
4. Mary goes to the tomb to find nothing, she then tells the disciples that someone stole the body so they go back and again find nothing. The disciples then leave and Jesus appears to tell Mary what happened.
John 20
I have been told that the resurrection of Jesus is one of the most if not the most important event in human history, so…..why couldn’t the four apostle’s who wrote the four gospels get such an important story straight?
I’ve heard Christian’s say… “The stories are complementary”!
Complementary?
How could the other three apostles not remember such a thing, or not think that a FLYING ANGEL OF GOD as something relevant to at least mention?
Contemporary scholars regard it as the earliest of the canonical gospels (c 70), so how reasonable is it that the apostle Mark forgot about a flying angel of God, or simply did not think it worthy to mention along with Luke and John who did the same as well?
Were not talking about a fender bender of a car accident where one person might say that the car that sped off was light blue but someone else might say no, it was dark blue…..
No, what we are talking about here is a FLYING ANGEL OF GOD for cripes sake!!!
How could the other three apostles not remember such a thing, or not think that a FLYING ANGEL OF GOD as something relevant to at least mention?

Let us reason ….Shall we?

The book of gen. Ch.11 tells us that the reason why there are different languages in the word today is because of the tower of babel! So the next time your in linguistics class and the professor is teaching about the ancient Chinese language or something, you just stand up and tell them all your not going to be fooled! You let them know that you will not be deceived by Satan! When they ask you just what the rest of the world was speaking prior to the tower of Babel, which was actually a “Ziggurat” ( a multi -storied temple tower from ancient Mesopotamia)5 you just tell them that the rest of the world must have been of the same ancient language! When they remind you that the Sumerian is a language isolate compared to the Egyptian which both came prior to the Classical Hebrew 6……. Ignore them! Remind them of Satan’s trickery! How can any of that be relevant if God simply changed everybody language? So what if this all means that among other things, that the Chinese had no language and were not even Chinese until after the Chinese speaking Sumerians came to town! God must have changed the Sumerian D.N.A. into Chinese D.N.A…. and then they went to China with their new genetic profile and language!  How fabulous! Tell them Mr. Reality Claim said so!

Should any of this necessarily have any bearing one way or the other, on the message that Jesus preached or the validity of that message, or should we use other analysis to decide that issue aside from whether or not the Christian Bible is the “unerring” word of “God”?

“The cure approved of by the Buddha, is to let the “non-human” spirit (a.k.a. demon) indulge itself in raw flesh and blood. Is there any disease for which this would actually be a wise practice?”

A “non-human affliction” first of all could refer to several things … Another possibility is that what is being spoken of here is simply a physical ailment that did not usually hinder a human being. What ever it was the Venerable Gotama was a very practical person, if something worked then he approved it…if not then he didn’t.
“Is there any disease for which this would actually be a wise practice?” As what was being talked of here was referred to as a “non-human affliction” this question would simply not apply for the above reasons of possibility given. This was apparently an unusual circumstance and approximately two thousand five hundred years ago their world being a quite different one than it is today, it’s very possible that they knew something that in today’s world we would be most unfamiliar with.

“Why didn’t the Buddha cast out such a foul oppressor as Jesus Christ often did” ?
Presuming that such stories are true, if that is what it was or not we are still talking about a different approach. The Buddha didn’t claim to be a divine God like being performing miracles to convince people of his divine omniscience. This gives the Buddhist encouragement because it doesn’t mean that we have to be either or worship a God like deity Christian form or otherwise in order to achieve spiritual emancipation. I will also point out that in the Kavatta sutta ( Digha Nikaya #11) the Buddha refuses the suggestion of performing miracles so that others will believe his teaching, in favor of what is called the miracle of wise instruction. There is a saying… feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. As well, the last time that I looked, Jesus I noticed was nowhere to be found healing people and creating miracles. The Christian Bible tells us (John 14:12) though, that a ‘true’ Christian can perform greater miracles than Jesus. According to the Christian bible, (Mark 16:16-18) a true Christian should be able to heal the sick and be completely immune from any poison! If that is true then I guess I haven’t met any ‘true’ Christians lately!
I must admit as well, that the last time that I looked, there were no Unicorns (Isaiah 34:7) talking donkeys, (Numbers 23:23-30) or Leviathan sea monsters (Isaiah 27:1 and Job 41:1) hanging around the neighborhood either!
But wait a minute… none of that wouldn’t necessarily have anything to do with the ministry of Jesus or the validity of his message either …now would it?

“But, also if there is no Creator, how can we expect our world to have any morals (or any karmic justice), or any beauty if everything came into being through random, mutated, impersonal chance?”

We can’t figure out morality for ourselves? Do we need a creator God to tell us that it is morally wrong for an innocent man to hang?Karmic justice? Its called cause and effect. As well hasn’t anyone ever informed the author that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

“The missing links are still missing.”
Really? I would suggest a book by Dr. David Johannsen titled “Lucy”. He was the first one to discover the example of what is termed Homo Sapien as opposed to Homo Sapien Sapien the sub species that we are. This discovery has never been disproved.7

God

“In Jataka 543, questions are asked concerning a Creator[xx]: ‘Why are his creatures all condemned to pain? Why does he not to all give happiness. [sic]’ (Jones, 144). The agnosticism/atheism in Buddhism and emphasis on self-effort, claim for humanity a jurisdiction all their own. Suffering that is so evident in this world is often given as the reason for rejecting a loving and powerful God. The book of Job in the Bible addresses the problem of apparent injustices in this world. By making a judgement about their circumstances, people presume to know all that can be known about the situation. Job had a similar complaint, because from his perspective, he couldn’t see any justice in what he was facing. In response, God asked Job four chapters worth of questions (Job 38-41), which made Job realize how limited his knowledge really is. Sitting in judgment on God is presuming to know what is right based on our finite and limited perspective. What knowledge does such a person have, that the Creator has not yet considered?”

We shall review…

“Sitting in judgment on God is presuming to know what is right based on our finite and limited perspective. What knowledge does such a person have, that the Creator has not yet considered?”

This would of course imply that this Christian God of theirs is either looking for gullible people who will believe practically anything that he is reported to have said or decreed or that ‘God’ is incapable of dumbing things down just a bit so that we can all be on the same page together! Perhaps a combination of dumbing it down and raising our intelligence would be too much to ask for? Reality check anyone? Faith did I hear someone mention? But if it must come down to “Faith” as the keystone for your religious belief then what makes your “faith” any better than anyone else’s? All religious faiths have their place for faith also, no? Thankfully Buddhism does not place it as the critical factor to say the least. This is why we have the Kalama Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya (3.65 or #.66 in the Thai Tipitaka) which is the Buddha’s discourse on the value of free inquiry. Not the value of blind faith as a priority .

It can only be said as well that a Buddhist is an atheist only if you narrow the word ‘God’ down to nothing more than the typical monotheistic approach of a separate and supreme persona that is a part of creation but not subject to it’s own laws of creation.
What the Venerable Gotama was demonstrating was the foolishness of taking all the creative and intellectual power of this ever expanding multiverse of a universe and narrowing it down as such to a name with its own personality as a personified being. This can be very helpful for those who feel the need to have a personal relationship with “God”, but then many apparently aren’t very able to see beyond that.


DN 11
Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta (excerpt)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Then the monk attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods of the retinue of Brahma appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of Brahma and, on arrival, asked them, ‘Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?

When this was said, the gods of the retinue of Brahma said to the monk, ‘We also don’t know where the four great elements… cease without remainder. But there is Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. He is higher and more sublime than we. He should know where the four great elements… cease without remainder.

But where, friends, is the Great Brahma now?

Monk, we also don’t know where Brahma is or in what way Brahma is. But when signs appear, light shines forth, and a radiance appears, Brahma will appear. For these are the portents of Brahma’s appearance: light shines forth and a radiance appears.

Then it was not long before Brahma appeared.

So the monk approached the Great Brahma and, on arrival, said, ‘Friend, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?

When this was said, the Great Brahma said to the monk, ‘I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.

A second time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, ‘Friend, I didn’t ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.

A second time, the Great Brahma said to the monk, ‘I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.

A third time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, ‘Friend, I didn’t ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.

Then the Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him, ‘These gods of the retinue of Brahma believe, “There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not know. There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not see. There is nothing of which the Great Brahma is unaware. There is nothing that the Great Brahma has not realized.” That is why I did not say in their presence that I, too, don’t know where the four great elements… cease without remainder. So you have acted wrongly, acted incorrectly, in bypassing the Blessed One in search of an answer to this question elsewhere. Go right back to the Blessed One and, on arrival, ask him this question. However he answers it, you should take it to heart.

Then — just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm — the monk disappeared from the Brahma world and immediately appeared in front of me. Having bowed down to me, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to me, ‘Lord, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?

When this was said, I said to him, ‘Once, monk, some sea-faring merchants took a shore-sighting bird and set sail in their ship. When they could not see the shore, they released the shore-sighting bird. It flew to the east, south, west, north, straight up, and to all the intermediate points of the compass. If it saw the shore in any direction, it flew there. If it did not see the shore in any direction, it returned right back to the ship. In the same way, monk, having gone as far as the Brahma world in search of an answer to your question, you have come right back to my presence.

Your question should not be phrased in this way: Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder? Instead, it should be phrased like this:

Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing?
Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?
And the answer to that is:

Consciousness without feature,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness*
each is here brought to an end.
That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Kevatta the householder delighted in the Blessed One’s words.* As noted meaning”without feature” or “binding characteristic” as unlimited without end.

The vanity in this world should turn us towards our Creator for direction and renewal, rather than supposing we can handle the problems on our own. Jesus taught his disciples their need to humble themselves before God: “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18: 2-3). What we see in this world oftentimes is unjust- the wicked prospering, the “innocent” facing trouble, etc., but we need to know the perspective of eternity, which includes a judgment day in which God will judge the world in righteousness. In Buddhism, the question of God’s existence is placed in the category of vain philosophical speculation– supposing that this question does not help a person end suffering through Nirvana. Thankfully, knowing God does not lead us to Nirvana (non-existence).

Nirvana does not mean non-existence. The author here of course takes an incorrect perspective in order to then criticize. The philosophers of ancient India viewed fire as being bound and binding as well that which it consumed. To ‘extinguish’ therefore meant to liberate that which was being bound.8

“Also, considering Sakyamuni’s lack of omniscience, it is hardly advisable to trust in his speculations about what is or is not a worthy pursuit. If an appliance in our house is not functioning properly, we turn to the owner’s manual or maybe call the maker of that appliance. Similarly, God who made us has the answers to life’s dilemmas.”

Conclusion

Looking at Buddhism plainly like this, if Buddhism were a journey, it would be a journey in which the road map contains known false claims, the “discoverer” of this journey is no longer around to offer any help, and ultimately one is extinguished when arriving at the destination. Although Buddhism is a fascinating system, it leads people along a pathway away from the God who loves them, away from incorruptible everlasting life, and thus away from what we were made for- a life washed of our sins and relating to our Maker- made possible not by “earning it”, but through Jesus Christ taking our punishment onto Himself on the cross. To reject this is to reject a true road map to heaven[xxi], help for the journey, and a guide who will not fail us. To acknowledge and accept this is to begin a relationship of trust with our Maker. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3: 16-18).

“Looking at Buddhism plainly like this, if Buddhism were a journey, it would be a journey in which the road map contains known false claims, the “discoverer” of this journey is no longer around to offer any help, and ultimately one is extinguished when arriving at the destination.”

“Known false claims”? If the author of this article were to look at the teaching overall of his own Christian Bible as well as the Pali Canon Tipataka instead of whatever it is that he/she or anyone else believes to be far fetched, then he/she would be less likely to say this….. ” the “discoverer” of this journey is no longer around to offer any help”, and Jesus of Nazareth is? Oh that’s right, they believe that he is……  “and ultimately one is extinguished when arriving at the destination.” Again this is a false interpretation of nibbana, but convenient for this sort of Christian propaganda.

Samutarra Nikaya 12.64:

“Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the North, The South, or the East. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?”“On the Western wall lord.”“And if there is no Western wall, where does it land?”“On the ground, lord.”“And if there is no ground, where does it land?”“ On the water lord.”“And if there is no water, where does it land?”“It does not land, lord.”Notice that it does not say that with no place to land, the sun ray ceases to exist. When the sun ray “lands” in this analogy you have birth in “Samsara”, not a “place” really but a process of being identified or “bound” by ones circumstances as a consciousness of “this” or “that”.
The Christian propagandist can do his or her best to misconstrue and deceive people about our Pali Canon Tipataka and the teaching of what we today call “Buddhism”, I know they must believe that they are doing something good. They also must feel threatened by just what we have to offer.

We should have sincere compassion for such unfortunate people.

 

I wish you all a spiritually prosperous day!

 

Bhikkhu Aggacitto a.k.a.

Brother Mark:)

 

References for the article discussed

Childers, R.C. (1979). A Dictionary of the Pali Language. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications.

Gogerly, D.J. (1885). The Kristiyani Prajnapti or The Evidences and Doctrines of the Christian Religion in three parts. Colombo: Christian Vernacular Education Society.

Herman, A.L. (1996). Two Dogmas of Buddhism. In Pali Buddhism Hoffman, F.J., Mahinda, D. (Eds.) Surrey: Curzon Press.

Jones, J.G. (1979). Tales and Teachings of the Buddha: The Jataka Stories in relation to the Pali Canon. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Keown, D. (2000). Buddhism: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Odzer, C. (1998). Abortion and Prostitution in Bangkok. In Buddhism and Abortion. Keown, D. (Ed.). Great Britain: Macmillan Press Ltd.

Rahula, W. (1999). What the Buddha Taught. Bangkok: Haw Trai Foundation.

Rhys Davids, T.W. & Stede, W. (1966). The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary. London: Luzac & Company, Ltd.

The Debate of King Milinda: An Abridgement of The Milinda Panha. (1998) Pesala, B. (Ed.) Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pte. Ltd.

The Holy Bible: New King James Version (1991 printing). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc.

The Pali Canon: Pali Text Society Version. Abbreviations of Pali Text Society books, with Pali titles in parentheses: V = Book of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka); GS = Gradual Sayings (Anguttara Nikaya); D = Dialogues of the Buddha (Digha Nikaya); KS = Kindred Sayings (Samyutta Nikaya); MLS = Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima Nikaya); JS(S) = Jataka Stories (Jataka).

Trimondi, V. & Trimondi, V. (1999) Der Schatten des Dalai Lama: Sexualitaet, Magie und Politik im tibetischen Buddhismus. Duesseldorf: Patmos- Verlag.

Vajiranana, P. (1987). Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice: A General Exposition According to the Pali Canon of the Theravada School. Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society.

[xvi] Dhamma can be translated as the body of teaching or the doctrine.

[xvii] Vipassana meditation is what makes Buddhist meditation unique, focusing on the transitory (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha), and non-self (anatta) nature of existence.

[xviii] This is a non-canonical work, written by Buddhaghosa, but very well respected among Theravada Buddhists.

[xix] Jhana is also spelled Dhyana. Rahula defines Dhyana as, “’trance’, recueillement, a state of mind achieved through higher meditation.” (143)

[xx] In this case the creator referred to is Brahman, although this is actually an argument against the existence of such a creator.

[xxi] For some examples of the reliability of the Bible, the following sites present some evidence from history, archeology, fulfilled prophecies, etc.:

http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/resource.html

http://www.letusreason.org/Apolodir.htm

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/historical.html

http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/article-index-b_1.html

Childers, R.C. (1979). A Dictionary of the Pali Language. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications.

Gogerly, D.J. (1885). The Kristiyani Prajnapti or The Evidences and Doctrines of the Christian Religion in three parts. Colombo: Christian Vernacular Education Society.

Herman, A.L. (1996). Two Dogmas of Buddhism. In Pali Buddhism Hoffman, F.J., Mahinda, D. (Eds.) Surrey: Curzon Press.

Jones, J.G. (1979). Tales and Teachings of the Buddha: The Jataka Stories in relation to the Pali Canon. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Keown, D. (2000). Buddhism: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Odzer, C. (1998). Abortion and Prostitution in Bangkok. In Buddhism and Abortion. Keown, D. (Ed.). Great Britain: Macmillan Press Ltd.

Rahula, W. (1999). What the Buddha Taught. Bangkok: Haw Trai Foundation.

Rhys Davids, T.W. & Stede, W. (1966). The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary. London: Luzac & Company, Ltd.

The Debate of King Milinda: An Abridgement of The Milinda Panha. (1998) Pesala, B. (Ed.) Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pte. Ltd.

The Holy Bible: New King James Version (1991 printing). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc.

The Pali Canon: Pali Text Society Version. Abbreviations of Pali Text Society books, with Pali titles in parentheses: V = Book of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka); GS = Gradual Sayings (Anguttara Nikaya); D = Dialogues of the Buddha (Digha Nikaya); KS = Kindred Sayings (Samyutta Nikaya); MLS = Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima Nikaya); JS(S) = Jataka Stories (Jataka).

Trimondi, V. & Trimondi, V. (1999) Der Schatten des Dalai Lama: Sexualitaet, Magie und Politik im tibetischen Buddhismus. Duesseldorf: Patmos- Verlag.

Vajiranana, P. (1987). Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice: A General Exposition According to the Pali Canon of the Theravada School. Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society.

[xvi] Dhamma can be translated as the body of teaching or the doctrine.

[xvii] Vipassana meditation is what makes Buddhist meditation unique, focusing on the transitory (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha), and non-self (anatta) nature of existence.

[xviii] This is a non-canonical work, written by Buddhaghosa, but very well respected among Theravada Buddhists.

[xix] Jhana is also spelled Dhyana. Rahula defines Dhyana as, “’trance’, recueillement, a state of mind achieved through higher meditation.” (143)

[xx] In this case the creator referred to is Brahman, although this is actually an argument against the existence of such a creator.

[xxi] For some examples of the reliability of the Bible, the following sites present some evidence from history, archeology, fulfilled prophecies, etc.:

http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/resource.html

http://www.letusreason.org/Apolodir.htm

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/historical.html

http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/article-index-b_1.html

References for this article.

1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikkhuni#Re-establishing_Bhikkhuni_Ordination
2.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.31.0.nara.html
3.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/khp/khp.5.nara.html
4.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.than.html

5.http://www.livius.org/articles/concept/ziggurat/

6.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_language

7.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human
8.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/likefire/index.html

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