Newsletter of the District
- Sep 2001
What’s wrong with Buddhism ?
The Clerical Promoters
Doctrine of original sin discriminates against persons of other
religions or of no religion
Fr. Tissa Balasuryia O.M.I.
priest was excommunicated recently for his heretical teachings and
then re-accepted in the Church without having had to retract anything.
In the following extract from his book “Mary and Human Liberation”,
although he does not explicitly mention Buddhism by name, nevertheless
he lays a fundamental principle for the ‘dialogue’ with Buddhism:
since, according to him, original sin does not exist, there is no
absolute need of a Mediator, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, one can
be saved in any religion.
of original sin as developed in Christian theology taught that humanity
was in such a state of original and unavoidable sinfulness that
only Jesus Christ and his merits could save human beings. For many
centuries this was understood as requiring the acknowledgement of
Jesus Christ as Savior and membership of the Catholic Church. Even
today, it is generally interpreted to imply that salvation is by
some means or other, through Jesus Christ.
The dogma concerning
redemption was developed from the presuppositions concerning original
sin. Jesus, the universal savior, was said to confer the graces
merited by Him through his Church founded by Him.
did so through the sacraments of which baptism had to be the first.
Baptism is said to remove the stain of original sin, not concupiscence
but the other consequences of original sin whereby humans are alienated
of the Church to be the vehicle of eternal salvation has a twofold
impact which are questionable. First it claims for a religious establishment
the power to mediate salvation beyond this life. This can be questioned
by those who do not acknowledge a religion at all. Even if we maintain
that salvation is through Jesus Christ, it does not follow that
we can claim that Jesus Christ wanted a Church—say the Catholic
Church—to be the mediator of that salvation. In fact both Jesus
and Paul speak of a direct relationship between God and the human
person. In the ultimate analysis, holiness and salvation are in
the relationship between a person and one's conscience and God.
(Rom. chap. 2, Jesus Last Judgment, Mt. 25)
of the doctrine of original sin seemed to reduce the chance of eternal
salvation of persons of no religion. Even when the human conscience
was given the ultimate say in determining human actions, morality
and spirituality, it was regarded as a less reliable path to salvation.
To us this
is a form of religionism, in which one or several religions claim
to be able to mediate eternal salvation even after death. This is
an area which religion as an organized community cannot reach, and
salvation at that stage is a mystery of a person's relationship
to the Absolute Transcendent—God.
A second aspect
of discrimination in this doctrine is concerning persons of faiths
other than Christianity. Though the Church now affirm the possibility
of salvation through other religions, the weight of the Christian
tradition has been to explain original sin in such a way that the
remedy for it was said to be in and through the Church thanks to
the merits of Christ. This did not cause much difficulty in Euro-American
society where all were presumed to have the opportunity of baptism,
and therefore of undoing the damage of original sin.
perspective of original sin is linked to a concept of God that is
not acceptable to the other religions in our Asian countries. In
our countries this idea of humanity being born alienated from the
Creator would seem an abominable concept of the divine. To believe
that whole generations of entire Continents lived and died with
a lesser chance of salvation is repugnant to the notion of a just
and loving God.
In fact, part
of the cause for the excesses of missionary zeal in being against
other religions was due to such a theological perspective of "salvation
only in the Church". St. Francis Xavier said he was like mad
going in search of souls to be saved, that were going into hell.
The traditional theology and spirituality had such a thrust. Missionaries
would go to the ends of the earth to save souls. People had to be
baptized and thus saved. Hence even baptisms in the womb, when a
fetus was in danger of death. That was the impact of the concept
of original sin. (…)
The claim of
the Church to be guided by the Spirit of Truth does not prevent
the theologians and pastors of the Church leaving room for their
theological imagination. This is particularly likely in matters
concerning which there is no empirical evidence or criteria of positive
verification, and no clear biblical statement. But problems arise
when conclusions of such theological evolution are harmful to others
or to the whole of humanity. Then we are entitled to ask how is
one sure that the teachings are from the Holy Spirit? Could they
be influenced by the presuppositions and assumptions of the theologians,
by the self interest of the group theologizing and even by the "gift"
of theological imagination which can be quite fertile and ingenious
in evolving formulations to satisfy the needs of a group of believers
specially when they exercise dominant political, cultural and spiritual
power in a society?
Here our criteria
for evaluating doctrines can be very helpful. If a doctrine is dehumanizing
of a category of persons or affecting them unduly and unjustifiably
it cannot be from God who is love or from Jesus who is so humanly
divine in all his teachings and life. We are then entitled to question
the fruits of the imagination which may claim to pass for the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit (even if such doctrines have prevailed in the
Church for centuries).
and Human Liberation, Logos, Colombo, March/July 1990, pp.80-85.)
Buddhist—Christian Dialogue among
Msgr W. L. A. Don Peter
Rector of the Colombo Archdiocesan Seminary, of St Joseph College,
Colombo, of Aquinas College of Higher Studies, Vicar General of
the Archdiocese of Colombo, etc.
this article, Msgr. Peter accepts the possibility of sanctity outside
of Jesus Christ—Who said “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jo. 5,
5), confuses the natural order and the supernatural order, and values
the pure pelagianism promoted by Buddhism.
attitude towards Buddhist Monachism
the most widely spread religion in the East, and a religion in which
monachism has held a pre-eminent position, Christian missionaries
from the West, who in the course of the past several centuries have
been engaged in evangelistic work in the various Buddhist countries
of Asia, should have shown a more enlightened interest in it than
they did, especially because they, themselves were, for the most
part, members of religious orders Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits,
etc. Their attitude, on the contrary, was triumphalistic, unsympathetic
and unfriendly, and sometimes even intolerant and hostile. (...)
We have to
understand the attitude of the European missionaries in the light
of the various circumstances that prevailed in their day. First,
they were so convinced of the uniqueness of Christianity as the
only revealed and true religion that they tended to look down upon
other religions, particularly ministers of religion, as were the
bhikkhus, whom they considered as teachers of error. For them, other
religions were 'pagan' and 'heathen' and they showed no appreciation
was generally in the wake of the conquistadors that the missionaries
came out to the East; and they continued to be closely allied with
them, and were protected, supported and favored by them. The missionaries
shared the imperialistic sentiments of the colonial powers. They,
too, came to 'conquer' the East for Christ, conquista espiritual
do Oriente and sometimes resorted to aggressive and questionable
means to achieve their aim.
missionaries themselves believed with other Westerners, in the superiority
of Western culture, which was very much Christian. (...) In attempting
to propagate Christianity in the East, the missionaries sought also
to introduce Western cultural elements into Oriental society. They
sincerely thought that in this way they were doing a good turn to
Eastern peoples, as they were giving them something better and nobler
than what they possessed. (...)
cultures themselves were so closely interwoven with Oriental religions
that the missionaries from the West found it difficult to see a
distinction between them, and denounced both religions and cultures
as pagan. (...)
in other faiths
It is largely
because we have regarded non-Christian religions as ‘pagan’ that
we tended to ignore them and keep aloof from them when conversion
was not possible. Such an attitude admittedly does not permit of
inter-faith dialogue, with the result that our knowledge of Buddhism
and of Buddhist monachism has remained vague and superficial, if
not erroneous and biased.
in particular should have been specially interested in Buddhism
in view of the fact that a form of religious and monastic life,
parallel to theirs, exists in Buddhism, but unfortunately this has
not been so. (...) Nor must we overlook the fact that there are
also exemplary religious among the Buddhist monks, just as there
are in Christian religious orders.
religious seek spiritual perfection following the guidance of the
revealed word of God in the Gospels, that is, the evangelical counsels.
Buddhist monachism is the outcome of a human endeavor to evolve
a system or way of life for reaching a similar goal. It has special
value in that it is an effort made by man to reach holiness without
the guidance of direct divine revelation. We appreciate man's achievements
in science and technology. We should value much more human achievement,
no doubt with God's help, in the spiritual order. We are reminded
by the Second Vatican Council that non-Christian faiths contain
"treasures a bountiful God has distributed among the nations
of the earth." (Ad Gentes, 11) Furthermore, the Christian religious
should humbly search in Buddhist religious life for what they might
learn from it with profit to themselves. The study of Buddhist monachism,
not only what it is now but what it has been, will undoubtedly be
an enriching experience for them. At the same time they should seek,
in a spirit of Christian charity, to share with the Buddhist religious,
when there is opportunity for it, their own experience of the religious
In the mind
of most Orientals, Christianity is a Western religion, the religion
of the white man, of the Western imperialist. This impression is
due, again, to historical reasons. Although Christianity is in origin
an Asian religion, like the other world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism,
Islam), it moved Westwards quite early and evangelized Europe, and
in the process became itself 'Europeanized'. It was this Europeanized
form of Christianity that was later introduced into the East by
Europeans themselves, and, in most cases, under European rule. The
prejudice against Christianity, as the religion of the Western aggressor
still persists. It is regarded as a religion alien to the East.
It is a fact
that under Western imperialism Buddhism suffered. Foreign rule was
a setback to Buddhism and Buddhist monachism. The monks who had
held a position of eminence under native Buddhist rulers who had
been their chief beneficiaries were now ignored. Christianity, the
religion of the foreign power, received favored treatment from the
government. Christian clergy rose to the position of eminence previously
held by the Buddhist monks. Christian missionary bodies opened schools,
often with government aid, where the native Christians received
a good education, which enabled them to secure high positions and
thereby rise in the economic and social ladder. The Buddhists, not
having such opportunities, or not being organized like the Christian
Churches to avail themselves of any opportunities open to them were
reduced to a secondary position, even where they were the vast majority
of the population. It was only after independence that efforts began
to be made to restore Buddhism and Buddhist monachism to their former
powers, sometimes with vested interests, supported the Church in
her missionary effort. Colonial rule placed the Church in an advantageous
position. Under the rule of the Christian powers from the West,
a determined effort was made to convert native peoples to Christianity.
This effort was sometimes oppressive to the traditional religions.
Although the allegation that compulsion was resorted to make converts
cannot be substantiated, it is a fact that other doubtful means
such as favors, privileges, preferment, social and educational benefits,
etc., have been employed to gain converts.
know from past history and experience that the Christians are only
too eager to make converts. This has made dialogue with them somewhat
difficult. They have the suspicion that our intention is ultimately
to win them over to Christianity. In fact, even our present attitude
of friendliness towards other religions and our efforts towards
dialogue with them have been regarded with suspicion. It has even
been thought that the new attitude of the Church is only a new and
subtle approach, a new ruse, to gain converts. Such suspicion is
admittedly an obstacle to free and friendly dialogue.(... )
From the foregoing,
certain practical conclusions might be drawn.
1. It is
certainly most desirable that Christian religious should seek
to have dialogue with Buddhist religious. Such dialogue is bound
to be beneficial to both, and to the cause of religion in general.
2. The aim
of dialogue should not be the conversion of the Buddhist religious
to Christianity or vice versa. It should be made clear to the
Buddhists that our intention is not to convert them. We must be
sincere on this point. Otherwise a genuine dialogue will not be
possible. But, of course, there should be complete freedom to
change one's religion if one desires to do so.
should be sought not in a spirit of triumphalism, but with deep
humility, not from a pedestal, but on the same plane, not as a
superior dealing with an inferior, but as brother meeting brother.
4. It should
be the aim of dialogue to gain a better knowledge of one another,
both as persons and religious. Such knowledge will lead to a better
understanding of one another and the various aspects of the religious
life peculiar to each. Correct knowledge will also dispel prejudice.
It is only then that a genuine appreciation of one another will
should also aim at close association. The Christian religious
and the Buddhist religious have similar goals, according to the
teaching of each religion, and, at least partly, a similar way
of life. Therefore in living that life, shouldn't they be closely
associated in a spirit of brotherly interest in one another? (...)
6. In the
seclusion of temple or vinhdra, Buddhist monks have been able
to devote much time to scholastic pursuits. Throughout the history
of Buddhist monachism, there have been monks who distinguished
themselves as scholars, writers and educators. This tradition
of scholarship is being maintained in most Buddhist countries.
Couldn't the Christian religious be associated with the Buddhist
religious in joint studies of religion, religious life and kindred
subjects or any subject for that matter in which they have a common
7. It is
a fact that the growth of material prosperity, especially in the
developed countries in the West, has brought in its wake a disregard
of religious values and ideals. The spirit of secularism is afflicting
the Church itself particularly in the West. Laxity in moral life
especially relating to sex, the move to be rid of priestly celibacy,
the exodus from the ranks of the priesthood and the religious
life, and the acute shortage of priestly and religious vocations
are perhaps indications of the extent to which Catholics themselves
have come under the baneful influence of materialism and secularism.
What has happened to Christianity in the West might in time to
come be the fate of Oriental religions as well.
Christian religious therefore join hands with the Buddhist religious
to combat, by the spoken and written word, by the example of their
lives and by any other means available to them, the forces of secularism
in modem society? In this endeavor, the Christian religious should
find an ally in the Buddhist religious, drawn as they are from the
East, where the spirit of religion still widely prevails, and spiritual
values and ideals are esteemed.
( From Studies
in Buddhism, by Msgr. W. L. A. Don Peter, Colombo, 1994, pp.
73 - 82.)
the following articles, from the Summa Theologica, St Thomas refutes
various points, which apply perfectly to the teaching of Buddhism
as promoted by false ecumenism. Can one attain perfection, that
is observe all the commandments, avoid sin, reach Heaven, without
the help of God? The Buddhists answer yes, since they do not recognize
the necessity of the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. St Thomas,
the Common Doctor of the Church says, with all the Fathers, with
all the Tradition and teaching of the Church, no, absolutely no.
man without grace and by his own natural powers can fulfil the commandments
of the Law?
that it is part of the Pelagian heresy that “they believe that without
grace man can fulfil all the Divine commandments.”
that, There are two ways of fulfilling the commandments of the
Law. The first regards the substance of the works, as when a man
does works of justice, fortitude, and of other virtues. And in this
way man in the state of perfect nature (i.e. before the fall - Ed.)
could fulfil all the commandments of the Law; otherwise he would
have been unable to sin in that state, since to sin is nothing else
than to transgress the Divine commandments. But in the state of
corrupted nature man cannot fulfil all the Divine commandments without
healing grace. Secondly, the commandments of the law can be fulfilled,
not merely as regards the substance of the act, but also as regards
the mode of acting, i.e. their being done out of charity. And in
this way, neither in the state of perfect nature, nor in the state
of corrupt nature can man fulfil the commandments of the law without
grace. Hence, Augustine having stated that “without grace men can
do no good whatever,” adds: “Not only do they know by its light
what to do, but by its help they do lovingly what they know.” Beyond
this, in both states they need the help of God's motion in order
to fulfil the commandments.
man can merit everlasting life without grace?
(1a2ae, q.109, a5)
says (Rm. 6:23): “The grace of God is life everlasting.” And as
a gloss says, this is said “that we may understand that God, of
His own mercy, leads us to everlasting life.”
that, Acts conducing to an end must be proportioned to the end.
But no act exceeds the proportion of its active principle; and hence
we see in natural things, that nothing can by its operation bring
about an effect which exceeds its active force, but only such as
is proportionate to its power. Now everlasting life is an end exceeding
the proportion of human nature, as is clear from what we have said
above (1a2ae q5, a5, see next article below). Hence man, by his
natural endowments, cannot produce meritorious works proportionate
to everlasting life; and for this a higher force is needed, viz.
the force of grace. And thus without grace man cannot merit everlasting
life; yet he can perform works conducing to a good which is natural
to man, as “to toil in the fields, to drink, to eat, or to have
friends,” and the like, as Augustine says in his third Reply to
3. Everlasting life is the last end of human life. Now every
natural thing by its natural endowments can attain its end. Much
more, therefore, may man attain to life everlasting by his natural
endowments, without grace.
Objection 3. This objection has to do with the natural end of
man. Now human nature, since it is nobler, can be raised by the
help of grace to a higher end, which lower natures can not reach;
even as a man who can recover his health by the help of medicines
is better disposed to health than one who can not recover it, as
the philosopher observes.
man can attain happiness
by his natural powers?
Man is naturally
the principle of his action, by his intellect and will. But final
Happiness prepared for the saints, surpasses the intellect and will
of man; for the Apostle says (1 Cor. 2:9) "Eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what
things God hath prepared for them that love Him." Therefore
man cannot attain Happiness by his natural powers.
that, Imperfect happiness that can be had in this life, can
be acquired by man by his natural powers, in the same way as virtue,
in whose operation it consists: on this point we shall speak further
on (q63). But man's perfect Happiness, as stated above (q3, a8),
consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. Now the vision of
God's Essence surpasses the nature not only of man, but also of
every creature, as was shown in the 1a, q12, a4. For the natural
knowledge of every creature is in keeping with the mode of his substance:
thus it is said of the intelligence that "it knows things that
are above it, and things that are below it, according to the mode
of its substance." But every knowledge that is according to
the mode of created substance, falls short of the vision of the
Divine Essence, which infinitely surpasses all created substance.
Consequently neither man, nor any creature, can attain final Happiness
by his natural powers.
1. It would seem that man can attain happiness by his natural
powers. For nature does not fail in necessary things. But nothing
is so necessary to man as that by which he attains the last end.
Therefore this is not lacking to human nature. Therefore man can
attain Happiness by his natural powers.
Objection 1. Just as nature does not fail man in necessaries,
although it has not provided him with weapons and clothing, as it
provided other animals, because it gave him reason and hands, with
which he is able to get these things for himself; so neither did
it fail man in things necessary, although it gave him not the wherewithal
to attain Happiness: since this it could not do. But it did give
him free-will, with which he can turn to God, that He may make him
happy. "For what we do by means of our friends, is done, in
a sense, by ourselves" (Ethic. III, 3).
man without grace can avoid sin?
"Whoever denies that we ought to say the prayer 'Lead us not
into temptation' (and they deny it who maintain that the help of
God's grace is not necessary to man for salvation, but that the
gift of the law is enough for the human will) ought without doubt
to be removed beyond all hearing, and to be anathematized by the
tongues of all."
that, We may speak of man in two ways: first, in the state of
perfect nature; secondly, in the state of corrupted nature. Now
in the state of perfect nature, man, without habitual grace, could
avoid sinning either mortally or venially; since to sin is nothing
else than to stray from what is according to our nature—and in the
state of perfect nature man could avoid this. Nevertheless he could
not have done it without God's help to uphold him in good, since
if this had been withdrawn, even his nature would have fallen back
But in the
state of corrupt nature man needs grace to heal his nature in order
that he may entirely abstain from sin. And in the present life this
healing is wrought in the mind--the carnal appetite being not yet
restored. Hence the Apostle (Rm. 7:25) says in the person of one
who is restored: "I myself, with the mind, serve the law of
God, but with the flesh, the law of sin." And in this state
man can abstain from all mortal sin, which takes its stand in his
reason, as stated above (q74, a5); but man cannot abstain from all
venial sin on account of the corruption of his lower appetite of
sensuality. For man can, indeed, repress each of its movements (and
hence they are sinful and voluntary), but not all, because whilst
he is resisting one, another may arise, and also because the reason
is always alert to avoid these movements, as was said above (q74,
a3, ad 2).
So, too, before
man's reason, wherein is mortal sin, is restored by justifying grace,
he can avoid each mortal sin, and for a time, since it is not necessary
that he should be always actually sinning. But it cannot be that
he remains for a long time without mortal sin. Hence Gregory says
that "a sin not at once taken away by repentance, by its weight
drags us down to other sins": and this because, as the lower
appetite ought to be subject to the reason, so should the reason
be subject to God, and should place in Him the end of its will.
Now it is by the end that all human acts ought to be regulated,
even as it is by the judgment of the reason that the movements of
the lower appetite should be regulated. And thus, even as inordinate
movements of the sensitive appetite cannot help occurring since
the lower appetite is not subject to reason, so likewise, since
man's reason is not entirely subject to God, the consequence is
that many disorders occur in the reason. For when man's heart is
not so fixed on God as to be unwilling to be parted from Him for
the sake of finding any good or avoiding any evil, many things happen
for the achieving or avoiding of which a man strays from God and
breaks His commandments, and thus sins mortally: especially since,
when surprised, a man acts according to his preconceived end and
his pre-existing habits, as the Philosopher says; although with
premeditation of his reason a man may do something outside the order
of his preconceived end and the inclination of his habit. But because
a man cannot always have this premeditation, it cannot help occurring
that he acts in accordance with his will turned aside from God,
unless, by grace, he is quickly brought back to the due order.
1. It would seem that without grace man can avoid sin. Because
"no one sins in what he cannot avoid," as Augustine says.
Hence if a man in mortal sin cannot avoid sin, it would seem that
in sinning he does not sin, which is impossible.
Objection 1. Man can avoid each but not every act of sin, except
by grace, as stated above. Nevertheless, since it is by his own
shortcoming that he does not prepare himself to have grace, the
fact that he cannot avoid sin without grace does not excuse him
Philosopher’s look at Buddhism
(Jacques Maritain, in An Introduction to Philosophy, Sheed
and Ward, 1947, pp.33-37)
From the sixth
century onwards new schools (of philosophy) arose in India, some
Orthodox, others heterodox. Of these the principal was that founded
by Cakya-Muni, surnamed the Buddha (the enlightened, the sage).
Buddhism, a doctrine essentially negative and solvent, directed,
moreover, to practice rather than to speculation, may be regarded
as the corruption and dissolution of the Brahman philosophy.
for that which is that which passes away, refusing to say that anything
does or does not exist, and admitting only a succession of impermanent
forms without fixed foundation or absolute principle, in other words
subordinating being to what is known as becoming or fieri, it showed,
at the very time at which in Greece Heraclitus formulated the philosophy
of flux, all the characteristics of a perfect evolutionary system,
and, if it declared the existence of God, as of a substantial self
and an immortal soul, unknowable (agnosticism), its real
tendency was to deny the existence of God (atheism), and
to substitute for substance of any kind a stream or flux, regarded
indeed as itself real, of forms or phenomena (phenomenalism) “Everything
is empty, everything unsubstantial” was a saying of Buddha.
Hence for Buddhism
metempsychosis (i.e. re-incarnation- Ed.) consists in a continuous
chain of thoughts and feelings (a stream of consciousness, as we
should term it today) passing from one mode of existence to another
in virtue of a sort of urge towards life, due itself to the desire
to live: it is desire which is the cause of existence and “we are
what we have thought.”.
At the same
time, the teaching of deliverance from suffering, which in Buddhism,
even more than in Brahmanism, dominates the entire system, assumes
a different and even more radical form. Evil is no longer merely
the possession of individual or personal existence; it is existence
itself : it is evil to be, and the desire of existence is the root
of all suffering. The wise man must therefore destroy in himself
man's natural longing for existence and for beatitude, the fullness
of being; he must abandon all hope and extinguish every desire.
He will thus attain the state of emptiness or total indetermination
called nirvana (literally nakedness, metaphorically immortality,
refreshment, the farther bank - the term, in itself indefinite,
was never defined by Buddha), which will deliver him from the evil
of existence and the yoke of transmigration, and which, in the logical
consequence of Buddhist principles, must be regarded as the annihilation
of the soul itself. For since the soul is only the chain or current
of thoughts and feelings which derive their existence from the desire
to be, to extinguish that desire is to extinguish the soul.
is the goal for whose attainment Buddhism made use of the ascetic
practices which it took over with considerable mitigation from Brahmanism,
also of its moral code - which is thus directed, not to God, but
to a species of mystical nothingness as its last end. We here understand
moral codes in a very wide sense as meaning a code of behaviour.
If the expression be taken as implying moral obligation, whose ultimate
basis is the Christian doctrine of God, the transcendent Creator,
we must conclude that Buddhism, as indeed all the Oriental religions,
Indian or Chinese, has no moral code. Moreover, the source and ultimate
measure of Buddhist ethics is man, not God. If it rejected the system
of castes which exaggerated the demands of social order and divided
man almost into distinct species, it was only to dissolve social
order of any kind in an absolute equality and individualism. And
though it prescribed a universal benevolence (which extended even
to prohibiting the slaughter of animals and to a compulsory vegetarianism),
almsgiving, pardon of injuries, and non-resistance to the wicked,
its motive was not love of one's neighbor as such, whose positive
good and (by implication) existence we are bound to will, but to
escape suffering to oneself by extinguishing all action and energy
in a kind of humanitarian ecstasy. Buddhism is, therefore, a proof
that gentleness and pity, when they are not regulated by reason
and dictated by love, can deform human nature as much as violence,
since they are then manifestations of cowardice, not of charity.
This doctrine of despair is not only a heresy from the point of
view of Brahmanism; it is an intellectual plague to humanity, because
it proceeds from the negation of reason. It is not, therefore, surprising
that we find in it the majority of the fundamental errors by which
contemporary attacks on reason are inspired. If at the present day
it has found a warm welcome among certain circles in Europe, it
is because all those who hope to derive from humanitarianism a moral
code of human kindness for the acceptance of an atheistic society
are already implicitly Buddhists.
a philosophy, agnostic and atheistic, which nevertheless usurps
the social and ritual functions of a religion. It is as a religion
that it has won the allegiance of so many millions. However in proportion
as it has secured wide acceptance, Buddhism has ceased to be atheistic,
only to fall into the most degraded conception of deity. Popular
Buddhism as practised today in many parts of Asia where, to adapt
itself to existing beliefs, it has assumed the most varied shapes,
is nothing more than a form of idolatry, totally different from
philosophic Buddhism. In certain other schools to which Brahmanism
gave birth schools recognized as "orthodox" we find, on
the other hand, a tendency towards the normal distinction between
philosophy and religion.
other defects of Buddhism
The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908, vol. 3, pp. 33-34
It is chiefly
the legendary features of Buddha’s life, many of which are found
for the first time only in works of later date than the Gospels,
that furnish the most striking resemblance to certain incidents
related to Christ in the Gospels, resemblance which might with greater
show of reason be traced to a common historic origin. If there
has been any borrowing here, it is plainly on the side of Buddhism.
That Christianity made its way to Northern India in the first two
centuries is not only a matter of respectable tradition, but is
supported by weighty archaeological evidence by scholars of recognized
ability, beyond the suspicion of undue bias in favor of Christianity.
Weber, Goblet d’Alviela, and others think it very likely that the
Gospels stories of Christ circulated by these early Christian communities
in India were utilized by the Buddhists to enrich the Buddha legend,
just as the Vishnuites built up the legend of Krishna on many striking
incidents in the life of Christ.
note: in Sri Lanka, Buddhists display many statues of Buddha visibly
to compete with Catholic statues which are very numerous in some
areas. There is also a Buddhist goddess of Mercy, copying Our Blessed
Lady. Sometimes even, like in Vietnam, some statues of Buddha represent
him with his right hand up as if he were blessing!)
A basic defect
in primitive Buddhism is its failure to recognize man’s dependence
on a supreme God. By ignoring God and by making salvation rest
solely on personal effort, Buddha substituted for the Brahmin religion
a cold and colorless system of philosophy. It is entirely lacking
in those powerful motives of right conduct, particularly the motive
of love, that spring from the sense of dependence on a personal
all-loving God. Hence it is that Buddhist morality is in the last
analysis a selfish utilitarianism. There is no sense of duty, as
in the religion of Christ, prompted by reverence for a supreme Lawgiver,
by love for a merciful Father, by personal allegiance to a Redeemer.
Karma, the basis of Buddhist morality, is like any other law of
nature, the observance of which is prompted by prudential considerations.
defect of Buddhism is its false pessimism. A strong and healthy
mind revolts against the morbid view that life is not worth living,
that every form of conscious existence is an evil. Buddhism stands
condemned by the voice of nature, the dominant tone of which is
hope and joy. It is a protest against nature for possessing the
perfection of rational life. The highest ambition of Buddhism is
to destroy that perfection by bringing all living beings to the
unconscious repose of Nirvana. Buddhism is thus guilty of
a capital crime against nature, and in consequence does injustice
to the individual. All legitimate desires must be repressed. Innocent
recreations are condemned. The cultivation of music is forbidden.
Researches in natural science are discountenanced. The development
of the mind is limited to the memorizing of Buddhist texts and the
study of Buddhist metaphysics, only a minimum of which is of any
value. The Buddhist ideal on earth is a state of passive indifference
is the teaching of Him who came that men might have life and have
it more abundantly!
is put down
pessimism is unjust to the family. Marriage is held in contempt
and even abhorrence as leading to the procreation of life. In thus
branding marriage as a state unworthy of man, Buddhism betrays its
inferiority to Christianity, which commends virginity, but at the
same time teaches that marriage is a sacred union and a source of
likewise does injustice to society. It has set the seal of approval
on the Brahmin prejudice against manual labor. Since life is not
worth living, to labor for the comforts and refinements of civilized
life is a delusion. The perfect man is to subsist not by the labor
of his hands, but on the alms of inferior men. In the religion
of Christ, “the carpenter’s son”, a healthier view prevails. The
dignity of labor is upheld, and every form of industry is encouraged
that tends to promote man’s welfare.
towards uplifting humanity
accomplished but little for the uplifting of humanity in comparison
with Christianity. One of its most attractive features, which,
unfortunately has become well-nigh obsolete, was its practice of
benevolence towards the sick and the needy. Between Buddhists and
Brahmins there was a commendable rivalry in maintaining dispensaries
of food and medicines. But this charity did not, like the Christian
form, extend to the prolonged nursing of unfortunate stricken with
contagious and incurable diseases, to the protection of foundlings,
to the bringing up of orphans, to the rescue of fallen women, to
the care of the aged and insane. Asylums and hospitals in this
sense are unknown to Buddhism. In Sri Lanka, in the last decades,
thanks to financial help from Japanese Buddhists, Buddhists have
here and there opened some old peoples’ homes and orphanages.
of religious men and women to the lifelong service of afflicted
humanity is foreign to dreamy Buddhist monasticism.
wonderful efficacy displayed by the religion of Christ in purifying
the morals of pagan Europe has no parallel in Buddhist annals.
Wherever the religion of Buddha has prevailed, it has proved singularly
inefficient to lift society to a high standard of morality. It
has not weaned the people of Tibet and Mongolia from the custom
of abandoning the aged, nor the Chinese from the practice of infanticide.
Outside the establishment of the order of nuns, it has done next
to nothing to raise woman from her state of degradation in Oriental
lands. It has shown itself utterly helpless to cope with the moral
plagues of humanity.