Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Reincarnation of Buddha (Christian Skepticism of Buddhism, Eastern Pantheistic Monism)

    See Teen 'Reincarnation of Buddha' Draws Crowds

    Questions:
    1. If only one impersonal element constitutes reality, why come to "God" for blessing?
    2. Why come to "this" God for blessing if each and every human being IS God. (Though some are just unenlightenened and don't know it yet.)
    3. If human beings in their essence or their truest, fullest being are impersonal, is this why "this" God separates himself from humanity and goes off to live in the jungle ("months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.")
    ?
    4. While the going without food in the jungle has not been verified, what about the imperfections found on his chin?
    5. If pure consciousness is "not" consciousness, but pure being; has not this God lowered himself in leaving meditation to communicate consciously with others?
    6. If realizing one's oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond good and evil (and to distinguish), then is not coming back to "bless" (or do "good") to others inconsistent?
    7. If death is the end of individual and personal existence (i.e., there's a disappearance of a person at death and simply the reconstitutions of another person from the five aggregates or existence factors)... and if all that which is personal in this world is an illusion... then why refer to this God as the reincarnation of Buddha? (While Atman may survive, Atman is impersonal, therefore to assert the reincarnation of something personal is inconsistent; while there's )
    8. Isn't there an inconsistency between a goal of being in a state where "all distinctions disappear" and then distinguishing between this God and Buddha?

    7 comments:

    Shravasti Dhammika said...

    Dear Christian Skeptic,
    As a Buddhist scholar, author of some 20 books on Buddhism and a Buddhist monk of 32 years standing, I was not able to equate one of your questions with anything the Buddha taught. The fact that you seem to assume that Buddhism teaches that the Buddha is god or even that we believe in a god at all, shows that your knowledge of Buddhism is very, very superficial. Likewise, ‘pure consciousness’, ‘oneness with the cosmos’, ‘the survival of the Atman’ are not Buddhist concepts. If you are going to critique other faiths while knowing virtually nothing about them you just make yourself look rather laughable and ignorant. As for the supposed ‘Buddha boy’ if I want to know something about the Gospel of Jesus I will read the Bible, not newspaper articles about the Branch Davidians, Benny Hinn or the Lord’s Liberation Army. Likewise if you want to know something about the Buddha’s Dhamma read the Buddhist sacred scriptures. Go to www.buddhismatoz.com and look up agnosticism, anatta, anatta and rebirth, god and gods, rebirth, self, theism, reincarnation and then your skepticism will at least be based on fact.
    Kind regards
    Reverend Dhammika

    swordbearer said...

    shravasti dhammika,

    thank you for your kind comment; however, you must have failed to notice that my post referred not only to Buddhism but also to Eastern Pantheistic Monism).

    Not only that, but while you make a good point of dealing with the Buddhist's scriptures, this site is set up not only to deal with the texts, but ANY issue contrary to Scripture, including the statements of those like the one in the article who said ""I got a chance to see God today, ...They say he is Buddha, but for me he is just God."

    Kindly as well.

    Shravasti Dhammika said...

    Buddhism and Eastern pantheistic monism are so different from each other and the term 'Eastern pantheistic monism' covers such a wide variety of concepts, that it might be more helpful to critique them separately rather that lumping them together as if they were all the same. And if you are going to use the Bible as the criteria of truth/falsehood in your comparisons then use the Buddhist scriptures (or pantheistic monist text) to make those comparisons, not the opinions of possibly ignorant and superstitious villagers. I look forward to reading more of your views and observations, particularly anything on Buddhism.
    Kind regards
    S. Dhammika

    swordbearer said...

    Your suggestions are well received, though I again point out my purpose in this post was not so much a rebuttal of Buddhism itself, but what was being communicated and proclaimed in this particular article.

    I would be interested however in what form of Buddhism you espouse (Zen?) and your summary views of ultimate reality, the nature of external reality (the world around us), of human beings, or a person at death, of epistemology (why it is possible to know anything at all), our basis of morality, and the meaning of human history.

    Sword

    Shravasti Dhammika said...

    Dear CS,
    Being a Westerner I do not align myself with any particular school of Buddhism but adhere to the Pali Canon, the texts used by the Theravada tradition, which most scholars recognize as the oldest record of the Buddha's teachings. It would take me some time to adequately answer all your questions so I would invite you to go to www.buddhismatoz.com where I deal with some of your questions. Q1 Buddhism is more interested in 'significant' reality, i.e. reality as it pertains to our experience, and according to B the three most significant aspects of reality is that it is inadequate, impermanent and without self-nature. For Q2 see 'Illusion', Q3 see 'Character and character building', 'Human nature', and 'Life, the meaning of', Q4 see 'Kalama Sutta', Q5 see 'Good and Bad', 'Love', and 'Kamma', Q6 Buddhism is not really interested in the question of the meaning of human history. Myself, I have long adhered to the 'Old man river' school - she just keeps rollin along.
    Kind regards

    truti said...

    I am more than a little amused by this exchange. Once It took me some time to get over the absurdity of Christian holding fast to one set of absurd beliefs (Trinity, God, etc.,) questioning others' beliefs. The many "eastern" traditions that "swordbearer" talks of maybe traditons but are by no means Eastern. The idea of god has no meaning outside the Abrahamic faiths. Pantheism/Monism etc., are all Christian ideas that arise from the logical struggle to define reality while upholding the canonical idea of reality and hence god. Shravasti OTOH is a "Western" Buddhist, so although he rightly rejects the idea of god is somehow trying to quote another set of texts - ad even calls them "canon" - "Pali Canon" yet another concession to the terms of discourse set by the missionaries of the Abrahamic cults. For all we know there may never have been a person called Siddhartha/Gautama. The man's existence in no way is material or relevant to the vast body of thought that is called "Buddism". The dharmic traditons - Buddhism being one of them, are entirely developed from empirical first principles. Even if every text/sutra/bhashya were to somehow vanish, people discussing these realities would arrive at these conclusions, sooner or later. Whereas in the case of the Abrahamic cults - they are taken on faith, unquestionable dogma and belief. Which is why it is important for the Abrahamic representative to spend as much time on putting forward his position as questioning others'.

    swordbearer said...

    truti stated: "...It took me some time to get over the absurdity of Christian holding fast to one set of absurd beliefs (Trinity, God, etc.,) questioning others' beliefs."

    Response: Your assertion of absurdity is without any arguments of justification.



    truti states: "The dharmic traditons - Buddhism being one of them, are entirely developed from empirical first principles. Even if every text/sutra/bhashya were to somehow vanish, people discussing these realities would arrive at these conclusions, sooner or later."

    Response: Would you care to list those principles and the grounds for them?

    truti stated: "... Whereas in the case of the Abrahamic cults - they are taken on faith, unquestionable dogma and belief. Which is why it is important for the Abrahamic representative to spend as much time on putting forward his position as questioning others'."

    Response: Typical, the very things unbelievers suggest others should do, they fail to do themselves!