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What Has Religion Done For Mankind?

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CHAPTER XV

Buddhism, a Salvation by Psychology

ABOUT the time that the city of Jerusalem was undergoing its seventy years of desolation and the Jews were languishing in exile in Babylonia, that is, in the sixth century B.C., a religious reform movement was started in India. The prime mover of it was a Hindu who came to be called Buddha. That he was actually a historical person, critics have expressed a doubt. The Buddhist scriptures contain what most persons would regard as fantastic legends about his birth. For instance, that when the dream foretelling his birth was interpreted, an earthquake occurred, thirty-two miracles took place, including healing the blind, deaf, dumb and lame in the Sakya kingdom, and the fires in all hells were put out. Then when the boy was born to Queen Maya, he was able to stand up and be worshiped by gods and men, then to take seven steps to the north and at the seventh step to stop and call out with a lion-like roar, "I am the chief of the world." When, after the queen mother died, his aunt took the infant to the temple, he recited three verses to remind her no god in that temple was equal to himself, and as soon as he arrived, all the temple idols fell down at his feet. These legends were no doubt spun out of the realms of unreality in order

1. What religious reform was begun in India in the sixth century B.C., and what legends make the actuality of its founder doubtful?
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to impress the students of Buddhism with what an unusual person he was even from birth.

2 By a careful comparison of the Buddhist scriptures in the Pali language (Buddha's Indian dialect) with longer-known Sanscrit writings on the subject, researchers have come to the following conclusions regarding him. His personal name was supposed to be Siddhartha, meaning "He whose aim is accomplished". He was an Indian prince of the Sakya tribe and of its Gautama clan. Sometimes he is called Sakyamuni, "the wise man of the Sakyas," but more frequently Gotama (Pali) or Gautama (Sanscrit). After he was "enlightened" with his philosophy, he was called Gautama the Buddha, meaning "Gautama the awake or enlightened". Prior to this enlightenment he was called the Bodhisattva, meaning "one destined for enlightenment". Long protected from sights of sorrow and suffering, he finally came upon an old man, a seriously sick man, a dead body, and a religious self-mortifier. This led him to wondering why evil and suffering existed. About thirty years of age he abandoned his family for a religious life of trying to solve this mystery for himself. In the very week that his wife presented him with their first son he deserted them. After a farewell look at them sleeping he fled past his sleeping female minstrels and rode off into the night. That was in 594 B.C.

3 So he renounced his pampered palace life and became a pauper. He adopted the yellow robe, which reminds us how the Roman Catholic car-

2. By what various names is he called, and why? And what led him to take up a religious life?
3. What features of Buddhism did he now establish, and how did he eventually come by his enlightenment and become Buddha?
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dinals later adopted the yellow robe until one of them had an unfortunate encounter with a despised Jew, after which the cardinals changed to red. He shaved his head and became called the "Shaved-head" and established an order of shaved-head monks like himself, just like the later shaved-head monks of Christendom. Besides his razor, he carried with him a begging-bowl and instituted an order of religious beggars. To probe into the secret of the cause of human suffering, old age and death, he inflicted tortures on himself and also tried going into a trance by not breathing. All this did not work. So he turned to a course of moderation, or what he called the Middle Way of temperance. Finally, after seven years of fruitless search, he sat down under a bo tree or wild fig tree at Gaya, determined to keep sitting there until he ascertained the truth. For four to seven weeks he remained there, and then, one night, his enlightenment came and he became Buddha.

4 Had Gautama had the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, which began with the prophet Moses nine hundred years before this and which were by now almost complete, he would not have had to go to all this personal trouble to work up a personal philosophy on how and why wickedness, suffering and death invaded mankind. So what Gautama considered his "enlightenment" was not according to sacred Hebrew writings. What was his revelation? That all suffering is caused by desire and hence when a person stops craving anything, peace comes to his restless soul. Thus we see that he came to this conclusion by a process of psychol-

4. Why was his "enlightenment" not in harmony with Hebrew Scripture, and how did he sum up his discoveries in four propositions?
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ogy. His idea was that salvation from pain and conscious misery comes from no outside gods but from controlling one's own mind and through it the body. He summed up his discoveries in four simple propositions: (1) All living is painful. (2) Suffering is due to craving or desire. (3) When desire ceases, there comes release from suffering. (4) The way to the ceasing of suffering is by the Eightfold Path of "right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration".

5 What was right to Buddha was set forth in commandments, the five that are obligatory upon all men being, not to kill any living creature; not to steal; not to commit adultery; not to lie, slander, or swear; and to avoid drunkenness. Five other commandments were binding upon those devoting themselves to a religious life to attain nirvana directly, namely, to abstain from food out of season, that is, after midday; to abstain from dances, theatrical representations, songs, and music; to abstain from personal ornaments and perfumes; to abstain from a lofty or luxurious couch; to abstain from taking gold or silver. But if we injure no one by our acts, no wrong has been done; and if our acts are an inconvenience to only ourselves, no one else has any right to regard us as transgressors. According to his philosophy no act is sin, but a bad act produces a bad result and so it is to be avoided. Badness must be regarded as to whether it hurts another person. If it injures only one's self, it does not matter, for each one is his own responsible master. So it

5. What were his five obligatory commandments, and what his five optional ones, and how did he reason sin away?
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would be no crime to commit adultery if the husband of the woman consented, because no one is injured.

6 As for the way this material universe came about: It arose from empty space according to unchangeable natural laws, an EVOLUTION. The precipitate or condensing or settling of this formed matter, an evil from which springs a constant change of birth, according to unchangeable laws fixed in that evil. The cause of evil is ignorance; this is the original cause from which creatures are born. So to Buddha there was no personal Creator. In order to get out of difficulties he resorted to the doctrine of transmigration of the human soul, which he thus clothed with an immortality. Nirvana was gained when we got past all this series of rebirths. Nirvana was to be viewed not as annihilation, but as a consummation and fulfillment of effort. It was the completion of our becoming one successive thing after another, so that we got beyond all states of conscious, personal being. This was earned by a practice of moral virtues and the habit of intellectual virtues.

7 By transmigration and reincarnation we were rising on the steppingstones of our dead selves. By self-control we refrained from pampering desire. Our big work in existence was that of self-naughting. The final goal, nirvana, was when the whole work of self-naughting had been accomplished. Buddha's system, therefore, was a way of attaining salvation from all existence by means

6. To him, how did the material universe come about, and how was nirvana attained?
7. To him, what was our big work in existence, and what the final goal, and so what kind of system of salvation was his?
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of developing self-righteousness according to his standards. Nirvana was the final escape, a despiration or a drawing breath no more.

8 So Buddha placed human life on a low level and had contempt for the human body. Referring to its nostrils, ears, eyes, mouth, etc., he spoke of it as "this nine-holed frame, this body foul, this charnel house". His estimate of womankind was also low, and he unwillingly admitted woman to a low position in his order. Being so negative and pessimistic, his philosophy did not make for social progress. Having found his philosophy, he went out preaching it and he sent out his followers as missionaries. He died at the age of eighty, suffering intensely from having overeaten pork. His followers did not consider his death as a death but the mere "shattering of the bodily investment" of his soul. His body was cremated, and the bones were preserved for sacred relics. His bones were held in veneration and in time were worshiped. Temples attached to them were raised and images of Buddha were installed at them. Though Buddhism is claimed to be not a religion but a philosophy, yet all the outward formalities were paid to his memory and his images that make up religious worship. He developed into a member of a Buddhist trinity! There is a triple-bodied Buddha which is called Trikáya (meaning "having three bodies"); and in Japan a three-headed god, San Pao Fuh. After Buddha's death many thousands of monasteries of monks after his order were set up. They retired from the world and indulged in prayers, using the rosary and prayer wheel or mill.

8. How did he estimate human life and womankind, how was his death regarded, and how did a religion develop around him?
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9 Buddhism spread in India, its birthplace, and it predominated there until the tenth century A.D. It was blended with Hinduism, and Buddha was degraded in rank and declared to be a lesser incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Image worship and relic worship took the place of what Buddha had taught. By its missionaries Buddhism was carried to Ceylon, Burma, Siam and Tibet. Afterward it reached its greatest growth in China and Japan, but is now reported to be declining in Japan. Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, became the Rome or Mecca of Buddhism, the city's name meaning the "Place of God". Here the Dalai Lama has had his residence, amid the convents and cells of the Buddhist monks. He is the ecclesiastical sovereign of Tibet and is the supreme pontiff or pope of the regions of central, eastern and southeastern Asia He is considered an incarnation of Buddha. Buddha's teachings were at first transmitted by word of mouth, but later they were recorded in his own language, Pali, to form the Pali Canon; but there are Chinese and Tibetan versions. It consists of three "pitaka" or "baskets", the Sermon basket, the Discipline basket, and the Doctrinal basket.

10 Wherever the missionaries went, they compromised with the local religions, so that Buddhism has become very changed from what its founder taught. The godless Buddha himself became a god, "the great god Buddh." The ceremonies in connection with this form of religion

9. How was Buddha finally degraded in India, to where did Buddhism spread, and how were Buddha's teachings transmitted?
10. How did it become a very complicated form of religion, a prototype of what dominant religion in Christendom, and in what respects?
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have become very complicated. In many respects they are a prototype of the mightiest religious system in Christendom. There are the chanting of prayers, the rosary, candles, incense, priestly vestments, crosses, miter, cope and chaplet, holy water, the confessional, litanies, fasts, processions, worship of saints, and relics. These are so much like those of the Roman Catholic Church that when Jesuit priests first carried their missions into Buddhist lands they exclaimed that "there was not a piece of dress nor a priestly function nor a ceremony of the court of Rome, which the Devil had not copied in this country".

11 As the Buddhist system preceded by many centuries the organizing of the Roman Catholic system in the third century A.D., the priests were doubtless stating the matter in reverse. Before the pope of Rome Buddhist monasteries existed. The Dalai Lama of Tibet ruled as the Supreme Pontiff or Pope of Buddhism before the Franciscan Friar Odoric visited Tibet about A.D. 1328. Vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience are taken by Buddhist priests the same as by the Roman Catholic. As for the life of a bhikku or monk, he was to keep from all sexual intercourse, put away home relationship, and care not for the world's favor or disapproval. He shaved his head, carried an almsbowl in which he accepted his food from charitable givers; he avoided all luxury, wore a robe (of yellow) over his rags, and viewed his body like a loathsome wound, and did not seek a comfortable place for his sleep. How does this compare with the practice of the Roman Catholic monks?

11. How were those surprised Jesuit priests actually stating the matter of copy religion in reverse?
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12 Parallel with the above, one delegate to the 1893 Parliament of Religions at Chicago, a convert to Protestant religion, was reported in The American Sentinel of August that year as saying: 'There is a remarkable correspondence between Romish worship and Hindoo worship. Romanism is but a new label on the old bottles of paganism containing the deadly poison of idolatry. Often the Hindoos ask us, when seeing the Romish worship, 'What is the difference between Christianity and Hindooism?' In India we have not only to contend with the hydra-headed monster of Idolatry, but also the octopus of Romanism." —The Battle of Armageddon, page 263.

13 Neither let anyone think that the doctrine of purgatory was discovered first by Pope Gregory the Great (595-604 A.D.). The Buddhists were ahead of him by hundreds of years on this doctrine. They had their hells and heavens. For a vivid description of their purgatory, take this excerpt from one of the five Nikayas of the Pali canon, the Anguttara-Nikaya, as translated in the Harvard Classics (Volume 45, pages 701-704). According to this, the soul of one who does evil with his body, voice and mind, goes after death of the body to a "place of punishment, a place of suffering, perdition, hell". There the soul undergoes fiery torture as described below:


Then, O priests, the guardians of hell inflict on him the torture called the fivefold pinion: they force a heated iron stake through his hand; they force a heated iron stake through his other hand;

12. How is the case parallel when comparison is made between Romanism and Hinduism?
13. How can it be shown that Pope Gregory the Great was not ahead of the Buddhists in his discovery of "purgatory"?
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they force a heated iron stake through his foot; they force a heated iron stake through his other foot; they force a heated iron stake through the middle of his breast. . . . Then, O priests, the guardians of hell harness him to a chariot, and they make him go forward and they make him go back over ground that is blazing, flaming, and glowing. There he experiences grievous, severe, sharp, and bitter pains; but he does not die so long as that wickedness is unexhausted.

Then, O priest, the guardians of hell make him ascend and make him descend an immense, blazing, flaming, and glowing mountain of live coals. . . . Then, O priests, the guardians of hell take him feet up, head down, and throw him into a heated iron kettle that is blazing, flaming, and glowing. There he cooks and sizzles. And while he there cooks and sizzles, he goes once upwards, once downwards, and once sideways. There he experiences grievous, severe, sharp, and bitter pains; but he does not die so long as that wickedness is unexhausted.

Then, O priests, the guardians of hell throw him into the chiefest of all hells. . . .


Compare this with the Catholic poet Dante's famous poem entitled "The Divine Comedy" of three parts, Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.

14 Unquestionably Buddhism is linked with demonism. It is one more effort on the part of the demons to misrepresent Jehovah God as a fiend and bring reproach on his creation of the material universe. His work is perfect, but man cannot penetrate it to its full depths. "He has made everything beautiful in its season; but he has also implanted ignorance in their mind, so that man-

14. In what base effort is Buddhism linked with demonism?
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kind cannot discover the work which God has done from beginning to end." —Ecclesiastes 3:11, AT.

15 God created man, not a "foul body", but "in the image of God created he him". (Genesis 1:27) Because of selfishly disobeying the law of his Creator, the first man fell from his perfection and was driven from his perfect paradise home, to rear the human family in sin, imperfection and subjection to death. Buddhism's humiliation of the flesh in an effort to gain self-merit corresponds with the "philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men" against which the apostle Paul warns in these words: "Let no man deprive you of the prize who takes delight in a mock humility . . . Why do you, as if living in the world, further subject yourselves to the decrees, 'Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch,' respecting things that are all destined to destruction by being used up, in accordance with the commands and teachings of men? Those very things are, indeed, possessed of an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and mock humility, a severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in combatting the satisfying of the flesh."  —Colossians 2:8,18,20-23, NW.

16 In this day when human psychology proves itself unable to scheme out any salvation for men, and the philosophies of men are being exposed as vanity, it is time for Buddhists and all others to turn to Jehovah God for true enlightenment and a complete escape from the evils of this world into his righteous new world of peace.

15. How was Buddha's philosophy of the abasement of the flesh the kind of philosophy against which the apostle Paul warned?
16. What is it now time for Buddhists and psychologists to do for real enlightenment and escape from evil?



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