Buddha and Buddhism or Jesus?
Buddhist teachings in review. Are they true or not?
Many have idols in the world of culture and sports. They can be music makers, actors, soccer players or other stars who have achieved success. They and what they do are actively followed because their success and life is of interest.
Although sports and cultural stars may be in the center of attention for a while, they cannot be compared to religious and spiritual influencers whose teachings have influenced tens of generations. In this article, the subject of reflection is the Buddha and the Buddhist religion, as well as Jesus and the Christian faith. Does it matter whether one believes in the teachings of the Buddha or in Jesus Christ? What is the difference between their teachings, their origins and where should you put your trust? We will consider these issues next. We begin by examining the problem of the beginning of the universe and life in Buddhism.
The problem of the beginning of the universe and life in Buddhism. First of all, it is worth paying attention to the fact that Buddhism is an atheistic religion. That is, although modern Buddhists may even pray to the Buddha or worship his images in their own activities, Buddhism does not recognize the existence of an actual creator god. Buddhists do not believe in the existence of a Creator.
Herein lies the first problem of Buddhism, which is the same as that of atheism. Because the following things that we can observe every day with our eyes or with the help of a telescope have not always existed. They must have been born at some point in time:
• Galaxies and stars have not always existed, because otherwise their radiation would have already run out
• Planets and moons have not always existed because they still have volcanic activity that has not stopped
• Life on this planet has not always existed because life on Earth is tied to the Sun, which could not warm the Earth forever. Otherwise, its energy reserves would have already been exhausted.
The conclusion is that the universe and life must have had a definite beginning when the clocks started. This is a logical conclusion that even atheist scientists admit or have to admit. They may not agree with God's work of creation, but they cannot deny that life and the universe have a beginning.
The problem with Buddhism and atheism is exactly how the former things came about. It is pointless to claim, for example, that the universe arose by itself out of nothing, in the so-called big bang because it is a mathematical impossibility. That is, if there was nothing in the beginning - just nothingness - it is impossible for anything to arise from it. It is impossible to take anything from nothing, so the big bang theory is against mathematics and natural laws. Atheists and Followers of the Buddha are thus at a dead end when they try to find a reason for the existence of galaxies, stars, planets and moons. They may have different theories about their origin, but the theories are not based on practical observations and science, but on imagination.
So is the birth of life. No atheist scientist can explain that either. Its creation by itself is an impossibility, because only life can bring about life. No exceptions to this rule have been found. In the case of the first life forms, this clearly refers to the creator god, as e.g. the Bible clearly teaches. He is separate from the creation he has made:
- (Gen 1:1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
- (Isaiah 66:1,2) 1 Thus said the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build to me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
- (Rev 14:7) 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Reincarnation in Buddhism. It was stated above how Buddhism differs from the Christian and theistic understanding. In Buddhism, there is no God who has made everything and is separate from the creation he created. In this sense, Buddhism is a religion similar to Hinduism, which also has no concept of an almighty creator god.
Buddhism, like Hinduism, also has the doctrine of reincarnation. The same doctrine has spread to Western countries, where it is taught in the so-called New Age movement. In Western countries, approximately 25% believe in reincarnation. In India and other Asian countries where the doctrine originated, the number is much higher.
The concept of reincarnation is based on the fact that our lives are believed to be a continuous cycle. According to this doctrine, everyone is born again and again on earth and receives a new incarnation according to how he lived in his previous life. All the evil that happens to us today should be the result of previous events and that we now have to reap what we have previously sown. Only if Man experiences enlightenment, as the Buddha is believed to have experienced, will he be freed from the cycle of reincarnation.
But what to think about reincarnation and its Buddhist version, we will consider next:
Why don't we remember? The first question is related to the accuracy of reincarnation. Is it true because we don't remember anything about past lives? If we really have a chain of past lives behind us, wouldn't you expect us to remember many events from them - related to family life, schooling, places of residence, jobs and leisure time? Why don't we remember though? Isn't our inability to remember clear evidence that past lives never existed? Even H.B. Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, and the person who perhaps most popularized the doctrine of reincarnation in the West in the 19th century, has admitted the same thing, namely our forgetfulness:
Maybe we can say that in the life of a mortal person, there is no such suffering of the soul and body that would not be the fruit and consequence of some sin that has been committed in a previous form of existence. But on the other hand, his current life does not include even one memory of those. (1)
It is true that, for example, the Buddha is said to have remembered his past lives in his enlightenment experience, and some members of the New Age movement claim the same. However, the problem is that nobody remembers these things in the normal state where we usually act and think. This didn't even happen with the Buddha, but he needed an enlightenment experience where he remembered over 100,000 of his previous lives, according to the Pali scriptures (C. Scott Littleton: Idän uskonnot, p. 72 / Eastern Wisdom).
The problem with illumination experiences and past life memories, however, is how reliable they are. We all have minds and imaginations and dreams where we can see many kinds of adventures that seem real in the dream but that we have never experienced. This shows that dreams and the mind cannot be completely trusted. The possibility of fraud exists.
How these lighting experiences come about usually follows a similar pattern. In general, a person has practiced contemplation/meditation for years and this has finally led to the so-called to the lighting experience. This was the case with the Buddha, who spent years in deep meditation, but it is interesting that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was also engaged in religious meditation when he began to receive visions and revelations. This is how many other religious movements have started. For example, several religious groups that exist in Japan have been born through this process, when someone has first meditated for a long time and then received a revelation, on the basis of which the movement is built.
Additionally, it is noteworthy that the same experiences that some may experience as a result of long-term meditation have been brought about with the help of drugs. Drug users may have delusional experiences of light similar to long-term meditators may have and may see things that are not there, just like people with schizophrenia. I personally believe and understand that in reality Satan and the evil spirit world are deceiving people with these visions and illumination experiences.
Former Hindu guru Rabindranath R. Maharaj has raised the same point. He himself practiced meditation for years and experienced false visions as a result. Soon after turning to Jesus Christ, he was surprised to find that drug users had similar experiences to him. This example shows how it is questionable to trust e.g. Buddha's or other people's stories when they tell about their past lives or the so-called enlightenment experiences achieved through prolonged meditation or drugs:
This way I began to meet even more drug users and made an astonishing discovery: Some of them had similar experiences when under drug influence, as I did in my day of doing yoga and meditation! I was astounded listening to them describing the “beautiful and peaceful world” they were able to enter with the help of LSD; a world which’ psychedelic visions and colors I was all too familiar with. Of course, many of them also had had bad experiences, but most drug users seem as reluctant to take into consideration these warnings as I was, when practicing yoga.
“I did not need substances to see visions of other worlds or supernatural beings or to feel unity with the universe or to feel that I am “God”, I told them. “I achieved all that through transcendental meditation. But it was a lie, a trick of the evil spirits, with which they took a hold of me when I freed my mind from my own control. You are being deceived. The only way to the peace and satisfaction that you are looking for is through Christ.” Since I knew what I was talking about and had experienced it myself without drugs, many of these drug users took my words seriously.
… I learned that drugs caused changes in consciousness that were similar to those caused by meditation. They made it possible for demons to manipulate neurons in the brain and create all kinds of apparently real experiences, which actually were deceitful delusions. The same evil spirits that had led me to ever deeper meditation in order to get the upper hand of me, were obviously also behind the drug movement for the same satanic reason. (2)
Conflict with Hindu and Western view. If reincarnation were true and a matter for all people, it would be likely that everyone would teach about it in similar way. However, this is not the case, but Buddhists teach about it in different ways than, for example, Hindus or Western members of the New Age movement. The differences appear at least in the following matters:
• In the Western concept, it is believed that a person remains a person all the time. Instead, in both the Hindu and Buddhist conceptions, a person can be born as an animal or even a plant. The following quote describes the Buddhist concept:
On the last day of the month, the spirits return to their abodes in the underworld, full and satisfied. Behind the door of the spirits, the kui-spirits and the spirits of the ancestors are closed again for a year. Some of them will return to the ten halls of hell to continue suffering the sentences. Some await rebirth on earth or in the Western Heaven. From the tenth hall you get to the wheel of reincarnation, through which you are born back on earth. Some are born as good people, others as bad people, some as animals, or those who have lived a really bad life even as plants. (3)
• The previous quote referred to how Buddhists believe in hell. On the other hand, Hindus and followers of the New Age movement in the West generally do not believe in hell. They deny the existence of hell. Here is a contradiction between different conceptions of reincarnation.
In Buddhism, there are also four heavens or paradises: the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western heavens. Buddha is believed to be in the last of them. On the other hand, Hindus and followers of the New Age movement do not believe in this matter in the same way as Buddhists.
• The way to get out of the cycle of reincarnation is different in Hinduism and Buddhism. Hindus teach that when a person realizes his divinity and connection with Brahman, he is freed from the cycle of reincarnation. Instead, the Buddha taught four truths (1. Life is suffering 2. Suffering is caused by the will to live 3. Suffering can only be freed by extinguishing the will to live 4. The will to live can be extinguished by following the right path), the last of which includes the eightfold path of salvation, i.e. freedom from the cycle of rebirth. It includes: right faith, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right way of life, right effort, right memory, and right meditation. This teaching of the Buddha thus contradicts the Hindu teaching, because the Buddha did not teach enlightenment through man's understanding of his divinity and connection with Brahman.
What about the Western perception of the New Age movement? These people may believe in the divinity of man, as the Hindus believe, but the realization of this matter and its effect on reincarnation is not usually taught in the same way as in Hinduism. In Western countries, on the contrary, reincarnation can be taught in a positive sense. Reincarnation is seen as an opportunity and not a curse as in Hinduism and Buddhism. These are the contradictions that exist around the doctrine of reincarnation.
How does the law of karma work? One of the mysteries of the doctrine of reincarnation is the law of karma, which appears in Buddhism, Hinduism, and the New Age movement here in the West. According to the common understanding, the law of karma should reward and punish a person according to how he has lived in his previous incarnation. If a person has done bad deeds or thought bad thoughts, there is a negative consequence; good thoughts and actions produce a positive result.
The riddle, however, is how an impersonal law can work like that? An impersonal force or law cannot think, distinguish the quality of actions, or even remember anything that a person has done - just as a secular law book cannot function like that, but an executor of the law, a personal being, is always needed; the law alone does not do that.
Impersonal law also cannot make plans for our future lives or determine under what conditions we will be born and live. The actions in question always require a personality, which the law of karma is not. A mere law cannot work in this way.
Another problem is that if the law of karma rewards and punishes us according to how we have lived in our previous lives, then why do we not remember anything from past lives - this was already stated above? If we are punished based on our past life, then everyone must know why what happens to us happens to us. What basis is there anyway, if the grounds for punishment are not properly clear? This is one of the problems with the doctrine of reincarnation.
How in the beginning - where did bad Karma come from? Earlier it was stated how the universe and life have a beginning. They are not eternal and have not always existed, but have a definite beginning.
Based on this, the question arises, where did the bad Karma come from? How could it have come to earth if there was no life on earth? That is, if there has been no life, bad karma could not have arisen as a result of bad deeds, nor good karma. In fact, every person and creature would have already been perfect and would not have even had to go through the cycle of reincarnation. How could the cycle of reincarnation - if it is true - have arisen, since only bad Karma from past lives causes and sustains it? What has been its originator?
The following description explains the previous issue. It touches on the matter of how the cycle can be started from the middle, as it were, but does not deal with the problem of the beginning itself. In the description, the author talks to Buddhist monks:
I sat in the Buddhist temple of Pu-ör-an with a group of monks. The conversation turned to the question of where does the spirit of man come from. (…) One of the monks gave me a long and detailed explanation about the great cycle of life that continuously flows through thousands and millions of years, appearing in new forms, developing either higher or coming lower, depending on the quality of individual actions. When this answer did not satisfy me, one of the monks replied, “The soul has come from Buddha from the western heaven." I then asked, "From where has Buddha come and how does the soul of man come from him?" There was again a long lecture on the previous and future Buddhas who will follow each other after a long period, as an endless cycle. As this answer did not satisfy me either, I told them, “You start from the middle, but not from the beginning. You already have a Buddha who is born to this world and then you have another one Buddha ready. You have a complete person who goes through his cycle endless times.” I wanted to get a clear and short answer to my question: from where has the first man and the first Buddha come? Where has the large cycle of development started from?
(…) None of the monks answered, they were all silent. After a while I said, "I will tell you this, even though you do not observe the same religion as I. The beginning of life is God. He is not like your Buddhas who as an endless series follow each other in the large cycle of development but He is eternally the same and unchangeable. He is the beginning of all, and from Him comes the beginning of a man’s spirit." (…) I do not know whether my answer satisfied them. However, I got a possibility to speak to them about the source of life, the living God whose existence alone is able to resolve a question of the source of life and the origin of the universe. (4)
One Hundred Thousand Lives of the Buddha. Earlier it was stated how the Buddha is believed to have remembered 100,000 of his previous lives in his enlightenment experience. This is mentioned in the Pali language Buddhist scriptures (C. Scott Littleton: Idän uskonnot, p. 72 / Eastern Wisdom).
However, this matter can be considered. For example, the history of mankind is only known for sure about 5000 years back (which is quite close to about 6000 years, which can be deduced based on Bible genealogies). Periods longer than that and assumptions about the long history of mankind are more imagination than reliable information. The Inventor of the radiocarbon method, Professor W.F. Libby really stated in the Science Magazine (3/3/1961, p. 624) that confirmed history only goes as far as ca. 5000 years back. He spoke about the ruling families of Egypt, which in reality may have lived even centuries later (This was stated in the 3-part series "Faaraot ja kuninkaat" shown on Suomen TV in November-December 1996)
Arnold (my co-worker) and I were first shocked when we discovered that history only dates 5,000 years back in time. (...) We had often read about this or that culture or archaeological site being 20,000 years old. We quite quickly learned that these figures and early dates are not accurately known and that the first dynasty of Egypt is, as a matter of fact, the oldest even somehow confirmed historical date. (5)
The earliest notes we have of the history of man date only approximately 5,000 years to the past. (The World Book Encyclopaedia, 1966, volume 6, p. 12)
Population growth also does not support the idea of long periods. According to calculations, the population has doubled every 400 years on average (and even faster today). This would mean that e.g. 4000 years ago the earth should have had less than 10 million inhabitants. This seems like a fair estimate, since areas such as North America, South America and Australia have only become mainly inhabited since the 18th century. For example, it is estimated that there were only three million inhabitants in North America at the beginning of the 18th century, while now there are more than a hundred times more. This shows how sparsely populated the Earth was just a few centuries ago. A few millennia ago, the Earth was even more sparsely populated than in the 18th century.
On the other hand, if there were only 2 inhabitants 100,000 years ago, and the population doubling rate was once every thousand years (that's a much slower rate than now), the current population should be 2,535,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This is an absolutely absurd number compared to today's 8 billion (= 8,000,000,000), and shows that humans could not have existed at that time. It shows that the origin of humanity must be much closer, only some millennia ago.
How does all this relate to the Buddha and his supposed past lives? In short, it is impossible that he could have lived 100,000 previous lives, at least as a human, since humans have only been on earth for a few millennia. It is pointless to talk about longer periods, because clear signs of human history do not extend further.
On the other hand, if we believe atheist scientists who believe in long periods of time, only single-celled life should have existed on Earth for hundreds of millions of years, until 500-600 million years ago, more complex life appeared on the seabed. The question is, if there was only single-celled life, and then seafloor animals, what did these organisms learn in the cycle of reincarnation? How did they acquire good karma or avoid the accumulation of bad karma while living as single-celled or seabed animals? I personally don't believe in what atheist scientists claim about millions of years, I consider them to be lies from Satan, but if you combine the theory of evolution with millions of years and the doctrine of reincarnation, you have to come across such problems.
The principle of protection of life. Buddhism has good teachings in the area of morality, such as not stealing, not committing adultery, not lying or drinking intoxicating drinks. These teachings do not differ from, for example, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, because moral sense is common to all people. Both in the East and in the West, we naturally understand what is right and wrong behavior.
One of the teachings of Buddhism is also that you must not kill any living being. This is consistent with the teaching of the Bible, when one of the commandments in the Bible is "Thou shalt not kill". However, in Buddhism it also means that you must not kill any living being, that is, in addition to humans, other living beings such as animals. Because of this, Buddhist monks tend to eat only vegetarian food.
How does this relate to reincarnation? In short, Buddhists think that if a person kills, for example, a pig or a fly in this life, then the person himself will be born in the form of a pig or a fly in the next life. It is a punishment for a person killing a living being. However, this can be expanded with the following question: What if a person kills a rich, successful and happy man, then what will be his fate in the next life? Will this person himself also become a rich, successful and happy man in the next life? Or what will become of him? Have the Buddhists themselves thought about such things that may be encountered if this doctrine is applied consistently?
On the other hand, Buddhist monks and Followers of the Buddha do not always follow the principle of protection of life. They can e.g. boil water where thousands of bacteria can be destroyed. Bacteria are also living beings like humans, so in practice it is impossible to always follow the principle of life protection.
The Buddha and the Problem of Suffering. The story of Buddha's life is that he was the son of a rich ruler who left his rich home, wife and little son to find a solution to the anguish and suffering of being human. Seeing a sick old man, a poor monk and a dead person had influenced the Buddha's religious awakening. As a result, he began a long-term search that included an ascetic lifestyle for several years and meditation. Through them, he tried to find a reason for our suffering and a way to get out of it.
And what is the Christian teaching on the subject? It starts from different starting points. First of all, the cause of diseases, sin and suffering is already mentioned in the 3rd chapter of the Bible. It tells of the fall that affected all of Adam's descendants. Paul wrote on the subject as follows, that is, how sin came into the world through the fall of Adam:
- (Rom 5:12) Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded to many.
17 For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came on all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came on all men to justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
The fact that sin came into the world through the fall of Adam is the ultimate reason why there is suffering, evil and death in the world.
It is noteworthy that many peoples have similar stories about a past golden age when everything went well. It shows that the paradise narrative is not only characteristic of Christianity and Judaism, but also appears in other religions and cultures. It is a question of humanity's common tradition, because it is found in different parts of the world.
The tradition of the Karen people living in Burma tells about the fall into sin. It is very similar to the Bible account. One of their songs mentions how Y'wa, or the true God, first created the world (creation), then showed the "test fruit", but Mu-kaw-lee betrayed two people. This made people vulnerable to disease, aging and death. The description does not differ much from the story in the Book of Genesis:
In the beginning Y'wa gave form to the world.
He indicated food and drink.
He indicated "the test fruit".
He gave accurate commands.
Mu-kaw-lee betrayed two persons.
He got them to eat the test fruit.
They disobeyed; did not believe Y'wa...
When they ate the test fruit,
they faced illnesses, ageing, and death. (6)
Can from suffering then be freed? Yes, partly already during this life. Most of the suffering is caused by a person's malice towards another person or not caring about the plight of their loved ones. This matter is handled in a quite simple way, that is, with the love of one's neighbor and that people repent of their sins. Jesus taught on these subjects as follows:
- (Matt 4:17) From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
- (Matt 22:34-40) But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
If we follow the previous teachings of Jesus, most of the world's suffering will end in one day. Buddhist monks have tried to solve this problem by turning inward, or meditating, and going to monasteries, but if we love people, it should be directed outside of ourselves. This has not always been followed properly and we are very far from perfection, but it is the essence of Jesus' teaching.
One example of Christian love are hospitals, which contribute to reducing suffering in the world. For example, most of the hospitals in India and Africa have started through Christian missions. Atheists and humanists have often been bystanders in this area, and Buddhists have not been very active either. The English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), himself a secular humanist, but nevertheless honest, noticed this. He paid attention to how the world view affects culture:
I have spent years in India and Africa, and in both countries I have come across plenty of righteous operations run by Christians from different denominations; but not once have I seen a hospital or orphanage run by a social organization or a leper colony established by humanitarians. (7)
What do Buddhism and Christianity have in common? Buddhism has many things in common with the Christian faith. Such matters include the following:
• Morality, or the perception of right and wrong, is a unified thing. In Buddhism, as in the Christian faith, it is taught that you must not steal, you must not commit adultery, you must not lie, and you must not kill. These teachings do not differ in any way from, for example, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and there is nothing strange about it. The reason is that every person in the world naturally has a sense of right and wrong behavior and a conscience. Paul taught on this subject as follows. He talked about how in our hearts there is a law, i.e. an understanding of right and wrong. According to Paul, it refers to how God will judge people once:
- (Rom 2:14-16) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves:
15 Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
• In Buddhism, it is believed that a person has to reap what he has sown. This is exactly the same teaching as in the Christian faith, because according to the Bible, we have to answer for our actions. According to the Bible, this will happen at the last judgment:
- (Gal 6: 7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
- (Rom 14:12) So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
- (Rev 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
• In Buddhism it is believed in hell just as Jesus and the apostles taught. Buddhists believe that murderers will spend eternity in hell. According to the Bible, hell exists and all the perpetrators of injustice and those who reject God's grace will go there:
- (Matt 10:28) And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- (Rev 22:13-15) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.
- (Rev 21:6-8) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
What is different about Buddhism and Christianity? Although Buddhism and Christianity have some common features, there are also clear differences between them. We will look at them next.
• Buddhism teaches reincarnation, where one can be born and die again and again. Instead, the teaching of the Bible is that we only have one life on earth and after that there will be judgment. In Hebrews it is written:
- (Hebr 9:27) And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
What about Jesus' teaching? He also did not teach reincarnation over and over again on earth, but he spoke of being born again, which is a completely different thing. It means receiving a new life from God and in which man becomes a new creation spiritually. It happens when a person turns to Jesus Christ and accepts him as his/her savior:
- (John 3:1-12) There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again.
8 The wind blows where it wants, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said to him, How can these things be?
10 Jesus answered and said to him, Are you a master of Israel, and know not these things?
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
- (John 1:12,13) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
• As stated, in Buddhism there is no God who has created everything and is separate from his creation. This basic teaching of the Bible is missing in Buddhism.
Something that is also not manifested in Buddhism is God's love. That is, if there is no God, there cannot be this thing either.
Instead, the Bible talks about God's love, how He Himself has approached us in His love and wants to save us. His love has been manifested specifically through his Son Jesus Christ, when he atoned for our sins on the cross 2000 years ago. Sins are no longer an obstacle to access to God's communion and we can receive his forgiveness.
- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- (John 3:16) 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.
- (Rom 5:8,10) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
The following quote tells more about the topic. Rabindranath R. Maharaj himself lived in Hinduism, but the same is true of Buddhism. In neither is known or accepted the almighty God who has loved us:
I stood up from my chair to ask her leave. There was no point in continuing this discussion. But she uttered the words, very quietly, that made me sit down again. “The Bible teaches that God is a God of love. I would like to share with you how I came to know Him.”
I was stunned. Never in all my years as a Hindu had I heard of a God of love! I listened to her eagerly.
“Because He loves us, he wants to draw us closer to Him.” This startled me, too. As a Hindu, I wanted to get close to God, but she was telling me that a loving God was trying to draw me nearer!
“The Bible also teaches that sin prevents us from getting close to God,” Molli continued, “and it also prevents us from knowing Him. This is why He sent Christ to die for our sins. And if we receive His forgiveness, we can know Him... ”
“Wait a minute!” I interrupted. Was she trying to convert me? I felt that I had to make some rebuttal. “I believe in karma. Whatever you sow you reap, and no one can change that. I don’t believe in forgiveness at all. It’s impossible! What’s done is done!”
“But God can do anything,” said Molli confidently. “He has a way to forgive us. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.’ Jesus is the way. Because he died for our sins, God can forgive us!” (7)
• As stated, there are good moral teachings in Buddhism that do not differ from the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. There is almost no difference between them.
Instead, the difference is that in Buddhism people place trust in their's own actions and life. "The way to salvation is in a holy life and following the prescribed rules" and "man's salvation through himself" (Quotations from the book Näin puhui Buddha / The Buddhist Catechism).
The following quote tells more about the topic. In it, a Christian missionary talks to Buddhist monks. An old monk states that obtaining eternal life requires the work of millennia:
When I had finished, the old monk looked at me, sighed and said, "Yes, that doctrine of yours is great and lovely to hear, but it cannot be true. It is too easy to be true. Receiving an everlasting life is not as simple as only having to believe in Jesus, meaning that eternal life could be obtained over the course of one lifetime. It requires work over centuries. You must be born and die and be born again to do good works and then, after centuries, when you have done enough good deeds, you can have everlasting life. Your doctrine is great and lovely to hear, but it is too easy to be true.”
If I had told the monk that he has to pray this and this much, fast, and do good deeds, he surely would have said, “Quite so, that is just what I am going to do.” But as the gospel says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved and have eternal life”, so the answer is: it is just that easy. (8)
But what is the problem if a person puts his trust in his own actions and transformation? The consequence is that he will never be assured of his salvation. Moreover, if we have several lives to live, they only increase the burden of human sin more and more. You won't get very far on this road.
And what is the teaching of the Bible? Much has been written about this in the pages of the New Testament. According to it, everyone is sinful and imperfect, and does not measure up to God. It is useless to try to achieve what is impossible through oneself. Among other things, the following verses tell about our imperfection:
- (John 7:19) … and yet none of you keeps the law? …
- (Rom 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- (Rom 5:12) Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
So what is the solution to human imperfection and sinfulness? The only chance is for us to be forgiven of our sins. There is no forgiveness in the law of karma that Buddhists and Hindus believe in, but if almighty God himself gives us grace and forgiveness, this is possible.
On what basis then does God forgive us? The answer to this can be found in how God himself reconciled us to himself through his son Jesus Christ. It happened that Jesus first lived a sinless life on earth and finally carried our sins on the cross. This makes forgiveness of sins possible for every person:
- (2 Cor 5:18-20) And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.
- (Acts 10:43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.
- (Acts 13:38) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:
By believing in Jesus Christ, through whom our sins have been atoned for, we can therefore receive the forgiveness of sins. It does not require actions, but that we ourselves turn to God, confessing our sins and receive Jesus Christ into our lives. Salvation is a gift and a grace, and no works can be done for it. The gift is accepted as is, otherwise it is not a gift. Of course you can do good deeds, but you shouldn't put your trust in them. Among other things, the following verses tell more about the subject:
- (Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- (Rev 21:5,6) And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Only one way. One of the characteristics of modern times is that people want to treat all beliefs as equal. It is claimed that there is no single path or truth. This fundamentally Hindu concept has spread to the West and is believed by members of the New Age movement and many Buddhists as well. The representatives of this way of thinking consider all religions to be equal, even though they are completely different from each other.
However, Jesus left us no choice. He said that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that only through him can one be saved. These words of his, uttered already a couple of thousand years ago, exclude other options. We either believe them or we don't. However, if Jesus really is God who has himself prepared the way for us to eternal life, why would we reject him? Why should we reject him, since we cannot obtain assurance of salvation by ourselves? Jesus' teachings about himself come out well, e.g. in the following verses:
- (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
- (John 10:9,10) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
- (John 8:23,24) And he said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.
- (John 5:39,40) 39 Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And you will not come to me, that you might have life.
What if you want to be saved and be assured of it? Experiencing this is simple. You must put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ and his work of atonement and not in yourself. You can turn to him. If you receive him and welcome him into your life, you immediately receive the gift of eternal life. According to the Bible, Jesus stands outside the door of our heart and waits for us to open the door for him and not reject him. If you have received him, you have eternal life and have become a child of God:
- (Rev 3:20) 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The prayer of salvation: Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.
1. Cit. from "Jälleensyntyminen vai ruumiin ylösnousemus", Mark Albrecht, p. 123
2. Rabindranath R. Maharaj: Gurun kuolema (Death of a Guru), p. 160-162
3. Matleena Pinola: Pai-pai, p. 129
4. Toivo Koskikallio: Kullattu Budha, p. 105-108
5. Science, 3.3.1961, p. 624
6. Don Richardson: Iankaikkisuus heidän sydämissään, p. 96
7. Malcolm Muggeridge: Jesus Rediscovered. Pyramid 1969
8. Rabindranath R. Maharaj: Gurun kuolema (Death of a Guru), p. 113,114
9. Toivo Koskikallio: Kullattu Budha, p. 208,209
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!