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  #1  
Old Nov 18, '11, 5:50 am
MontChevalier MontChevalier is offline
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Question Buddhism and Catholicism

Hello everyone,

Lately, I've been looking into Buddhism and the whole of it all has been confusing to me. How is Buddhism wrong and Catholicism right?

-MontChevalier
  #2  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:14 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontChevalier View Post
Hello everyone,

Lately, I've been looking into Buddhism and the whole of it all has been confusing to me. How is Buddhism wrong and Catholicism right?

-MontChevalier
This is an extremely vague question. Wrong in what way? Right in what way?

First you need to isolate the specific areas in which they are in conflict. And even then, if you perceive them to be in conflict and you see truth in both sides' claims, there are three logical possibilities:

1. You are wrong in thinking that Catholicism is true where it conflicts with Buddhism;
2. You are wrong in thinking that Buddhism is true where it conflicts with Catholicism; or
3. You are wrong in perceiving a conflict.

Hence, there's no need to panic. Go on practicing Catholicism confidently, while studying Buddhism patiently and with an open mind, if you have the inclination and leisure to do so. Truth doesn't conflict with truth, ultimately, but it may appear to do so because we are imperfect creatures and see through a glass darkly. Hold on to the truth you know, be open to the truth you do not yet know, and don't be too confident of your initial impressions that the two conflict.

At the same time, don't jump to harmonize them either. Often people who do this water down one in the interests of the other.

To continue with this discussion, how about you list the areas where the two traditions appear to you to be in conflict? (Of course, this will depend in part on which versions of Buddhism we are talking about; I see conflicts between orthodox Christianity and all forms of Buddhism, but they are different conflicts in different cases to some extent. The common ground among these conflicts is the Buddhist denial of aseity, which in my opinion is the fundamental conflict between Buddhism and orthodox Christianity.)

Edwin
  #3  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:28 am
Barbkw Barbkw is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/inde...article/20722/

Why Buddhism & Christianity Are Incompatible: “Catholicism and Buddhism: Compatible Beliefs?”


Quote:
These apparent similarities led to heightened Catholic interest in Buddhism with the rise of the New Age movement in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Some imagined that Buddhism had many new insights to offer to Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular due to their supposed compatibilities.

But Pope John Paul II threw water on that fire in 1994’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope with comments regarding Buddhism that received a good amount of press at the time (and also a lot of debate). In his comments, our late pontiff really didn’t pull any punches, calling Buddhism “in large measure an ‘atheistic’ system’.” He pulled the carpet out from under comparisons to Catholicism by pointing out that the ultimate end of man for Christians is union with God, while for Buddhists it is Nirvana (complete detachment, or a state of nothingness).

Two separate warnings concluded the Pope’s remarks on this subject. The first deals with the notion of extracting certain characteristics of Buddhism and incorporating them into Catholic practice:


Quote:
For this reason it is not inappropriate to caution those Christians who enthusiastically welcome certain ideas originating in the religious traditions of the Far East—for example, techniques and methods of meditation and ascetical practice. In some quarters these have become fashionable, and are accepted rather uncritically. First one should know one's own spiritual heritage well and consider whether it is right to set it aside lightly. Here we need to recall, if only in passing, the brief but important document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "on certain aspects of Christian meditation" (10/15/1989). Here we find a clear answer to the question "whether and how [Christian prayer] can be enriched by methods of meditation originating in different religions and cultures".
Second, relating Buddhism to the New Age movement and its Gnostic aspects, the Pope wrote:


Quote:
A separate issue is the return of ancient gnostic ideas under the guise of the so-called New Age. We cannot delude ourselves that this will lead toward a renewal of religion. It is only a new way of practicing gnosticism—that attitude of the spirit that, in the name of a profound knowledge of God, results in distorting His Word and replacing it with purely human words. Gnosticism never completely abandoned the realm of Christianity. Instead, it has always existed side by side with Christianity, sometimes taking the shape of a philosophical movement, but more often assuming the characteristics of a religion or para-religion in distinct, if not declared, conflict with all that is essentially Christian.
By means of these and other articulate remarks, the Holy Father clearly drew a sharp line between Buddhism and Christianity, rejecting any notion that the two are of like purpose and insisting that Buddhist principles are to be gravely cautioned against.

Interestingly, some critics of the Pope’s remarks stated with vigor that Buddhism is not “atheistic”. Counter attacks varied. One Buddhist commented in rebuttal that followers of Buddha believe that he was the “teacher of gods and men”, and that some Buddhists believe in multiple deities or spirits that look after the affairs of both men and nature. Others pointed out that certain teachings of Buddha specifically point to an uncreated being without which nothing would be in existence.

Please note that though these arguments object to the Pope’s characterization of Buddhism, they in fact do nothing to bring it closer to Catholicism.
  #4  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:34 am
MontChevalier MontChevalier is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Contarini View Post
This is an extremely vague question. Wrong in what way? Right in what way?

First you need to isolate the specific areas in which they are in conflict. And even then, if you perceive them to be in conflict and you see truth in both sides' claims, there are three logical possibilities:

1. You are wrong in thinking that Catholicism is true where it conflicts with Buddhism;
2. You are wrong in thinking that Buddhism is true where it conflicts with Catholicism; or
3. You are wrong in perceiving a conflict.

Hence, there's no need to panic. Go on practicing Catholicism confidently, while studying Buddhism patiently and with an open mind, if you have the inclination and leisure to do so. Truth doesn't conflict with truth, ultimately, but it may appear to do so because we are imperfect creatures and see through a glass darkly. Hold on to the truth you know, be open to the truth you do not yet know, and don't be too confident of your initial impressions that the two conflict.

At the same time, don't jump to harmonize them either. Often people who do this water down one in the interests of the other.

To continue with this discussion, how about you list the areas where the two traditions appear to you to be in conflict? (Of course, this will depend in part on which versions of Buddhism we are talking about; I see conflicts between orthodox Christianity and all forms of Buddhism, but they are different conflicts in different cases to some extent. The common ground among these conflicts is the Buddhist denial of aseity, which in my opinion is the fundamental conflict between Buddhism and orthodox Christianity.)

Edwin
I would like to hear what Catholicism's apologist have to say about Buddhism and how do we defend against it. Where does the conflict exist? And why should we continue believing in Catholicism and not Buddhism? I want to to know what makes Catholicism so much more attractive than Buddhism.

Where does Catholicism stand with Buddhism?

Apparently, according to Buddhism, they believe in re-incarnation, in tolerance with everyone(Including practicing homosexuals), the change of customs(Even if they're thousands of years old) and the road to "enlightenment" (Whatever that means).

-MontChevalier
  #5  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:34 am
Barbkw Barbkw is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

On that same website, a man writes of Buddhism in explaination of the differences:

Quote:

[1] Posted by TXThurifer on 02-28-2009 at 01:13 PM

... I hold an MA in Buddhist Studies and returned to the fold after quite a few years of believing (incorrectly) that I was both a Buddhist and a Christian (turns out I was always a Christian, never a Buddhist). I trust that the good Christian scholars at Stand Firm will correct any mis-statements of misunderstandings I have expressed about the Christian side.

Ways that Buddhism is incompatible with Christianity:

1. Buddhism not only doesn’t acknowledge the divinity of Christ, it does not recognize divinity at all as a serious category. “Worldly” gods who are born, live and eventually die (even though their time-frame is measured in eons) are the only kind of gods acknowledged, and they are rightly considered inferior and not of merit. The easiest to find reference source on this is “The Questions of King Milinda.” Therefore there can be no purpose to life or living, there is no teleology of developing the fullness God has planted in us. However, in the Third Turning school, it is said you do have inherently some Buddha-qualities that are god-like which are revealed when your defilements of mind are purged.

2. Ditto for the soul or souls (I won’t go into the Classic soul/spirit continuum questions here) for that teaching I have the same source (Milinda) and many, many others. You are held to be a mere mental continuum that may be split into a variety of incarnations if circumstances are correct for that. In Buddhism, you don’t “reincarnate” exactly (as you don’t have a soul there’s nothing to “re” anything). Your mind-stream finds itself helplessly in another body. The personality in the subsequent body is not you, in fact you are not the same personality from instant to instant. Coherence as a being is what Buddhism says you are empty of.

3. The point of Buddhism is the attainment of enlightenment, an ontological category that is personal, though it can only be achieved through the accomplishment of heroic virtue and one must have the intention to help others. Only a very, very few are qualified to practice Buddhism seriously enough to accomplish this end, even though it is the stated goal of all Buddhists, whether of the Theravadin (Southern) or Northern Mahayana traditions. Many tens of thousands of years (or more) and possibly uncountable lifetimes are required to accomplish this goal. You have to be a hero. In Christianity, all who willingly accept the lordship of Jesus may be saved. Even if you’re not a heroic type.

4. In Buddhism, suffering is meaningless, except insofar as it it exhausts bad karma. The principle aim of Buddhism is to end pointless suffering. Contrast that with the refiner’s fire we willingly submit to. There is meaning in everything that happens not only to us, but to everything in Creation.

5. To properly be a Buddhist (as opposed to someone who pretends to be one), you must have three supreme refuges, forsaking all others: Buddha, Dharma & Sangha. This explicitly excludes Christ. God. The Bible, His Church, etc. Now, there are traditions that are vague on that point, but of late, for instance, Tibetan Buddhist teachers have been very, very clear about this (e.g. Dzongsar Khyentse’s “Who is a Buddhist?”—approx. title).
  #6  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:46 am
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Ohana Ohana is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Buddha had parents. He was a creature. God is the Creator. Enough said.

I do however, in spite of things said by the last poster, think that Buddhism has some things to learn from. For one thing, their view of compassion is compelling. That appears to me to be a way that a Christian can be in everyday life. It is very compatible with Love/Charity as we know it.
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  #7  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:50 am
MontChevalier MontChevalier is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbkw View Post
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/inde...article/20722/

Why Buddhism & Christianity Are Incompatible: “Catholicism and Buddhism: Compatible Beliefs?”
This is what I was looking for. Thank you.

-MontChevalier
  #8  
Old Nov 18, '11, 7:57 am
Dorothy Dorothy is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontChevalier View Post
I would like to hear what Catholicism's apologist have to say about Buddhism and how do we defend against it. Where does the conflict exist? And why should we continue believing in Catholicism and not Buddhism? I want to to know what makes Catholicism so much more attractive than Buddhism.

Where does Catholicism stand with Buddhism?

Apparently, according to Buddhism, they believe in re-incarnation, in tolerance with everyone(Including practicing homosexuals), the change of customs(Even if they're thousands of years old) and the road to "enlightenment" (Whatever that means).

-MontChevalier
I'm not educated enough to get into the nitty-gritty of philosophy, theology, etc. But I do know this:

JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD, and JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!

The founder of Buddhism did not rise from the dead. There will always be some good things that we can pick out of other faiths,......but Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity shed every drop of His Blood for us to show His infinite Love for us!
  #9  
Old Nov 18, '11, 9:31 am
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorothy View Post
The founder of Buddhism did not rise from the dead.
Which is precisely the point. Buddhism is not Christianity, and it is a mistake to assume that they have the same attitudes to things. The point of being enlightened is that you avoid reincarnation. That the Buddha was not reincarnated is a point in his favour.
[The Buddha said:] "What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

"As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."

"Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me.

"This is the greater: the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."

- Assu sutta, (The Ocean of Tears), Samyutta Nikaya 15.3
Quote:
There will always be some good things that we can pick out of other faiths,
Agreed. Buddhism can be too laid back sometimes, "Hey, I'll do that next lifetime..." Christianity can give more of a sense of urgency.

rossum
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  #10  
Old Nov 18, '11, 10:03 am
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Contarini View Post
1. You are wrong in thinking that Catholicism is true where it conflicts with Buddhism;
2. You are wrong in thinking that Buddhism is true where it conflicts with Catholicism; or
3. You are wrong in perceiving a conflict.
There is also the strong possibility you are perceiving truth incorrectly due to fallen human nature. I looked in to Buddhism at one time, only because of the Catholic Encyclopedia article that states, "Buddhism believes that life is not worth the living", which aligns well with my own personal sinful views (probably left over from my time as an atheist or deist-leaning preference utilitarian, as exemplified by David Benatar's Better Never to Have Been) that I pray to bring in line with those values of God-Jesus and the Church.

However, Buddhism was about quite a bit more (although there is no God as we understand it or teleology, and without God, life is ultimately purposeless, and leads to the same nihilism as Nietzsche's atheism - and all atheism - whether it is wrapped in the guise of a creed or religion or faith or whatever else: Buddhism at this point actually is not all dissimilar from Nietzsche's concept of the "Eternal recurrence"), and the mystical nature of it is quite baffling, and completely illogical: some of it goes that "illogicality is not truly illogical, but just logic of a higher or more spiritual nature": "life is an illusion". Such a creed that requires one to disown the higher functions of the mind and the entirety of the world's intellectual patrimony, and profess a nominalist and contradictory philosophy, can not be true.
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Last edited by Khalid; Nov 18, '11 at 10:16 am.
  #11  
Old Nov 18, '11, 10:07 am
rossum rossum is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Khalid View Post
Such a creed that requires one to disown the higher functions of the mind, and profess a nominalist philosophy, can not be true.
Buddhism emphasises the "higher functions of the mind" - we call them 'meditation'. You are correct about nominalism.

rossum
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  #12  
Old Nov 18, '11, 10:11 am
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Embracing irrational contradiction willingly can not be defined as having to do with the higher mind, but only self-delusion (granted, self-delusion or willful suspension of disbelief are higher functions of the mind, in a sense). Logic is logic, and if a man is a true, diehard philosophical skeptic in the vain of Pyrrhus (and nominalist), of the sort that denies axiomatic truths, or the possibility of knowing axiomatic truths, there is no logic that can be used to convince that man that logic is superior to illogic, and that consistency is superior to contradiction (as he believes that logic itself is illogic, no matter the evidence or arguments to the contrary).

On purely secular/logical/philosophical/metaphysical grounds, nominalism is the least defensible and most contradictory of the three major schools, Realism or Essentialism, Conceptualism, and Nominalism: I, of course, believe Realism to be the only defensible position on the nature of being. However, nominalism is a necessary (and might say sufficient) precursor to the contradictions embraced in Buddhist meditation.

This statement of Pyrrhonism is surprisingly Buddhist in nature:

"The main principle of Pyrrhus' thought is expressed by the word acatalepsia, which connotes the ability to withhold assent from doctrines regarding the truth of things in their own nature; against every statement its contradiction may be advanced with equal justification."

That bolded part seems to me to be the basis of Buddhist philosophy, and what I mean by self-contradiction and illogic, and is the essential basis for the famous dichotomy of the "Western 'either-or' and the Eastern 'both-and'".
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Above all things Truth beareth away the victory: ... great is Truth, mighty above all things. - III Esdras 3:12,4:41
  #13  
Old Nov 18, '11, 10:49 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbkw View Post
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/inde...article/20722/

Why Buddhism & Christianity Are Incompatible: “Catholicism and Buddhism: Compatible Beliefs?”
The article reads into JPII's remarks (which of course were not themselves anywhere hear the highest level of magisterial teaching) a wholesale condemnation that isn't there. JPII did not say that Christians should not adopt Buddhist practices. He said that it should be done with caution and not uncritically. I wholeheartedly agree.

The article doesn't help answer the OP's question at all, except by citing JPII's overly simplistic formulation that Buddhism is an "atheistic system." This is the kind of statement that gets in the way of real dialogue, because we all think we know what "atheism" is and that it is incompatible with Christianity.

But what if Buddhist "atheism," in its proper context, is actually a critique of what we would call idolatry?

Buddhist "atheism" is the denial that any ultimate being or ultimate cause exists. This certainly does seem to conflict with Christianity. But when you look at Buddhist philosophers such as Nagarjuna, their arguments sound a lot like the arguments of the "apophatic" strand within Christian theology. Christians affirm that God is beyond any human concept. Christian writers like C. S. Lewis have warned against the possibility that our concept of God may become an idol. Even if Buddhism turns out to be incompatible with our faith on this point, they certainly have powerful warnings against (in our terms) idolatry that need to be taken seriously. Only after we have absorbed the positive aspects of that critique will we be in any position to say for certain whether there is an ultimate incompatibility, as there certainly seems to be at this point.

Edwin
  #14  
Old Nov 18, '11, 11:14 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontChevalier View Post
I would like to hear what Catholicism's apologist have to say about Buddhism
Apologists may not be the best people to talk to about that. To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail. You should start with scholars who try to understand Buddhism fairly. Only then will you start to have an idea of what may need to be addressed from an apologetics standpoint.

Bear in mind that most Catholic apologists are concerned largely with Protestant fundamentalism. If they do address Buddhism, it's typically in the context of the Western "New Age" movement, which is inspired by Eastern religions but not in fact the same thing.

Quote:
and how do we defend against it.
You are assuming that Buddhism is somehow "attacking" Catholicism. Why do you think this?

Quote:
Where does the conflict exist? And why should we continue believing in Catholicism and not Buddhism? I want to to know what makes Catholicism so much more attractive than Buddhism.
Yes, I got that the first time. But since you don't seem to know much about Buddhism, I'm puzzled by where the question is coming from. Start with what you find attractive about Buddhism. Or if you have friends interested in it, start with what they find attractive.

Quote:
Where does Catholicism stand with Buddhism?
As far as I know, there isn't an official position--why would there be? Buddhism, like everything else, is true insofar as it agrees with natural law and divine revelation, and false insofar as it doesn't.

To what extent it is each of these things is something that can be discerned by careful, humble study combined with prayer, in communion with other Christians and for that matter all people of good will, and always subject to the authority of the Church where the Church has definitively spoken.

Quote:
Apparently, according to Buddhism, they believe in re-incarnation
Sort of. They tend to call it "rebirth" instead. It's different from Hindu reincarnation, because they don't believe that we have permanent selves at all. And some Western Buddhists may not believe in rebirth at all.

Quote:
in tolerance with everyone(Including practicing homosexuals)
That depends on which Buddhists. Most traditional Asian Buddhists would not take this approach, though I have read that at least in East Asian Buddhism homosexual behavior among monks is considered less serious than heterosexual, and is tacitly condoned. I'm not sure how widespread this is.

Certainly some Westerners who have embraced Buddhist ideas graft them onto typical secular/liberal ethics, but traditional Buddhist leaders such as the Dalai Lama say basically the same things about homosexuality that the Catholic Church would say.

Quote:
the change of customs(Even if they're thousands of years old)
That's a bit vague, and would not distinguish Buddhists from Christians, who also believe that mere antiquity does not in itself sanctify custom! Zen Buddhists tend to be rather iconoclastic in this regard, but all forms of Buddhism rely heavily on tradition in one way or another, it seems to me.

Quote:
and the road to "enlightenment" (Whatever that means)
Well, that's the place to start.

The most basic statement of Buddhism is the "Four Noble Truths":

1. There is suffering (referring here to all forms of discomfort and dissatisfaction, including in particular the "subtle suffering" experienced even by people who are apparently happy);
2. The cause of suffering is selfish craving--hanging on to something impermanent (which in Buddhist philosophy includes everything) as if it were permanent.
3. There is a cessation of suffering, called Nirvana--when your cravings go, there is no more suffering (there is also no longer what you would now, in your unenlightened state, call a "self," because your "self" is basically a bundle of cravings).
4. There is a path that leads to the cessation of suffering. This "Eightfold Path" includes such things as resolving not to harm other beings and not to gratify one's selfish desires; a code of conduct that again, focuses on not harming others; and finally a discipline of meditation that helps detach you from your cravings and give you inner peace.

There's a lot more to Buddhism, but most Buddhists would agree that this is the core.

Edwin
  #15  
Old Nov 18, '11, 11:19 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Buddhism and Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontChevalier View Post
This is what I was looking for. Thank you.

-MontChevalier
I see. You weren't actually looking for understanding, or even arguments (it's hard to find an argument in that particular screed), but just some nice rhetorical formulas that would excuse you from thinking about Buddhism.

Well, you didn't need to be excused in the first place. Catholicism gives you plenty to think about. You were under no obligation to start a thread about Buddhism. But just don't fool yourself that this article has actually told you anything meaningful.

Edwin
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