Could Buddha be a saint? Plato? Lao Tse? Confusius? Socrates?

They were all pre-Christian and most likely had no contact with Judaism. Yet, they sought truth and virtue.

Any number of souls of the dead, remembered or not remembered, could be in heaven. We commemorate them all on All Saints. :slight_smile:

Well according to the RCC, anyone who reaches heaven is a saint anyway. Right?

The Buddha was a saint for a time, until he was removed from the list in the purge of legendary saints.

There is an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia: ‘Barlaam and Josaphat’ IIRC. I can’t check as seems to be down at the moment.




Yes, they could be.

The article is here:

St. Justin Martyr said that men like Socrates and Plato skills be counted as Christians because they followed the light as they could see it and therefore would have been Christian if Christianity had existed. Justin Martyr First Apology Chapter 46: “[Christ] is the Word, of whom the whole human race are partakers. And those who lived according to reason are Christians, even though accounted atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus and those who resembled them, and of the barbarians Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others. …they who have been before him and lived without reason were worthless…but they who lived and now live in accordance with it are Christians.”

I recently saw the movie Confucious staring Chow Yun Fat. I thought it was very good but the ancient Chinese did not have much of a concept of God. Heaven, yes and the dead surviving death but not a personal God. Just as Tao is an impersonal universal nature of things. Virtue being its own reward.

How would I make this image smaller?

Other non Christian Religions don’t share the concept of “Saint” , to be declared a Saint officially you have to be Catholic, Latin or Eastern, and it all has to be investigated by the Church on the merit on the person who is going to be declared a Saint by the Church, like for instance Archbishop Fulton Sheen life is being thoroughly investigated plus 3 miracles are also needed…

Why would the Catholic Church be interested in declaring a non Catholic a Saint, let there denomination do that, what happened before the Reformation since all were Catholic .People were declared a Saint by popular vote of the people and all the miracles they performed an iffy way of going on so it was put after the Reformation in a more uniform way for those people declared a Saint by the Catholic Church had to be investigated properly for miracles, and that they had led a Holy Life (For instance Padre Pio).

I don’t think the question was one of official declaration. The Church is not likely to formally declare any of those listed a saint, you are right. But could they now be in heaven, which is what a saint is, declared or not? I say yes, they could be. To deny it would be to deny the potential of God’s love and mercy, the saving power of Jesus.

You can say what you like, I go by the Catholic Church’s teaching.

You do realise you’ve ruled out quite a large number of the saints who appear on the liturgical calendar?

As you understand it

I agree. Catholic, after all, means universal…inclusive of all people of all ages and places who seek the truth and to live a virtuous life.

Thank you. That is indeed the article I was trying to reference.


The Eastern Orthodox saint Nikolai Velimiorivich clearly thought so:

"…All the prophets have from the beginning cried out to my soul, imploring her to make herself a virgin and prepare herself to receive the Divine Son into her immaculate womb;

Imploring her to become a ladder, down which God will descend into the world, and up which man will ascend to God;

Imploring her to drain the red sea of sanguinary passions within herself, so that man the slave can cross over to the promised land, the land of freedom.

The wise man of China admonishes my soul to be peaceful and still, and to wait for Tao to act within her. Glory be the memory of Lao-tse, the teacher and prophet of his people!

The wise man of India teaches my soul not to be afraid of suffering, but through the arduous and relentless drilling in purification and prayer to elevate herself to the One on high, who will come out to greet her and manifest to her His face and His power. Glorious be the memory of Krishna, the teacher and prophet of his people!

The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then—in vacuity, tranquility, purity and bliss—to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!..

if somebody thinks still that a few thousands of Christian saints are not a sufficient argument to show that saintliness is practicable, then the Church has still not to give her ideal up and to take as her ideal thousands of great and small Napoleons and Bismarcks, and Goethes and Spencers, or Medics and Cromwells or Kaisers and Kings–no, in** the latter case it would be much nicer for the Church to point out the saintly men outside of Christian walls, like St Hermes and St Pythagoras, or St Krishna and St Buddha, or St Lao-Tse and St Confucius, or St Zoroaster and St Abu-Bekr. Better even is unbaptised saintliness than baptised earthliness**…"

***– St Nikolai Velimirovich (Chapter XLVIII; Prayers by the Lake) ***

“Better even is unbaptised saintliness than baptised earthliness…”

By no means was everyone Catholic before the Reformation. This is an oft repeated line here at CAF but it’s innacurrate. There were already a number of Churches no longer in union with Rome, they would have (and still do ) perceive themselves as Catholic but their understanding of the term would differ somewhat from those of us in union with Rome.

If there is a Tao, it must be holy, as God’s will and way.

There is no doubt that the Buddha and Lao Tse achieved a mystical spiritual state that we can not imagine. It is likely that St Thomas did also and afterwards he refereed to his own writings as straw compared to the wisdom he received. Those who have been in the presence of the Dalai Lama talk about the aura of holiness he exudes. When discussing the authenticity of theistic spiritual experiences His Holiness the Dalai Lama says:

If someone shows genuine love and compassion toward fellow human brothers and sisters, and toward the Earth itself, then I think we can be sure that that person really respect’s God’s message, they emulate God’s love for humanity. Conversely, I believe that the faith of someone who professes belief in God and yet shows no love or compassion toward other human beings is highly questionable. (Essence of the Heart Sutra, p12.)

Anyone who has read (experienced) the poetry of Rumi or that of Kabir can not help to believe that they are saintly men deserving of saithhood. Despite his Muslim background, Rumi did not discriminate against Jews, Christians, Hindus or even atheists. In one piece of writing called “He Was in No Other Place,” Rumi wrote about his relationship with Jesus:

Cross and Christians, end to end, I examined. He was not on the Cross. I went to the Hindu temple, to the ancient pagoda. In none of them was there any sign. To the uplands of Herat I went, and to Kandahar I looked. He was not on the heights or in the lowlands. Resolutely, I went to the summit of the [fabulous] mountain of kaf. There only was the dwelling of the [legendary] Anqa bird. I went to the Kaaba of Mecca. He was not there. I asked about him from Avicenna, the philosopher. He was beyond the range of Avicenna… I looked into my heart. In that place, his place, I saw him. He was in no other place.

How many of us see and have Christ in our heart?

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