The Adversary, Buddha, and Jesus


#1

Some interesting facts on Satan, Buddhism, and Christianity.

The Buddhists have ideas on what the ‘adversary’ (otherwise known as Satan in Christian circles) is:

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "There are these three inside stains, inside enemies, inside foes, inside murderers, inside adversaries. Which three?

Greed is an inside stain, inside enemy, inside foe, inside murderer, inside adversary. Aversion is an inside stain, inside enemy, inside foe, inside murderer, inside adversary. Delusion is an inside stain, inside enemy, inside foe, inside murderer, inside adversary. These are the three inside stains, inside enemies, inside foes, inside murderers, inside adversaries."

Jesus likewise called Satan a “murderer from the very beginning” (John 8:44), and Christians see Satan as a foe of God. One of the Buddha’s titles, Arahant, means “foe-destroyer”.


#2

Hi, Ahimsa,

Didn’t Siddhartha Gautama mean “no self - no other” by
"delusion"? [which differs from the Christian idea of
a permanent “self” with a “soul” ?]

Greed and aversion, for a Buddhist, are seen in a different
context than that of ‘sinful’ behavior [greed]…my understanding
is that, in Buddhism, greed and aversion impede the
individual [a pun!] from reaching the state of Nirvana [Nibbana?]
…in fact both re-inforce the idea of a “self”.

Also, wouldn’t we have to distinguish between the
Adversary in the OT [Book of Job] and Satan in the NT?

Just a couple of reflections, Ahimsa,

Best,
reen12


#3

[quote=reen12]Hi, Ahimsa,

Didn’t Siddhartha Gautama mean “no self - no other” by
"delusion"? [which differs from the Christian idea of
a permanent “self” with a “soul” ?]

Greed and aversion, for a Buddhist, are seen in a different
context than that of ‘sinful’ behavior [greed]…my understanding
is that, in Buddhism, greed and aversion impede the
individual [a pun!] from reaching the state of Nirvana [Nibbana?]
…in fact both re-inforce the idea of a “self”.

Also, wouldn’t we have to distinguish between the
Adversary in the OT [Book of Job] and Satan in the NT?

Just a couple of reflections, Ahimsa,

Best,
reen12
[/quote]

Hi Reen,

From my personal study, I find Theravada Buddhism to be more precise in its language, especially concerning the idea of ‘self’, so if I speak of “Buddhism” as a whole, I’ll be referring to Theravada.

One thing I found out in the Buddhist texts is that the Buddha never used the word “self”!:smiley: He did, though, use the word “atta”, which is almost always translated as “self”, but I think that’s a mistranslation. A more accurate translation of “atta” would be “the un-changing me”. And since, according to Buddhism, there is no part of my body or mind that is unchanging, there is thus no “unchanging me”. There is, however, a “changing me”, a “self that constantly changes”, a type of self the Buddha never denied.

In my study of Christianity, I’ve found that the Christian idea of “soul” or “self” is actually an idea of something that continually changes. Christian heaven is a place of being in the presence of God, and most depictions of heaven show the inhabitants – at the very least – giving praise to God. Well, you can’t give praise unless something is being done, unless something is undergoing some sort of change. Thus, Christianity’s idea of “self” is actually a “self that undergoes change”, not an eternally changeless self.

The Buddha denied that there was any part of “ourselves” that was completely unchanging. I don’t see where Christianity affirms what the Buddha denied in this case.

Ciao.:slight_smile:


#4

I thought about distinguishing them, but – from Jesus’ perspective – they would be one and the same, I suppose.:slight_smile:


#5

Hello, Ahimsa,

quote:Ahimsa

One thing I found out in the Buddhist texts is that the Buddha never used the word “self”!:smiley: He did, though, use the word “atta”, which is changing me", a “self that constantly changes”, a type of self the Buddha never denied.almost always translated as “self”, but I think that’s a mistranslation. A more accurate translation of “atta” would be “the un-changing me”. And since, according to Buddhism, there is no part of my body or mind that is unchanging, there is thus no “unchanging me”. There is, however, a “changing me”, a “self that constantly changes”, a type of self the Buddha never denied.

Verryyyy interesting. Thanks for the clarification.

And since, according to Buddhism, there is no part of my body or mind that is unchanging, there is thus no “unchanging me”.

Is it: Every part of my body/mind is changing…thus
there is no “unchanging me.” ?


quote: Ahimsa

In my study of Christianity, I’ve found that the Christian idea of “soul” or “self” is actually an idea of something that continually changes.

OK. Here’s my thought:

The soul is eternal.

The Church teaches that, at the end of time, we will be
given “glorified” bodies…we will not exist in eternity as
dis-embodied “souls”. That is the glory of humans…
we will worship God, as human beings, body and soul.

If Buddha was referring to the process of decay, that
kicks off at the very beginning of life, these glorified
bodies will no longer be subject to “change”, in that sense.
[A form of entropy, I think. Created objects tend to
"wind down".]

Now here’s where I might be wandering from Church teaching…
I’m not sure.
Could we say that the soul “expresses” itself through a
"self"…a “personality”…each different, each praising God
in a way unique to that soul, which was created for just that
purpose.
I believe that the “self” will share the perfection of the
soul…no more sin, pride, timidity etc. We will each be
our “selves”, truely, in a way impossible within our earthly
lifetimes…our bodies subject to constant change [entropy],
our emotions, wounded by the fall, “using” us, instead of
*being experienced *in the manner in which God originally
created them [emotions].

If “movement”…i.e. “praising” is classified as “change”,
if the welling up of awe at the sight of Majesty is
held as being “subjected” to an emotion [and, therefore,
“change”], then I think that the Church means an entirely
different reality than what is held by Gautama Buddha.

What do you think?
reen


#6

I think you pointed out where the Buddhist and Christian would differ. Whereas for the Christian the resurrected body changes, but doesn’t decay; for the Buddhist all things not only change, but decay eventually.


#7

Hi, Ahimsa,

quote: Ahimsa

The Buddha denied that there was any part of “ourselves” that was completely unchanging. I don’t see where Christianity affirms what the Buddha denied in this case

How about substituting the term “eternal” for “change, leading
to decay”?

If you accept that substitution, then there is indeed a
part of us that never changes…i.e.the soul…it does not
decay and never dies. It is the “entity” that continues
after death, which entity will be re-united with a glorified body.

ccc.scborromeo.org.master.com/texis/master/search/?sufs=0&q=soul&xsubmit=Search&s=SS

Or, especially:
scborromeo.org/ccc/para/997.htm

Would you consider that a fair substitution?
Eternal for “change, leading to decay?” If Buddha
said that all created things rise, endure and pass
away, then the soul, which is created by God, is
not subject to this natural observation of Siddhartha Gautama.
In which case, the Church would deny that which Buddha
affirmed, no?

reen


#8

Hi Reen,

True, if we define “change” to mean “decay,” then what the Buddha affirmed (all things decay) would be denied by the Church.


#9

A lot of good Christian s practice Zen so it cant be all bad


#10

True.:smiley:

I forgot to add: in Buddhism, there is some “thing” that doesn’t change, and that would be “nirvana”. But nirvana isn’t a “thing”, so there we go.


#11

I just finished Karen Armstrong’s “pretty good” treatment of Buddha.

She is, if nothing else, very thought provoking.

So, a couple of questions she’s cause to percolate for me:

  1. What do you think of her point that Mara is a kind of shadow-side to Gautama? Too much Jung in her cornflakes or is there something to it?

  2. Can or should a Christian understand Mara as a kind of Buddhist Satan?

  3. Is anatta anything more than a kind of inverted solipsism?


#12

I wouldn’t insist that there isn’t something to it. That is, for someone who finds the concept of a supernatural entity bent towards mischief and evil, a bit unbelievable, a more psychological interpretation of Mara would be better than simply discounting the idea of Mara completely.

And, of course, many Christians have tried to psychoanalyze the Christian Satan.

I personally find any ‘de-mythologization’ interesting, but incapable of telling the whole story.

  1. Can or should a Christian understand Mara as a kind of Buddhist Satan?

I would say that a Christian can understand Mara as a being who attempts to hinder humans from realizing wisdom and compassion. The Christian Satan is associated with many other notions (like the fall from heaven), that would not really fit with Mara. But insofar as Mara represents the ‘adversary’, and ‘tempter’, of the Buddha, then Mara performs many of the same roles Satan performed in the New Testament.

  1. Is anatta anything more than a kind of inverted solipsism?

Of course not.:stuck_out_tongue: The Buddha himself was hardly solipsistic – after enlightenment, he ‘evangelized’ for more than 40 years, communicating his Teaching. If you ever get the chance to meet someone like the Dalai Lama, I would recommend doing so – it would give you some idea of whether meditating on ‘anatta’ necessarily leads to solipsistic inwardness or a radiating compassion.


#13

#14

Ahimsa,

I think you may have misunderstood me. When I attempted to describe anatta as a kind of “inverted solipsism” I meant that it seems to me to be the mirror opposite of solipsism.

Solipsism says nothing exists other than the self.

Anatta says the opposite that the slef does not really exist, that there is only the chain of dependence; karma.

As i understand it anyhow.

Are you theravadin then?


#15

Ah, I stand corrected.:smiley:

Solipsism says nothing exists other than the self.

Anatta says the opposite that the slef does not really exist, that there is only the chain of dependence; karma.

Well, technically, there is more than the mere chain of dependence – and that some"thing" more would be nibbana.

As i understand it anyhow.

Are you theravadin then?

Not to take anything away from Mahayana, but I simply prefer Theravadan perspectives when thinking about Buddhism. Everything in Mahayana is already in Theravada, though not necessarily explicitly visible.

I’m not Theravada. I’m not Buddhist. “Technically”, I’m Christian.


#16

…(Genesis 3:1)

I’m sure Job would also agree with you.:slight_smile:
[/quote]


#17

Isnt nirvana an escape from something rather than being in something?


#18

That’s something best asked of someone who has realized nirvana.:smiley:

But the texts speak of nirvana as the ‘highest joyfulness’. So, I guess nirvana is an escape from a joyless existence.


#19

But, to be in heaven is to be with something-
to be in Nirvana is to be escaping something.

Interesting, but its an escape. The simple removal of the adversary gives limited joy. Joy in the adversary gone, but what then?


#20

Yes, nirvana is an ‘escape’ from something – and an ‘entrance’ into something else.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.