It puzzles me why Buddhism, in stark contrast to other religions and especially Christianity, gets such an unequivocally positive presentation in the media and in the general popular mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Buddhism teaches excellent moral principles (not too different from Catholic moral principles actually) and that Buddha was a good and holy man who is probably with God in Heaven. It’s just the uncritical way that Westerners treat Buddhism.
I’ve just been listening to a radio interview with a Buddhist nun. The interviewer constantly referred to her as “the Venerable (Christian name)(surname)”. When a Catholic priest, bishop or Cardinal is interviewed on the same program, they never get referred to as “Father”, “My lord /his lordship”, or “your/his eminence”. Just “Christian name” or even just “(surname)”. The Catholics get a grilling cross-examination about their beliefs. The Buddhist told us how she was brought up Catholic and as a girl desperately wanted to be a Catholic nun, then she got into promisciuous sex and drugs and then became a Buddhist. Because, she said, Buddhism is eminently rational and scientific, whilst Christianity is “anti-science”. The interviewer simply lapped all this up, no mention of the irrational and unscientific basic Buddhist beliefs such as reincarnation, or the fact that modern science itself arose uniquely out of the Christian worldview. The Buddhist claimed that Buddhists “never try to convert anyone” but she was telling us how she and her group visit and “counsel” prisoners and teach them about Buddhism and plugging her forthcoming lecture which the interviewer urged us to attend. It took some research for me to discover that there is a $30 entry fee to her 2-hour lecture. Where the profits go is not stated. Can you imagine the media and public reaction if a Catholic priest or nun charged people $30 to hear him speak?
And people such as my brother-in-law will willingly pay up for such lectures, books etc on Buddhist meditation, mysticism, stategies for dealing with problems and finding peace etc. He was brought up a Catholic and remains a nominal and occasionally practising Catholic, but will constantly repeat any anti-Catholic story he hears. I’ve tried to tell him that the Catholicism has a vast wealth of mysticism, meditation etc which is even deeper than Buddhism’s but he ignores this treasure on his own doorstep.
And we’re told that Buddhists, uniquely among religious believers, are non-violent. Apparently no-one has heard of the current Buddhist vs Hindu conflict in Sri Lanka, or the bloody deeds of Buddhists throughout the history of South-East Asia. And what religion were most of the Japanese in WW2 who terrorised half a continent with shocking cruelty?
And Catholics constantly get pilloried for their stances on abortion, homosexuality, contraception etc. No-one mentions that Buddhist teachings on these subjects are virtually identical to Catholic ones.