Newsletter of the District of Asia

 Jul - Sep 2001

Sri Lankan Inculturation :
What’s wrong with Buddhism ?


1) The Clerical Promoters

First Text
The Doctrine of original sin discriminates against persons of other religions or of no religion
By Fr. Tissa Balasuryia O.M.I.

This priest was excommunicated recently for his heretical teachings and then re-accepted in the Church without having had to retract anything.  In the following extract from his book “Mary and Human Liberation”, although he does not explicitly mention Buddhism by name, nevertheless he lays a fundamental principle for the ‘dialogue’ with Buddhism: since, according to him, original sin does not exist, there is no absolute need of a Mediator, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, one can be saved in any religion.

The doctrine of original sin as developed in Christian theology taught that humanity was in such a state of original and unavoidable sinfulness that only Jesus Christ and his merits could save human beings. For many centuries this was understood as requiring the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Savior and membership of the Catholic Church. Even today, it is generally interpreted to imply that salvation is by some means or other, through Jesus Christ.

The dogma concerning redemption was developed from the presuppositions concerning original sin.  Jesus, the universal savior, was said to confer the graces merited by Him through his Church founded by Him.

The Church did so through the sacraments of which baptism had to be the first.  Baptism is said to remove the stain of original sin, not concupiscence but the other consequences of original sin whereby humans are alienated from God.

This claim of the Church to be the vehicle of eternal salvation has a twofold impact which are questionable. First it claims for a religious establishment the power to mediate salvation beyond this life. This can be questioned by those who do not acknowledge a religion at all. Even if we maintain that salvation is through Jesus Christ, it does not follow that we can claim that Jesus Christ wanted a Church—say the Catholic Church—to be the mediator of that salvation. In fact both Jesus and Paul speak of a direct relationship between God and the human person. In the ultimate analysis, holiness and salvation are in the relationship between a person and one's conscience and God. (Rom. chap. 2, Jesus Last Judgment, Mt. 25)

This explanation of the doctrine of original sin seemed to reduce the chance of eternal salvation of persons of no religion. Even when the human conscience was given the ultimate say in determining human actions, morality and spirituality, it was regarded as a less reliable path to salvation.

To us this is a form of religionism, in which one or several religions claim to be able to mediate eternal salvation even after death. This is an area which religion as an organized community cannot reach, and salvation at that stage is a mystery of a person's relationship to the Absolute Transcendent—God.

A second aspect of discrimination in this doctrine is concerning persons of faiths other than Christianity. Though the Church now affirm the possibility of salvation through other religions, the weight of the Christian tradition has been to explain original sin in such a way that the remedy for it was said to be in and through the Church thanks to the merits of Christ. This did not cause much difficulty in Euro-American society where all were presumed to have the opportunity of baptism, and therefore of undoing the damage of original sin.

The traditional perspective of original sin is linked to a concept of God that is not acceptable to the other religions in our Asian countries. In our countries this idea of humanity being born alienated from the Creator would seem an abominable concept of the divine. To believe that whole generations of entire Continents lived and died with a lesser chance of salvation is repugnant to the notion of a just and loving God.

In fact, part of the cause for the excesses of missionary zeal in being against other religions was due to such a theological perspective of "salvation only in the Church". St. Francis Xavier said he was like mad going in search of souls to be saved, that were going into hell. The traditional theology and spirituality had such a thrust. Missionaries would go to the ends of the earth to save souls. People had to be baptized and thus saved. Hence even baptisms in the womb, when a fetus was in danger of death. That was the impact of the concept of original sin. (…)

The claim of the Church to be guided by the Spirit of Truth does not prevent the theologians and pastors of the Church leaving room for their theological imagination. This is particularly likely in matters concerning which there is no empirical evidence or criteria of positive verification, and no clear biblical statement. But problems arise when conclusions of such theological evolution are harmful to others or to the whole of humanity. Then we are entitled to ask how is one sure that the teachings are from the Holy Spirit? Could they be influenced by the presuppositions and assumptions of the theologians, by the self interest of the group theologizing and even by the "gift" of theological imagination which can be quite fertile and ingenious in evolving formulations to satisfy the needs of a group of believers specially when they exercise dominant political, cultural and spiritual power in a society?

Here our criteria for evaluating doctrines can be very helpful. If a doctrine is dehumanizing of a category of persons or affecting them unduly and unjustifiably it cannot be from God who is love or from Jesus who is so humanly divine in all his teachings and life. We are then entitled to question the fruits of the imagination which may claim to pass for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (even if such doctrines have prevailed in the Church for centuries).

(From Mary and Human Liberation, Logos, Colombo, March/July 1990, pp.80-85.)


Second text
Buddhist—Christian Dialogue
among Religious
By Msgr W. L. A. Don Peter

Former Rector of the Colombo Archdiocesan Seminary, of St Joseph College, Colombo, of Aquinas College of Higher Studies, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Colombo, etc.

In this article, Msgr. Peter accepts the possibility of sanctity outside of Jesus Christ—Who said “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jo. 5, 5), confuses the natural order and the supernatural order, and values the pure pelagianism promoted by Buddhism.

Christian attitude towards Buddhist Monachism

Buddhism being the most widely spread religion in the East, and a religion in which monachism has held a pre-eminent position, Christian missionaries from the West, who in the course of the past several centuries have been engaged in evangelistic work in the various Buddhist countries of Asia, should have shown a more enlightened interest in it than they did, especially because they, themselves were, for the most part, members of religious orders Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc. Their attitude, on the contrary, was triumphalistic, unsympathetic and unfriendly, and sometimes even intolerant and hostile. (...)

We have to understand the attitude of the European missionaries in the light of the various circumstances that prevailed in their day. First, they were so convinced of the uniqueness of Christianity as the only revealed and true religion that they tended to look down upon other religions, particularly ministers of religion, as were the bhikkhus, whom they considered as teachers of error. For them, other religions were 'pagan' and 'heathen' and they showed no appreciation of them.

Secondly, it was generally in the wake of the conquistadors that the missionaries came out to the East; and they continued to be closely allied with them, and were protected, supported and favored by them. The missionaries shared the imperialistic sentiments of the colonial powers. They, too, came to 'conquer' the East for Christ, conquista espiritual do Oriente and sometimes resorted to aggressive and questionable means to achieve their aim.

Thirdly, the missionaries themselves believed with other Westerners, in the superiority of Western culture, which was very much Christian. (...) In attempting to propagate Christianity in the East, the missionaries sought also to introduce Western cultural elements into Oriental society. They sincerely thought that in this way they were doing a good turn to Eastern peoples, as they were giving them something better and nobler than what they possessed. (...)

Fourthly, Oriental cultures themselves were so closely interwoven with Oriental religions that the missionaries from the West found it difficult to see a distinction between them, and denounced both religions and cultures as pagan. (...)

Treasures in other faiths

It is largely because we have regarded non-Christian religions as ‘pagan’ that we tended to ignore them and keep aloof from them when conversion was not possible. Such an attitude admittedly does not permit of inter-faith dialogue, with the result that our knowledge of Buddhism and of Buddhist monachism has remained vague and superficial, if not erroneous and biased.

Christian religious in particular should have been specially interested in Buddhism in view of the fact that a form of religious and monastic life, parallel to theirs, exists in Buddhism, but unfortunately this has not been so. (...) Nor must we overlook the fact that there are also exemplary religious among the Buddhist monks, just as there are in Christian religious orders.

The Christian religious seek spiritual perfection following the guidance of the revealed word of God in the Gospels, that is, the evangelical counsels. Buddhist monachism is the outcome of a human endeavor to evolve a system or way of life for reaching a similar goal. It has special value in that it is an effort made by man to reach holiness without the guidance of direct divine revelation. We appreciate man's achievements in science and technology. We should value much more human achievement, no doubt with God's help, in the spiritual order. We are reminded by the Second Vatican Council that non-Christian faiths contain "treasures a bountiful God has distributed among the nations of the earth." (Ad Gentes, 11) Furthermore, the Christian religious should humbly search in Buddhist religious life for what they might learn from it with profit to themselves. The study of Buddhist monachism, not only what it is now but what it has been, will undoubtedly be an enriching experience for them. At the same time they should seek, in a spirit of Christian charity, to share with the Buddhist religious, when there is opportunity for it, their own experience of the religious life. (...)

Anti-Christian sentiment

In the mind of most Orientals, Christianity is a Western religion, the religion of the white man, of the Western imperialist. This impression is due, again, to historical reasons. Although Christianity is in origin an Asian religion, like the other world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam), it moved Westwards quite early and evangelized Europe, and in the process became itself 'Europeanized'. It was this Europeanized form of Christianity that was later introduced into the East by Europeans themselves, and, in most cases, under European rule. The prejudice against Christianity, as the religion of the Western aggressor still persists. It is regarded as a religion alien to the East.

It is a fact that under Western imperialism Buddhism suffered. Foreign rule was a setback to Buddhism and Buddhist monachism. The monks who had held a position of eminence under native Buddhist rulers who had been their chief beneficiaries were now ignored. Christianity, the religion of the foreign power, received favored treatment from the government. Christian clergy rose to the position of eminence previously held by the Buddhist monks. Christian missionary bodies opened schools, often with government aid, where the native Christians received a good education, which enabled them to secure high positions and thereby rise in the economic and social ladder. The Buddhists, not having such opportunities, or not being organized like the Christian Churches to avail themselves of any opportunities open to them were reduced to a secondary position, even where they were the vast majority of the population. It was only after independence that efforts began to be made to restore Buddhism and Buddhist monachism to their former position.

The colonial powers, sometimes with vested interests, supported the Church in her missionary effort. Colonial rule placed the Church in an advantageous position. Under the rule of the Christian powers from the West, a determined effort was made to convert native peoples to Christianity. This effort was sometimes oppressive to the traditional religions. Although the allegation that compulsion was resorted to make converts cannot be substantiated, it is a fact that other doubtful means such as favors, privileges, preferment, social and educational benefits, etc., have been employed to gain converts.

Eastern peoples know from past history and experience that the Christians are only too eager to make converts. This has made dialogue with them somewhat difficult. They have the suspicion that our intention is ultimately to win them over to Christianity. In fact, even our present attitude of friendliness towards other religions and our efforts towards dialogue with them have been regarded with suspicion. It has even been thought that the new attitude of the Church is only a new and subtle approach, a new ruse, to gain converts. Such suspicion is admittedly an obstacle to free and friendly dialogue.(... )

Practical Conclusions

From the foregoing, certain practical conclusions might be drawn.

1. It is certainly most desirable that Christian religious should seek to have dialogue with Buddhist religious. Such dialogue is bound to be beneficial to both, and to the cause of religion in general.

2. The aim of dialogue should not be the conversion of the Buddhist religious to Christianity or vice versa. It should be made clear to the Buddhists that our intention is not to convert them. We must be sincere on this point. Otherwise a genuine dialogue will not be possible. But, of course, there should be complete freedom to change one's religion if one desires to do so.

3. Dialogue should be sought not in a spirit of triumphalism, but with deep humility, not from a pedestal, but on the same plane, not as a superior dealing with an inferior, but as brother meeting brother.

4. It should be the aim of dialogue to gain a better knowledge of one another, both as persons and religious. Such knowledge will lead to a better understanding of one another and the various aspects of the religious life peculiar to each. Correct knowledge will also dispel prejudice. It is only then that a genuine appreciation of one another will be possible.

5. Dialogue should also aim at close association. The Christian religious and the Buddhist religious have similar goals, according to the teaching of each religion, and, at least partly, a similar way of life. Therefore in living that life, shouldn't they be closely associated in a spirit of brotherly interest in one another? (...)

6. In the seclusion of temple or vinhdra, Buddhist monks have been able to devote much time to scholastic pursuits. Throughout the history of Buddhist monachism, there have been monks who distinguished themselves as scholars, writers and educators. This tradition of scholarship is being maintained in most Buddhist countries. Couldn't the Christian religious be associated with the Buddhist religious in joint studies of religion, religious life and kindred subjects or any subject for that matter in which they have a common interest?

7. It is a fact that the growth of material prosperity, especially in the developed countries in the West, has brought in its wake a disregard of religious values and ideals. The spirit of secularism is afflicting the Church itself particularly in the West. Laxity in moral life especially relating to sex, the move to be rid of priestly celibacy, the exodus from the ranks of the priesthood and the religious life, and the acute shortage of priestly and religious vocations are perhaps indications of the extent to which Catholics themselves have come under the baneful influence of materialism and secularism. What has happened to Christianity in the West might in time to come be the fate of Oriental religions as well.

Shouldn't the Christian religious therefore join hands with the Buddhist religious to combat, by the spoken and written word, by the example of their lives and by any other means available to them, the forces of secularism in modem society? In this endeavor, the Christian religious should find an ally in the Buddhist religious, drawn as they are from the East, where the spirit of religion still widely prevails, and spiritual values and ideals are esteemed.

( From Studies in Buddhism, by Msgr. W. L. A. Don Peter, Colombo, 1994, pp. 73 - 82.)


2) Refutation

First Text
St Thomas Aquinas

In the following articles, from the Summa Theologica, St Thomas refutes various points, which apply perfectly to the teaching of Buddhism as promoted by false ecumenism. Can one attain perfection, that is observe all the commandments, avoid sin, reach Heaven, without the help of God?  The Buddhists answer yes, since they do not recognize the necessity of the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  St Thomas, the Common Doctor of the Church says, with all the Fathers, with all the Tradition and teaching of the Church, no, absolutely no.

Whether man without grace and by his own natural powers can fulfil the commandments of the Law?
(1a2ae, q.109, a4)


Augustine says that it is part of the Pelagian heresy that “they believe that without grace man can fulfil all the Divine commandments.”

I answer that, There are two ways of fulfilling the commandments of the Law. The first regards the substance of the works, as when a man does works of justice, fortitude, and of other virtues. And in this way man in the state of perfect nature (i.e. before the fall - Ed.) could fulfil all the commandments of the Law; otherwise he would have been unable to sin in that state, since to sin is nothing else than to transgress the Divine commandments. But in the state of corrupted nature man cannot fulfil all the Divine commandments without healing grace. Secondly, the commandments of the law can be fulfilled, not merely as regards the substance of the act, but also as regards the mode of acting, i.e. their being done out of charity. And in this way, neither in the state of perfect nature, nor in the state of corrupt nature can man fulfil the commandments of the law without grace. Hence, Augustine having stated that “without grace men can do no good whatever,” adds: “Not only do they know by its light what to do, but by its help they do lovingly what they know.” Beyond this, in both states they need the help of God's motion in order to fulfil the commandments.


Whether man can merit everlasting life without grace? 
(1a2ae, q.109, a5)

The Apostle says (Rm. 6:23): “The grace of God is life everlasting.” And as a gloss says, this is said “that we may understand that God, of His own mercy, leads us to everlasting life.”

I answer that, Acts conducing to an end must be proportioned to the end. But no act exceeds the proportion of its active principle; and hence we see in natural things, that nothing can by its operation bring about an effect which exceeds its active force, but only such as is proportionate to its power. Now everlasting life is an end exceeding the proportion of human nature, as is clear from what we have said above (1a2ae q5, a5, see next article below). Hence man, by his natural endowments, cannot produce meritorious works proportionate to everlasting life; and for this a higher force is needed, viz. the force of grace. And thus without grace man cannot merit everlasting life; yet he can perform works conducing to a good which is natural to man, as “to toil in the fields, to drink, to eat, or to have friends,” and the like, as Augustine says in his third Reply to the Pelagians 

Objection 3. Everlasting life is the last end of human life. Now every natural thing by its natural endowments can attain its end. Much more, therefore, may man attain to life everlasting by his natural endowments, without grace.

Reply to Objection 3. This objection has to do with the natural end of man. Now human nature, since it is nobler, can be raised by the help of grace to a higher end, which lower natures can not reach; even as a man who can recover his health by the help of medicines is better disposed to health than one who can not recover it, as the philosopher observes.


Whether man can attain happiness
by his natural powers?

(1a2ae, q.5. a5) 

Man is naturally the principle of his action, by his intellect and will. But final Happiness prepared for the saints, surpasses the intellect and will of man; for the Apostle says (1 Cor. 2:9) "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." Therefore man cannot attain Happiness by his natural powers.

I answer that, Imperfect happiness that can be had in this life, can be acquired by man by his natural powers, in the same way as virtue, in whose operation it consists: on this point we shall speak further on (q63). But man's perfect Happiness, as stated above (q3, a8), consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. Now the vision of God's Essence surpasses the nature not only of man, but also of every creature, as was shown in the 1a, q12, a4. For the natural knowledge of every creature is in keeping with the mode of his substance: thus it is said of the intelligence that "it knows things that are above it, and things that are below it, according to the mode of its substance." But every knowledge that is according to the mode of created substance, falls short of the vision of the Divine Essence, which infinitely surpasses all created substance. Consequently neither man, nor any creature, can attain final Happiness by his natural powers.

Objection 1. It would seem that man can attain happiness by his natural powers. For nature does not fail in necessary things. But nothing is so necessary to man as that by which he attains the last end. Therefore this is not lacking to human nature. Therefore man can attain Happiness by his natural powers.

Reply to Objection 1. Just as nature does not fail man in necessaries, although it has not provided him with weapons and clothing, as it provided other animals, because it gave him reason and hands, with which he is able to get these things for himself; so neither did it fail man in things necessary, although it gave him not the wherewithal to attain Happiness: since this it could not do. But it did give him free-will, with which he can turn to God, that He may make him happy. "For what we do by means of our friends, is done, in a sense, by ourselves" (Ethic. III, 3).

Whether man without grace can avoid sin?
(1a2ae, q.109, a8)  

Augustine says: "Whoever denies that we ought to say the prayer 'Lead us not into temptation' (and they deny it who maintain that the help of God's grace is not necessary to man for salvation, but that the gift of the law is enough for the human will) ought without doubt to be removed beyond all hearing, and to be anathematized by the tongues of all."

I answer that, We may speak of man in two ways: first, in the state of perfect nature; secondly, in the state of corrupted nature. Now in the state of perfect nature, man, without habitual grace, could avoid sinning either mortally or venially; since to sin is nothing else than to stray from what is according to our nature—and in the state of perfect nature man could avoid this. Nevertheless he could not have done it without God's help to uphold him in good, since if this had been withdrawn, even his nature would have fallen back into nothingness.

But in the state of corrupt nature man needs grace to heal his nature in order that he may entirely abstain from sin. And in the present life this healing is wrought in the mind--the carnal appetite being not yet restored. Hence the Apostle (Rm. 7:25) says in the person of one who is restored: "I myself, with the mind, serve the law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin." And in this state man can abstain from all mortal sin, which takes its stand in his reason, as stated above (q74, a5); but man cannot abstain from all venial sin on account of the corruption of his lower appetite of sensuality. For man can, indeed, repress each of its movements (and hence they are sinful and voluntary), but not all, because whilst he is resisting one, another may arise, and also because the reason is always alert to avoid these movements, as was said above (q74, a3, ad 2).

So, too, before man's reason, wherein is mortal sin, is restored by justifying grace, he can avoid each mortal sin, and for a time, since it is not necessary that he should be always actually sinning. But it cannot be that he remains for a long time without mortal sin. Hence Gregory says that "a sin not at once taken away by repentance, by its weight drags us down to other sins": and this because, as the lower appetite ought to be subject to the reason, so should the reason be subject to God, and should place in Him the end of its will. Now it is by the end that all human acts ought to be regulated, even as it is by the judgment of the reason that the movements of the lower appetite should be regulated. And thus, even as inordinate movements of the sensitive appetite cannot help occurring since the lower appetite is not subject to reason, so likewise, since man's reason is not entirely subject to God, the consequence is that many disorders occur in the reason. For when man's heart is not so fixed on God as to be unwilling to be parted from Him for the sake of finding any good or avoiding any evil, many things happen for the achieving or avoiding of which a man strays from God and breaks His commandments, and thus sins mortally: especially since, when surprised, a man acts according to his preconceived end and his pre-existing habits, as the Philosopher says; although with premeditation of his reason a man may do something outside the order of his preconceived end and the inclination of his habit. But because a man cannot always have this premeditation, it cannot help occurring that he acts in accordance with his will turned aside from God, unless, by grace, he is quickly brought back to the due order.

Objection 1. It would seem that without grace man can avoid sin. Because "no one sins in what he cannot avoid," as Augustine says. Hence if a man in mortal sin cannot avoid sin, it would seem that in sinning he does not sin, which is impossible.

Reply to Objection 1. Man can avoid each but not every act of sin, except by grace, as stated above. Nevertheless, since it is by his own shortcoming that he does not prepare himself to have grace, the fact that he cannot avoid sin without grace does not excuse him from sin.


Second Text
A Philosopher’s look at Buddhism
(Jacques Maritain, in An Introduction to Philosophy, Sheed and Ward, 1947, pp.33-37)

From the sixth century onwards new schools (of philosophy) arose in India, some Orthodox, others heterodox. Of these the principal was that founded by Cakya-Muni, surnamed the Buddha (the enlightened, the sage). Buddhism, a doctrine essentially negative and solvent, directed, moreover, to practice rather than to speculation, may be regarded as the corruption and dissolution of the Brahman philosophy.

Substituting for that which is that which passes away, refusing to say that anything does or does not exist, and admitting only a succession of impermanent forms without fixed foundation or absolute principle, in other words subordinating being to what is known as becoming or fieri, it showed, at the very time at which in Greece Heraclitus formulated the philosophy of flux, all the characteristics of a perfect evolutionary system, and, if it declared the existence of God, as of a substantial self and an immortal soul, unknowable (agnosticism), its real tendency was to deny the existence of God (atheism), and to substitute for substance of any kind a stream or flux, regarded indeed as itself real, of forms or phenomena (phenomenalism) “Everything is empty, everything unsubstantial” was a saying of Buddha. 

Hence for Buddhism metempsychosis (i.e. re-incarnation- Ed.) consists in a continuous chain of thoughts and feelings (a stream of consciousness, as we should term it today) passing from one mode of existence to another in virtue of a sort of urge towards life, due itself to the desire to live: it is desire which is the cause of existence and “we are what we have thought.”.

At the same time, the teaching of deliverance from suffering, which in Buddhism, even more than in Brahmanism, dominates the entire system, assumes a different and even more radical form. Evil is no longer merely the possession of individual or personal existence; it is existence itself : it is evil to be, and the desire of existence is the root of all suffering. The wise man must therefore destroy in himself man's natural longing for existence and for beatitude, the fullness of being; he must abandon all hope and extinguish every desire. He will thus attain the state of emptiness or total indetermination called nirvana  (literally nakedness, metaphorically immortality, refreshment, the farther bank - the term, in itself indefinite, was never defined by Buddha), which will deliver him from the evil of existence and the yoke of transmigration, and which, in the logical consequence of Buddhist principles, must be regarded as the annihilation of the soul itself. For since the soul is only the chain or current of thoughts and feelings which derive their existence from the desire to be, to extinguish that desire is to extinguish the soul.

This nirvana is the goal for whose attainment Buddhism made use of the ascetic practices which it took over with considerable mitigation from Brahmanism, also of its moral code - which is thus directed, not to God, but to a species of mystical nothingness as its last end. We here understand moral codes in a very wide sense as meaning a code of behaviour. If the expression be taken as implying moral obligation, whose ultimate basis is the Christian doctrine of God, the transcendent Creator, we must conclude that Buddhism, as indeed all the Oriental religions, Indian or Chinese, has no moral code. Moreover, the source and ultimate measure of Buddhist ethics is man, not God. If it rejected the system of castes which exaggerated the demands of social order and divided man almost into distinct species, it was only to dissolve social order of any kind in an absolute equality and individualism. And though it prescribed a universal benevolence (which extended even to prohibiting the slaughter of animals and to a compulsory vegetarianism), almsgiving, pardon of injuries, and non-resistance to the wicked, its motive was not love of one's neighbor as such, whose positive good and (by implication) existence we are bound to will, but to escape suffering to oneself by extinguishing all action and energy in a kind of humanitarian ecstasy. Buddhism is, therefore, a proof that gentleness and pity, when they are not regulated by reason and dictated by love, can deform human nature as much as violence, since they are then manifestations of cowardice, not of charity.  This doctrine of despair is not only a heresy from the point of view of Brahmanism; it is an intellectual plague to humanity, because it proceeds from the negation of reason. It is not, therefore, surprising that we find in it the majority of the fundamental errors by which contemporary attacks on reason are inspired. If at the present day it has found a warm welcome among certain circles in Europe, it is because all those who hope to derive from humanitarianism a moral code of human kindness for the acceptance of an atheistic society are already implicitly Buddhists.

Buddhism is a philosophy, agnostic and atheistic, which nevertheless usurps the social and ritual functions of a religion. It is as a religion that it has won the allegiance of so many millions. However in proportion as it has secured wide acceptance, Buddhism has ceased to be atheistic, only to fall into the most degraded conception of deity. Popular Buddhism as practised today in many parts of Asia where, to adapt itself to existing beliefs, it has assumed the most varied shapes, is nothing more than a form of idolatry, totally different from philosophic Buddhism. In certain other schools to which Brahmanism gave birth schools recognized as "orthodox" we find, on the other hand, a tendency towards the normal distinction between philosophy and religion.


Third Text
Some other defects of Buddhism
From The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908, vol. 3, pp. 33-34

It is chiefly the legendary features of Buddha’s life, many of which are found for the first time only in works of later date than the Gospels, that furnish the most striking resemblance to certain incidents related to Christ in the Gospels, resemblance which might with greater show of reason be traced to a common historic origin.  If there has been any borrowing here, it is plainly on the side of Buddhism.  That Christianity made its way to Northern India in the first two centuries is not only a matter of respectable tradition, but is supported by weighty archaeological evidence by scholars of recognized ability, beyond the suspicion of undue bias in favor of Christianity. Weber, Goblet d’Alviela, and others think it very likely that the Gospels stories of Christ circulated by these early Christian communities in India were utilized by the Buddhists to enrich the Buddha legend, just as the Vishnuites built up the legend of Krishna on many striking incidents in the life of Christ.

(Editor’s note: in Sri Lanka, Buddhists display many statues of Buddha visibly to compete with Catholic statues which are very numerous in some areas. There is also a Buddhist goddess of Mercy, copying Our Blessed Lady. Sometimes even, like in Vietnam, some statues of Buddha represent him with his right hand up as if he were blessing!)

Ignorance of God

A basic defect in primitive Buddhism is its failure to recognize man’s dependence on a supreme God.  By ignoring God and by making salvation rest solely on personal effort, Buddha substituted for the Brahmin religion a cold and colorless system of philosophy.  It is entirely lacking in those powerful motives of right conduct, particularly the motive of love, that spring from the sense of dependence on a personal all-loving God.  Hence it is that Buddhist morality is in the last analysis a selfish utilitarianism.  There is no sense of duty, as in the religion of Christ, prompted by reverence for a supreme Lawgiver, by love for a merciful Father, by personal allegiance to a Redeemer.  Karma, the basis of Buddhist morality, is like any other law of nature, the observance of which is prompted by prudential considerations.

False Pessimism

Another fatal defect of Buddhism is its false pessimism.  A strong and healthy mind revolts against the morbid view that life is not worth living, that every form of conscious existence is an evil.  Buddhism stands condemned by the voice of nature, the dominant tone of which is hope and joy.  It is a protest against nature for possessing the perfection of rational life.  The highest ambition of Buddhism is to destroy that perfection by bringing all living beings to the unconscious repose of Nirvana.  Buddhism is thus guilty of a capital crime against nature, and in consequence does injustice to the individual.  All legitimate desires must be repressed.  Innocent recreations are condemned.  The cultivation of music is forbidden.  Researches in natural science are discountenanced.  The development of the mind is limited to the memorizing of Buddhist texts and the study of Buddhist metaphysics, only a minimum of which is of any value.  The Buddhist ideal on earth is a state of passive indifference to everything.

How different is the teaching of Him who came that men might have life and have it more abundantly!

Marriage is put down

Again Buddhist pessimism is unjust to the family.  Marriage is held in contempt and even abhorrence as leading to the procreation of life.  In thus branding marriage as a state unworthy of man, Buddhism betrays its inferiority to Christianity, which commends virginity, but at the same time teaches that marriage is a sacred union and a source of sanctification.

Against Manual labor

Buddhist pessimism likewise does injustice to society.  It has set the seal of approval on the Brahmin prejudice against manual labor.  Since life is not worth living, to labor for the comforts and refinements of civilized life is a delusion.  The perfect man is to subsist not by the labor of his hands, but on the alms of inferior men.  In the religion of Christ, “the carpenter’s son”, a healthier view prevails.  The dignity of labor is upheld, and every form of industry is encouraged that tends to promote man’s welfare.

Little towards uplifting humanity

Buddhism has accomplished but little for the uplifting of humanity in comparison with Christianity.  One of its most attractive features, which, unfortunately has become well-nigh obsolete, was its practice of benevolence towards the sick and the needy.  Between Buddhists and Brahmins there was a commendable rivalry in maintaining dispensaries of food and medicines. But this charity did not, like the Christian form, extend to the prolonged nursing of unfortunate stricken with contagious and incurable diseases, to the protection of foundlings, to the bringing up of orphans, to the rescue of fallen women, to the care of the aged and insane.  Asylums and hospitals in this sense are unknown to Buddhism. In Sri Lanka, in the last decades, thanks to financial help from Japanese Buddhists, Buddhists have here and there opened some old peoples’ homes and orphanages.

The consecration of religious men and women to the lifelong service of afflicted humanity is foreign to dreamy Buddhist monasticism.

Again, the wonderful efficacy displayed by the religion of Christ in purifying the morals of pagan Europe has no parallel in Buddhist annals.  Wherever the religion of Buddha has prevailed, it has proved singularly inefficient to lift society to a high standard of morality.  It has not weaned the people of Tibet and Mongolia from the custom of abandoning the aged, nor the Chinese from the practice of infanticide.  Outside the establishment of the order of nuns, it has done next to nothing to raise woman from her state of degradation in Oriental lands.  It has shown itself utterly helpless to cope with the moral plagues of humanity.

Charles F. Aiken

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