Jump to content
Thai Visa Forum

comparing Mahayana/Theravada with Christianity


Recommended Posts

Would it be correct to say that Mahayana Buddhism is more concerned with salvation and Theravada Buddhism is more concerned with self-purification?  

 

If so, do you think this is why Christianity, with its emphasis on salvation, generally had more success making converts in places that followed the Mahayana school?

 

Do you know of any articles/books on this topic?

Link to post
Share on other sites

How do you reach the conclusion Buddhism includes the Christian concepts of 'salvation' and 'purification'?

 

Personally I am firmly of the belief Abrahamic religious conversion activities should cease.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mahayana does have ideas that sound a bit more like salvation but I think it varies from school to school.  Pure Land I think is definately salvation oriented whereas Zen has ideas like delaying your enlightenment in order to save others, and of instant enlightenment. but it's practice is very much self purification oriented like Theravada.

 

I'm not sure Christianity has been very successful in gaining converts anywhere in Asia, except Korea.  In a lot of these cultures people hedge their bets as far as religious practice is concerned, they might attend Taoist, Shinto, or animist etc practices as well as Buddhist, and the idea of a conversion experience is foreign.  So Jesus might be just another deity for them.  Also In Theravadin countries it's not uncommon for lay people to have ideas that sound more like expecting salvation, if someone doesn't have the time and energy for self purification the notion someone else could save them is appealing.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone can explain SALVATION please.

 

I Googled it, and only Christian references were shown.

Edited by KannikaP
Link to post
Share on other sites

First the etymology: https://www.etymonline.com/word/Salvation

 

salvation (n.) c. 1200, originally in the Christian sense, "the saving of the soul," from Old French salvaciun and directly from Late (Church) Latin salvationem.

 

... then the meanings: http://www.finedictionary.com/salvation.html

 

1. (theology) the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil
2. saving someone or something from harm or from an unpleasant situation "the salvation of his party was the president's major concern"
3. a means of preserving from harm or unpleasantness "tourism was their economic salvation","they turned to individualism as their salvation"
4. the state of being saved or preserved from harm

 

The fundamental difference between the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and the (true) Oriental traditions is that the former are systems of social control, whereas the latter are techniques for self-realization.

 

The simplest way of clarifying this is to examine how Christianity was established by Constantine (a life-long devotee of the Sun God) via bishopric conclaves in the fourth century CE as a means of unifying his motley lot of subjects. Judaism was a system of control established by a potent group psychic entity - Those of Yahweh - over certain wandering Jewish tribes, and thereafter empowering them via clever financial innovations. Islam was a combination of these. Of greatest importance is that PERSONAL self-realization is anathema to all three. GOD (s.c. various psychic entities) is all-powerful and must be worshipped. Salvation can only be obtained by priestly intercession on ones behalf.

 

The idea that ANY individual can achieve salvation (however defined) by his or her own efforts and initiative is, to them, the vilest heresy. Even worse, it's the greatest threat to their financial survival. Burn them at the stake!

 

True Buddhism is a philosophy teaching examples and techniques of self-realization. Modern Buddhist religion is a pastiche of ideas, most of which have (very sadly) degenerated into "seeking the Buddha's blessing/assistance" and striving for "enlightenment" without any understanding of what it is or how to attain it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Modern Buddhist religion is a pastiche of ideas, most of which have (very sadly) degenerated into "seeking the Buddha's blessing/assistance".  Yes, this is what I have found also.  Even though most of his teaching, if not all, concerned enlightenment. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/26/2021 at 7:10 PM, Brucenkhamen said:

Mahayana does have ideas that sound a bit more like salvation but I think it varies from school to school.  Pure Land I think is definately salvation oriented whereas Zen has ideas like delaying your enlightenment in order to save others, and of instant enlightenment. but it's practice is very much self purification oriented like Theravada.

 

I'm not sure Christianity has been very successful in gaining converts anywhere in Asia, except Korea.  In a lot of these cultures people hedge their bets as far as religious practice is concerned, they might attend Taoist, Shinto, or animist etc practices as well as Buddhist, and the idea of a conversion experience is foreign.  So Jesus might be just another deity for them.  Also In Theravadin countries it's not uncommon for lay people to have ideas that sound more like expecting salvation, if someone doesn't have the time and energy for self purification the notion someone else could save them is appealing.

Quite so, quite so.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've often come across the word "soteriological" in Buddhist writings, and I'd say that word is very much connected with "salvation". I don't think the Christians get to define salvation for everyone, or that it is an inherently Christian concept. My impression is that the Theravada and Mahayana traditions are both very much concerned with ending attachment and suffering (after all that's what the 8-fold path is all about), and that's easily as good a concept of salvation as the Judeo-Christian tradition can offer. There may be a difference in that Theravada is about ending your own attachment and suffering, whereas Mayahana is about ending the attachment and suffering of all living beings. I think I first picked up this idea from Paul Williams' book "Mahayana: the Doctrinal Foundations", but I couldn't swear to it.

 

Is it true that Christianity displaced Buddhism more easily in places that followed the Mahayana tradition? When I think of Mahayana I think of Nepal, Tibet, China and Japan, and (while I admit I don't have any stats) I didn't think it had been displaced by Christianity in any of those places. In Thailand, the way I understand it is that Theravada and Mahayana vied with each other for a bit but Theravada eventually won out, and the groups that were converted to Christianity were mostly minorities that had previously followed some form of animist belief system (i.e. that were not Buddhists at all). Saying that I have no idea about Myanmar or Cambodia.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Badger18 said:

I've often come across the word "soteriological" in Buddhist writings, and I'd say that word is very much connected with "salvation".

 

I'd never even heard of that word before.  Does it appear more often in Mahayana or Theravada writings?

 

9 hours ago, Badger18 said:

Is it true that Christianity displaced Buddhism more easily in places that followed the Mahayana tradition? When I think of Mahayana I think of Nepal, Tibet, China and Japan, and (while I admit I don't have any stats) I didn't think it had been displaced by Christianity in any of those places.

 

The original post made no use of the word "displaced."

 

"generally had more success" were the words used. 

 

The best example I can think of is that the Catholic Church saw considerable success in Vietnam (Mahayana background). Still pretty vibrant there. But the Church never gained any real traction with the Theravadan Lao or Khmer right next door.

Edited by BananaBandit
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, BananaBandit said:

I'd never even heard of that word before.  Does it appear more often in Mahayana or Theravada writings?

My interest was mostly in Madhyamaka (I say "was" just because I haven't looked at this stuff for ages) and in that area you tend to get commentaries on commentaries on commentaries on the Buddha's thought. It could be that "soteriological" appears in the top layer of commentary i.e. the recent stuff. I did once have quite a collection of books but I gave them away when I sold up so I can't really check now.

 

6 hours ago, BananaBandit said:

The original post made no use of the word "displaced."

 

"generally had more success" were the words used. 

 

Point taken but can a person be a Buddhist and Christian at the same time?  Seems to me that success means converting people, which means displacing whatever belief system those people previously followed.

 

I hadn't thought about Vietnam but now you mention it I recall that there had been a lot of Portuguese missionaries there towards the end of the period of Chinese control. I would have thought the religious background at that point would have been fairly complex because you have a mix of indigenous belief systems, Theravada Buddhism, Chinese-influenced Mahayana Buddhism and possibly straight Chinese Taoism as well. Maybe that made Vietnam easier to penetrate than a country like Laos which (I believe) was more homogeneous. It could also be that if the Buddhism in Vietnam today is mainly Mahayana Buddhism, that's because the Theravadins were more easily converted to Christianity back in the day.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

>The best example I can think of is that the Catholic Church saw considerable success in Vietnam (Mahayana background). Still pretty vibrant there. But the Church never gained any real traction with the Theravadan Lao or Khmer right next door.

 

Vietnam is probably a good example.  You'd expect the evangelical activity in Vietnam, Laos, and Khmer would have been much the same.  I vaguely recall reading that at the beginning of the Vietnam war there were 15% Catholics to 85% Buddhists in Vietnam which is not a huge number of Christians.

 

This page provides an overview of Buddhism in vietnam Buddhist Studies: Mahayana Buddhism: Vietnam (buddhanet.net)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Brucenkhamen said:

I vaguely recall reading that at the beginning of the Vietnam war there were 15% Catholics to 85% Buddhists in Vietnam which is not a huge number of Christians.

 

Not huge perhaps. But still many times the proportion of Catholics/Christians in neighboring Theravadin Lao & Cambodia, where many/most Catholics are ethnic Vietnamese anyway.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

From my very cursory research, it appears to me that Buddhism in current-day Japan and Korea is rather different than Mahayana Buddhism (exactly how different, I'm not knowledgeable enough to assess).

 

But is it correct to say that Buddhism in Japan and Korea has its origins in the Mahayana school?

Edited by BananaBandit
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/26/2021 at 2:33 PM, simple1 said:

How do you reach the conclusion Buddhism includes the Christian concepts of 'salvation' and 'purification'?

 

Personally I am firmly of the belief Abrahamic religious conversion activities should cease.

I am firmly of the belief that the world and humanity would be better if all religious activities would cease!

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, BananaBandit said:

But is it correct to say that Buddhism in Japan and Korea has its origins in the Mahayana school?

I think the big bang was the arrival of Bodhidharma in China. Bodhidharma himself seems to have been a Yogacarin, but definitely belonged to the Mahayana tradition.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/5/2021 at 10:37 AM, BananaBandit said:

From my very cursory research, it appears to me that Buddhism in current-day Japan and Korea is rather different than Mahayana Buddhism (exactly how different, I'm not knowledgeable enough to assess).

 

But is it correct to say that Buddhism in Japan and Korea has its origins in the Mahayana school?

Yes, I would say that is correct.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...