The Buddhist Road Map by
Scott Noble ()
November 6, 2004
In this paper I'll be focusing on Theravada Buddhism, since
this form of Buddhism, found mainly in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and
Laos, claims to resemble the original teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha[i]
most closely. Other schools claim
this as well, but historically speaking (not mystically speaking), the Theravada
school’s claim seems to be the most substantiated. Much of what has been written on Buddhism presents an
idealized and incomplete portrait of Buddhist teachings.
This is difficult to avoid due to the vastness of the subject, but is
enhanced by those who focus mainly on the positive aspects of Buddhism, omitting
the more difficult issues. In this
paper I don’t claim to provide a comprehensive portrait, but I will attempt to
address some of the more obscure and lesser known core issues and dilemmas of
Buddhism, showing that it is indeed a fascinating system, but not one which will
help a person fulfill their destiny in life. I will also make some comparisons between Theravada Buddhism
and Christianity based on biblical principles.
The paper will be presented under eight subtopics, namely No soul (anatta[ii]),
Rebirth, Nirvana, Karma, Women, Meditation, Science, and God.
No Soul (anatta)
is known for the phrase, “I think- therefore I am.”
My high school history teacher pun…ished us with the following phrase:
“I’m pink- therefore I’m Spam.”
Taking an entirely different approach to these evidences for identity,
Buddhism concludes with the concept “I am not.”
In John Garrett Jones’ book, “Tales and Teachings of the Buddha:
The Jataka Stories in relation to the Pali Canon,” Jones takes a look
at how popular representations of the Buddha’s teachings, as seen in the
compare with the more orthodox Four Nikayas[iv]
of the Pali Canon[v].
I.B. Horner, former president of the Pali Text Society, gives Jones the
following recommendation in the foreword to Jones’ book:
“Mr Jones is well versed in both Jataka and Canon, and is thus able to
draw on both not only with apparent ease but also with aptness and accuracy and
dependable documentation.” (vii) Jones
in his chapter on rebirth, addresses the doctrine of “no soul,” pointing out
that, according to orthodox beliefs, souls are not reborn, because Buddhism
admits to no such entity: “Consciousness
(vinnana) is one of the five khandhas[vi]
which are dissolved at death. Deprived
of its physical basis, or, if we prefer it, its physical correlate, how could it
possibly survive death? In MLS I
313, 320f, Gotama does in fact vigorously refute the ‘heresy’ of a
persisting consciousness” (34).
doctrine of “no soul” undermines the entire premise of the Jataka Stories,
which are supposed to be rebirth tales of Sakyamuni Buddha.
Without a soul, what is the connecting point from life to life?
The answer usually given to that question is that the karma of a being
carries through. But, what does
this “karma” attach itself to, if not to the one to whom that karma was due?
Daniel J. Gogerly in his 1885 edition of “The Evidences and Doctrines
of the Christian Religion,” (after 44 years of Pali study), wrote the
Buddhist religion is that which Buddha taught, and which is found in his Sutras[vii],
and not that which persons may hold who are ignorant of these teachings.
We shall in the first instance prove that Buddha teaches, that the person
by whom the actions were performed is not the same with the person who is
rewarded or punished: that the connection is not between the man who performs the
action, and the good or evil resulting from that action, but between the action
performed and its results, whoever may be the recipient of those results.
This is contrary to every known principle of justice, which associates
the doer of the good action with the reward, whereas in Buddhism the reward will
follow the good actions, but the performer of the good action will not be the
recipient of the reward. This results from Buddha’s doctrine that there is no soul
in man which transmigrates, but that the whole of a man;- the whole of the
panchaskandha[viii] ceases at death.”
belief in anatta would mean, for example, that when Adolf Hitler died, the
aggregates of his “being” dissolved, and then his enormously bad karma
attached itself to someone or something (maybe a lowly insect), having
absolutely no consciousness of the evil deeds done, or the reason for the
suffering. Can this be called justice?
WHO is punished? WHO is
rewarded in this system? When the
word “self” is used in Buddhism, such as “self-improvement”, “be a
refuge unto yourself”, etc., this word is used for the sake of convenience, as
opposed to describing an absolute self. Walpola
Rahula, in “What the Buddha Taught”, responds to those who try to point to a
self or soul in Buddhism:
who want to find a ‘Self’ in Buddhism argue as follows:
‘It is true that the Buddha analyses being into matter, sensation,
perception, mental formations, and consciousness, and says that none of these
things is self. But he does not say
that there is no self at all in man or anywhere else, apart from these
aggregates.’ This position is
untenable for two reasons: One is
that, according to the Buddha’s teaching, a being is composed only of these
Five Aggregates, and nothing more. Nowhere
has he said that there was anything more than these Five Aggregates in a being.
The second reason is that the Buddha denied categorically, in unequivocal
terms, in more than one place, the existence of Atman[ix],
Soul, Self, or Ego within man or without, or anywhere else in the universe.”
spite of teaching that there is no soul, but that there is rebirth, Sakyamuni
Buddha still held to a conviction that the universe is not amoral. Concerning Buddha’s conviction that this is a moral
universe, Jones concludes: “He
could not claim that this conviction had a sound basis in the rational,
analytical part of his teaching; indeed, it would seem to me not too strong to
say that there is a hopelessly irreconcilable contradiction between the two”
(36). But, if there is no soul, why
does a Buddhist go to such great lengths to be free from rebirth, and why is it
said that Sakyamuni proclaimed at the time of his “last” birth (Dialogues of
the Buddha II, 12), that it was his last birth?
WHOSE last birth? "For
what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
In the popular story of Sakyamuni’s final birth and
renunciation of worldly pleasures, several questions arise.
If Sakyamuni had really passed through virtually countless lives previous
to that one, why did his father need to shelter him from the harsher side of
life- why was Sakyamuni so startled by the sites of death, poverty, and old age,
when he finally ventured out of the palace to see things for himself?
If we are to take the Jataka re-birth tales at face value, he would have
been quite familiar with all of these harsher realities of life- in fact
according to the Jataka tales, he was sometimes a participant in the cruel side
of life. “…within this
group is the one which depicts the bodhisatta[x]
himself as being, in one way or another, involved in killing or injuring.
The stories concerned are JSS 93, 128, 129, 152, 178, 233, 238, 246, 315,
319, 384.” (Jones, 61). Among the 547 Jataka stories, he is twice said to have been a
robber, once a gambler, and twice a giant snake (Jones, 18-19).
He would also have been familiar with suffering according to Jataka 538,
which states he had to spend eighty thousand years in the Ussada hell[xi]
(Jones, 43). So why was Sakyamuni
so struck by the fact of death or suffering, as if he had never experienced or
seen these things? The common
answer given to this question is that previous lives must be remembered in a
state of meditation, when the mind is free from distraction, and more capable of
reaching these deep levels of memory. But
how can the mind store such information when the mind and everything of which
people are said to consist (the five aggregates) are said to not survive death?
Actually though, this popular story of the Buddha’s renunciation is not
found in the Pali Canon.
In the Pali Canon, as a baby, the Buddha was said to have
walked uprightly and proclaimed that it was his last birth:
“Chief am I in the world, Eldest am I in the world, Foremost am I in
the world! This is the last
birth!” (D II, 12) How can a baby
be so mature as to speak these lofty words if there is no enduring soul?
In the non-canonical story, the problem of anatta arises because
meditation does not explain how the 35 year old bodhisatta could “remember”
that which according to his own doctrine was not an enduring soul.
In the canonical story, the problem of anatta is still there, because his
doctrine of no enduring soul stands in contrast to a baby speaking from the
perspective of an enduring soul, relieved to see the end in sight.
The doctrinal mismatch between anatta and rebirth leaves the
intellect unsatisfied, while an attempt is made to appease the conscience with
an invented morality: “When two
propositions conflict, the simplest possible solution is to ignore one of them-
which is precisely what the Jataka does. There
is no contradiction in the Jataka between the doctrine of anatta (no soul) and
the doctrine of a series of lives of the same individual because the doctrine of
anatta is simply ignored” (Jones, 39). Sakyamuni
did not want to let go of morality, but his system is one which leads people to
contradictions, both intellectually and in “merit distribution”- both the villainous and the virtuous are said to have no soul
connection from one life to the next- and thus the ones receiving a particular
“lot” are not the ones who “earned” it.
But apart from these difficulties with rebirth, what about
real life cases of people who claim to have been reborn?
Ernest Valea, in his online article “Past-life recall as modern proof
for reincarnation,” ()
quotes Ian Stevenson, who is one of the foremost authorities in the field of
“In my experience,
nearly all so-called previous personalities evoked through hypnotism are
entirely imaginary and a result of the patient’s eagerness to obey the
hypnotist’s suggestion. It is no
secret that we are all highly suggestible under hypnosis.
This kind of investigation can actually be dangerous.
Some people have been terribly frightened by their supposed memories, and
in other cases the previous personality evoked has refused to go away for a long
time (Omni Magazine 10 (4): 76 (1988)).”
Valea points out that this phenomenon is called “false
memory syndrome,” and that, “Courts of law know these dangers and most do
not accept testimonies produced under hypnosis or from witnesses that have been
previously hypnotized.” What
about other cases, where the “memories” are not evoked by hypnotism?
Valea brings our attention to the demographic of people who are usually
targeted for this:
”Almost all cases of
spontaneous past life recall experiences are produced by children who manifest
them between the age of two and five, when their spiritual discernment is almost
nonexistent, especially concerning spirits. This situation makes them easier to be manipulated by
external spirits. As the child
grows up, the entities lose their power of influence upon him, which could
explain why the past life memories are lost after the age of 10.”
In one case researched by Stevenson, a person actually had
two personalities expressing themselves at the same time.
As in the cases of the children, where manifestations took place when the
individuals were at a vulnerable time in their lives (especially if their
parents were taking them to centers of spiritual activity), spirit possession or
the person acting as a “medium” is a likelier explanation.
This interference by outside spirits shows the extremely subjective
nature of rebirth research. Valea
concludes with Stevenson’s conclusion:
this reason Ian Stevenson, the well known researcher of this phenomena, was
forced to admit in his book Twenty Cases
Suggestive of Reincarnation that the cases he studied, as the very title of
his book indicates, are only suggesting reincarnation
and cannot be considered proofs for it. Stevenson
admitted: ‘All the cases I’ve investigated so far have shortcomings.
Even taken together, they do not offer anything like proof’ (Omni
Magazine 10(4): 76 (1988). If this
is the case, they could also be suggestive of spirit possession.”
Seeing the possibility of outside spirits to deceive in this
way, how are we to suppose that a monk or nun who is meditating is immune to
this outside influence? Meditation
actually swings the door wide open to such an influence.
The monk or nun may experience many things during their meditations and
count them as confirmations of the Buddha’s doctrine.
Are they though? Can we
really count this as a confirmation when they were trying to have such
“memories” in the first place, and when the experiences are largely
subjective? Even if a person
can reveal information they would not naturally know, this information is
something which outside spirits could know and transmit.
Why does a person need to be under hypnosis, or have the
undiscerning mind of a child, or be in an altered state of consciousness during
meditation, in order to have such “memories?”
If rebirth is “for real” why isn’t it obvious among the billions of
people in the world, regardless of cultural background?
Why can’t babies speak the language of their “former life” or any
language (besides gobbly gook) for that matter?
This is probably the reason for inventing the doctrine of anatta
(explains the lack of memory). This places the dilemma in the moral realm though (no real
justice without a permanent soul) and still does not solve the practical problem
of having a connecting point from life to life.
“…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”
Childers in his Pali Dictionary, presents a very definitive
answer to what nibbanam (nirvana) is. He
states, “But a creed which begins by saying that existence is suffering, must
end by saying that release from existence is the highest good, and accordingly
we find that annihilation is the goal of Buddhism, the supreme reward held out
to the faithful observer of its precepts.” (265) “Annihilation” may not be
the best choice of words here, but for another reason than one might think.
Walpola Rahula, points out, “Nirvana is definitely no annihilation of
self, because there is no self to annihilate.
If at all, it is the annihilation of the illusion, of the false idea of
In explaining why some canonical verses speak of nirvana as
“bliss” and others as “extinction”, Childers shows that both are meant,
but that the “bliss” is only a temporary state before final extinction:
“I have shown that the
goal of Buddhism is annihilation, and that Nirvana is a brief period of bliss
followed by eternal death. It is of
course conceivable that Sakyamuni should have made Arhatship[xii]
the summum bonum held out to his disciples.
It may even appear incredible to some that having imagined a state of
blissful purity resulting from a virtuous life, he should have made it end in
annihilation. That he did so is
however certain, and it must be remembered that his denunciations of the evil
and suffering of existence are levelled not merely against transmigration but
against all existence whatever, and that the bliss of the Arhat is chiefly based
on the consciousness that he has rooted out Karma and may any day cease to
Rahula, likewise states that nirvana is ceasing to exist:
“There is a word parinibbuto used to denote the death of the Buddha or an
Arahant who has realized Nirvana, but it does not mean ‘entering into
Nirvana’. Parinibbuto simply
means ‘fully passes away’, ‘fully blown out’ or ‘fully extinct’,
because the Buddha or an Arahant has no re-existence after his death.” (41)
In Buddhist cosmology there are said to be 31 realms of
existence, including various heavens, hells, the earth, etc.
In all 31 of these however, many of which are heavenly “bliss”
states, none of them are “nirvana,” because all of these are said to be
prone to impermanence and suffering. When even a heaven cannot be nirvana, we see again that
nirvana is beyond existence. Among
the 31 realms of existence, the top 20 of these are also said to parallel the
meditative states. In other words a
person who meditates is supposed to be able to experience what these top 20
realms represent. The highest
meditative state a person can achieve, also represents most closely what nirvana
is supposed to be:
“A ninth stage known as
the ‘attainment of cessation’ (nirodha-samapatti) is also mentioned in some
sources. In this stage all mental
operations are completely suspended, and even heartbeat and respiration cease.
Life subsists simply in the form of residual bodily heat.
A person can, we are told, remain in this state for several days,
eventually emerging from it spontaneously at a predetermined time.
This condition is held to be the closest anyone can come to experiencing
final nirvana while still alive, and is described as ‘touching nirvana with
the body’.” (Keown, 91-92)
even mental operations are suspended, we see that it’s not a far step from
there to complete cessation. And
this is consistent with the Pali Canon teaching of a progression towards more
and more detachment, finally culminating in detachment from existence.
In a discussion of whether nirvana is taught as a state of
bliss or cessation in the Pali Canon, Jones comments, “If this is the case
[nirvana as bliss], I can find no basis for it in the Four Nikayas.
So far as I am aware, there is not one word in the Four Nikayas which
lends support to the idea of nibbana as some positive, transcendent state of
bliss.” (152) In a footnote to
this discussion, Jones brings to light the most commonly held view among
Theravada scholars: “It is
interesting to note that, while Jayatilleke, 1963, pp. 475f, does adopt a
transcendentalist view of nibbana, his former pupil Kalupahana, 1976, pp. 87f,
rebukes him for this and reasserts the more commonly (in Theravada circles) held
cessationist view.” (202)
A.L. Herman in his article “Two Dogmas of Buddhism,”[xiii]
points out other difficulties with nirvana, relating to both Mahayana[xiv]
and Theravada Buddhism. The more
recent Mahayana school of Buddhism tends to hold more to the view of nirvana as
bliss, whereas the more orthodox Theravada school of Buddhism usually holds to
nirvana as cessation. Herman shows
that regardless of which interpretation of nirvana is taken, it is a dogma in
“The dilemma of nirvana
holds that if nirvana is seen negatively as the total absence of passion and
desire and feeling then this is tantamount to being dead, and who wants to
pursue a goal that leads to death? Nirvana
is suicide on this first interpretation. On
the other hand, if nirvana is seen positively as the presence of peace and
tranquility wherein all that I desire is fulfilled then desire is not ended or
blown out and the whole intent of nirvana is contradicted:
nirvana is inconsistent on this second interpretation.
But, the dilemma of nirvana continues, nirvana must be seen either
negatively or positively; there is no third alternative.
The conclusion of the dilemma is then that nirvana is either suicidal
obliteration or inconsistent continuance.” (170)
Herman concludes with this somber note:
“The effect of retaining these ill-founded dogmas in the face of these
philosophic problems would be (has been) to move Buddhism away from empirical
truth and reason and closer to either ‘a questionable pragmatism,’ where
truth is measured by sheer usefulness, or towards ‘a non-rationalism and
mysticism’ where truth is abandoned altogether.” (174) In the footnote to
this conclusion, Herman further explains, “…’a questionable pragmatism’
and ‘a non-rationalism and mysticism,’ were precisely the routes
subsequently taken respectively by Southern or Theravada Buddhism, on the one
hand, and Northern or Mahayana, Buddhism, on the other.” (174)
we say that the more recent Mahayana view is correct, it flies in the face of
the Pali Canon, it being the nearest in time to what Sakyamuni actually taught.
If Mahayanists wish to assert a different interpretation, on what higher
authority is this based? This would
be to negate the authority of the Buddha, and rely on mystical revelations
instead. If on the other hand, we concede that the view in the Pali
Canon of cessation is indeed what the Buddha taught, then speaking plainly, the
Buddhist way amounts to “if you are really good, you get to be
extinguished.” It is no wonder
Mahayanists have tried to change this doctrine, but in vain as there is no
authority to back up the claim. The
authority behind the original claim (of cessation) is also quite lacking though.
Instead of desire leading to suffering, and suffering being the chief
characteristic of existence, there is a way of hope and renewal.
Instead of exiting from existence, Jesus Christ offers a way to quench
thirst in order to live meaningfully and eternally:
answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the
water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up
into everlasting life."" (John 4: 13-14).
The system of Karma is one which has an appeal to people at the popular
level, making it seem that everything that happens is based on what is
deserved-- if you do good, you receive good; if you do evil, you receive evil.
This seems to explain inequalities in the world, as well as apparent
injustices. But, let’s take a
closer look at the implications of this system.
Firstly, karma is said to be a natural law just like gravity, only that
it governs morality instead of governing matter, although matter is also said to
be affected. If it is just a
natural law, doesn’t that mean it could be subject to mutations just as the
laws of genetics are occasionally influenced by an unexpected (and in most cases
harmful) factor? How could we place
our trust in such a system? Concerning
this dilemma, John Jones points out that, “The morality of karmic consequences
seems to call in question the strictly impersonal nature of karmic processes
since, if these are moral processes, the only type of morality for which we have
empirical evidence is that associated with personality. There is thus a tension between the impersonal and the moral
attributes of karma” (37).
The supposed effects of karma are listed clearly in the Pali
Canon (Middle Length Sayings III, p. 248- 253): “This course is conducive to shortness of life-span,
brahman youth, that is to say making onslaught on creatures, being cruel,
bloody-handed, intent on injuring and killing, and without mercy to living
creatures.”… The opposite of this is as follows: “This course is conducive to length of life-span, brahman
youth, that is to say, if one, by getting rid of onslaught on creatures 
abstains from onslaught on creatures, (and with) the stick laid aside, the sword
laid aside, lives scrupulous, merciful, kindly and compassionate to all living
creatures.” Since the opposite
results are easy to guess, and for the sake of brevity, I’ll list a few more
with only the negative consequences. The ellipses (…) in these quotes are in
the text itself (not something I’ve omitted):
“This course is
conducive to many illnesses, brahman youth, that is to say being by nature
harmful to creatures with his hand…or with a sword.”…”This course is
conducive to ugliness, brahman youth, that is to say being wrathful…and
evincing…resentment.”… ”This course is conducive to being of little
account, brahman youth, that is to say being jealous-minded…of respect and
reverence paid them.”… ”This course is conducive to poverty, brahman
youth, that is to say not being a giver…of bed, lodging, light.”… ”This
course is conducive to being in a lowly family, brahman youth, that is to say
being one who…does not honour one who should be…honoured.”… ”This
course is conducive to being weak in wisdom, brahman youth, that is to say…not
being one who asks: ‘…Or what, being done by me, is for long for my welfare
the causes of a short life, illnesses, ugliness, being of little account,
poverty, being in a lowly family, and being weak in wisdom, are spelled out for
us- these things are due to bad deeds, words or thoughts done in previous lives.
That these are descriptions of causes from previous lives, can be seen in
the first consequence: “But if,
at the breaking up of the body after dying he does not arise in the sorrowful
ways, the bad bourn, the Downfall, Niraya Hell[xv],
but comes to human status, then wherever he is born (in a new existence) he is
of a short life-span.” This is the way karma explains inequalities in life-
according to what people deserve. In
this system the poor deserve to be poor, and the rich deserve to be rich, etc.
This type of thinking seems to place the crippled person in the same
category as a criminal in jail, and the person with material possessions, in the
hero category. Are these
conclusions really warranted?
of the complex moral effects in a person’s life are supposed to be recorded,
not by an intelligence, but by a mere energy force. Then, to compound the problem, the person who dies is said to
have no soul, raising the question of how this accumulated moral bank account is
reassigned. Karma is the conscience
of the Buddhist system, but its practical operation and existence is left
unexplained. Jones writes of the
Buddha, “He seems to have been convinced that, however much the rational,
analytical part of his teaching- especially the doctrine of anatta- might seem
to deny it, the laws governing sentient life on this planet and beyond are not
amoral.” (36) The Buddha
couldn’t deny morality, and yet he also couldn’t synchronize it with his
doctrine. Aside from these
difficulties though, we should ask ourselves, do we really want what we deserve,
The system of karma supposes that a good deed can make up
for a bad deed, like a bank account of merit which could be added to or taken
from. This kind of reasoning
applied to morality would not hold up in a court of law (judges don’t pardon
crimes based on balancing out the good deeds against the bad deeds in the life
of the accused). Biblically
speaking, morality is not like a bank account which can be balanced out
subtracting bad deeds from good deeds, or vice versa.
Rather, morality is a set of obligations based on relationships.
Children have certain obligations to respect their parents, as parents
have obligations to care for their children.
Husbands and wives, friends, workers and employees, etc. all have certain
obligations to one another. If a
husband cheats on his wife, but then gives his wife a wonderful present, will he
then break even? Will he have
amended his violation as if it were a business deal?
There is such a thing as forgiveness in relationships, but morality is
not just an impersonal formula that can be treated as a bank account.
Likewise, if a person admitted to murder, but then told the judge that
even though he had committed the murder, he had also given his life’s savings
to a widow in his neighborhood, would that judge cancel the punishment for the
murder? He had violated his
obligations to love his neighbor (whom he murdered).
The crime of murder would still be punished, no matter how many good
deeds the person had done.
Conversely, if a person lives an upright life and follows
all of the laws of the land, does the government then send this person a reward
for their good behavior? That
person was simply fulfilling their obligations, so while the government would be
appreciative, they would simply see the person as behaving as they should.
They don’t get any bonus points for that.
Violations count against us, but good behavior is simply expected.
Even if a person does one hundred good deeds, but one bad deed, they have
fulfilled their duty one hundred times, but have one violation on their record.
What would we think of an employer who pays their employees 100 times,
but the time after that doesn’t pay them, because of their supposed merit in
already paying 100 times? Or, what would we think of a hot-tempered teacher who
refrains from temper loss with absent-minded students 100 times, but the time
after that lets loose and gives one of them a good kick?
Does that mean the teacher then has 99 “points” (100 good deeds minus
1 bad deed)? The teacher has
fulfilled an obligation 100 times and has one violation on record.
People are obliged to forgive others for violations done to
them, because they themselves have their own lists of violations, though perhaps
in areas differing from those offending them:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you. But if you do not
forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).
God on the other hand is not
“obliged” to forgive, because He is without sin.
A judge in a courtroom, though not without sin, likewise has no
obligation to pardon a crime.
to the Bible, not only “good” deeds are expected of us.
Our obligation is to do our best: "For
if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax
collectors do the same? And if you
greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax
collectors do so? Therefore you
shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:
46-48). If a person
lives a horrible life, accumulating a long list of cruel violations, but then
reforms and lives the rest of life as an upstanding citizen, is the past then
balanced out? The reformed life
lived was already an obligation, but the former list of offenses is still on
record. Likewise, when a criminal
has finished serving time for their crime, it doesn’t erase the crime, because
their best was expected all along. Violations
continue to accumulate throughout a person’s life, and included in that list
is the violation of not forgiving others for violations against us.
The biblical system is an entirely personal one.
Positive or negative morals cannot be separated from relationships as
being mere “points.” To rebel against morality is not just to make a bad choice or
to accumulate negative points. It
is all relational. The laws of the
Bible are summed up in two commands— love God and love people. To reject morals is to rebel against a person—the One who
created life. To properly
acknowledge obligations is also to change our relational standing:
“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might
be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3: 24). First
comes the law and thus a realization of the extent of violations.
With that realization, comes a realization of the love of Christ, who
being innocent died on the cross for our sins.
With that realization comes a yielding to Jesus Christ.
Then things that were once “obligations,” become things which are
welcome: "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does
not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things
that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
(John 15: 15)
On the other hand, to embrace morality, but to reject the
relational aspect of morality is like refusing a ride from a ship going across
the ocean and trying to swim that incredible distance.
The Bible describes such a person as cursed, because they depend on their
own abilities and not on God: “For
as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written,
‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in
the book of the law, to do them.’" (Galatians
3: 10). When our faith is in Christ
the violations that were against us are nailed to the cross.
It is hopeless for people to climb out of the mire of their
misdeeds, by their own abilities. And
yet there is hope for everyone. God’s
offer of forgiveness is not something that can be earned, or demanded, but is a
free gift of mercy for all who realize the extent of their violations and truly
repent- putting their trust in God, and not in themselves: “For
by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is
the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9).
The Buddhist Road Map
The Buddhist Road Mappt.2
Sakyamuni means sage of the Sakya clan (also known as Siddhattha Gotama-
“THE” Buddha most people are referring to when saying “the Buddha,”
though there are many Buddhas in Buddhism).
The doctrine that there is no permanent “self” or “soul” that a person
verses of the Jataka Stories are considered to be canonical, but the
narratives are considered to be more in the category of commentary.
The four Nikayas are in the second “basket” of the Canon, called the Sutta
Pitaka. There are actually five
Nikayas in this basket, but the fifth (the Khuddaka Nikaya) is considered to
be less reliable, containing later additions.
The Pali Canon is the doctrinal source for Theravada Buddhists.
Versions of this vary between countries (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma, and
Thailand), but there is agreement on the majority of texts which should be
included in the Canon. The Pali
Canon is divided into three “baskets”- the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka,
and the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
The five khandas of which a person consists are said to be matter, sensations,
perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.
The Sutras refer to the second basket of the Pali Canon (the Sutta Pitaka).
The five aggregates (khandas) referred to in endnote 6.
The Pali of this word is atta. Rahula defines Atman as, “soul, self, ego.” (142)
“A being totally dedicated to the attainment of the perfect
enlightenment of a Buddha, for which one has to develop the perfections for
many aeons.” (Pesala, 110)
One of many hells (purgatories) in Buddhist cosmology.
The state of one who is an Arahant (also spelled Arhat).
Rahula defines an Arahant as, “one who is free from all fetters,
defilements and impurities through the realization of Nirvana in the fourth
and final stage, and who is free from rebirth.” (142)
Herman explains his use of the word dogma in a footnote:
“I see nothing sinister in the use of the word ‘dogma’ to
describe a fundamental precept or authoritative tenet.
Many Buddhists like to believe that they are dogma-free.
I would suggest that no one is dogma-free, and to believe differently
is to believe in at least one dogma.” (160)
The two dogmas he points to are nirvana and the assertion that
impermanence always leads to sorrow.
Mahayana Buddhism is found mostly in China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Taiwan and
One of many hells (purgatories) in Buddhist cosmology.