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Compare: Buddhism and Christianity
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines Buddhism as “a religion and philosophic system of central and eastern Asia, founded in India in the 6th century B.C. by Buddha; it teaches that right thinking and self-denial will enable the soul to reach Nirvana, a divine state of release from misdirected desire.” The entire purpose behind Buddhism is to reach the position of complete and utter perfection. To have distanced yourself from the world and every personal desire and passion that you become flawless. To follow the countless strict laws until you are at a state in which you have become perfect. To live over and over again until you achieve the desired condition of Nirvana, described by Susan Wise Bauer in her book, The History of the Ancient World, as “the knowledge of a truth which is caused by nothing, dependent on nothing, and leads to nothing, a way of existence impossible to define in words.” Buddhism is theologically incorrect in so many ways. The distortion that Buddha created changed the meaning behind perfection, principles, and purpose.
Jesus, being the holy Son of the omnipotent and all-knowing Creator, is perfect. His ultimate purity is what gives us the ability to have salvation. Any normal person could not save the human race from certain death, but only one who is completely pure. Only One who could take our burdens without worrying about His own. The only One who could take our imperfections because of the ultimate purity He attained. Buddha, although said to have become enlightened, had to find that perfection. Ravi Zacharias says it perfectly in his book, Jesus among Other Gods. He says,
“…How does Buddha measure up against the standard of personal purity that Jesus set? The very fact that he endured rebirths implies a series of imperfect lives. When he left his home in the palace… it was in search of an answer. He did not start with the answer. His “enlightenment” was an attainment. Even taken at face value, it was a path to purity… Jesus did not begin His mission by leaving… in order to gain enlightenment so that He would find the answer to life’s mysteries…”
Mr. Zacharias says clearly that Buddha left his home to find purity. To gain perfection.
Instead, Jesus left his home to give us the chance to have perfection. He left, already full of purity to give us salvation, redemption, the cleansing flood that would wipe away all of our imperfections. If Buddha was not perfect, and we saw the proof of that in Mr. Zacharias’ quote, then how do we know that Jesus is perfect? Hebrews 7:28 says, “For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” Even before Jesus had come to earth to redeem us, the purity of God was recognized by David in his praise to God in Psalm 18:30: “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” In that same psalm, David credits God for delivering him from the hand of Saul. None of us can do anything without the power and ultimate perfection of God.
Since then, Jesus is the only perfect being, how are we to live? In the Old Testament, the only way the people could survive was by following the laws that God put in place. But in the New Testament, Jesus came, and we were given the opportunity to know Him on a personal scale. We were able to fully grasp the concept of faith, which Jesus brought with Him to earth. Webster’s New World College Dictionary says faith is “unquestioning belief in God” The principles behind Buddhism are strict and tight. Ravi Zacharias describes it: “It is often very simplistically defined as a religion of compassion and ethics. The truth is that there is probably no system of belief more complex than Buddhism… there emerge hundreds upon hundreds of other rules…” The entire basis behind Buddhism is all of the structure, the rules, the laws. Even Buddhists themselves believe that you should never place your trust in one being, even if he is perfect. “A ninth-century Buddhist master coined the command ‘if you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha!’ in order to emphasize to his students just how important in was not to submit to a single authority figure.” The importance placed on the principles of the Buddhist religion are unimaginable. Again, Ravi Zacharias says, “It is not Buddha who delivers you; is his Noble Truths that instruct you.” The contrasting sides of Christianity and Buddhism on the law fall towards the Christian side. For laws can change. Rules can be reworded and principles can be rewritten, but God will never change. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In Psalms, David praises God for his everlasting strength. Even God himself says, in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I do not change…” The promise that we have of God’s never-changing love and care for us is amazing. Laws on the other hand, will change. In the New Testament, some people were still living by the principles and strict laws used to govern the citizens in the Old Testament. Paul admonishes the people in Galatians, telling them that the law is no longer the way that they should be living. Parts of Galatians 3 tell what Paul knew the law to be in their day and age.
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made… Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”
Paul explains that the law was an instrumental part of the Old Testament. It was a part of the sin that had come on the people. But when Jesus came, that was the redemption the people needed. It was after that point that we were able to have that personal relationship with the God-head again. In Buddhism, the law is the only thing you can connect yourself with, there are no real relationships.
What is the purpose of Buddhism in comparison to the purpose of Christianity? Buddha believed that the downfall of man was his desire for worldly things. It disturbed him and that is when he set out to find a solution. Susan Wise Bauer says, “Finally, he came to the answer that he had been searching for. It is not just desires that trap men and women, but existence itself… the only freedom from desire was a freedom from existence itself.” Buddha believed that the only way to escape our suffering was to keep living over and over till we were perfect. We could find that answer in ourselves. There was no other way to become perfect unless we kept trying. The delusional meaning behind Buddhism makes a clear point that man is to find redemption within himself, obviously defying Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” We were designed, each human being that has ever lived, in the image of God; every one a stellar masterpiece impossible to recreate in any way. The expansive mirage of differences that God fashioned in each person fill the world with variety and independence. While we are all distinct from everyone else, the one tie that connects the life of every single person who ever has and ever will live is our need for redemption. Without God, we are nothing. In John 15:5, Jesus says to his disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” This ultimate need for a savior shows that the purpose of Buddhism… doesn’t exist. There simply is no point to Buddhism. There is no foreseeable end. There also is no foreseeable beginning. With nothing intact, no end to our living, no perfect being to save us, we are simply nothing. There is absolutely no meaning behind Buddha’s religion. “Once we know there is nothing permanent, not even the self, then we stop craving. In the state of ‘enlightenment’, the self is extinguished and all desire, and therefore, suffering, is gone. That is the goal of Buddhism.”
The beauty, love, and creation God has given us was distorted and twisted by the disillusions of Buddha in the 6th century. The glorious perfection and purity that only God can have and the saving grace of His son, Jesus, were changed into something that human beings can achieve. The principles and standards that God gave to His people in the Old Testament to live by, and the sacrifice of His one and only son on a cross were taken and sifted apart till only the harsh rules and laws were left, no love. The purpose of Christianity, the hope that God gave us, the hope we gained, through Jesus were removed, swapped for the distortion that we must distance ourselves from everything, rid ourselves of any desires we might have. But we can still have this beauty. God is still there, His arms wide open for any who will accept him. Because of God’s ultimate purity, He is the only one who can truly give us perfection, principles, and purpose.