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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Buddhism contrasted with Christianity-Pt 1 (Monier-Williams over C.S. Lewis, Max Müller)

Sir Monier Monier-Williams
[August 12: add hyperlinks, highlighting; modernized Bible verse references.]
I have previously blogged about "Pieper's error" regarding a famous quote he used in several of his writings including his Christian Dogmatics (vol. 1, pg 15).  Recent research from Australia has re-published the actual quote made by Sir Monier Monier-Williams which deserves repeating, just as Pieper repeated it several times (bolding by Australian pastor):
In the discharge of my duties for forty-two years I have devoted as much time as any man living to the study of these books [Sacred Books of the East]. ... What we must not forget is that the key point that he makes is that right throughout all the heathen religions there is "the one refrain through all: salvation by works. They all say that salvation must be purchased, must be bought with a price, and that the sole price, the sole purchase-money, must be our works and deservings. Our own Holy Bible, our sacred Book of the East, is from beginning to end a protest against this doctrine. Good works are indeed enjoined upon us in that sacred Book of the East; but they are only the outcome of a grateful heart; they are only a thank-offering, the fruits of our faith. They are never the ransom-money of the true disciples of Christ. Let us not shut our eyes to what is excellent and true and of good report in these sacred books; but let us teach Hindus, Buddhists, and Mohammedans that there is only one sacred Book of the East that can be their mainstay in that awful hour when they pass all alone into the unseen world. It is the sacred Book which contains that faithful saying, worthy to be received of all men, women, and children, and not merely of us Christians, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
      A great advantage for me in researching Monier-Williams is that he was English and wrote in the English language... no translation needed from German.  And could it be?... he was from Oxford University!... the same as C.S. Lewis, but at an earlier time (~1889) when apparently true Christian doctrine was not universally muddled (despised?) as it is today.  So it was an easy task to research Monier-Williams' various writings to confirm his stand on Christianity compared with Max Müller.  And Oh!... what a wonderful treasure I discovered from him as he uses his superior knowledge of the Eastern religions – not to impress the world, but to show the truth of Christianity.
      To all who would read, follow, and even quote C.S. Lewis (an Oxford don), they would do much better to read another Oxford professor to learn the truth of (mere) Christianity. —  Steve Jobs was partially raised in an LC-MS family ("Missouri Synod") but left the training of his youth to find religion in the East.  The Beatles were enamored with Eastern religions.  To say that Eastern religions are popular today would be an understatement.  But Monier-Williams (and Pieper) show us that these very intelligent (and popular) people were sucked into a maelstrom of man-made religions.  — And so I present the concluding chapter of one of Monier-Williams' great books on Buddhism.  I will present it in 2 parts:
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Text extracted from Buddhism in its connexion with Brāhmanism and Hindūism and in its contrast with Christianity. (WorldCat) by Sir Monier Monier-Williams, 1889, pages 537-563; © The Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office (India), 1963, Second Edition.  Also in Google Books beginning here.  Pagination headers retained for reference.  Hyperlinks added for reference. Highlighting by BackToLuther.
Buddhism contrasted with Christianity.
by Sir Monier Monier-Williams
(Part 1)
In the previous Lectures I have incidentally contrasted the principal doctrines of Buddhism with those of Christianity.
It will be my aim in this concluding Lecture to draw attention more directly and more in detail to the main points of divergence between two systems, which in their moral teaching have so many points of contact, that a superficial study of either is apt to lead to very confused ideas in regard to their comparative excellence and their resemblance to each other.
And first of all I must remind those who heard my earlier Lectures of the grand fundamental distinction which they were intended to establish—namely, that Christianity is a religion, whereas Buddhism, at least in its earliest and truest form, is no religion at all, but a mere system of morality and philosophy founded on a pessimistic theory of life.
Here, however, it may be objected that, before we exclude Buddhism from all title to be called a religion, we ought to define what we mean by the term ‘religion.’
Of course, it will be generally acknowledged that mere morality need not imply religion, though—taking
the converse—it is most undeniably true that religion must of necessity imply morality.
Unquestionably there have been great philosophers in ancient times who have lived strictly moral lives without acknowledging any religious creed at all. Many excellent men, too, exist among us in the present day, who resent being called irreligious, and yet hold no definite religious doctrines, and decline to accept any system which commits them to absolute belief in anything except an eternal Energy or Force.
Clearly the definition of the word ‘religion’ is beset with difficulties, and its etymology is too uncertain to help us in explaining it1. We shall, however, be justified if we affirm that every system claiming to be a religion in the proper sense of the word must postulate the eternal existence of one living and true God of infinite power, wisdom, and love, the Creator, Designer, and Preserver of all things visible and invisible.
It must also take for granted the immortality of man’s soul or spirit, and the reality of a future state and of an unseen world. It must also postulate in man an innate sense of dependence on a personal God—a sense of reverence and love for Him, springing from a belief in His justice, holiness, wisdom, power, and love, and intensified by a deep consciousness of weakness, and a yearning to be delivered from the presence, tyranny, and penalty of sin.
1 Cicero (De natura deorum) derives religion from relego, and explains it as a diligent practice of prayer and worship. Others have derived it from religo, and hold that it means ‘binding to God.’
Then, starting from these assumptions, it must satisfy four requisites.
First, it must reveal the Creator in His nature and attributes to His creature, man.
Secondly, it must reveal man to himself. It must impart to him a knowledge of his own nature and history—what he is; why he was created; whither he is tending; and whether he is at present in a state of decadence downwards from a higher condition, or of development upwards from a lower.
Thirdly, it must reveal some method by which the finite creature may communicate with the infinite Creator—some plan by which he may gain access to Him and become united with Him, and be saved by Him from the consequences of his own sinful acts.
Fourthly, such a system must prove its title to be called a religion by its regenerating effect on man’s nature; by its influence on bis thoughts, desires, passions, and feelings; by its power of subduing all his evil tendencies; by its ability to transform his character and assimilate him to the God it reveals.
It is clear, then, that tried by such a criterion as this, early Buddhism could not claim to be a religion. It failed to satisfy these conditions. It refused to admit the existence of a personal Creator, or of man’s dependence on a higher Power. It denied any eternal soul or Ego in man. It acknowledged no external, supernatural revelation. It had no priesthood—no real clergy; no real prayer; no real worship. It had no true idea of sin, or of the need of pardon (p. 124), and it condemned man to suffer the consequences of his own
sinful acts without hope of help from any Saviour or Redeemer, and indeed from any being but himself.
The late Bishop of Calcutta once said to me, that being in an outlying part of his diocese, where Buddhism prevailed, he asked an apparently pious Buddhist, whom he happened to observe praying in a temple, what he had just been praying for? He replied, ‘I have been praying for nothing.’ ‘But,’ urged the Bishop, ‘to whom have you been praying?’ The man answered, ‘I have been praying to nobody.’ ‘What!’ said the astonished Bishop, ‘praying for nothing to nobody?’ And no doubt this anecdote gives an accurate idea of the so-called prayer of a time Buddhist. This man had not really been praying for anything. He had been merely making use of some form of words to which an efficacy, like that of sowing fruitful seed in a field, was supposed to belong. He had not been praying in any Christian sense.
Here, however, an objector might remind me that according to my own showing, various developments of Buddhism modified and even contradicted the original creed, and that what has been here said about prayer, is only strictly applicable to early Buddhism as originally taught in the most ancient texts.
I grant this—I grant that expressions of reverence for the Buddha, the Law, and the Monkhood, developed into expressions of wants and needs, and that these expressions, gradually led on to the offering of actual prayers to deified Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas.
I admit that we ought to judge of Buddhism as a whole. We ought to give full consideration to its
later developments, and the gradual sliding of its atheism and agnosticism into theism and polytheism. We are bound to acknowledge that Buddhism, as it extended to other countries, did acquire the character of a theistic religious system, which, though false, had in it some points of contact with Christianity.
Nevertheless, admitting all this, and taking into account all that can; be said in favour of Buddhism as a religious system, it will be easy to show how impossible it is to bridge over the yawning chasm which separates it from the true religion.
It is, indeed, one of the strange phenomena of the present day, that even educated people who call themselves Christians, are apt to fall into raptures over the precepts of Buddhism 1, attracted by the bright gems which its admirers delight in culling out of its moral code, and in displaying ostentatiously, while keeping out of sight all its dark spots, all its trivialities and senseless repetitions2; not to speak of all those evi-
2 As instances of the trivialities I give the following from the Culla-vagga (Sacred Books of the East, vol. xx. v, 31, p. 146; v. 9. 5, p. 87): —
‘Now at that time the Bhikkhus hung up their bowls on pins in the walls, or on hooks. The pins or hooks falling down, the bowls were broken. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to hang your bowls up. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata” (offence). Now at that time the Bhikkhus put their bowls down on a bed, or a chair; and sitting down thoughtlessly they upset them, and the bowls were broken. They
dences of deep corruption beneath a whited surface, all
told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to put your bowls on a bed, or on a chair. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata” (offence). Now at that time the Bhikkhus kept their bowls on their laps; and rising up thoughtlessly they upset them, and the bowls were broken They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to keep your bowls on your laps. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata” (offence). Now at that time the Bhikkhus put their bowls down on a sunshade; and the sunshade being lifted up by a whirlwind, the howls rolled over and were broken. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to put your bowls down on a sunshade. Whosoever does so, shall he guilty of a dukkata.” Now at that time the Bhikkhus, when they were holding the bowls in their hands, opened the door. The door springing hack, the bowls were broken. They told this matter to the Blessed One. You are not, O Bhikkhus, to open the door with your bowls in your hands. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata.” Now at that time the Bhikkhus did not use tooth-sticks, and their mouths got a bad odour. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “There are these five disadvantages, O Bhikkhus, in not using tooth-sticks—it is bad for the eyes—the mouth becomes bad-smelling—the passages by which the flavours of the food pass are not pure—bile and phlegm get into the food—and the food does not taste well to him who does not use them. These are the five disadvantages, O Bhikkhus, in not using tooth-sticks.” “There are five advantages, O Bhikkhus” (etc., the converse of the last). I allow you, O Bhikkhus, tooth-sticks.” Now at that time the Chabbaggiya Bhikkhus used long tooth-sticks; and even struck the Sāmaneras with them. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to use too long tooth-sticks. Whosoever does so, shall he guilty of a dukkata. I allow you, O Bhikkhus, tooth- sticks up to eight finger-breadths in length. And Sāmaneras are not to he struck with them. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata.” Now at that time a certain Bhikkhu, when using too short a tooth-stick got it stuck in his throat. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to use too short a tooth- stick. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata. I allow you, O Bhikkhus, tooth-sticks four finger-breadths long at the least.” ’
those significant precepts and prohibitions in its books of discipline, which indeed no Christian could soil his lips by uttering1.
It has even been asserted that much of the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, and in other parts of the Gospel narratives, is based on previously current moral teaching, which Buddhism was the first to introduce to the world, 500 years before Christ2. But this is not all. The admirers of Buddhism maintain that the Buddha was not a mere teacher of the truths of morality, but of many other sublime truths. He has been justly called, say they, ‘the Light of Asia,’ though they condescendingly admit that Christianity as a later development is more adapted to become the religion of the world.
Let us then inquire, for a moment, what claim Gautama Buddha has to this title—‘the Light of Asia?’
Now, in the first place those who give him this name forget that his doctrines only spread over Eastern Asia, and that either Confucius, or Zoroaster, or Muhammad might equally be called ‘the Light of Asia.’
1 Although this Lecture was written and in type before the publication of the Bishop of Colombo’s article in the July (1888) number of the ‘Nineteenth Century,’ I need not say that I wish here, as the Bishop has done, to draw attention to the collection of moral horrors’ existing in some parts of the Pārājika books—the disgusting detail of every conceivable form of revolting vice, supposed to be perpetrated or perpetrable by monks.
2 Dr. Kellogg, in his excellent work, ‘the Light of Asia and the Light of the World,’ well criticizes Professor Seydel’s Buddhist-Christian Harmony, as well as the Professor’s views on this point expressed in his work entitled ‘Das Evangelium von Jesu in Seinen Verhältnissen zu Buddha-Sage und Buddha-Lehre.’ Leipzig, 1880.
But was the Buddha, in any true sense, a Light to any part of the world?
It is certainly true that the main idea implied by Buddhism is intellectual enlightenment. Buddhism, before all things, means enlightenment of mind, resulting from intense self-concentration and introspection, from intense abstract meditation, combined with the exercise of a man’s own reasoning faculties and intuitions.
Of what nature, then, was the so-called Light of Knowledge that radiated from the Buddha? Was it the knowledge of his own utter weakness, of his original depravity of heart, or of the origin of sin? No; the Buddha’s light was in these respects profound darkness. He confessed himself, in regard to such momentous questions, a downright Agnostic. The primary origin of evil—the first evil act—was to him an inexplicable mystery.
Was it, then, a knowledge of the goodness, justice, holiness, and omnipotence of a personal Creator? Was it a knowledge of the Fatherhood of God? No; the Buddha’s light was in these respects also mere and sheer darkness. In these respects, too, he acknowledged himself a thorough Agnostic. He admitted that he knew of no being higher than himself.
What, then, was the light that broke upon the Buddha? What was this enlightenment which has been so much written about and extolled? All that he claimed to have discovered was the origin of suffering and the remedy of suffering. All the light of knowledge to which he attained came to this: —that

suffering arises from indulging desires, especially the desire for continuity of life; that suffering is inseparable from life; that all life is suffering; and that suffering is to be got rid of by the suppression of desires, and by the extinction of personal existence.
Here, then, is the first great contrast. When the Buddha said to his converts, ‘Come (ehi), be my disciple,’ he bade them expect to get rid of suffering, he told them to stamp out suffering by stamping out desires (see pp. 43, 44). When the Christ said to His disciples, ‘Come, follow Me,’ He bade them expect suffering. He told them to glory in their sufferings— nay, to expect the perfection of their characters through suffering.
It is certainly noteworthy that both Christianity and Buddhism agree in asserting that all creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, in suffering, in tribulation. But mark the vast, the vital distinction in the teaching of each. The one taught men to be patient under affliction, and to aim at the glorification of the suffering body, the other taught men to be intolerant of affliction, and to aim at the utter annihilation of the suffering body.
What says our Bible? We Christians, it says, are members of Christ’s Body—of His flesh and of His bones—of that Divine Body which was once a suffering Body, a cross-bearing Body, and is now a glorified Body, an ever-living, life-giving Body. Hence it teaches us to honour and revere the human body; nay, almost to deify the human body.
A Buddhist, on the other hand, treats every kind
of body with contempt, and repudiates as a simple impossibility, all idea of being a member of the Buddha’s body. How could a Buddhist be a member of a body which was burnt to ashes—which was calcined, —which became extinct at the moment when the Buddha’s whole personality became extinguished also?
But, say the admirers of Buddhism, at least you will admit that the Buddha told men to avoid sin, and to aim at purity and holiness of life? Nothing of the kind. The Buddha had no idea of sin as an offence against God, no idea of true holiness (see p. 124). What he said was—Get rid of the demerit of evil actions and accumulate a stock of merit by good actions.
And let me remark here that this determination to store up merit—like capital at a bank—is one of those inveterate propensities of human nature, one of those irrepressible and deep-seated tendencies in humanity which nothing but the divine force imparted by Christianity can ever eradicate. It is for ever cropping up in the heart of man, as much in the West as in the East, as much in the North as in the South; for ever re-asserting itself like a pestilent weed, or like tares amidst the wheat, for ever blighting the fruit of those good instincts which underlie man’s nature everywhere.
Only the other day I met an intelligent Sikh from the Panjāb, and asked him about his religion. He replied, 'I am no idolater; I believe in One God, and I repeat my prayers, called “Jap-jee,” every morning and evening. These prayers occupy six pages of print,
but I can get through them in little more than ten minutes.’ He seemed to pride himself on this rapid recitation as a work of increased merit.
I said, ‘What else does your religion require of you?’ He replied, ‘I have made one pilgrimage to a holy well near Amritsar. Eighty-five steps lead down to it. I descended, and bathed in the sacred pool. Then I ascended one step and repeated my Jap-jee with great rapidity. Then I descended again to the pool and bathed again, and ascended to the second step and repeated my prayers a second time. Then I descended a third time, and ascended to the third step and repeated my Jap-jee a third time, and so on for the whole eighty-five steps, eighty-five bathings and eighty-five repetitions of the same prayers. It took me exactly fourteen hours, from 5 p. m. one evening to 7 a. m. next morning, and I fasted all the time.’
I asked, ‘What good did you expect to get by going through this task?’ He replied, ‘I hope I have laid up an abundant store of merit, which will last me for a long time.’
This, let me tell you, is a genuine Hindū notion. It is of the very essence of Brahmanism, of Hindūism, of Zoroastrianism, of Confucianism, of Muhammadanism. It is even more of the essence of Buddhism, For, of all systems, Buddhism is the one which lays most stress on the accumulation of merit by good actions, as the sole counterpoise to the mighty force generated by the accumulation of demerit through evil actions in present and previous forms of life.
Nor did the Buddha ever claim to be a deliverer from guilt, a purger from the taint of past pollution. He never pretended to set any one free from the penalty, power, and presence of sin—from the bondage of sinful acts and besetting vices. He never professed to furnish any cure for the leprosy of man’s corrupt nature—any medicine for a dying sinner 1. On the contrary, by his doctrine of Karma he bound a man hand and foot to the inevitable consequences of his own evil actions with chains of adamant. He said, in effect, to every one of his disciples, ‘You are in slavery to a tyrant of your own setting up; your own deeds, words, and thoughts in your present and former states of being, are your own avengers through a countless series of existences.
“Your acts your angels are for good or ill,
Your fatal shadows that walk by you still.”
'If you have been a murderer, a thief, a liar, impure, a drunkard, you must pay the penalty in your next birth—perhaps as a sufferer in one of the hells 2, per-
1 It is true that in the Lalita-vistara Buddha is described in terms which appear to assimilate his character to the Christian conception of a Saviour; but how could any man, however good and great, have any claim to be called either a Saviour or Redeemer, who only revealed to his fellow-men such a method of getting rid of pain and suffering, through their own works and merits, as must lead them in the end to extinction of all personal existence? The very essence of Christ’s character as a Saviour is His divine power of transferring His own perfect merits to imperfect men, and leading them from death to eternal life, not to eternal extinction of life.
2  In regard to the Buddhist doctrine of terrific purgatorial torments in some of the numerous Hells see p. 120 of this volume.
haps in the body of a wild beast, perhaps in that of some unclean animal or loathsome vermin, perhaps as a demon or evil spirit. Yes, your doom is sealed. Not in the heavens, O man, not in the midst of the sea, not if thou hidest thyself in the clefts of the mountains, wilt thou find a place where thou canst escape the force of thine own evil actions1. Thy only hope of salvation is in thyself. Neither god nor man can save thee, and I am wholly powerless to set thee free.’
And now, contrast the few brief words of Christ in his first recorded sermon2. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He hath sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.’
Yes, in Christ alone there is deliverance from the bondage of former transgressions, from the prison- house of former sins; a total cancelling of the past; a complete blotting-out of the handwriting that is against us; an entire washing away of every guilty stain; the opening of a clear course for every man to start afresh; the free gift of pardon and of life to every criminal, to every sinner—even the most heinous and inveterate.
Still, I seem to hear some admirers of Buddhism...
2 I have not followed the exact words in our authorized translation of St. Luke 4:18, because they must be taken with Isaiah.
- - - - - - - - - - - -   To be continued in Part 2   - - - - - - - - - - - -
August 12: added hyperlinks, much more highlighting and modernized Bible verse references for ease of quick reference.  Especially of interest is that of Dr. Kellogg's The Light of Asia and the Light of the World, and of the Bishop of Colombo's writing on Buddhism.
See next post Part 2 (of 3) for the remainder of this chapter...

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