Monday, October 20, 2008

So much of our culture today has been influenced by Hinduism, and its commercially successful offspring, Buddhism. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard on TV or in real life, "Karma will get you!" Karma--the great equilizer in life--will make sure we get what's coming to us. What goes around comes around . . . .

Whenever I hear something like this, I just have to say (in a loving way of course), "Sorry, there is no such thing as karma. Only God."

But whether we like it or not, Buddhist/Hindu beliefs permeate our society. They're here to stay, and we had better be ready to answer them:

Under Hinduism, the lot of the masses was poverty and despair, and the wheel of reincarnation or samsara loomed constantly before them like a never-ending nightmare of suffering and death. Discontent grew among the people and many searched for something to break the relentless hold of Hinduism.

There seemed no escape from the fate of having to endure an endless succession of painful lives before one could be freed to merge for eternity with the “World-Soul”—a state known as Nirvana.[1] Into this religion of strict castes and oppression was born the son of a minor Rasha or King sometime between 490 - 410 B.C. E..[2] His philosophy of life would impact the world for centuries to come.

Gautama Buddha, founder of the Buddhist religion, was the son of Suddhodana, a chieften reigning over a district near the Himalayas in what is known today as the country of Nepal. At an early age, Siddhartha Gautama,[3] his true name, observed the many contradictions and problems of life; he abandoned his wife and son when he felt he could no longer endure the life of a rich nobleman, and became a wandering ascetic in search of the truth about life. Buddhist historians tell us that after almost seven years of wan­dering, inquiring, meditating and searching, he found “the true path,” and “great enlightenment,” under the legendary Bo[4] tree (tree of wisdom), and thus attained Nirvana.

* Siddhartha Gautama taught that he followed the paths of previous “buddhas,” or enlightened ones until he discovered the Middle Road, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, and achieved enlightenment.

* Buddhism shows a heavy influence of Brahmanism--Hindu gods and goddesses--in Buddha’s history and teachings; its description of a universal cosmic consciousness is that of a non-personal essence, sometimes called the Void.

* The Pali Tripitaka text is considered by many to be the most reliable teachings of Buddha, although Mahayana Buddhism and other sects add to it.

* Man suffers because his desires are fixated on the illusion of self, which confines him to non-permanence within the laws of karma and reincarnation.

* Self-salvation is achieved by following the Middle Path, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path. The ultimate goal is to reach the state of Nirvana, where the self becomes extinguished in the Void.

And so, this is the best Buddhism/Hinduism can offer you: multiple lifetimes of suffering and searching until with any luck you reach enlightenment and become absorbed by the cosmic consciousness.

But God's Truth teaches exactly the opposite:

Scriptures teach that man is not eternal. He is a direct creation of God (Psalm 139:13; Genesis 1:26-27). He is not incarnated successively, forced to physically atone for his sins of a previous life that he does not remember. Hebrews 9:26-27 categorically denies such ideas and instead asserts the justice of God: “Just as it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.”

Christians do not look forward to reincarnation; we look forward to resurrection, when Christ will return and clothe us with glorified bodies so that we may eternally serve and worship God (1 Corinthians 15:5). Our glorification is not accomplished by our own efforts, but by the “victory though our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Christians have the assurance from God’s Word though the Holy Spirit that “He who raised up Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you (Romans 8:11).[5]

History proves that Christianity has always been unique among all the religions of the world. The Bible reveals a loving God, sacrificing Himself for every single one of His unique children; forgiving them, redeeming them, longing to be with them throughout eternity. This is our rich heritage in Christ.

Why would anyone wish to sacrifice infinite love like this for mere absorption into the cosmic void?

[1] Joseph Gaer, What Great Religions Believe, (Signet, The New American Library: New York, 1963), 30.
[2] This date is approximate as there are no written historical records from the time of the Buddha.
[3] Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. Buddha is not his name, although today he is addressed as such, it is a title of enlightenment. The family name is Gautama (excellent cow or best cow) and his given name was Siddhartha (one who achieved his goal). Buddha is also known as Sakyamuni "Sage of the Sakyas" (his tribal ethnicity, where his family dwelt in northern India near Nepal).
[4] Also spelled Bodhi Tree (Wisdom Tree), which is a fig tree located at Uruvela (State of Bihar, India), under which Siddhartha Gautama meditated for 49 days until he attained enlightenment, or Nirvana.
From Kingdom of the Cults - Buddhism.
[5] The New Cults, 370-375. Researched by Cal Beisner.


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