This morning I am moved to write about religion, both Buddhist and Christian. If you have an aversion to such things, feel free to stop reading right now because the following prose is beyond your comprehension. Otherwise, please be warned: I am writing from the viewpoint of a Japanese Buddhist. All I can add to this, is in my writing, anything is possible. >:)
So I'm going to start with Jesus, because his story gets a lot of press these days.
Suffice it to say, Jesus did these things: feed the poor, clothe the homeless, cure psychosomatic illness.
Not once in the Bible did I read about him saying, "Persecute homosexuals and other sinners." He never diabolized sin to that extent. Rather, this is dogma of church people who mix up the Old Testament stories about Lot with the New Testament.
In fact, he freed sinners from the diabolizing of people that the Jews did to sinners, which led the early Jewish nation to become a tribe of warriors.
IMO Christianity borrowed heavily from pagans such as Plato and Aristotle, so much so that good and evil became personified as god and satan -- as though they were friend and enemy of Christians.
For Christians, good and evil ae extremes; there is no middle ground.
It's stuff like that makes me glad I was born Buddhist, because Buddhism is the middle ground, and good and evil the result of what each sentient being create.
I don't open myself to spiritual attack from demons by meditating because such a thing is ridiculous to a Buddhist -- we are not devil worshippers; we are worshippers of truth.
Yes, I am suggesting that Christians who use the satanism card to diabolize other faiths as pagan are authors of lies, because their lies began with denying the syncretic roots of Christianity.
In contrast, Buddhism was not founded by the Buddha. Rather, it was renamed by Christian and secular scholars alike in the modern age. For it is the Buddhadharma that was founded by the Buddha over 2500 years ago to address the problems of the nascent Hindu religion called Santanadharma, which was renamed Hinduism by modern Western scholars.
Dharma has many meanings to a Buddhist such as law or teaching. Its meditative techniques work, even without the spiritual teachings of the Dharma. However, meditation works more efficiently with those teachings to guide the meditator.
In contrast, the history of Christianity shows the Church declaring Gnostics to be anathema to their cause, solely because Gnosis is not subject to the control and power of Christians e.g. only elite members of the Church are allowed to "know God" so thoroughly that you become a Bishop or even the Pope.
Gnostics were considered enemies of the State to both Byzantium, the Eastern Roman Empire that followed Greek rituals of Christianity, and the Western Roman Empire that followed Roman ones, but mainly to Byzantium. For the Western Roman Empire's enemies were mainly Gothic, Norman and Vandal mercenaries who practiced a heretical form of Christianity.
Suffice it to say that under these conditions, Gnostic meditative practices were forgotten when Byzantine armies crushed them in the Middle East. It is even said that the libraries of Alexandria in Egypt were put to the torch by a Coptic Pope to ensure that Gnosis was never to be freely available to Gnostics, let alone pagans.
Meanwhile in India, wherever the Buddhadharma spread, local gods were subjugated and added to the Buddhist pantheon of divinities who pledged to protect the Buddha. Thus, when Western civilization entered the Dark Ages, the East became enlightened by the Buddhadharma with the Santanadharma advocates making the Buddha one of its many gods, leading to the famous Hindu-Buddhist university of Nalanda and the spread of Santanadharma into Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines).
Perhaps, the proto-Polynesians may have took to the sea so that their gods would not be subject to control by invaders.
In any case, by the time the darkness that befell Western civilization was cast off during the Renaissance, religious ignorance forced Galileo to recant and corruption arose within the Papacy to the point where bestiality, incest and murder became part and parcel of intrigues arising from Christianity's inability to control human desire. IMO this was because Christianity considered the world evil and especially the body as a tool of sin.
Yet, if God made the world, then everything in it is his creation, and thus is good. This even includes the human soul, if both it and God exist. Furthermore, sin is not the same as evil. It is alike to evil karma i.e. the fruit of actions associated with the negative emotions and feelings such as anger, fear, lust, and other confusing feelings.
Even ignorance of god does not make a person evil. Only what he creates by what he does and says may cause the rise of confusion due to negative emotions. This is known as "evil passions" to the Buddhists, and also includes the mental calculations a person makes before she acts on them to make it so in the world.
To a Buddhist, a god being a Dharma protector of the Buddha is the protector of the Buddhadharma. Thus such a divine being is a friend of the Buddha, much as Jesus is a friend of Christians, whose angels protect them from birth. The only difference is, the bodhisattvas, gods and other Dharma protectors all protect the Buddhadharma. A wise Buddhist knows that they do not exist in this reality and that he would thus be foolish to worship any one of them including the Buddha.
If the cosmology of Buddhism actually exists, then it is not in the real world but in the mind of fervent worshippers who may not grasp the symbolism but worship them out of respect for all things divine, especially the Buddhadharma which enshrine the Four Noble Truths.
Such respect is sometimes mistaken by Christians as blind worship akin to paganism, due to their ignorance about Buddhism, which sadly is due to their sole reliance on the Bible. More enlightened Christians have studied Buddhism and have compared it to the Protestant form of Christianity called Methodism minus Jesus.
Indeed, in most Asian countries where Christianity is preached, the word "God" is often replaced with that Asian nation's most often worshipped god, e.g. in Chinese Taoism with the lesser gods being akin to angels and saints. Though, in Japan, Christianity is not as easy to sell because of the Japanese myth that their people are born of the gods.
Thus many of the New Religions in Japan have a corrupted form of God speaking through the founder and even his edicts are made through spirit writing, which predates Pentacostalism's corruption by occultism when they added shamanistic practices to their worship. Of course, most Pentacostals will deny occultism and shamanism in their religious practice, because Christians deny that their religion is of this world.
Yet most of the successful Protestant sects borrow heavily from worldly sources e.g. Billy Graham and other televangelists. Though, Mr. Graham's Christianity is his own, and is thus non-denominational. He actually believes in an immortal soul which is derived from neo-Platonism (a form of paganism developed before the Dark Ages which was revived during the Renaissance. It's not Biblical though, because the New Testament only mentioned "everlasting life", which has nothing to do with immortality, which is more associated with alchemy (an occult art) than with religion.
In Buddhism, the closest one gets to immortality is reincarnation, which has nothing to do with souls reincarnating because Buddhism denies the existence of a soul. Therefore, reincarnation is not about immortality of a soul but it is about karma. For only one's actions are affected by time itself: the karma (actions) I created in the past affect my present condition and my present actions (karma) affect my future (destiny). Indeed, there is no fixed point in time as far as karma goes.
Today, I am a Buddhist, quite possibly due to past karma, both in my lifetime and in the lifetimes of previous incarnations. I might have been a god, a demon, a man or woman, an animal, a hungry ghost or even a hell being. When I die, I am sure to be reborn in the Pure Land. But for now, just sitting is enough for me.
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