Life after Death. They asked what comes next.

Dear friends,
 
This morning started off as any other morning. I woke up, took a bus to science, bought my breakfast, and took the lift up block S4 to buy my daily 220ml dose of milo from the vending machine outside the Science Library.
 
Pasted on the vending machine was this sticker, showing a graveyard, and saying"
 
"Life after Death.
What comes next?
visit http://everystudent.com"
 
A Buddhist would naturally smell a rat after reading such a provoking caption. This sticker definitely wasn’t done up by NUS Buddhist Society (it was too well designed).
 
I was tempted to take out a marker and vandalise back:
 
"Then Death again.
Makes any sense?
visit www.nusbs.org.sg/forum"
 
But of course my Singaporean conservatism got the better of me and instead I went online to check out this website of theirs.
 
I was correct. It was a website promoting Christianity, most likely by Campus Crusade for Christ.
 
I suppose this article was the relevant one for the sticker:
http://everystudent.com/sg/journeys/then.html
 
Their take on life after death and reincarnation:
http://everystudent.com/sg/wires/reincarnation.html
"Reincarnation offers hope to many. If we don’t get it right in this life, we have another chance the next time around. Yet, even those who believe in reincarnation admit that the vast majority of humans do not remember their previous lives. How can we learn from our past mistakes if we cannot remember them? We seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. Given the moral failure rate of human history, do we have any reason to hope that we will get it right in a future lifetime?"
 
This sounds like a convincing argument. Are you stunned? Do you suddenly feel: yeah, the whole rebirth thing isn’t that great afterall… How can I consider it a second chance when I don’t even remember my mistakes?
 
But in the first place, rebirth itself is not "a chance to get it right". It is a process that necessarily occurs when you still crave for existence, still crave to be born again, when you still carry baggage in your mentality that drives your "becoming again". Being reborn again and again with ignorance and suffering means you are obviously not getting it right.
 
But if you had to work around with a system of rebirth, you can give yourself a chance to get it right. It is rare indeed to be able to come in contact with teachings that reduce our delusions and increase our wisdom. When we cultivate our mind, we will experience the benefits, immediately. Then we must cultivate our mind with the wish to get it right, if not in this lifetime, then in future lifetimes, so that in future lifetimes we will come into contact with the Teachings agains. If you believe that putting in hard work would translate into good results in the future, then your faith in yourself is well founded, for whatever hard work you put into cultivating your mind will translate into good results in the future (lives).
 
Memories are not the only worthwhile things there are to carry over from the past. So what if we cannot remember past lives? But who we are today depends on what we did yesterday. So whether you get it right in the next life depends on what you do in this life. You don’t need to remember it.
 
Restricting ourselves to only the pessimistic side of the reality of rebirth will not liberate us. The authors have obviously not talked about accumulating paramis in one life to the next. With merits and paramis, YES we DO have reason believe that we will get it right in a future lifetime.
 
But if you only have to work around with a system with only one chance, because a God says so, what do you think of this God?

"Reincarnation also claims to insure justice. According to the law of karma (an unbending and impersonal rule of the universe), we get what we deserve in every life. Our good and bad deeds produce good and bad results from lifetime to lifetime. With karma, there is supposedly no unjust suffering, because no one is innocent. All suffering is deserved on the basis of bad karma. The baby born without legs deserved it, as did the woman who was raped. We all carry our karma into each life. There is no grace, no forgiveness, no mercy. Not only is this is not good news for those burdened down with the weight of a troubled conscience, but karma also conflicts with our moral sense that some suffering is undeserved and deserves our pity and our actions to alleviate it.

Can reincarnation realistically offer hope and a sense of justice to a troubled world? And what comfort does it offer regarding the nagging problem of death? The law of karma is unmerciful. Yet the message of Jesus Christ is different. Jesus did not deny there is unjust suffering. He offered forgiveness for those who inflict it and comfort for those that experience it."

Now, the authors have rightly described the process of karma as impersonal. If so, there is no meaning later on labelling it as merciful or unmerciful, deserving or non-deserving. This form of writing is merely attempting to whip up emotions. I can do it too (in face I’m doing it now).
 
Nobody deserves to suffer. One who commits unwholesome acts deserves our compassion, because he will suffer from it later. Hence there is no conflict with offering pity and assistance to those who are suffering from unwholesome acts. If you see someone suffering and label him/her as "deserving it due to his/her karma", then it is a wrong view born of ill will and lack of loving kindness, not because of karma. Everyone deserves compassion no matter how evil, and all the more you should help someone who experiences any kind of suffering. This is exactly the same as Jesus offering forgiveness for those who inflict and those who experience suffering.
 
But their God offers forgiveness with a condition attached. If not he will damn you for eternity. This is not what we want to be. We aim to be people that offer forgiveness without conditions attached. We aim never to damn anyone, ever.
 
So, is there grace in karma? Is there no good news? Are we forever trapped in countless cycles and life and death as these authors claim us to be? OF COURSE NOT!
 
The aim of the Buddha was not just to deliver a doomsday message that we are trapped and doomed for suffering. The other half of His message is that we can be liberated from suffering! What’s even more beautiful about this message is that big brothers carry little sisters, big sisters hold on to little brothers along the spiritual path: you can liberate your loved ones and all sentient beings once you yourself are on the way!
 
The very message of the Buddha is that we can become Worthy Ones (Arahants) that have been completely liberated from birth and death. Or we can attain other stages of sainthood, Non-returners, Once-returners, Stream-enterers. Our teachers in the Order of monks and nuns are the very examples and hope of enlightenment that we live by.
 
The pastors of churches, however, live as an example of a servant of God, a subordinate. Turning a blind eye to the shortcomings of their own religion, evangelists and charismatic churches coerce deathbed conversions, denigrate other religions, and unskillfully turn lovers and families sour.
 
The website also says that Jesus is the only religious leader that claims to be God, and makes a big hoo-haa about how no other religious leader can claim the same. Well, my friends, Buddha Gautama claimed that YOU can become a Buddha! Can you beat that??
 
This reminds me of a story that Master Jin Kong once told. When he was young, he tried attending church. He asked a pastor, "Can I become God?" The pastor immediately said "No! Of course not!" Well, Master Jin Kong decided that the Buddha’s message was more attractive: all of us can become Buddhas.
 
The website is littered with apologetic claims that are really weak and easily countered. For example: they often claim that Jesus can perform various miracles such as calming the Galilee sea, healing the sick, raising the dead, hence he must be genuine. The Buddha performed many miracles too!! Now what??
 
The Q&A on science is particularly ridiculous. http://everystudent.com/sg/forum/science.html What’s wrong with it?? Ask any life science student about points 1 and 2.
 
Why am I not mincing my words, although I am a to-be school teacher and a former President of NUS Buddhist Society who should be more kindly and accomodating?
 
Friends, the dire circumstances are this: Buddhism is a sitting duck as long as we continue to be passive, apathetic and unresponsive. I am not advocating attacking other religions. I am only advocating the learning of our own, and the practising of the qualities that the Buddha espoused.
 
If you continue to feel that your practice is your own business…
 
If you continue to feel that practice is tomorrow’s business…
 
If you continue to feel shy about admiting yourself to be Buddhist…
 
If you continue to feel shy about sharing Buddhism with other friends
 
If you continue to put off learning Buddhism…
 
If you continue to put off contributing to the bigger Buddhist community with its manpower shortages…
 
If you continue to keep mum while others wrongly criticise your religion…
 
If you continue to give in to your apathy, passiveness, and not reach out warmly to newcomers that wish to find out more about their religion…
 
Then we will continue to remain as target boards.

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10 Comments

  1. tong said,

    7 March 2008 at 17:01

    idol!
     
    You very geng you know! The way you write really impress me alot alot!
     
    Proud to be Buddhist! Proud to be your friend also!

  2. pei xin said,

    19 March 2008 at 09:55

    Hi friend,
     
    You mentioned that "Buddha\’s message was more attractive" because "all of us can become Buddhas".
    So, am I right to say that you think:
    becoming a Buddha is more attractive than not being able to be God?
    becoming a Buddha is more attractive than forgiveness of sin (“with condition attached”)?
    becoming a Buddha is more attractive than eternal life with God?
     
    Perhaps you know much about “becoming a Buddha”, but what do you know of “not being able to be God”, “forgiveness of sin” and “eternal life with God”?
     
    If one is comparing two things and understand only one and not both, how can one make a valid comparison?
     
     
    It is written “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”.
     
    “Why would we need salvation?” “What is salvation?” “I don’t need to be saved” “I can save myself”
     
    I don’t know what thoughts ran through your mind as you read that verse. But what if, just what if, it is true?
    It may not be attractive, it may not make sense, it may seem intolerant, delusional, narrow-minded. You may not agree with this verse. But what if it is truth? Truth is not always attractive. Truth is narrow-minded because anything contrary to it cannot be also true.
     
    This salvation thing is NOT about primarily about hell and heaven, rewards and punishments. It is about a relationship with God. And it concerns every one, because one day (if what I believe is true) believe it or not, we shall have to come before God.
     
    Truth is not true because someone believe in it. It is true, whether you and I believe or not.

  3. Kwek Yan said,

    20 March 2008 at 00:29

    px,
     
    quote: \’Perhaps you know much about “becoming a Buddha”, but what do you know of “not being able to be God”, “forgiveness of sin” and “eternal life with God”? If one is comparing two things and understand only one and not both, how can one make a valid comparison?\’

    Then in the same manner, I ask you: you probably know much about Christianity, but do you know of becoming a Buddha? I await your reply.
    quote: \’It is written “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”. I don’t know what thoughts ran through your mind as you read that verse. But what if, just what if, it is true?\’
    Then I ask you: the Buddhas and all his disciples, up to accomplished masters of today, have seen into past lives and know of future rebirths. They also say that the belief in a single, all-powerful creator God is false, and is due to Man\’s craving for something permanent, a delusion that Man craves to be True because he is afraid of impermanence. What if, just what if, the Buddha is right?
    All men need salvation from suffering. The sensible, straightforward path to salvation from suffering for ourselves and all our loved ones is pointed out by the Buddha. I follow His method and find it applicable and marvelous. The peace I now have in life is tangible and true.
    quote: \’It may not be attractive, it may not make sense, it may seem intolerant, delusional, narrow-minded.\’
    So do you think that the Truth that you believe in is intolerant?
    The Truth that I believe in, however, is tolerant, broad-minded, wise, attractive and makes plenty of sense.
    the Buddha in the Kalama Sutta states: \’Don\’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness" — then you should enter & remain in them.\’
    So you are right if you say that I think:
    "Becoming a Buddha is more attractive than being a God."
    "Becoming a Buddha is being totally free from greed, hatred and delusion."
    "Becoming a Buddha is more attractive than craving for an eternal life."

  4. pei xin said,

    22 March 2008 at 00:25

    * continued from previous comment (4)
    3) Quote: “All men need salvation from suffering. The sensible, straightforward path to salvation from suffering for ourselves and all our loved ones is pointed out by the Buddha. I follow His method and find it applicable and marvelous. The peace I now have in life is tangible and true.”
    You said this in response to my quote “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”.
    So one of the issues here would be our personal experiences. The peace you have now is tangible and true. My experience with God is tangible and real to me too. As you perhaps have seen a change in yourself, so have I. We cannot deny the change and the experience we have. They are valid—“tangible and true”.
    Then what’s the difference? Does our real experience tell us what is truth? Can it?
    The salvations we are talking about are very different. You wrote “salvation from suffering”. The salvation I am referring to is “salvation from the penalty of sin—death”. I do not mean physical death. We can see death as a term coined by man to explain a type of separation: at the point when a person dies, the dead person is separated from the living. So if we understand it from this perspective, the death that sin brings is separation from God. And eternal life is defined as this “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
    There need to be a Saviour because of sin. Sin exists because we turn away from God; turning away includes denying Him, doing wrong things such as telling a lie, being jealous, hating etc. Every one would have sinned. So God being holy and just, would have to punish wrongdoing. Yet God being loving and merciful, sent us a Saviour to take our punishment. So that we who were separated, can be reconciled to Him.
    “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ\’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
    The salvation you referred to seem to mean deliverance from suffering, maybe from greed, hatred, delusion. The salvation I’m referring to is reconciliation with God. They are very different, aren’t they?
    Our experience may be similar—changed lives. It can only show us that the method we are using “works” as far as character building/ life changing is concerned. But the spiritual significance is too different.
    4) Quote: “So do you think that the Truth that you believe in is intolerant? The Truth that I believe in, however, is tolerant, broad-minded, wise, attractive and makes plenty of sense.”
    Truth. I have been assuming that we are talking about an absolute, and not a subjective “true for you and not for me” thing. If truth is absolute, whatever is contrary to it cannot be true, and cannot be accepted as truth. In this sense, is not truth intolerant? What do you mean by “tolerant”?
    You said that God is impermanent. I think there is an eternal God. Can you accept my view to be true? If you can, how can your view be true at the same time? I can accept, tolerate and respect that you believe that God does not exist, or that God is impermanent. But I cannot accept and tolerate that belief as truth.

  5. Kwek Yan said,

    26 March 2008 at 21:22

    Quote: “So if you are comparing, I asked if you know enough of both sides to make a good comparison.”
    Well, me passing judgement on myself might be a little difficult. I’ve not read the whole bible. I’ve read Genesis, Exodus, the 4 gospels and Revelations in several versions. I’ve read stories from Esaiah, David and Job, and I’ve skimmed through Psalms, Proverbs. I’ve constantly discussed with devout Christian friends from my teens to my current status as a university student. I’ve visited on occasion Christian websites and browsing some apologetic books. I’ve relief-taught in a Christian school for 2 weeks. I’ve been to a church baptism as an observer.
    Of Buddhism, I’ve also read many Dharma books and attended many talks by Venerables and lay people. I’ve read some scriptures, though a paltry portion of the entire Buddhist canon. I’ve been practising Buddhist meditation.
    Comparing the messages and teachings in both, many times in my insecure teenage years up to 3 years ago, Buddhism always resonated with my inner self, until finally I commited myself to Buddhism because of the strength and validity that I could see in its teachings. Since then my doubts of the meaning of life has been replaced with a simple purposefulness, that all of these made sense.
    Which part of my post “the crux of the Christian matter” shows that I have misunderstood the core of the Christian message, may I ask?
    Quote: “Are the claims of the bible valid, trustworthy or reliable? Are the claims of the Buddha valid, trustworthy or reliable? How do we know? I trust that the bible is reliable because of several reasons. I think I would just mention one here— prophecies in the bible.”
    This is interesting, that you have used prophecies as an example of the reliability of the bible. I am sure that there is considerably scholasticism on bible prophecies such that even experts in the field do not agree.
    In Buddhism, many who like to boast about the advanced knowledge of the Buddha liked to talk about how once, the Buddha advised the monks that in a bowl of drinking water, there are 84000 living things that are unseen to the human eye. This was 2500 years ago before the microscope.
    The Buddha was also a pioneer to claim that this was not the only world that exists. In his time, this idea could not be comprehended. Now know that each star may be a solar system with several planets, and there are countless stars out there. Quantum physics has also thrown up the possibility of other Universes.
    When Buddha explained the 4 phases of the arising and decay of the universe, physics was still 2500 years away from forming the same model: the big bang and the big crunch.
    2500 years before Darwin came out with his controversial theory that was blasphemy to a conservative world, the Buddha preached the Aganna Sutta, where he described what Darwin himself would not know before he died: that life started in the oceans as asexual simple organisms that evolved into sexual life forms, crawling onto land.
    It once gave me some hope that since the Buddha could describe such scientifically advanced knowledge, that He knew something. But in the end I knew the Buddha was right in another way: the only knowledge he was interested in teaching was the way to be liberated from suffering. He refused questions that only addressed metaphysical questions. The above points were only spun-off when the Buddha was trying to teach certain people about Impermanence and non-attachment to our misconceived and limited concepts.
    The Kalama Sutta is a scripture indeed. But even the Kalama Sutta stands up to the principles it espouses: the Kalama Sutta itself cannot be so simply taken as truth just because it was passed down faithfully. We have to apply it and find with our own experience that it is conducive for happiness that it can be accepted as a teaching. In this, it is internally consistent.
    And so the Buddha would not have us rely on cosmetic evidence that His teachings are authentic. Instead, are the claims of the Buddha valid, trustworthy and reliable: we see it by the people that practise his teachings around us. Our Masters and our spiritual friends: they have tested the Buddha’s teachings as stated in his scriptures and find that yes! Indeed it does lead to no more vexations, a clearer mind and penetrating insight! And so thus are we Buddhists advised to test the Buddha’s authority for ourselves.
    Your goal is salvation from the penalty of sin. Is it that you want to be saved because the “penalty of sin” is suffering? So ultimately, you want to be free from suffering? And you see “separation from God” as suffering also, that’s why you want to be saved from this separation? So ultimately, our salvations that we are seeking for is the same? From suffering?
    The problem is whether or not the Doctrine of Original Sin and Separation from God actually makes any sense. To me, it does not: God is completely benevolent and omnipotent at the same time, yet he is unable to think of or make a system there will be no suffering and yet truly love him of their own free will. Either he is not omnipotent, or he is not all-compassionate.
    I am glad that you can tolerate my beliefs, and I fine that you have your own viewpoints. But the purpose of my blog post was to highlight something else: there are fundamentalist and aggressive Christians out there irresponsibly criticising other religions without first understanding them thoroughly. They would not like it if others criticise them too without understanding their religion, just as yourself have posted because you felt I have portrayed a misunderstood idea of your religion. This is the tolerance that I am talking about: in practising their own religion, they should not launch attacks on others without understanding thoroughly.

  6. pei xin said,

    19 April 2008 at 18:24

    Hi Kwek,
     
    Sorry I took such a long time to reply.. I could only find the heart to sit down and think about things after most of the deadlines!
     
    I read through your entry “the crux of the christian matter” again. So, that particular blog entry was prompted by the discussion with your brother and his question on whether Buddhism condemns the Christian path. And you moved on to discuss and explain your answer to his question. In your explanation, the crux is that a well-practicing Christian should not cling desperately to the concept of an impermanent God, but should be open-minded and “accept that there are many paths to salvation, not just yours.” In any case, the Christian (even those who are “fundamentalist and aggressive”) would not remain condemn forever— though because they might be so deluded that they would “start from scratch”.
     
    Your answer suggests to me that you misunderstood the core message of Christianity.
    It might be helpful to start with your response to my last reply. You suggested, “Your goal is salvation from the penalty of sin. Is it that you want to be saved because the ‘penalty of sin’ is suffering? So ultimately, you want to be free from suffering? And you see ‘separation from God’ as suffering also, that’s why you want to be saved from this separation? So ultimately, our salvations that we are seeking for is the same? From suffering?”
    I see that you are trying to show how Christianity and Buddhism can fit together and agree with each other. Is it really that salvation from penalty of sin = freedom from suffering?
    No, I don’t think so. What do you mean by suffering? To be free of troubles, or greed, hatred, delusion etc? I don’t mean that when one is saved, one is free from all these. Troubles will always be here. So if suffering means trouble to you, there will still be suffering after salvation. If suffering means greed, hatred etc, yes, one will be freed of sin (hatred, greed etc).. but this freedom from sin is more of a secondary “effects” of salvation. The most fundamental aspect is the reconciliation to God, our Creator. It is on the person of God that salvation hinges. When one is reconciled to God, God will refine and purify us. But that is not the aim of salvation. The main ‘product’ of salvation is the reconciliation to the person of God. The refining and purification from sin is merely the inevitable ‘by-product’. To you, whom God is but a delusion, how can salvation be reconciliation to God; how can we be seeking the same salvation? They just cannot fit.
     
    Intolerance. You may respect that I have my own viewpoints, but you are nevertheless intolerant of them. You cannot accept them as true. In general, truth is intolerant of other contrary claims. So in principle, truth is inherently intolerant. That’s just how truth is. What’s wrong with intolerance? Maybe what is wrong is the lack of love, sensitivity and respect.
    So when the Christian doctrine stated that there is only one way to salvation—through Jesus Christ, this claim to truth is inherently intolerant to other contrary claims. So as it is inherent that truth (in general) is intolerant, it naturally follows that Jesus’ claim to be the only way to salvation is intolerant. Just as your belief that there God is impermanent is intolerant to my belief that there is an eternal God. Contrary statements are naturally intolerant of each other.
    On several occasions in your blog post, you suggested that the way through the door of liberation would be clear only when one “drops God” or detach from the “concept of God”. But God is the foundation of a “well-practicing” Christian. God is the center character in the message of Christianity. So there can be no dropping of God, nor, detaching from the concept of God. If this God that I know is not real, then I am deluded, and will perhaps “start from scratch” as you said. But if this God that I know is real, then you are deluded and your good deeds cannot save you. You may experience victories over suffering, but you cannot be reconciled to God.
     
    I disagree with you that the crux of the Christian matter is that Christians could reach the door of liberation—when they’ve disposed of their concept of God or their clinging on to God. Perhaps your brother is right.. if your path is true, the Christian path is condemned “to non-liberation and an eternity in Samsara”. I just want to say there our belief systems cannot be fitted together. They are different and intolerant of each other. Our paths will not meet.
    “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.”

  7. Kwek Yan said,

    21 April 2008 at 13:48

    (continued from above)
     
    You have side-stepped 2 issues that were brought up:
     
    (1) You challenged me to describe how much I know of both religions to justify why I made my choice to choose to become a Buddha rather than seek reconciliation with an eternal God. I have answered on how I have weighed both sides. How about yourself? Do you approve of Christians trying to convert Buddhists? If you do, how much do you know of Buddhism to approve of Christianity being more superior to Buddhism and justify conversion of Buddhists? How much do you know of Buddhism to have made the choice of Christianity over Buddhism?
     
    (2) You have attempted to compare the authority and validity of the Bible against that of the Buddha’s word. Implicit is your assumption is that the Bible is valid and authoritative but the Buddhist scriptures are not (or are less so). You have attempted to use the evidence of bible prophecies coming true and I have countered with the Buddha’s supramundane knowledge which is being supported with scientific evidence now. The four Gospels are inconsistent in their account of the resurrection, the most important event on which the divinity of Jesus hinges upon. Certain lines are painfully obvious in having been excised from the bible (the numbering of certain verses skipped a number). Authors of certain books are obscure. Prophecies are cosmetic evidence, easily proven to be forged and unreliable. All scripture, including Buddhists’, are prone to scribing error and political manipulations. So, what now of the validity and authority of the bible?
     
    As a final note,
    “I just want to say there our belief systems cannot be fitted together. They are different and intolerant of each other. Our paths will not meet.”
    Yes the belief systems cannot be fitted together. I do not approve of syncretism. But there is space for mutual admiration, respectful understanding and kind words, which some aggressive Christians lack.

  8. Kwek Yan said,

    21 April 2008 at 13:48

    Ah so PEI XIN it\’s YOU!!
     
    I\’ve been wondering who it was ever since this \’px\’ first posted… In fact it sounded even abit like he/she wasn\’t from Singapore (misunderstanding). But that day when I saw the look in your face when I met you at the water-cooler area immediately the possibility that px=peixin cropped up. I think now it\’s confirmed.
     
    Anyway no matter whether I know you or not, it doesn\’t change any of my replies.
     
    I think you have confused my "understanding" of the core message of Christianity with my "suggestions and interpretations" for Christians to live in conflictless harmony with Buddhists. I believe I have not misunderstood the core message of Christianity at all: Man has sinned, and Jesus proclaims himself as the way to salvation from the penalty of sin, and to believe in and practise what Jesus taught will pave the way to reconciliation with God. Is this wrong?
     
    What my "crux of the Christian matter" addresses is how Buddhists are different from Christians in their treatment of other religions. The crux is that a Buddhist admires and respects the Christian who practises loving kindness and compassion and gentleness of thoughts. But a Buddhist would view a hard-selling, provocative Christian who condemns others without thoughts to the shortcomings of his/her own religion as one who is building up the conditions for disappointment, fall from pride and stubborn delusion.
     
    This is clearly what my blog post was about. You have confused my understanding of the Christian message with my interpretation on how Buddhists view Christians and my suggestion on how Christians should self reflect instead of being too pushy.
     
    You are confused on another issue: You have begged the question on salvation and instead went on a tangent discussing the difference in the salvation that we look for. Why do you seek reconciliation with God? Answer this directly.
     
    If you wish to brand mutually exclusive \’truths\’ with the anthropomorphic term \’intolerant\’, it is up to you but then yes I will agree with you that the truth of God in Christianity and in Buddhism is mutually exclusive. People cannot accept one without rejecting the other. But what of the behaviour that stems from these 2 truths? Your first comment states: "Truth is not always attractive. Truth is narrow-minded because anything contrary to it cannot be also true." If truth is unattractive and narrow-mindeded, then should we also behave in an unattractive and narrow-minded way?
     
    The \’truth\’ in Buddhism may be mutually exclusive of your Christian \’truth\’, but it results in behaviour that is tolerant towards other faiths, where space can be allowed for other religions to co-exist with each other. It even provides space for mutual admiration. Does the truth in Christianity result in intolerance because you feel that the truth is \’intolerant\’ of other views? Surely not, for you have said that "Maybe what is wrong is the lack of love, sensitivity and respect." In that case, look at my blog post again. It criticises fundamentalists and aggressive Christians for not showing sensitivity, understanding and respect before denigrating other religions. So you are confused about a third issue (or maybe I am confused on where you stand): do you or do you not agree that religions should show sensitivity and respect to each other when sharing what they believe in? Is it necessary for the authors of that website to attack other religions without clarifying if they have understood it properly first?
     
    (continued below)

  9. pei xin said,

    11 May 2008 at 01:59

    Hi Kwek!
     
    Yupz, it’s me. I just find it weird leaving my name on blogs, so chose to use initials. Anyway, yeah~ exams are all over! Congrats on ur graduation and all the best for your Masters program!
     
    Can I clarify if you personally have had some negative experiences with Christians who are “hard-selling”, “provocative”, “pushy”, “aggressive” and “fundamentalist”? Those are strong words. It is written in the bible that when we “give a reason for the hope that we have”, it is to be done with “gentleness and respect”. I guess many a times, the motives are right, just that the approach can be better. So yes, we both agree on this: that sensitivity and respect must be shown when sharing with others about our beliefs. Insensitive behaviour is not encouraged by God. It’s not right for us to be disrespectful, especially in the context of sharing our beliefs.
     
    With regards to the authority and validity of the bible, can I first ask what you mean by the word “authoritative”? To what degree does the “authority” extend to? Can you also be more specific about the inconsistencies in the account of the resurrection? Why do you think it matter that the authors of certain books are obscure? What are proofs that prophecies in the bible have been forged and unreliable?
    I think there’s no issue with the numbering of certain verses having skipped numbers. Aren’t these numbers added in only later, after the manuscripts are written, to aid us in referring to a particular passage? If so, any error in numbering would be error that does not speak about the authority and reliability of the original manuscripts.
     
    You asked pointedly about why I would seek reconciliation with God and how I made the choice of Christianity over Buddhism. Firstly, I seek reconciliation with God because I believe that he is the creator and created man. I don’t think this belief about creation run contrary to science and the theory of evolution. I sat in for Rudolf Meier’s evo lecture when he was talking about the tree of life hypothesis versus the hypothesis of intelligent design. He was saying that given the fact that there are lots of species on this planet, there exist the tree of life hypothesis and 4 models of intelligent design to explain this phenomenon. 3 of the intelligent design hypotheses are absurd. But Meier conceded that one of the intelligent design hypotheses is as plausible as the tree of life hypothesis. This particular model assumes that there is a time of origin similar species (different dissimilar species have different time of origin) and new species continuously form thereafter. But this intelligent design hypothesis was not accepted due to occam’s razor, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be accepted. Intelligent design hypothesis assumes the existence of God and is thus unaccepted. By accepting the tree of life hypothesis, it does not mean that God does not exist, nor necessarily that the tree of life hypothesis is without difficulties. So, my point is that, a creator God is possible, but scientists (and others) have chosen to deny his existence.
     
    I sidetracked, but thought that was important. So, given that God created man, just as only the designer of a novel product knows what he designed that product for, God is the only one who know why he created man. Apparently, he created us for himself, to know him, to love him and receive the love that he has. So, I sought this: to know life’s purpose. And I figured that I can only know the answer by going to my creator, who is God. Therefore, I seek reconciliation with God. I will stop at this because I do not want to get deeper into theology.
     
    As to Buddhism, I read the 4 noble truths before I decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I find it ironic that I must have the desire to stop desiring. In my decision process, I struggled through issues pertaining to reliability of the bible, existence of Jesus Christ and his resurrection etc before finally accepting that there is enough information for me to decide that Jesus’ claim that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” is real and reliable. So then, if he is the only way to God, there can be no other way. So in accepting that Jesus’ claim is true, I chose Christianity over Buddhism.
     
    May I request that we switch this discussion over to msn, if you would like to continue? I think it could get very tedious to continue via your blog because of the need to clarify things along the way to ensure that the meaning of the words we say is the same to both of us. pelixis@hotmail.com
     

  10. 15 February 2012 at 23:36

    […] Year, I came across a poster outside the Science Library, which led me to a Christian website that misrepresented some parts of Buddhist doctrine. I have no doubt that it was put up by someone from an organisation on […]


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