What's New
Escaping the Cult
Current Trends
Bible Doctrines
Bible Explanations
Emergent church
Latter Rain
Word Faith
Popular Teachers
Pentecostal Issues
Trinity / Deity
World  Religions
New Age Movement
Book Reviews
Web Directory
Tracts for witnessing
Web Search
The Persecuted Church


For printing  our articles please copy the web page by highlighting  the text first - then click copy in the browser-  paste the article into a word  program on your computer. When the text is transferred into word, click to save or print.      






The Buddhist Road Map by Scott Noble (waterpark777@yahoo.com)

November 6, 2004


In this paper I'll be focusing on Theravada Buddhism, since this form of Buddhism, found mainly in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos, claims to resemble the original teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha[i] most closely.  Other schools claim this as well, but historically speaking (not mystically speaking), the Theravada school’s claim seems to be the most substantiated.  Much of what has been written on Buddhism presents an idealized and incomplete portrait of Buddhist teachings.  This is difficult to avoid due to the vastness of the subject, but is enhanced by those who focus mainly on the positive aspects of Buddhism, omitting the more difficult issues.  In this paper I don’t claim to provide a comprehensive portrait, but I will attempt to address some of the more obscure and lesser known core issues and dilemmas of Buddhism, showing that it is indeed a fascinating system, but not one which will help a person fulfill their destiny in life.  I will also make some comparisons between Theravada Buddhism and Christianity based on biblical principles.  The paper will be presented under eight subtopics, namely No soul (anatta[ii]), Rebirth, Nirvana, Karma, Women, Meditation, Science, and God.

No Soul (anatta)

Descartes is known for the phrase, “I think- therefore I am.”  My high school history teacher pun…ished us with the following phrase:  “I’m pink- therefore I’m Spam.”  Taking an entirely different approach to these evidences for identity, Buddhism concludes with the concept “I am not.”  In John Garrett Jones’ book, “Tales and Teachings of the Buddha:  The Jataka Stories in relation to the Pali Canon,” Jones takes a look at how popular representations of the Buddha’s teachings, as seen in the Jataka Stories[iii], compare with the more orthodox Four Nikayas[iv] of the Pali Canon[v].  I.B. Horner, former president of the Pali Text Society, gives Jones the following recommendation in the foreword to Jones’ book:  “Mr Jones is well versed in both Jataka and Canon, and is thus able to draw on both not only with apparent ease but also with aptness and accuracy and dependable documentation.” (vii)  Jones in his chapter on rebirth, addresses the doctrine of “no soul,” pointing out that, according to orthodox beliefs, souls are not reborn, because Buddhism admits to no such entity:  “Consciousness (vinnana) is one of the five khandhas[vi] which are dissolved at death.  Deprived of its physical basis, or, if we prefer it, its physical correlate, how could it possibly survive death?  In MLS I 313, 320f, Gotama does in fact vigorously refute the ‘heresy’ of a persisting consciousness” (34). 

The doctrine of “no soul” undermines the entire premise of the Jataka Stories, which are supposed to be rebirth tales of Sakyamuni Buddha.  Without a soul, what is the connecting point from life to life?  The answer usually given to that question is that the karma of a being carries through.  But, what does this “karma” attach itself to, if not to the one to whom that karma was due?  Daniel J. Gogerly in his 1885 edition of “The Evidences and Doctrines of the Christian Religion,” (after 44 years of Pali study), wrote the following: 

“The Buddhist religion is that which Buddha taught, and which is found in his Sutras[vii], and not that which persons may hold who are ignorant of these teachings.  We shall in the first instance prove that Buddha teaches, that the person by whom the actions were performed is not the same with the person who is rewarded or punished:  that the connection is not between the man who performs the action, and the good or evil resulting from that action, but between the action performed and its results, whoever may be the recipient of those results.  This is contrary to every known principle of justice, which associates the doer of the good action with the reward, whereas in Buddhism the reward will follow the good actions, but the performer of the good action will not be the recipient of the reward.  This results from Buddha’s doctrine that there is no soul in man which transmigrates, but that the whole of a man;- the whole of the panchaskandha[viii] ceases at death.” (54-55)

A belief in anatta would mean, for example, that when Adolf Hitler died, the aggregates of his “being” dissolved, and then his enormously bad karma attached itself to someone or something (maybe a lowly insect), having absolutely no consciousness of the evil deeds done, or the reason for the suffering.  Can this be called justice?  WHO is punished?  WHO is rewarded in this system?  When the word “self” is used in Buddhism, such as “self-improvement”, “be a refuge unto yourself”, etc., this word is used for the sake of convenience, as opposed to describing an absolute self.  Walpola Rahula, in “What the Buddha Taught”, responds to those who try to point to a self or soul in Buddhism:

“Those who want to find a ‘Self’ in Buddhism argue as follows:  ‘It is true that the Buddha analyses being into matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, and says that none of these things is self.  But he does not say that there is no self at all in man or anywhere else, apart from these aggregates.’  This position is untenable for two reasons:  One is that, according to the Buddha’s teaching, a being is composed only of these Five Aggregates, and nothing more.  Nowhere has he said that there was anything more than these Five Aggregates in a being.  The second reason is that the Buddha denied categorically, in unequivocal terms, in more than one place, the existence of Atman[ix], Soul, Self, or Ego within man or without, or anywhere else in the universe.” (56-57)  

In spite of teaching that there is no soul, but that there is rebirth, Sakyamuni Buddha still held to a conviction that the universe is not amoral.  Concerning Buddha’s conviction that this is a moral universe, Jones concludes:  “He could not claim that this conviction had a sound basis in the rational, analytical part of his teaching; indeed, it would seem to me not too strong to say that there is a hopelessly irreconcilable contradiction between the two” (36).  But, if there is no soul, why does a Buddhist go to such great lengths to be free from rebirth, and why is it said that Sakyamuni proclaimed at the time of his “last” birth (Dialogues of the Buddha II, 12), that it was his last birth?  WHOSE last birth?  "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Matthew 16:26).


In the popular story of Sakyamuni’s final birth and renunciation of worldly pleasures, several questions arise.  If Sakyamuni had really passed through virtually countless lives previous to that one, why did his father need to shelter him from the harsher side of life- why was Sakyamuni so startled by the sites of death, poverty, and old age, when he finally ventured out of the palace to see things for himself?  If we are to take the Jataka re-birth tales at face value, he would have been quite familiar with all of these harsher realities of life- in fact according to the Jataka tales, he was sometimes a participant in the cruel side of life.   “…within this group is the one which depicts the bodhisatta[x] himself as being, in one way or another, involved in killing or injuring.  The stories concerned are JSS 93, 128, 129, 152, 178, 233, 238, 246, 315, 319, 384.” (Jones, 61).  Among the 547 Jataka stories, he is twice said to have been a robber, once a gambler, and twice a giant snake (Jones, 18-19).  He would also have been familiar with suffering according to Jataka 538, which states he had to spend eighty thousand years in the Ussada hell[xi] (Jones, 43).  So why was Sakyamuni so struck by the fact of death or suffering, as if he had never experienced or seen these things?  The common answer given to this question is that previous lives must be remembered in a state of meditation, when the mind is free from distraction, and more capable of reaching these deep levels of memory.  But how can the mind store such information when the mind and everything of which people are said to consist (the five aggregates) are said to not survive death?  Actually though, this popular story of the Buddha’s renunciation is not found in the Pali Canon. 

In the Pali Canon, as a baby, the Buddha was said to have walked uprightly and proclaimed that it was his last birth:  “Chief am I in the world, Eldest am I in the world, Foremost am I in the world!  This is the last birth!” (D II, 12)  How can a baby be so mature as to speak these lofty words if there is no enduring soul?  In the non-canonical story, the problem of anatta arises because meditation does not explain how the 35 year old bodhisatta could “remember” that which according to his own doctrine was not an enduring soul.  In the canonical story, the problem of anatta is still there, because his doctrine of no enduring soul stands in contrast to a baby speaking from the perspective of an enduring soul, relieved to see the end in sight.  

The doctrinal mismatch between anatta and rebirth leaves the intellect unsatisfied, while an attempt is made to appease the conscience with an invented morality:  “When two propositions conflict, the simplest possible solution is to ignore one of them- which is precisely what the Jataka does.  There is no contradiction in the Jataka between the doctrine of anatta (no soul) and the doctrine of a series of lives of the same individual because the doctrine of anatta is simply ignored” (Jones, 39).  Sakyamuni did not want to let go of morality, but his system is one which leads people to contradictions, both intellectually and in “merit distribution”-  both the villainous and the virtuous are said to have no soul connection from one life to the next- and thus the ones receiving a particular “lot” are not the ones who “earned” it.

But apart from these difficulties with rebirth, what about real life cases of people who claim to have been reborn?  Ernest Valea, in his online article “Past-life recall as modern proof for reincarnation,” (www.comparativereligion.com/reincarnation1.html) quotes Ian Stevenson, who is one of the foremost authorities in the field of re-birth/reincarnation research: 

“In my experience, nearly all so-called previous personalities evoked through hypnotism are entirely imaginary and a result of the patient’s eagerness to obey the hypnotist’s suggestion.  It is no secret that we are all highly suggestible under hypnosis.  This kind of investigation can actually be dangerous.  Some people have been terribly frightened by their supposed memories, and in other cases the previous personality evoked has refused to go away for a long time (Omni Magazine 10 (4): 76 (1988)).” 

Valea points out that this phenomenon is called “false memory syndrome,” and that, “Courts of law know these dangers and most do not accept testimonies produced under hypnosis or from witnesses that have been previously hypnotized.”  What about other cases, where the “memories” are not evoked by hypnotism?  Valea brings our attention to the demographic of people who are usually targeted for this:

”Almost all cases of spontaneous past life recall experiences are produced by children who manifest them between the age of two and five, when their spiritual discernment is almost nonexistent, especially concerning spirits.  This situation makes them easier to be manipulated by external spirits.  As the child grows up, the entities lose their power of influence upon him, which could explain why the past life memories are lost after the age of 10.” 

In one case researched by Stevenson, a person actually had two personalities expressing themselves at the same time.   As in the cases of the children, where manifestations took place when the individuals were at a vulnerable time in their lives (especially if their parents were taking them to centers of spiritual activity), spirit possession or the person acting as a “medium” is a likelier explanation.  This interference by outside spirits shows the extremely subjective nature of rebirth research.  Valea concludes with Stevenson’s conclusion:

“For this reason Ian Stevenson, the well known researcher of this phenomena, was forced to admit in his book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation that the cases he studied, as the very title of his book indicates, are only suggesting reincarnation and cannot be considered proofs for it.  Stevenson admitted: ‘All the cases I’ve investigated so far have shortcomings.  Even taken together, they do not offer anything like proof’ (Omni Magazine 10(4): 76 (1988).  If this is the case, they could also be suggestive of spirit possession.”

Seeing the possibility of outside spirits to deceive in this way, how are we to suppose that a monk or nun who is meditating is immune to this outside influence?  Meditation actually swings the door wide open to such an influence.  The monk or nun may experience many things during their meditations and count them as confirmations of the Buddha’s doctrine.  Are they though?  Can we really count this as a confirmation when they were trying to have such “memories” in the first place, and when the experiences are largely subjective?   Even if a person can reveal information they would not naturally know, this information is something which outside spirits could know and transmit. 

Why does a person need to be under hypnosis, or have the undiscerning mind of a child, or be in an altered state of consciousness during meditation, in order to have such “memories?”  If rebirth is “for real” why isn’t it obvious among the billions of people in the world, regardless of cultural background?  Why can’t babies speak the language of their “former life” or any language (besides gobbly gook) for that matter?  This is probably the reason for inventing the doctrine of anatta (explains the lack of memory).  This places the dilemma in the moral realm though (no real justice without a permanent soul) and still does not solve the practical problem of having a connecting point from life to life.  “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).


Childers in his Pali Dictionary, presents a very definitive answer to what nibbanam (nirvana) is.  He states, “But a creed which begins by saying that existence is suffering, must end by saying that release from existence is the highest good, and accordingly we find that annihilation is the goal of Buddhism, the supreme reward held out to the faithful observer of its precepts.” (265) “Annihilation” may not be the best choice of words here, but for another reason than one might think.  Walpola Rahula, points out, “Nirvana is definitely no annihilation of self, because there is no self to annihilate.  If at all, it is the annihilation of the illusion, of the false idea of self.” (37)

In explaining why some canonical verses speak of nirvana as “bliss” and others as “extinction”, Childers shows that both are meant, but that the “bliss” is only a temporary state before final extinction:

“I have shown that the goal of Buddhism is annihilation, and that Nirvana is a brief period of bliss followed by eternal death.  It is of course conceivable that Sakyamuni should have made Arhatship[xii] the summum bonum held out to his disciples.  It may even appear incredible to some that having imagined a state of blissful purity resulting from a virtuous life, he should have made it end in annihilation.  That he did so is however certain, and it must be remembered that his denunciations of the evil and suffering of existence are levelled not merely against transmigration but against all existence whatever, and that the bliss of the Arhat is chiefly based on the consciousness that he has rooted out Karma and may any day cease to exist.” (268)

Rahula, likewise states that nirvana is ceasing to exist: “There is a word parinibbuto used to denote the death of the Buddha or an Arahant who has realized Nirvana, but it does not mean ‘entering into Nirvana’.  Parinibbuto simply means ‘fully passes away’, ‘fully blown out’ or ‘fully extinct’, because the Buddha or an Arahant has no re-existence after his death.” (41)

In Buddhist cosmology there are said to be 31 realms of existence, including various heavens, hells, the earth, etc.  In all 31 of these however, many of which are heavenly “bliss” states, none of them are “nirvana,” because all of these are said to be prone to impermanence and suffering.  When even a heaven cannot be nirvana, we see again that nirvana is beyond existence.  Among the 31 realms of existence, the top 20 of these are also said to parallel the meditative states.  In other words a person who meditates is supposed to be able to experience what these top 20 realms represent.  The highest meditative state a person can achieve, also represents most closely what nirvana is supposed to be: 

“A ninth stage known as the ‘attainment of cessation’ (nirodha-samapatti) is also mentioned in some sources.  In this stage all mental operations are completely suspended, and even heartbeat and respiration cease.  Life subsists simply in the form of residual bodily heat.  A person can, we are told, remain in this state for several days, eventually emerging from it spontaneously at a predetermined time.  This condition is held to be the closest anyone can come to experiencing final nirvana while still alive, and is described as ‘touching nirvana with the body’.” (Keown, 91-92)

When even mental operations are suspended, we see that it’s not a far step from there to complete cessation.  And this is consistent with the Pali Canon teaching of a progression towards more and more detachment, finally culminating in detachment from existence.

In a discussion of whether nirvana is taught as a state of bliss or cessation in the Pali Canon, Jones comments, “If this is the case [nirvana as bliss], I can find no basis for it in the Four Nikayas.  So far as I am aware, there is not one word in the Four Nikayas which lends support to the idea of nibbana as some positive, transcendent state of bliss.”  (152) In a footnote to this discussion, Jones brings to light the most commonly held view among Theravada scholars:  “It is interesting to note that, while Jayatilleke, 1963, pp. 475f, does adopt a transcendentalist view of nibbana, his former pupil Kalupahana, 1976, pp. 87f, rebukes him for this and reasserts the more commonly (in Theravada circles) held cessationist view.” (202)

A.L. Herman in his article “Two Dogmas of Buddhism,”[xiii] points out other difficulties with nirvana, relating to both Mahayana[xiv] and Theravada Buddhism.  The more recent Mahayana school of Buddhism tends to hold more to the view of nirvana as bliss, whereas the more orthodox Theravada school of Buddhism usually holds to nirvana as cessation.  Herman shows that regardless of which interpretation of nirvana is taken, it is a dogma in dilemma:

“The dilemma of nirvana holds that if nirvana is seen negatively as the total absence of passion and desire and feeling then this is tantamount to being dead, and who wants to pursue a goal that leads to death?  Nirvana is suicide on this first interpretation.  On the other hand, if nirvana is seen positively as the presence of peace and tranquility wherein all that I desire is fulfilled then desire is not ended or blown out and the whole intent of nirvana is contradicted:  nirvana is inconsistent on this second interpretation.  But, the dilemma of nirvana continues, nirvana must be seen either negatively or positively; there is no third alternative.  The conclusion of the dilemma is then that nirvana is either suicidal obliteration or inconsistent continuance.” (170)

Herman concludes with this somber note:  “The effect of retaining these ill-founded dogmas in the face of these philosophic problems would be (has been) to move Buddhism away from empirical truth and reason and closer to either ‘a questionable pragmatism,’ where truth is measured by sheer usefulness, or towards ‘a non-rationalism and mysticism’ where truth is abandoned altogether.” (174) In the footnote to this conclusion, Herman further explains, “…’a questionable pragmatism’ and ‘a non-rationalism and mysticism,’ were precisely the routes subsequently taken respectively by Southern or Theravada Buddhism, on the one hand, and Northern or Mahayana, Buddhism, on the other.” (174)

If we say that the more recent Mahayana view is correct, it flies in the face of the Pali Canon, it being the nearest in time to what Sakyamuni actually taught.  If Mahayanists wish to assert a different interpretation, on what higher authority is this based?  This would be to negate the authority of the Buddha, and rely on mystical revelations instead.  If on the other hand, we concede that the view in the Pali Canon of cessation is indeed what the Buddha taught, then speaking plainly, the Buddhist way amounts to “if you are really good, you get to be extinguished.”  It is no wonder Mahayanists have tried to change this doctrine, but in vain as there is no authority to back up the claim.  The authority behind the original claim (of cessation) is also quite lacking though.  Instead of desire leading to suffering, and suffering being the chief characteristic of existence, there is a way of hope and renewal.  Instead of exiting from existence, Jesus Christ offers a way to quench thirst in order to live meaningfully and eternally:  Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."" (John 4: 13-14).


The system of Karma is one which has an appeal to people at the popular level, making it seem that everything that happens is based on what is deserved-- if you do good, you receive good; if you do evil, you receive evil.  This seems to explain inequalities in the world, as well as apparent injustices.  But, let’s take a closer look at the implications of this system.  Firstly, karma is said to be a natural law just like gravity, only that it governs morality instead of governing matter, although matter is also said to be affected.  If it is just a natural law, doesn’t that mean it could be subject to mutations just as the laws of genetics are occasionally influenced by an unexpected (and in most cases harmful) factor?  How could we place our trust in such a system?  Concerning this dilemma, John Jones points out that, “The morality of karmic consequences seems to call in question the strictly impersonal nature of karmic processes since, if these are moral processes, the only type of morality for which we have empirical evidence is that associated with personality.  There is thus a tension between the impersonal and the moral attributes of karma” (37). 

The supposed effects of karma are listed clearly in the Pali Canon (Middle Length Sayings III, p. 248- 253):  “This course is conducive to shortness of life-span, brahman youth, that is to say making onslaught on creatures, being cruel, bloody-handed, intent on injuring and killing, and without mercy to living creatures.”… The opposite of this is as follows:  “This course is conducive to length of life-span, brahman youth, that is to say, if one, by getting rid of onslaught on creatures [204] abstains from onslaught on creatures, (and with) the stick laid aside, the sword laid aside, lives scrupulous, merciful, kindly and compassionate to all living creatures.”  Since the opposite results are easy to guess, and for the sake of brevity, I’ll list a few more with only the negative consequences. The ellipses (…) in these quotes are in the text itself (not something I’ve omitted): 

“This course is conducive to many illnesses, brahman youth, that is to say being by nature harmful to creatures with his hand…or with a sword.”…”This course is conducive to ugliness, brahman youth, that is to say being wrathful…and evincing…resentment.”… ”This course is conducive to being of little account, brahman youth, that is to say being jealous-minded…of respect and reverence paid them.”… ”This course is conducive to poverty, brahman youth, that is to say not being a giver…of bed, lodging, light.”… ”This course is conducive to being in a lowly family, brahman youth, that is to say being one who…does not honour one who should be…honoured.”… ”This course is conducive to being weak in wisdom, brahman youth, that is to say…not being one who asks: ‘…Or what, being done by me, is for long for my welfare and happiness?’”

Thus the causes of a short life, illnesses, ugliness, being of little account, poverty, being in a lowly family, and being weak in wisdom, are spelled out for us- these things are due to bad deeds, words or thoughts done in previous lives.  That these are descriptions of causes from previous lives, can be seen in the first consequence:  “But if, at the breaking up of the body after dying he does not arise in the sorrowful ways, the bad bourn, the Downfall, Niraya Hell[xv], but comes to human status, then wherever he is born (in a new existence) he is of a short life-span.” This is the way karma explains inequalities in life- according to what people deserve.  In this system the poor deserve to be poor, and the rich deserve to be rich, etc.  This type of thinking seems to place the crippled person in the same category as a criminal in jail, and the person with material possessions, in the hero category.  Are these conclusions really warranted?

All of the complex moral effects in a person’s life are supposed to be recorded, not by an intelligence, but by a mere energy force.  Then, to compound the problem, the person who dies is said to have no soul, raising the question of how this accumulated moral bank account is reassigned.  Karma is the conscience of the Buddhist system, but its practical operation and existence is left unexplained.  Jones writes of the Buddha, “He seems to have been convinced that, however much the rational, analytical part of his teaching- especially the doctrine of anatta- might seem to deny it, the laws governing sentient life on this planet and beyond are not amoral.” (36)  The Buddha couldn’t deny morality, and yet he also couldn’t synchronize it with his doctrine.  Aside from these difficulties though, we should ask ourselves, do we really want what we deserve, strictly speaking?

The system of karma supposes that a good deed can make up for a bad deed, like a bank account of merit which could be added to or taken from.  This kind of reasoning applied to morality would not hold up in a court of law (judges don’t pardon crimes based on balancing out the good deeds against the bad deeds in the life of the accused).  Biblically speaking, morality is not like a bank account which can be balanced out subtracting bad deeds from good deeds, or vice versa.  Rather, morality is a set of obligations based on relationships.  Children have certain obligations to respect their parents, as parents have obligations to care for their children.  Husbands and wives, friends, workers and employees, etc. all have certain obligations to one another.  If a husband cheats on his wife, but then gives his wife a wonderful present, will he then break even?  Will he have amended his violation as if it were a business deal?  There is such a thing as forgiveness in relationships, but morality is not just an impersonal formula that can be treated as a bank account.  Likewise, if a person admitted to murder, but then told the judge that even though he had committed the murder, he had also given his life’s savings to a widow in his neighborhood, would that judge cancel the punishment for the murder?  He had violated his obligations to love his neighbor (whom he murdered).  The crime of murder would still be punished, no matter how many good deeds the person had done.

Conversely, if a person lives an upright life and follows all of the laws of the land, does the government then send this person a reward for their good behavior?  That person was simply fulfilling their obligations, so while the government would be appreciative, they would simply see the person as behaving as they should.  They don’t get any bonus points for that.  Violations count against us, but good behavior is simply expected.  Even if a person does one hundred good deeds, but one bad deed, they have fulfilled their duty one hundred times, but have one violation on their record.  What would we think of an employer who pays their employees 100 times, but the time after that doesn’t pay them, because of their supposed merit in already paying 100 times?  Or, what would we think of a hot-tempered teacher who refrains from temper loss with absent-minded students 100 times, but the time after that lets loose and gives one of them a good kick?  Does that mean the teacher then has 99 “points” (100 good deeds minus 1 bad deed)?  The teacher has fulfilled an obligation 100 times and has one violation on record.

People are obliged to forgive others for violations done to them, because they themselves have their own lists of violations, though perhaps in areas differing from those offending them:  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).  God on the other hand is not “obliged” to forgive, because He is without sin.  A judge in a courtroom, though not without sin, likewise has no obligation to pardon a crime.

According to the Bible, not only “good” deeds are expected of us.  Our obligation is to do our best:  "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 46-48).  If a person lives a horrible life, accumulating a long list of cruel violations, but then reforms and lives the rest of life as an upstanding citizen, is the past then balanced out?  The reformed life lived was already an obligation, but the former list of offenses is still on record.  Likewise, when a criminal has finished serving time for their crime, it doesn’t erase the crime, because their best was expected all along.  Violations continue to accumulate throughout a person’s life, and included in that list is the violation of not forgiving others for violations against us. 

The biblical system is an entirely personal one.  Positive or negative morals cannot be separated from relationships as being mere “points.”  To rebel against morality is not just to make a bad choice or to accumulate negative points.  It is all relational.  The laws of the Bible are summed up in two commands— love God and love people.  To reject morals is to rebel against a person—the One who created life.  To properly acknowledge obligations is also to change our relational standing:  “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  (Galatians 3: 24).  First comes the law and thus a realization of the extent of violations.  With that realization, comes a realization of the love of Christ, who being innocent died on the cross for our sins.  With that realization comes a yielding to Jesus Christ.  Then things that were once “obligations,” become things which are welcome:  "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  (John 15: 15) 

On the other hand, to embrace morality, but to reject the relational aspect of morality is like refusing a ride from a ship going across the ocean and trying to swim that incredible distance.  The Bible describes such a person as cursed, because they depend on their own abilities and not on God:  “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’"  (Galatians 3: 10).  When our faith is in Christ the violations that were against us are nailed to the cross.

It is hopeless for people to climb out of the mire of their misdeeds, by their own abilities.  And yet there is hope for everyone.  God’s offer of forgiveness is not something that can be earned, or demanded, but is a free gift of mercy for all who realize the extent of their violations and truly repent- putting their trust in God, and not in themselves:  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9).       The Buddhist Road Map pt.2

[i] Sakyamuni means sage of the Sakya clan (also known as Siddhattha Gotama- “THE” Buddha most people are referring to when saying “the Buddha,” though there are many Buddhas in Buddhism).

[ii] The doctrine that there is no permanent “self” or “soul” that a person possesses.

[iii] The verses of the Jataka Stories are considered to be canonical, but the narratives are considered to be more in the category of commentary.

[iv] The four Nikayas are in the second “basket” of the Canon, called the Sutta Pitaka.  There are actually five Nikayas in this basket, but the fifth (the Khuddaka Nikaya) is considered to be less reliable, containing later additions.

[v] The Pali Canon is the doctrinal source for Theravada Buddhists.  Versions of this vary between countries (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand), but there is agreement on the majority of texts which should be included in the Canon.  The Pali Canon is divided into three “baskets”- the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. 

[vi] The five khandas of which a person consists are said to be matter, sensations, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

[vii] The Sutras refer to the second basket of the Pali Canon (the Sutta Pitaka).

[viii] The five aggregates (khandas) referred to in endnote 6.

[ix] The Pali of this word is atta.  Rahula defines Atman as, “soul, self, ego.” (142)

[x] “A being totally dedicated to the attainment of the perfect enlightenment of a Buddha, for which one has to develop the perfections for many aeons.” (Pesala, 110)

[xi] One of many hells (purgatories) in Buddhist cosmology.

[xii] The state of one who is an Arahant (also spelled Arhat).  Rahula defines an Arahant as, “one who is free from all fetters, defilements and impurities through the realization of Nirvana in the fourth and final stage, and who is free from rebirth.” (142)

[xiii] Herman explains his use of the word dogma in a footnote:  “I see nothing sinister in the use of the word ‘dogma’ to describe a fundamental precept or authoritative tenet.  Many Buddhists like to believe that they are dogma-free.  I would suggest that no one is dogma-free, and to believe differently is to believe in at least one dogma.” (160)  The two dogmas he points to are nirvana and the assertion that impermanence always leads to sorrow.

[xiv] Mahayana Buddhism is found mostly in China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Taiwan and Vietnam.

[xv] One of many hells (purgatories) in Buddhist cosmology.



© 2009 No portion of this site is to be copied or used unless kept in its original format- the way it appears. Articles can be reproduced in portions for ones personal use. Any other use is to have the permission of  Let Us Reason Ministries first. Thank You.

We always appreciate hearing  from those of you that have benefited by the articles on our website. We love hearing the testimonies and praise reports. We are here to help those who have questions on Bible doctrine, new teachings and movements.  Unfortunately we cannot answer every email. Our time is valuable just as yours is, please keep in mind, we only have time to answer sincere inquiries from those who need help. For those who have another point of view, we will answer emails that want to engage in authentic dialogue, not in arguments. We will use discretion in answering any letters. 

  Let Us Reason Ministries

We thank you for your support in our ministry