Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, S.J.: “Is it possible to be a Buddhist Christian?”

Is it possible to be a Buddhist Christian?
A talk by Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ
Thursday, September 3, 4:30-6:00pm
Conference Room 1, Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall, Loyola Heights Campus
Organized by the Loyola Schools Chinese Studies Program
For reservations, call Ritch at (63-2) 426-6001 local 5280 or Lally at local 5208

Note: I was not able to attend this talk.  If there is someone who has slides or transcript for Fr. Dy’s talk, I would be happy to get a copy.  But here is a comparison of Buddhism and Christianity from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Buddhism vs Christianity

The fundamental tenets of Buddhism are marked by grave defects that not only betray its inadequacy to become a religion of enlightened humanity, but also bring into bold relief its inferiority to the religion of Jesus Christ. In the first place, the very foundation on which Buddhism rests—the doctrine of karma with its implied transmigrations—is gratuitous and false. This pretended law of nature, by which the myriads of gods, demons, men, and animals are but the transient forms of rational beings essentially the same, but forced to this diversity in consequence of varying degrees of merit and demerit in former lives, is a huge superstition in flat contradiction to the recognized laws of nature, and hence ignored by men of science. Another basic defect in primitive Buddhism is its failure to recognize man’s dependence on a supreme God. By ignoring God and by making salvation rest solely on personal effort, Buddha substituted for the Brahmin religion a cold and colourless system of philosophy. It is entirely lacking in those powerful motives to right conduct, particularly the motive of love, that spring from the consecration of religious men and women to the dependence on a personal all-loving God. Hence it is that Buddhist morality is in the last analysis a selfish utilitarianism. There is no sense of duty, as in the religion of Christ, prompted by reverence for a supreme Lawgiver, by love for a merciful Father, by personal allegiance to a Redeemer. Karma, the basis of Buddhist morality, is like any other law of nature, the observance of which is prompted by prudential considerations. Not infrequently one meets the assertion that Buddha surpassed Jesus in holding out to struggling humanity an end utterly unselfish. This is a mistake. Not to speak of the popular Swarga, or heaven, with its positive, even sensual delights the fact that Nirvana is a negative ideal of bliss does not make it the less an object of interested desire. Far from being an unselfish end, Nirvana is based wholly on the motive of self-love. It thus stands on a much lower level than the Christian ideal, which, being primarily and essentially a union of friendship with God in heaven, appeals to motives of disinterested as well as interested love.

Another fatal defect of Buddhism is its false pessimism. A strong and healthy mind revolts against the morbid view that life is not worth living, that every form of conscious existence is an evil. Buddhism stands condemned by the voice of nature the dominant tone of which is hope and joy. It is a protest against nature for possessing the perfection of rational life. The highest ambition of Buddhism is to destroy that perfection by bringing all living beings to the unconscious repose of Nirvana. Buddhism is thus guilty of a capital crime against nature, and in consequence does injustice to the individual. All legitimate desires must be repressed. Innocent recreations are condemned. The cultivation of music is forbidden. Researches in natural science are discountenanced. The development of the mind is limited to the memorizing of Buddhist texts and the study of Buddhist metaphysics, only a minimum of which is of any value. The Buddhist ideal on earth is a state of passive indifference to everything. How different is the teaching of Him who came that men might have life and have it more abundantly. Again Buddhist pessimism is unjust to the family. Marriage is held in contempt and even abhorrence as leading to the procreation of life. In thus branding marriage as a state unworthy of man, Buddhism betrays its inferiority to Christianity, which recommends virginity but at the same time teaches that marriage is a sacred union and a source of sanctification. Buddhist pessimism likewise does injustice to society. It has set the seal of approval on the Brahmin prejudice against manual labor. Since life is not worth living, to labour for the comforts and refinements of civilized life is a delusion. The perfect man is to subsist not by the labour of his hands but on the alms of inferior men. In the religion of Christ, “the carpenter’s son”, a healthier view prevails. The dignity of labour is upheld, and every form of industry is encouraged that tends to promote man’s welfare.

Buddhism has accomplished but little for the uplifting of humanity in comparison with Christianity. One of its most attractive features, which, unfortunately, has become wellnigh obsolete, was its practice of benevolence towards the sick and needy. Between Buddhists and Brahmins there was a commendable rivalry in maintaining dispensaries of food and medicine. But this charity did not, like the Christian form, extend to the prolonged nursing of unfortunates stricken with contagious and incurable diseases, to the protection of foundlings, to the bringing up of orphans, to the rescue of fallen women, to the care of the aged and insane. Asylums and hospitals in this sense are unknown to Buddhism. The consecration of religious men and women to the lifelong service of afflicted humanity is foreign to dreamy Buddhist monasticism. Again, the wonderful efficacy displayed by the religion of Christ in purifying the morals of pagan Europe has no parallel in Buddhist annals. Wherever the religion of Buddha has prevailed, it has proved singularly inefficient to lift society to a high standard of morality. It has not weaned the people of Tibet and Mongolia from the custom of abandoning the aged, nor the Chinese from the practice of infanticide. Outside the establishment of the order of nuns, it has done next to nothing to raise woman from her state of degradation in Oriental lands. It has shown itself utterly helpless to cope with the moral plagues of humanity. The consentient testimony of witnesses above the suspicion of prejudice establishes the fact that at the present day Buddhist monks are everywhere strikingly deficient in that moral earnestness and exemplary conduct which distinguished the early followers of Buddha. In short, Buddhism is all but dead. In its huge organism the faint pulsations of life are still discernible, but its power of activity is gone. The spread of European civilization over the East will inevitably bring about its extinction.

Aiken, Charles Francis. Buddhism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 7 Sept. 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03028b.htm&gt;.

(Note: The converse may be true: the present spread of Buddhism in Christian West is a symptom of the West’s abandonment of its Christian foundation.)

Dom Gerard Calvet of the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte Madeleine du Barroux: What is a monk?

Under the Provencal skies, faithful to the Rule of St Benedict and the Gregorian liturgy, the monks of the Abbey of Sainte-Madeleine perpetuate the great tradition of western monasticism.

The Father Abbot has given exceptional permission for a camera to enter the enclosure: Mass and offices, manual and intellectual work, community chapter or the reception of guests: we are invited to a veritable retreat. (See French video trailere here .)

What is a monk? What purpose does he serve? What is his daily routine, his life, his ideal? Why do some people decide to consecrate themselves to God? What is the Rule of St Benedict?… By listening to the testimonies of the monks, and even more by sharing their day, we understand the eternal reality of a Benedictine Abbey.

“Monks built Europe, but they did not do so intentionally. Their adventure is primarily interior, its unique motivation is thirst for the absolute, thirst for another world. Before being academies of knowledge and cross-roads of civilisations, monasteries are an obstinate reminder that there is another world, of which this world is but the image, the herald, and the prefiguration.”

Dom Gérard Calvet, founder of the Abbey of Le Barroux.

Source: Fr. George David Byers CPM, SSL, STD at Blogging Lourdes
***
The Monk’s Hobbit is glad to see real monks in prayer and work in this new Dark Ages. There is still hope for the preservation of all that is good in the Western Civilization.

You may also read  the comments of Fr. Z in  What does the prayer really say?.

Eilmer of Malmesbury: the Benedictine flying monk and test pilot in the 11th century

By Dr. Richard P. Hallion

Historical Advisor to the Air Force Centennial of Flight office

The first known serious flight attempt in world history occurred about a thousand years before the Wright brothers, in western England. Then, a young Benedictine monk leapt with a crude pair of cloth wings from a watchtower of a church abbey at the beginning of the 11th century. This monk, known to history as Eilmer of Malmesbury, covered a furlong–a distance of approximately 600 feet–before landing heavily and breaking both legs. Afterwards, he remarked that the cause of his crash was that “he had forgotten to provide himself with a tail.” We know of Eilmer’s attempt through the writings of a historian, William of Malmesbury, who mentions the flight in passing. Of more interest to William was that Eilmer, late in his life, was the first person to spot a comet, which people then credited as being an omen of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Eilmer typified the inquisitive spirit of medieval enthusiasts who developed small drawstring toy helicopters, windmills, and sophisticated sails for boats. As well, church artists increasingly showed angels with ever-more-accurate depictions of bird-like wings, detailing the wing’s camber (curvature) that would prove crucial to generating the lifting forces enabling a bird — or an airplane — to fly. This climate of thought led to general acceptance that air was something that could be “worked.” Flying was thus not magical, but could be attained by physical effort and human reasoning. Eilmer was an individual of remarkable daring and boldness. He leapt from the top of a tower, passed over a city wall, descended into a small valley by the River Avon, and then fell into a marshy field (now known as St. Aldhelm’s Meadow) fully 150 feet lower than the point of his leap. Of his wings, we can surmise that they were constructed of ash or willow-wand, covered with a light cloth, and perhaps attached to pivots on either side of a back-brace, with hand-holds so he could hopefully flap them. Given the geography of the Abbey, his landing site, and the account of his flight, he must have remained airborne about 15 seconds. At low altitude he apparently attempted to flap the wings, which threw him out of control. His post-flight assessment qualifies him as the first “test pilot,” for he sought to understand, in technological terms, what happened on the flight and why he crashed. Malmesbury exists today, much changed and quite quaint, near Swindon and Bristol. The Abbey features a stained-glass window of Brother Eilmer. Alas, a nice pub named “The Flying Monk” is no more, replaced by a shopping center.

***

A hobbit thanks to the Lion and the Cardinal and Fr. Z.

Of the Birth of Christ

    by St. John of the Cross [1,2,3]
    When the ancient dispensation
    Its predestin’d course had run,
    Straight from out His bridal chamber
    Came the Bridegroom, God the Son.
    Once on earth, with arms extended
    He embrac’d His heavenly Bride,
    And His blessed Mother laid Him
    In the manger, at her side.
    All around that helpless baby
    Animals were standing by;
    Men sang songs of glad rejoicing;
    Angels join’d their songs on high;
    Celebrating the betrothal
    ‘Twixt the Bridegroom and the Bride
    While the Almighty, in the manger,
    As an infant, wept and cried.
    Gems these tears which human nature
    Brought to the betrothal-rite,
    And the Maid was lost in wonder
    As she witness’d such a sight.
    Man was full of joy and gladness;
    God was weeping, weak and lone.
    Ne’er before throughout the ages
    Had so strange a thing been known.

References

[1] P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, trans., The Complete Works of Saint John of the Cross: Doctor of the Church, ed. by E. Allison Peers, vol. 2, Spiritual Canticle: Poems (Newman Bookshop, Westminster, Maryland, 1946), pp. 464–465.

[2] His baptismal name is John de Yepes (24 June 1542, Hontoveros, Old Castile). It was only in 24 February 1563 when he received the Carmelite habit in Medina that he took the name John of the Cross. See Benedict Zimmerman, “St. John of the Cross,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 8 (Robert Appleton, New York, 1910). 19 Dec. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08480a.htm>.

[3] His Spanish name is Juan de la Cruz, which is now the generic name of all Filipinos.

Rebuilding Sodom and Gomorrah: UN Draft Declaration on Non-Discrimination of Homosexuality

Parliamentary questions

4 December 2008
H-1009/08

ORAL QUESTION for Question Time at the part-session in January 2009 pursuant to Rule 109 of the Rules of Procedure by Dimitrios Papadimoulis to the Council

Subject: EU Presidency’s draft declaration in the UN on the decriminalisation of homosexuality

On 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the French Presidency of the Council proposes to table in the UN, on behalf of the European Union, a draft declaration calling on all governments worldwide to decriminalise homosexuality. The Vatican’s observer to the UN has already stated that his country will oppose the declaration.

Bearing in mind the European Parliament’s resolution (P6_TA(2007)0167) on homophobia in Europe, which calls for worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality and full implementation of Community anti-discrimination legislation, whilst condemning homophobic phenomena in the Member States, will the Council say which countries worldwide criminalise homosexuality? What action will it take further to the French Presidency’s declaration? What measures will it take to implement the European Parliament’s resolution in full? Does it consider that, in examining applications for asylum, account should be taken of whether applicants are persecuted in their country of origin because of their sexual orientation?

——

Regarding homosexuality, the Catechism teaches the following:

2357 ….Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity….

The book of Leviticus forbids homosexuality, together with infanticide and bestiality:

You shall not offer any of your offspring to be immolated to Moloch, thus profaning the name of your God. I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination. You shall not have carnal relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; such things are abhorrent. Do not defile yourselves by any of these things by which the nations whom I am driving out of your way have defiled themselves. Because their land has become defiled, I am punishing it for its wickedness, by making it vomit out its inhabitants. (Lev 18:21-25)

One example of a land that defiled itself with homosexuality is Sodom and Gomorrah. “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them (Gen 19:5),” the men of Sodom asked Lot. Lot answered, “Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they refused the offer: they like men better. So God rained Sodom and Gomorrah with sulfur and fire, and “He overthrew these cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” (Gen 19:24)

As in the days of Lot, the survival of the Western civilization depends only on a few holy men and women.  Without the monks and nuns praying for us, God would have destroyed us a long time ago for our sins–abortion, homosexuality,  and bestiality–to name a few.  But the number of monks and nuns are dwindling….

Benedict XVI on Monasticism

Monastic life is “a reminder of that which is essential and has primacy in the life of all the baptized: to seek Christ and place nothing before his love,” the pope said during a meeting Nov. 20 with members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

“In virtue of the absolute primacy reserved to Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which space is made for the celebration of the glory of God, where one adores and chants the mysterious but real presence of the divine in the world and where one tries to live the new commandment of love and mutual service,” the pope said.

The pope prayed that every monastery would be an “oasis of ascetic life” where outsiders could see how attractive it is to dedicate one’s whole life to Christ “in a climate of silence and contemplation.”

Unless monks and nuns “live the Gospel in a radical way” and are dedicated to contemplation, he said, they cannot be truly monastic and their witness will not be effective. (CNS)

Read in full in CBCP News.

Historical Trivia: After the year 1000 A.D., the abbot of Cluny has jurisdiction over 10,000 monks, distributed through 300 houses in various countries. Next to Rome, Cluny was regarded as the ecclesiastical capital of Europe; and the head of the congregation ranked as a sovereign, with complete control of an immense domain and with the right to mint money and to make war.*

–Joseph McSorley, An Outline of History of The Church by Centuries: From St. Peter to Pius XII (Herder, Bingham, 1944), pp. 310-311.

*Sounds like the cleric class in Dungeons and Dragons.