Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tibet and Buddhism





Dr. Michael Youssef, in one of the devotionals very rightly says he has heard of an unusual place of worship called The Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas. There are thousands of likenesses of Buddha inside the shrine—each one is a little different than the others. They were created so that a worshiper could come, find one that looks something like him, and worship it.
The concept of self-worship is not confined to Buddhism. Today, we see it permeating culture. It is a marketing technique used over and over again to sell everything from makeup to home decorations. The packaging may vary but the message is the same: me, myself, and I.
We do not have to travel to a foreign land to practice self-worship; it is all around us. If we are not careful, we will turn our allegiance away from God to things that glorify our flesh.
Thankfully, we do not have to go any further than our knees to receive His forgiveness and cleansing for our sins. If you find that you have drifted away from glorifying God, and are preoccupied with self, know that God is available to show you a better way, but you must make the choice to follow Him.
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me from diverting my worship from you to myself. May my life glorify You alone.  I love you, Lord. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
   
What do Tibetan Buddhists believe?

Tibetan Buddhism's goal of spiritual development is to achieve a special enlightenment called Buddhahood in order to best help all other sentient beings attain this same state. Buddhahood is a state of perfect omniscience, attained by self effort and/or adherence to teachings. (Omniscience is the state of knowing all things, having total knowledge).

The great mystic Padmasambhava (more commonly known in the region as Guru Rinpoche) merged tantric Buddhism with the local Bön religion to form what is now recognized as Tibetan Buddhism. While there are many forms of Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism adheres to the following as some of its main principles:

--That all existence and manifestation can be found in one’s experience, that that experience is with one’s own mind, and that Mind is the source and the creator of all things.

--That Mind is an infinitely vast, unfathomably deep complex of marvels, its immensity and depth being inaccessible to the uninitiated.

--“Buddha-Mind is a "Great Illuminating-Void Awareness". The experience of enlightenment of the void is simple to state. It is the experience of awareness only, awareness that is aware of nothing at all except the existence of awareness itself.

--That the infinite compassion, merit, and marvels will spontaneously forth when this Buddha-Mind is fully unfolded.

When a Buddhist exalts one's mind as the pinnacle of all experience and knowledge, it is really an exaltation of the self.


 

 When a Tibetan Buddhist prays, they set up a prayer flag. "Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all."

So if the wind blows over the flag while you are walking near it, you will derive some benefit as its sacred air then passes over you...

To sum up, Tibetan Buddhism teaches by self-effort to become a little god. No? Yes, because they teach that one can attain by self-effort a perfect omniscience and a perfect compassion. However at the root of that perfect knowledge, is voiding one's self of all sentience. Being aware of nothing is the goal, so that there are no hindrances to being able to help other people. First I must become perfect by emptying myself of all desire, so than I can in turn help you, who is not perfect, being filled with desires.

Further, this little god-hood continues in a special level in Arya-bodhisattvas. These are ones who have attained a higher level and are able to escape the cycle of death and rebirth but compassionately choose to remain in this world to assist others in reaching nirvana or Buddhahood. Yet no one can choose to escape the cycle of death, (and there is no rebirth, except for being born again in Christ) for God said,"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39)


 

For Tibetans, their religion is inherently linked to their culture and identity so they are very reluctant to convert. In South Asia where Buddhism is often the dominant religion, villages have expelled whole families when only one member converted to Christianity.

Besides social pressure, another obstacle is that Tibetan Buddhists have a different understanding of spiritual terminology than Christians. Buddhists do not understand terms such as God, sin, new birth, salvation, heaven and hell the same way Christians understand them.

For Buddhists, there is no such thing as a soul, which Christians consider a person. Buddhists view the soul similar to a rainbow composed of many elements but not existing in a distinct form.

“The Buddhists have the concept of emptiness, there is no essential reality, whereas Christians believe there is something very concrete that God has created and a future that he will extend the ideal form of that creation,” explained a Tibetan.

Tibetan Buddhists contrast with Christians by focusing on how a person lives his life rather than what he believes. Consequentially, Buddhism is a ritualistic religion that some say is more of a lifestyle than a religion.

However the entire exercise is ironic, because though a Buddhist believes that all existence and manifestation can be found in one’s experience, it is ultimately the goal to destroy one' awareness of one's experience, and become void. Nothingness is the goal. How hopeless. How futile.


Most Buddhists consider Jesus to be an “enlightened master” but not the Son of God. During an interview with “Christianity Today,” the Dalai Lama said that Jesus had lived previous lives and His purpose was to teach a message of tolerance and compassion, to help people to become better human beings. And this is the primary problem with the Dalai Lama and all of Buddhism. While some aspects of the Dalai Lama’s message are undeniably positive, and while most Buddhists are indeed kind-hearted “good” human beings, their denial of the biblical Jesus infinitely outweighs any positive aspects of Buddhism.

A Buddhist is without hope to begin with, and then spends a lifetime destroying any glimmer of any hope after that to become one big void. I can only see that despair is at the end of the road for a Buddhist.

Buddhism has deities, though Buddha himself is not generally thought of as a god. The Tibetan deities are, the Five Great Buddha’s of Wisdom which are able to overcome a particular evil by performing a particular good, the Wrathful Deities, and Tara, the savior goddess.

Nor is Jesus simply an answer among many others. All the world's religions have some level of truth in them, but ultimately, Jesus is the only answer to the human condition. Meditation, works, prayer—none of these can make us worthy of the infinite and eternal gift of heaven. None of these can undo the sin we've done. Only when Christ pays our sin debt and we place our faith in Him can we be saved. Only then is sin covered, hope assured, and life filled with eternal meaning. I feel deep compassion for the Tibetan monks who have a desire to help humanity. Who devote their entire lifetimes to prayer and helps for their fellow man, Who even sacrifice their own lives in hope that their death will make a positive difference. But all their efforts are in vain. God does not listen to sinners. So the Tibetan monk's prayer is unheard of by the only One who can answer. Tara does not exist. No Buddhist created anything of this earth. No person can become omniscient. Only God is omniscient.

Finally, it is only in Christianity that we can know that we are saved. We do not have to rely on some fleeting experience, nor do we rely on our own good works or fervent meditation. Nor do we put our faith in a false god whom we are trying to "believe-into-existence." We have a living and true God, an historically anchored faith, an abiding and testable revelation of God (Scripture), and a guaranteed home in heaven with God.

The Scriptures reveal that Jesus is God in human form, slain for the sins of the world (John 3:16). Yes, Jesus taught tolerance and compassion, but that was not the primary reason for His coming. Jesus came to provide salvation for all those who receive Him as Savior. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus provides salvation for us because we are absolutely incapable of saving ourselves. Due to their explicit rejection of this truth, the Dalai Lama is, sadly, not enlightened.

So, what does this mean for you? Jesus is the ultimate reality! Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for your sins. God offers all of us forgiveness and salvation if we will simply receive His gift to us (John 1:12), believing Jesus to be the Savior who laid down His life for us, His friends. If you place your trust in Jesus as your Savior, you will have absolute assurance of eternal life in heaven. God will forgive your sins, cleanse your soul, renew your spirit, give you abundant life in this world, and eternal life in the next world. How can we reject such a precious gift? How can we turn our backs on God who loved us enough to sacrifice Himself for us?

So let me summarize the three ways we have seen that the death of Christ saves us from judgment and gains for us eternal life. First, it is a ransom that repays the tremendous debt we owe to God for our sin. Second, it is a substitution. He bears our sin and our curse in Himself so that we can be freed from guilt and punishment. Third, it is a vindication of God’s righteousness so that He can be both just and the one who justifies Him who has faith in Jesus.
 
My prayer now is that this would be clear to all of you—that the death of Jesus Christ is the only way that any of us can escape the wrath of God and find peace with God. And I pray not only that it be clear but that it would be compelling. My heart’s desire and prayer to God is that you might be saved. The way is open. The provision is full and free. He justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Put your whole trust in him and he will be a whole Savior for you.

Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju


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