The “Love” Of Buddha

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It is written:

1 Timothy 1:5 (J.B. Philips New Testament In Modern English)-The ultimate aim of the Christian ministry, after all, is to produce the love which springs from a pure heart, a good conscience and a genuine faith.

The Christian religion is focused on love-the ultimate love of God in giving Jesus, and the love that saves us when we are baptized as believers who have repented of sin (Acts 2:37-38). The Holy Spirit works in the heart and life of the Christian as he grows by the Word of God and brings forth over time the fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23-But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Love is one of the defining trademarks of authentic Christianity: love as was taught and practiced by Jesus Himself in His life (Galatians 2:20; John 13:1-2). This love is in stark contrast to the official teachings of many of the world religions, including Buddhism.

The Buddha (whose real name was Siddhartha Gautama) taught that any attachments to the world are to be avoided in the pursuit of “enlightenment.” One former Buddhist monk illustrates this powerfully with the well-known and heartbreaking facts of the Buddha’s son.

“Those who are not really familiar with Buddhism might think that Tibetan Buddhism teaches love as one of its main tenants of faith, but it does not. Anyone who would argue that Buddhism is about love does not know the true story of Buddha’s family. Buddha’s real name was Prince Siddhartha Gautama. He was born the only son of a royal family more than twenty-five hundred years ago in modern-day Nepal. He married his cousin, Princess Yasodhara, the daughter of his father’s sister, and they had a baby boy. The night Prince Siddhartha planned to sneak out of the royal castle to chase his dream of finding enlightenment, he was told about the birth of his son, to which he replied, “An impediment has come into being, a bond has come into being.” 1 Prince Siddhartha’s son was given the name Rahula, which means “fetter” or “impediment.” A physical fetter is a metal cuff that is chained around the ankles of a prisoner. From a very young age, Tibetan Buddhists are taught that showing love and affection toward one’s family members is a fetter, or impediment, to achieving enlightenment. In order to attain enlightenment, which is the greatest quest for any Tibetan, you must cut off your feelings of love and emotion toward those who are closest to you. When Prince Siddhartha left the castle, he did so under the darkness of night because he was afraid his wife would cry and beg him to stay. He was emotionless and severed all ties with his family. Although he was the only son of his father and had a wife and son, he abandoned his responsibilities to his family to seek what he thought was good for himself. When Rahula grew a little older, many nights, he would cry out for his father. Word was sent all around the kingdom to let the prince know that his son wanted only to see his father. When Rahula was about six or seven years old, the Buddha returned, but not to stay. Rahula was fascinated to finally see his father. He was filled with excitement and is recorded as saying, “[ Father], even your shadow is pleasing to me.” 2 But Prince Siddhartha remained unfazed by the love of his son, treating both his wife and his son with extreme sterility. He was holy and they were not. He was the Buddha, and to show emotion to them would have weakened his enlightenment.” (Tenzin Lahkpa, Eugene BachLeaving Buddha: A Tibetan Monk’s Encounter with the Living God, 389-408 (Kindle Edition): New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House)

Through Jesus and His Word, we learn how we ought to live as God’s people. Even though we fall short, we continue trying to live as Jesus teaches us-and through Him we find salvation!

To all my Buddhist friends: the God of Heaven loves you. Love is not an impediment to life: love is what life is about! In fact, the Psalmist reminds us that the entire universe and everything in it was made as a direct result of God’s lovingkindness (Psalm 136).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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