Page 2 of 7

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:31 am
by mogg
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Coyote wrote:Monasticism - thats one thing we can say with more certainty was influenced by Indian religions such as Buddhism, though I don't know much about the subject.
Hi, Coyote,
I know the parallels are very close but I have never come across any evidence that European monasticism was based on Indian models.
Can you point me to your sources?

:namaste:
Kim
There were Greeks present at early Buddhist councils, so no question that Buddhism was the genesis of European monasticism IMO. Buddhism was the first 'world religion' with an extensive geographical span.
Watch the Ajahn Brahm videos above, I think its in those vids where he discusses the presence of Buddhist monks in medieval European artwork.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:54 am
by Kim OHara
mogg wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Coyote wrote:Monasticism - thats one thing we can say with more certainty was influenced by Indian religions such as Buddhism, though I don't know much about the subject.
Hi, Coyote,
I know the parallels are very close but I have never come across any evidence that European monasticism was based on Indian models.
Can you point me to your sources?

:namaste:
Kim
There were Greeks present at early Buddhist councils, so no question that Buddhism was the genesis of European monasticism IMO. Buddhism was the first 'world religion' with an extensive geographical span.
Watch the Ajahn Brahm videos above, I think its in those vids where he discusses the presence of Buddhist monks in medieval European artwork.
That is an extraordinarily weak argument, Mogg. They were there so they must have been responsible? Nope.
I do know about the cultural transmission between the Greeks and the Indians (and Arabs and Chinese, for that matter) but the fact that something could plausibly have happened does not mean that it did happen. Of course, it doesn't mean it didn't happen, either. I would just like something more akin to evidence one way or the other.

:namaste:
Kim

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:23 am
by mogg
Kim O'Hara wrote:
mogg wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote: Hi, Coyote,
I know the parallels are very close but I have never come across any evidence that European monasticism was based on Indian models.
Can you point me to your sources?

:namaste:
Kim
There were Greeks present at early Buddhist councils, so no question that Buddhism was the genesis of European monasticism IMO. Buddhism was the first 'world religion' with an extensive geographical span.
Watch the Ajahn Brahm videos above, I think its in those vids where he discusses the presence of Buddhist monks in medieval European artwork.
That is an extraordinarily weak argument, Mogg. They were there so they must have been responsible? Nope.
I do know about the cultural transmission between the Greeks and the Indians (and Arabs and Chinese, for that matter) but the fact that something could plausibly have happened does not mean that it did happen. Of course, it doesn't mean it didn't happen, either. I would just like something more akin to evidence one way or the other.

:namaste:
Kim
Its not weak at all Kim, its called circumstantial evidence. Sometimes people want to think that someone will discover a time capsule with all the detailed step by step processes outlined whereby A led to B. It doesn't happen like that. The reality is, there is no history of monasticism of any kind in Christianity aside from individual hermits. Buddhism enters Europe, unquestionably, and then at some stage Christian monasticism appears. Is it 100% certain? Of course not. Is it the most plausible explanation available? In my opinion, yes.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:58 am
by Kim OHara
mogg wrote:Its not weak at all Kim, its called circumstantial evidence. Sometimes people want to think that someone will discover a time capsule with all the detailed step by step processes outlined whereby A led to B. It doesn't happen like that. The reality is, there is no history of monasticism of any kind in Christianity aside from individual hermits. Buddhism enters Europe, unquestionably, and then at some stage Christian monasticism appears. Is it 100% certain? Of course not. Is it the most plausible explanation available? In my opinion, yes.
Hi, Mogg,
With the knowledge I have got, convergent evolution is as good an explanation as your hypothetical Buddhist influence.
You say, "Buddhism enters Europe, unquestionably," but I don't know of any evidence for that. Then you say, "and then at some stage Christian monasticism appears," but Christian monasticism didn't begin in Europe. And you give no evidence and no dates. I don't expect - or even want - a time capsule. I would just like something more akin to evidence one way or the other.

:namaste:
Kim

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:09 am
by PeterB
And you will find none beyond the Jesus -went -to -Kashmir fringe of syncretic New Ageism.
There is no biblical scholar of any repute , whether Christian or Jewish, religious or secular, who accepts any influence either way, other than at a rare and individual level, between Christianity and Buddhism... until the 19th century.
If there were such an influence you would need to explain how Christianity aped the outer form of Buddhist monasticism..but came to diametrically opposed views about the nature and existence of God.
There is a group of concepts called " Parallelism " which concerns itself with similarities that are apparent....but have no basis in reality.
The roots of Christian monasticism are well known and well described..they lie in the practices of figures like Elijah, through John The Baptist, and start to be seen as early as the second century AD in the Desert Fathers..
There simply is no need for a more exotic explanation.
And those exotic explanations are..if I might borrow a Buddhist concept..papanca. :smile:

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:37 am
by Ben
PeterB wrote:There simply is no need for a more exotic explanation.
You party-pooper, Peter!

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:41 am
by PeterB
Hi Ben.... :anjali: Sorry...
But... scroll forward a millenium or two..to Merton, Bede Griffiths, Thomas Keating et al..and it starts to get very interesting.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:52 am
by mogg
Kim O'Hara wrote:
mogg wrote:Its not weak at all Kim, its called circumstantial evidence. Sometimes people want to think that someone will discover a time capsule with all the detailed step by step processes outlined whereby A led to B. It doesn't happen like that. The reality is, there is no history of monasticism of any kind in Christianity aside from individual hermits. Buddhism enters Europe, unquestionably, and then at some stage Christian monasticism appears. Is it 100% certain? Of course not. Is it the most plausible explanation available? In my opinion, yes.
Hi, Mogg,
With the knowledge I have got, convergent evolution is as good an explanation as your hypothetical Buddhist influence.
You say, "Buddhism enters Europe, unquestionably," but I don't know of any evidence for that. Then you say, "and then at some stage Christian monasticism appears," but Christian monasticism didn't begin in Europe. And you give no evidence and no dates. I don't expect - or even want - a time capsule. I would just like something more akin to evidence one way or the other.

:namaste:
Kim
Kim, it would appear the "knowledge you have got" ain't so crash hot. I think you mean 'parallel evolution' rather than 'convergent evolution', but nonetheless, I am doubtful whether using biological terminology to elucidate spiritual development is a sound one.
To address your second comment, here's a snippet from wikipedia pertaining to Emperor Ashoka:

Ashoka also sent many prominent Buddhist monks (bhikshus) Sthaviras like Madhyamik Sthavira to modern Kashmir and Afghanistan; Maharaskshit Sthavira to Syria, Persia / Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey; Massim Sthavira to Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia; Sohn Uttar Sthavira to modern Cambodia, Laos, Burma (old name Suvarnabhumi for Burma and Thailand), Thailand and Vietnam; Mahadhhamarakhhita stahvira to Maharashtra (old name Maharatthha); Maharakhhit Sthavira and Yavandhammarakhhita Sthavira to South India.

There is some debate about precisely when and where Christian monasticism began, but Egypt is as good a place as any to put forward, and Buddhism was well and truly established there.

The kind of evidence you are looking for doesn't presently exist. That however, does not disprove the opinion I am advancing.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:25 am
by Coyote
This isn't my field so if there are those who know more feel free to offer more conclusive evidence for/against. In my quick research I can't find any scholar who finds a link between Buddhism and Christian monasticism per se, but as I said earlier I have read somewhere, in a reputable source (I think...) that indian ascetics influenced those who would come to influence the early christian movement and the desert fathers in particular- such as John the Baptist and other similar figures and movements (essenes?). I can't find it though, and I could be wrong.

Edit: of course even if this is true, it is a far cry from saying Christianity "borrowed" from Buddhism. I think that is unlikely.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:28 am
by Ben
PeterB wrote:Hi Ben.... :anjali: Sorry...
But... scroll forward a millenium or two..to Merton, Bede Griffiths, Thomas Keating et al..and it starts to get very interesting.
No worries, Peter.
At this stage, I am more interested in the cross-cultural influences of presbyterian scholasticism and western colonialism on Buddhism during the late 18th and 19th Centuries and how those influences are still present and active today.

I am sure there is a wealth of interesting material in the history of the ancient and medieval church (I've read some of St Augustine) - unfortunately I just don't have the time at the moment to pursue that avenue with the attention and consideration that it deserves.
kind regards,

Ben

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:36 am
by Coyote
If you want to look a modern comparison between Christianity and Buddhism look no further than eastern orthodox such as Fr. Seraphim Rose (he was a Buddhist before he converted) and other American Orthodox monks. Whether there was a conscious influence or not, I remember, back when I was into that kind of thing, listening to various talks by these monks and thinking that they sound very "buddhist". Their teaching on the ego is uncannily similar to some Indian teachings, above and beyond the teachings of their predecessors. The ego is an illusion, that kind of thing. Removal of desire. All very "Buddhist" but of course this stretches back into very early times so it is again unlikely for there to be any real influence. It is interesting to compare though.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:20 am
by binocular
Sambojjhanga wrote:So what do you all think?
If one tries hard enough, one can probably find similarity between any two things. It's how the mind works ...

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:31 am
by PeterB
Coyote wrote:If you want to look a modern comparison between Christianity and Buddhism look no further than eastern orthodox such as Fr. Seraphim Rose (he was a Buddhist before he converted) and other American Orthodox monks. Whether there was a conscious influence or not, I remember, back when I was into that kind of thing, listening to various talks by these monks and thinking that they sound very "buddhist". Their teaching on the ego is uncannily similar to some Indian teachings, above and beyond the teachings of their predecessors. The ego is an illusion, that kind of thing. Removal of desire. All very "Buddhist" but of course this stretches back into very early times so it is again unlikely for there to be any real influence. It is interesting to compare though.
You have chosen an odd example, given that Seraphim Rose in his book " Orthodoxy And The Religion Of The Future " not only repents of his own earlier involvement with Buddhism...but identifies Buddhism with what he sees as Satanic influences.

Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating among others are Christian monks who write of their being influenced by Buddhism.
But neither support the idea of an ancient influence on Christianity by Buddhism.
Rather that that a particular variety of Christian practise arrives by processes paralleled by some forms of Buddhist meditation, to a compatible outcome. These processes are called Apophatic prayer..prayer beyond words and concepts.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:13 am
by Coyote
And yet Fr. Seraphim said of Buddhism: 'It's fine as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough'. I'm not saying there is conscious influence. But if I remember correctly there seemed to be some very (far) eastern influences in what I have read of modern orthodox spirituality. How far this goes back I do not know. Some of the ideas that I remember do have ancient roots, but seemed to me to go above and beyond that.

I've never claimed any ancient Buddhist influence. And yet it is interesting to compare their similarities. Apophatic theology is one area, as you mention.

Re: Did Christianity "borrow" from Buddhism?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:14 pm
by PeterB
I think it is what Ben said Coyote..I think its parallel evolution.
If you get a bunch of people in caves..some in the Himalayas, some in Greece and if those guys watch their breath and calm their minds then certain results will follow.
How those people then interpret those results may vary.

There is a very interesting record of a conversation between Thomas Merton and an old Tibetan hermit..although each practised according to their own tradition, when they compared notes they were amazed at the similarities in experience.
At one point the Tibetan laughs and says... " what is happening here..this cant be right."...