The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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soogar571
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The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by soogar571 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:52 pm

The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

beginning
I already posted an article titled "what Jesus experienced from Buddha's teaching" here. After adding five chapters to the article, I newly edited and finished this writing.

chapter 1. come and see
Nikaya:
'It is in this way, too, that the Dhamma(Gottama's word) is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.'(A3:54 Parib­bāja­ka­sutta)
New Testament:
He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day.(John chapter 1 39)
soogar's commentary:
The Nikaya and New Testament expressions of ‘come and see’ are so identical that no further explanation is necessary.

chapter 2. all you who are weary and burdened
Nikaya:
A burden indeed are the five aggregates(thought's 5 raw materials ie rūpa, vedanā, saññā, sankhāra, viññāna) and the carrier of the burden is the person. Taking up the burden in the world is stressful. Casting off the burden is bliss.(SN 22.22 Bhāra Sutta)
New Testament:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.(Matthew 11)
soogar's commentary:
In the New Testament, the 'burden' that Jesus said undoubtedly is a 'psychological burden'. This is in full agreement with the expression of Nikaya, which considers the five khandha(rūpa, vedanā, saññā, sankhāra, viññāna) as burden.

chapter 3. has already committed adultery with her in his heart
Nikaya:
"Intention, I tell you, is kamma(action). Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.(AN 6.63 Nibbedhika Sutta)
New Testament:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5 27-28)
soogar's commentary:
Gottama's declarative expression such as 'intention is the action(kamma)', jesus transformed it into a narrative expression using the example of adultery, but the contents of Nikaya and the New Testament are exactly the same. (Meanwhile, considering the context, appropriate attention should be given to the choice of interpretive meaning of kamma which has a wide range of its usage as kamma=intention, kamma=thought and kamma=action etc.)

Chapter 4. The tempter came to him
Nikaya:
"And what is bhava(object)? These three are bhava(object): sensual bhava(object), form bhava(object), & formless bhava(object). This is called bhava(object).(SN 12.2 Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta)
New Testament:
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.".. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'".. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." (Matthew 4 2-9)
soogar's commentary:
At a glance, we can easily find that three kinds of bhava(objects) for the three trials are carefully selected. The 1st is kāmadhātu's bhava(object) related to food and shelter for body such as bread loaf, the 2nd is rūpadhātu's bhava(object) related to the title(appellation) such as 'son of god' and the 3rd is arūpadhātu's bhava(object) related to the honor of glory and wealthy etc. Anyway, the implications in Nikaya and the New Testament that sages(ariya) have a specially different perspective(discerned eye) for three kinds of bhava(objects) are same in content.

chapter 5. God of the living
Nikaya:
“Ananda, if there were no kamma(thought) ripening in the sensuality-property, would sensuality-bhava(object) be discerned?” “No, lord.”(AN 3.76 Bhava Sutta)
New Testament:
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.(Mark 12 27)
soogar's commentary:
There is even a bhava(object) called God only when kamma is in operation. In other words, there is not even a bhava(object) of God without kamma acting. The Nikaya and the New Testament are in complete agreement in that the primary concern of a disciplinant is not bhava(object) but his/her own kamma(thought).

chapter 6. Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani
Nikaya:
Five khandha(rūpa, vedanā, saññā, sankhāra, viññāna), monks, is anatta(not self). If five khandha were the atta(self), this five khandha would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible [to say] with regard to five khandha, 'Let this five khandha be thus. Let this five khandha not be thus.' But precisely because five khandha is anatta(not self), five khandha lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible [to say] with regard to five khandha, 'Let this five khandha be thus. Let this five khandha not be thus.'(SN 22.59 Anatta-lakkhana Sutta)
New Testament:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(Matthew 27 46)
soogar's commentary:
It is impossible for me to reach at anatta(not self) by abandoning myself. The reason is because the subject who is trying to discard 'I' is 'I', so the more I try to throw it away, the more 'I' become stronger. Gottama reached at anatta(not self) by proving logically that five khandha(rūpa, vedanā, saññā, sankhāra, viññāna) are not mine, not my self and not what I am. Jesus went one step further. He realized that the khandha were not only mine but also owned by God(nibbana). So, processes of achieving anatta(not self) in Nikaya and the New Testament are perfectly same in content.

chapter 7. eight Beatitudes
Nikaya:
And what is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding? Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.(SN 56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)
New Testament:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 5 3-12)
soogar's commentary:
According to the contents of Magga-vibhanga Sutta(S45: 8), which explains the Eightfold Path in detail, Eights of Eightfold Path and eight of the eight Beatitudes can substitute one another without any difficulty. (1)right view=>Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness (2)right resolve=>Blessed are the meek (3)right speech=>Blessed are the peacemakers (4)right action=>Blessed are the merciful (5)right livelihood=>Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake (6)right effort=>Blessed are they that mourn (7)right mindfulness=>Blessed are the poor in spirit (8)right concentration=>Blessed are the pure in heart.

chapter 8. twelve apostles
Nikaya:
Now what is dependent co-arising? From (11)birth as a requisite condition comes (12)aging & death. From (10)becoming...From (9)clinging/sustenance...From (8)craving...From (7)feeling...From (6)contact...From the (5)six sense...From (4)name-&-form...From (3)consciousness...From (2)fabrications...From (1)ignorance.(SN 12.20 Paccaya Sutta)
New Testament:
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called (1)Peter, and (2)Andrew his brother; (3)James the son of Zebedee, and (4)John his brother; (5)Philip, and (6)Bartholomew; (7)Thomas, and (8)Matthew the publican; (9)James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was (10)Thaddaeus; (11)Simon the Canaanite, and (12)Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.(Matthew 10 2-4)
soogar's commentary:
It is hard to be sure because the records of the twelve apostles in the New Testament are limited. However, through the following four examples, we can feel that there is some connection between the content of the corresponding paticca-samuppāda branches and the records of the corresponding apostles. (1)ignorance=>Peter who denied Jesus three times, (4)name-&-form=>John who is mysterious person, (7)feeling=>Thomas who tried to put his finger into the print of the nails and (12)aging & death=>Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus and committed suicide.

chapter 9. cross
Nikaya:
Friends, just as the footprints of all legged animals are encompassed by the footprint of the elephant, and the elephant's footprint is reckoned the foremost among them in terms of size; in the same way, all skillful qualities are gathered under the four noble truths.(MN 28 Maha-hatthipadopama Sutta)
New Testament:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself(anatta/not self), and take up his cross, and follow me.(Matthew 16 24)
soogar's commentary:
The cross of Jesus that we would take nowadays may not be physical one but psychological. So the cross(four noble truth) must be already working in us. The order of the four self-operated tasks is as follows. (1)What's the dukkha(pain)? (2)What's the cause of dukkha(pain)? (3)What's the cessation of dukkha(pain)? (4)What's the way of practice leading to the cessation of dukkha(pain)? From this viewpoint, Nikaya's 'four noble truth' and the cross of the New Testament are just different expressions of the same meaning.

ending
God(nibbana) has no emotions about all life including human beings. God(nibbana) is merely delighted that the cross(four noble truth) works well in all living beings. Only those who have realized the truth of the cross(four noble truth) can join in the joy.(fin.)
:anjali:
Object determines the quality of citta.
So, the experience of nibbana at this very moment invokes the lokuttara citta.

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SarathW
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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by SarathW » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:08 pm

Some times you can make a sense of any nonsense.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by JamesTheGiant » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:03 am

You've done an impressive job of linking those things, but I feel they are not linked by any sort of cross-pollination of Buddhism influencing Christianity, or Jesus allegedly going to India, etc.
Instead I think the similarities are because both religions are expressing the same universal human ideas.
And the basic nature of spirituality and religion means they're going to be similar.
Plus you have the whole bible, compared against the whole of every buddhist text, so of course you're going to find commonalities.
But well done, that must have taken you a long time.

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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by DooDoot » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:21 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:03 am
Instead I think the similarities are because both religions are expressing the same universal human ideas....
I doubt there is any evidence that absolute non-violence & anatta are universal religious ideas that existed before (or after) the Buddha.
Leviticus 20:10 [ Punishments for Sexual Immorality ] If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 24:17-22
An Eye for an Eye
Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal's life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.

The majority of scholars have concluded that the Pentateuch received its final form during the Persian period (538–332 BC). Nevertheless, Leviticus had a long period of growth before reaching that form
Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise man's tools.
He uses them only when he has no choice.

Tao Te Ching
Monks, as low-down thieves might carve one limb from limb with a double-handled saw, yet even then whoever sets his mind at enmity, he, for this reason, is not a doer of my teaching. Herein, monks, you should train yourselves thus:

‘Neither will our minds become perverted nor will we utter an evil speech, but kindly and compassionate will we dwell, with a mind of friendliness, void of hatred; and we will dwell having suffused that person with a mind of friendliness; and, beginning with him, we will dwell having suffused the whole world with a mind of friendliness that is far-reaching, widespread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence.’

Kakacūpama Sutta
Matthew 5:38-48
Eye for Eye
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
John 8
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.

1. And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."

2. Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]"

3. Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

77. Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.

Split a piece of wood; I am there.

Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."

15. Jesus said, "When you see one who was not born of woman, fall on your faces and worship. That one is your Father."

The Gospel of Thomas

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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:03 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:21 am
JamesTheGiant wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:03 am
Instead I think the similarities are because both religions are expressing the same universal human ideas....
I doubt there is any evidence that absolute non-violence & anatta are universal religious ideas that existed before (or after) the Buddha.
I was under the impression that Jainism professed non-violence before the Buddha's tenure.

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DooDoot
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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by DooDoot » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:10 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:03 am
I was under the impression that Jainism professed non-violence before the Buddha's tenure.
Non-violence & anatta :mrgreen:

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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:29 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:10 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:03 am
I was under the impression that Jainism professed non-violence before the Buddha's tenure.
Non-violence & anatta :mrgreen:
I don't know enough about Jainism to comment on the anatta part so I'll take your word for it. But, as far as anatta goes, it is not an action or refrain from action as non-violence goes. It is something you discover for yourself. Certainly, this was the case for many before the Buddha's time, however, no organized religion had ever included it in its tenets as far as our recorded, known history is understood. There may have been lost civilizations that did have such tenets, but let's not go there as it would be too speculative.

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Re: The traces of Nikaya found in the New Testament

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:34 am

soogar571 wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:52 pm
chapter 1. come and see
Nikaya:
'It is in this way, too, that the Dhamma(Gottama's word) is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.'(A3:54 Parib­bāja­ka­sutta)
New Testament:
He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day.(John chapter 1 39)
soogar's commentary:
The Nikaya and New Testament expressions of ‘come and see’ are so identical that no further explanation is necessary.
I hope you forgive me two instances of point-counter-point. The Brahmin of the Parib­bājaka­sutta, after he is invited to come and see, becomes of a follower of the Buddha.

If I can quote the full text of John 1:39:

He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

The tenth hour is 4pm. They stayed at his dwelling-place for the night because it was getting late, not because they became disciples. It is only later that they become disciples:

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

The chronology of John and Matthew are not easy to match up. John is in many ways told from a symbolic and literary point of view, so the parallel you point out may well still be accurate, but some traditional accounts have the chronology matched up in such a way that this is not the moment of conversion.

If you want an example, you can see Haydock's commentary (1811AD) for instance for one of these chronological accounts that problematizes the first parallel presented in the OP:

Staid with him that day. Yet they did not continually remain with him, as his disciples, till he called them, as they were fishing. See the annotations, Matthew iv. 18.


Following the citations we go to the same commentary but on Matthew 4:18:

Mat 4:18 [The Lord] wished not only to prove that the establishment of his religion was heavenly, but also to humble the pride of man; and therefore he did not choose orators and philosophers, but fishermen, says St. Jerome. Cyprian, the eloquent orator, was called to the priesthood; but before him was Peter, the fisherman. (St. John Chrysostom) --- Jesus saw two brothers, &c. If we compare what is related by the evangelists, as to the time that St. Peter and St. Andrew became Christ's disciples, we shall find Andrew, who had been a disciple of St. John Baptist, to have brought to Christ his brother Simon. (John i, ver. 40.) But at that time they staid not with him, so as to become his disciples, and to remain with him as they afterwards did, by quitting their boat, their nets, their fishing, and all they had in the world, which is here related; and by St. Mark, (chap. i,) and by St. Luke, chap. v.


This is just one fellow's opinion, and this text itself is a very late commentary, but he is representing a long tradition of interpretation that should not be discounted altogether, IMO.
soogar571 wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:52 pm
chapter 5. God of the living
Nikaya:
“Ananda, if there were no kamma(thought) ripening in the sensuality-property, would sensuality-bhava(object) be discerned?” “No, lord.”(AN 3.76 Bhava Sutta)
New Testament:
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.(Mark 12 27)
soogar's commentary:
There is even a bhava(object) called God only when kamma is in operation. In other words, there is not even a bhava(object) of God without kamma acting. The Nikaya and the New Testament are in complete agreement in that the primary concern of a disciplinant is not bhava(object) but his/her own kamma(thought).
Similarly to the above, while I think that this can be an interesting connection, I think that traditional Christian interpretations are being left out here in favour of looking for links which may only be agreed upon by the Buddhist side of Buddhist-Christian dialogues.

For a look at the context to Mark 12:27:

18. Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,
19. Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
20. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
21. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
22. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
23. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
24. And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
25. For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
26. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
27. He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.


The Sadducees/Ṣĕḏûqîm as a sect did not believe in resurrection of the dead. They challenge Jesus by asking which husband a wife with 7 husbands would have after resurrection, pointing out what they see as an inconsistency in resurrection-narratives based in Jewish law/dharma concerning marriage. For more substantiation of Sadducee view we turn to Iōsēpoy ioudaikē archaiologia XVIII, 11-17 (~94AD) from Josephus:
The doctrine of the Sadducees is that souls die with the bodies. Nor do they regard as obligatory the observance of anything besides what the law enjoins them.

When later in the dialogue with them in Mark 12:18-27, Jesus says "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err" he is saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob "live" and will have resurrection, because the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, is not a God of the dead, but rather the living (referring to the "living" Abraham, Jacob, Isaac).
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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