If you are Buddhist, please read this first

by Luke Wayne

Thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say here. Sadly, I think there has been a tremendous lack of real, open discourse between serious, biblically minded Christians and sincere, believing Buddhists. I hope to see that change. While many sometimes well intending but often quite ignorant people have sought to paint the false impression that our faiths are remarkably similar and that Jesus Christ and the Buddha taught largely the same thing, this is simply not the case. We disagree on matters as central as who or what is God and what role God should play in our faith and daily life, and on the nature of humanity, the cause of human suffering, and what is to be done about it. We disagree on life and on death. When Christians speak of justice, holiness, sin, and redemption, we mean something wholly different than your ideas of karma and right and wrong action and speech and livelihood. We both make much of the problems caused by human cravings and our base desires, but we believe in very different solutions, and would have very different answers to the question of what, if anything, one should desire. Buddha looked around him and rightly saw that all in this life was fleeting and impermanent. Jesus went further, however, and opened the heavens to show us the Father, that we might rest in something that is truly unchanging and eternal. Indeed, our beliefs are worlds apart, and thus the particular need for us to listen to one another carefully and really hear what the other is saying. I truly thank you for listening to me here.

I have absolutely no desire to misrepresent your faith. As you well know, there are diverse expressions of Buddhism, and it can be difficult to summarize Buddhism as a whole in a way that fully does justice to all of the varying interpretations of the Buddha's teachings. I promise that I am trying to do so as truthfully as a man can. If there is anywhere that I have misunderstood or inaccurately presented the facts of what you believe, please write in and show me from authoritative and meaningful sources where I have erred, and I will gladly own up to that and correct it. I have no intention of favoring one form of Buddhism over another, though, and I make no apologies for the fact that I do not present your particular expression of Buddhist thought as the "true" or "real" Buddhism.

I am also writing from the west, and may sometimes have to give attention to manners of thinking about Buddhist teachings common among self-professing Buddhists here that are alien to the rest of the Buddhist world and quite new to Buddhist history. I also make no apologies for this, though I will do my best to be clear if I am dealing with something relevant only to modern, western Buddhist expressions. I may at times address perspectives found in authoritative Buddhist sources or popular Buddhist writings with which you personally disagree. If I am being faithful to the meaning of the source I am interacting with, I make no apologies for this either. My concern is not to quibble over personal opinions. While I want to be considerate to the wide range of Buddhist understandings, the opinion I am interacting with can be within the broad realm of Buddhism without being your own. But if I am truly misunderstanding what I am reading, and stating something in a manner that is confused or wrong, and if you can show me in the relevant sources, I openly invite such honest correction.

As a Christian, my concern is truth. My goal is not ever to win an argument or sway an opinion by deceit or manipulation. It is to deal with reality as it actually is. I want to speak rightly in all that I do. I am going to be critical of Buddhist teachings. If I thought Buddhist teachings were true, I would be a Buddhist and not a Christian. Even in being critical, however, I want to be entirely truthful.

I do not hate Buddhists, or the Buddha, or any of the beautiful cultures in which Buddhism is found. I have no malice toward you or your faith. I am committed to the truth, and to helping others find the truth as well. While I believe the Buddha was a brilliant and eloquent man who was sincere in his convictions and quite right in many of his assessments of the errors in the dominant philosophies and religions of his day, I have come to the conclusion that the faith that he founded is itself untrue. The Buddha spoke to some of the most important questions in life, and therefore if the answers he came to are incorrect, it matters a great deal. I make no secret that I believe the answers are to be found only in the one true God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is my sincere hope that you will find both truth and peace in Him.

This does not mean that I do not respect Buddhists. Buddha himself criticized the teachings of the Hindu leaders of his day and pointed out their errors without disrespecting them personally. Likewise, I will offer criticism of Buddhist teachings and seek to demonstrate what I am convinced are errors, but I have no disrespect or ill will toward the many precious and honorable men and women throughout the world who believe these errors. My very desire to correct the errors is out or concern and respect for the people, not disrespect. My objections may sometimes be pointed, but I never intend them to be harsh. My goal is never to wound, though I am aware that questioning the things we hold most sacred can be painful. My goal is to clear away the obstacles that obstruct our seeing that which is true. My goal is to let the truth shine. My deep and abiding hope is, as my Master once said, that "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."