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Certain modern scholars have asserted that similarities existed between Buddhism and Gnosticism, a school of thought that formed much of what was later considered heretical literature in Christianity.

Contents

Manicheism

Early 3rd-4th century Christian writers such as Hippolytus of Rome and Epiphanius write about a Scythianus, who visited India around 50 AD from where he brought "the doctrine of the Two Principles". According to these writers, Scythianus' pupil Terebinthus presented himself as a "Buddha" ("he called himself Buddas" Cyril of Jerusalem). Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea where he met the Apostles ("becoming known and condemned" Isaia)[1], and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani, thereby creating the foundation of what could be called Persian syncretic Buddhism, Manicheism. We find evidence that Buddhist thought had major influence on the teachings of Mani:

In the story of the Death of Mani [2]:

It was a day of pain
and a time of sorrow
when the messenger of light
entered death
when he entered complete Nirvana"

Following Mani's travels to the Kushan Empire (several religious paintings in Bamiyan are attributed to him) at the beginning of his proselytizing career, various Buddhist influences seem to have permeated Manichaeism:

Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha. (Richard Foltz, "Religions of the Silk Road")
The spread of Manichaeism (300– AD 500). Map reference: World History Atlas, Dorling Kindersly.
Manichaeism spread with extraordinary rapidity throughout both the east and west. It reached Rome through the apostle Psattiq by AD 280, who was also in Egypt in 244 and 251. The faith was flourishing in the Fayum area of Egypt in 290. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 during the time of the Christian Pope Miltiades. By 354, Hilary of Poitiers wrote that the Manichaean faith was a significant force in southern France.

Also, in the Great Song of Mani (13th-14th century) Mani is many times referred to as Buddha Mani.

Essenes

Philip Jenkins writes:

Theories of a possible Asian influence on the Jesus movement usually focused on the Essenes. Even orthodox scholars like Dean Mansel argued that Buddhist monks and missionaries had provided the inspiration for the monks and ascetics whom we find recorded in the Middle East before the coming of Jesus, like the Essenes and the related Egyptian sect of the Therapeutae. Some writers explored the idea that Jesus himself might have drawn on these esoteric traditions, as suggested by the title of Arthur Lillie's 1887 book Buddhism in Christendom, or, Jesus, the Essene. In 1880, Ernest von Bunsen argued that Christian messianic concepts derived from a common fund of tradition that was shared by Buddhists and Essenes. The Essenes, it was thought, provided a crucial link between Eastern mysticism and Western heresy, with Jesus as the pivot between the two trends. If Jesus had access to Buddhist ideas, and the Gnostic sects themselves preached reincarnation and other Asian themes, then once again this was evidence that Jesus' earliest teachings were best preserved among the so-called heresies.[3]

Gospel of Thomas

Elaine Pagels has written that "one need only listen to the words of the Gospel of Thomas to hear how it resonates with the Buddhist tradition... these ancient gospels tend to point beyond faith toward a path of solitary searching to find understanding, or gnosis." She suggests that there is an explicitly Indian influence in the Gospel of Thomas, perhaps via the Christian communities in southern India, the so-called Thomas Christians.

Of all of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Gospel of Thomas has the most similarities with Pure Land Buddhism. Edward Conze has suggested that Hindu or Buddhist tradition may well have influenced Gnosticism. He points out that Buddhists were in contact with the Thomas Christians.[4]

Elaine Pagels notes that the similarities between Gnosticism and Buddhism have prompted some scholars to question their interdependence and to wonder whether "...if the names were changed, the 'living Buddha' appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus. " However, she concludes that, although intriguing, the evidence is inconclusive, since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence.[5]

Early encounters

Early 3rd century–4th century Christian writers such as Hippolytus and Epiphanius write about a Scythianus, who visited India around 50 CE from where he brought "the doctrine of the Two Principles". According to Cyril of Jerusalem, Scythianus' pupil Terebinthus presented himself as a "Buddha" ("He called himself Buddas").[6] Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea ("becoming known and condemned"), and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani, thereby creating the foundation of Manichaeism:

"But Terebinthus, his disciple in this wicked error, inherited his money and books and heresy, and came to Palestine, and becoming known and condemned in Judæa he resolved to pass into Persia: but lest he should be recognised there also by his name he changed it and called himself Buddas."

In the 3rd century, the Syrian writer and Christian Gnostic theologian Bar Daisan described his exchanges with the religious missions of holy men from India (Greek: Σαρμαναίοι, Sramanas), passing through Syria on their way to Elagabalus or another Severan dynasty Roman Emperor. His accounts were quoted by Porphyry (De abstin., iv, 17[citation needed]) and Stobaeus (Eccles., iii, 56, 141).

Finally, from the 3rd century to the 12th century, some Gnostic religions such as Manichaeism, which combined Christian, Hebrew and Buddhist influences (Mani, the founder of the religion, resided for some time in Kushan lands), spread throughout the Old World, to Gaul and Great Britain in the West, and to China in the East. Some leading Christian theologians such as Augustine of Hippo were Manichaeans before converting to orthodox Christianity.

Such exchanges, many more of which may have gone unrecorded, suggest that Buddhism may have had some influence on early Christianity: "Scholars have often considered the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity. They have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha and Jesus" (Bentley, "Old World Encounters").

19th, 20th and 21st century writers

As far back as 1816 the historian George Faber in his book, The Origin of Pagan Idolatry Ascertained from Historical Testimony, stated, "There is so strong a resemblance between the characters of Jesus and of Buddha, that it cannot have been purely accidental.” [7]

In 1883, Max Müller, the pioneering scholar of comparative religion, asserted in his India: What it Can Teach Us: "That there are startling coincidences between Buddhism and Christianity cannot be denied, and it must likewise be admitted that Buddhism existed at least 400 years before Christianity. I go even further, and should feel extremely grateful if anybody would point out to me the historical channels through which Buddhism had influenced early Christianity." It is interesting to note that Muller himself, before examining the Buddhist/Christian copycat claims, stated that he intended to prove the priority of the Jesus gospels over the Buddhist texts.

In The Gospel of Jesus in relation to the Buddha Legend, and again, in 1897, in The Buddha Legend and the Life of Jesus, Professor Rudolf Seydel of the University of Leipzig noted around fifty similarities between Buddhist and Christian parables and teachings.

In 1918, in his History of Religions, Professor E. Washburn Hopkins of Yale goes so far as to say, "Finally, the life, temptation, miracles, parables, and even the disciples of Jesus have been derived directly from Buddhism." [8]

Much more recently, the historian Jerry H. Bentley notes "the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity" and that scholars "have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha and Jesus".[9]

In his Buddhism Omnibus Iqbal Singh similarly acknowledges the possibility of early interaction and, thus, influence of Buddhist teachings upon the Christian tradition in its formative period.[10]

In 1992 Zacharias P. Thundy, Professor of Literature, wrote a book titled, Buddha and Christ, Nativity stories from the Indian traditions in which Thundy concludes that there was a substantial amount of borrowing by Christianity from Buddhism. He prefers not to label Jesus either a Jew, Buddhist or a Buddhist-Jew, claiming that such distinctions are "fuzzy". Thundy further claims a long tradition of interchange between east and west and shows that western fables, such as those in Aesop's fables, and the story of Susans attached to the Book of Daniel, were originally Buddhist Jatakas.

In 2004, Burkhard Scherer, Reader in Religious Studies at England's Canterbury Christ Church University has stated: "...it is very important to draw attention to the fact that there is [massive] Buddhist influence in the Gospels....Since more than a hundred years, Buddhist influence in the Gospels has been known and acknowledged by scholars from both sides." He adds: "Just recently, Duncan McDerret published his excellent The Bible and the Buddhist (Sardini, Bornato [Italy] 2001). With McDerret, I am convinced that there are many Buddhist narratives in the Gospels."[11]

In 2007 Doctor of Asian Studies Christian Lindtner published a book titled Geheimnisse um Jesus Christus. Dr. Lindtner compares the Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist texts with the Greek gospels and determines that the four gospels were reformulated from older Buddhist texts based on gematria values, puns, and syllabic equivalences. Those who have scrutinized his work claim that his gematria values and syllabic equivalences are coincidental and that his puns exist because the Greek and Sanskrit are from the same language family. Those in support of his work claim that is findings are unique and that similar finds could not be made in regard to any other seemingly non-connected literature.

Also, in 2007 the author Daniel Hopkins wrote a book named Father and Son, East is West, the Buddhist sources to Christianity and their influence on medieval myths, in which he claims that the Jesus gospels were highly allegorical and mysterious in order to hide the name of Jesus' father, which he claims was the Buddha's name.[12]

Thomas Tweed, Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, notes that between 1879 and 1907 there were a "number of impassioned discussions about parallels and possible historical influence between Buddhism and Christianity in ... a variety of periodicals". By 1906 interest waned somewhat. In the end, Albert Schweitzer's conclusion appears to have been favored: that, although some indirect influence through the wider culture was "not inherently impossible", the hypothesis that Jesus' novel ideas were borrowed directly from Buddhism was "unproved, unprovable and unthinkable." [13]

Work of Elaine Pagels

Some scholars, such as Edward Conze and Elaine Pagels, have suggested that gnosticism blends teachings like those attributed to Jesus Christ with teachings found in Eastern traditions.[14]

Jenkins acknowledges that "the Jesus of the hidden gospels has many points of contact with the great spiritual traditions of Asia."

Edward Conze and Elaine Pagels have suggested that gnosticism blends teachings like those attributed to Jesus Christ with teachings found in Eastern traditions.[14]

Queen Maya with the infant Buddha. Gandhara, 2nd century CE.

The word gnosis (knowledge) as used by the Gnostics is equivalent to the Buddhist word prajna. Both traditions of Buddhism and Gnosticism held that only direct knowledge was liberating. Some basic parallels held in common with the Buddhist and the Gnostic, and canonical gospels, is that the Buddhists believed that the Buddha was like a great father with sons of light (Bodhisattvas), while all Christians held that Jesus was the light and the son of a great father. While it is true that some Gnostics demonized the "Father", this concept could be the Buddhist concept of 'killing the Buddha', or leaving the raft (religion)behind. Scattered throughout the Gnostic gospels there can be found many exclusively Buddhist themes, such as within The Gospel of Mary can be found the stressing of matter as impermanent, within The Infancy of James those who chew, yet do not chew can be compared to the Bodhisattvas in the Surangama sutra who Taste, but do not taste, within the book Thomas the Contender, Jesus is recorded as saying, "woe to you , because the wheel that turns in your mind" which might reference the Buddhist wheel of dependent origination, within the Gospel of Thomas when Jesus is questioned about how disciples should prove that they were from God, Jesus says the proof of God in them was "motion, and rest" which again could reference the Buddhist belief that the easiest path to enlightenment was through contemplation on the ear organ and the understanding of its two defiling attributes of motion and stillness, the gospel of Phillip mentions that Jesus was martyred many times just as the Buddhist Jatakas and Pali texts mention of the Buddha in his former births.[15]

Philip Jenkins writes that, since the mid-nineteenth century, new and fringe religious movements have often created images of Jesus, presenting him as a sage, philosopher and occult teacher, whose teachings are very similar to those of Asian religions. He asserts that the images generated by these religious movements share much in common with the images that increasingly dominate the mainstream critical scholarship of the New Testament, especially following the rediscovery of the Gnostic Gospels found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. He alleges that, in modern scholarly writing, Jesus has become more of a Gnostic, Cynic or even a crypto-Buddhist than the traditional notion of the reformist rabbi.[16]

Jenkins acknowledges that "the Jesus of the hidden gospels has many points of contact with the great spiritual traditions of Asia." Pagels has written that "one need only listen to the words of the Gospel of Thomas to hear how it resonates with the Buddhist tradition… these ancient gospels tend to point beyond faith toward a path of solitary searching to find understanding, or gnosis." She suggests that there is an explicitly Indian influence in the Gospel of Thomas, perhaps via the Christian communities in southern India, the so-called Thomas Christians.

It is believed by some that of all of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Gospel of Thomas has the most similarities with Pure Land Buddhism within it. Edward Conze has suggested that Hindu or Buddhist tradition may well have influenced Gnosticism. He points out that Buddhists were in contact with the Thomas Christians.[4]

Elaine Pagels notes that the similarities between Gnosticism and Buddhism have prompted some scholars to question their interdependence and to wonder whether "...if the names were changed, the 'living Buddha' appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus. " However, she concludes that, although intriguing, the evidence is inconclusive, and she further concludes that these parallels might be coincidental since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence.[5]

Therapeutae influence

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spent his early childhood in Egypt which was at the end of the Silk Road. As a result of its role in trade with the East, Egypt was prosperous and enriched with religious diversity.source?

The Therapeutae (known only from Philo) were mystics and ascetics who lived especially in the area around Alexandria,[17] Philo described the Therapeutae in the beginning of the 1st century CE in De vita contemplativa ("On the contemplative life"), written ca. 10 CE. By that time, the origins of the Therapeutae were already lost in the past, and Philo was even unsure about the etymology of their name.

Philonian monachism has been seen as the forerunner of and the model for the Christian ascetic life. It has even been considered as the earliest description of Christian monasticism. This view was first espoused by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History.[18]

According to the linguist Zacharias P. Thundy the name "Therapeutae" is simply an Hellenisation of the Pali term for the traditional Buddhist faith, "Theravada". The similarities between the monastic practices of the Therapeutae and Buddhist monastic practices have led to suggestions that the Therapeutae were in fact Buddhist monks who had reached Alexandria, descendants of Ashoka's emissaries to the West, and who influenced the early formation of Christianity.[19] The evidence for this argument rests solely on the similarity of practices and the purported derivation of the name. There is no evidence from antiquity that supports this argument.

In their book The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy argue that the Therapeutae are possible candidates for the origin of what they characterize as "the legend of Jesus Christ".[citation needed]

Elmar R. Gruber, a psychologist, and Holger Kersten, a specialist in religious history argue that Buddhism had a substantial influence on the life and teachings of Jesus.[20] Gruber and Kersten claim that Jesus was brought up by the Therapeutae, teachers of the Buddhist Theravada school then living in the Bible lands. They assert that Jesus lived the life of a Buddhist and taught Buddhist ideals to his disciples; their work follows in the footsteps of the Oxford New Testament scholar Barnett Hillman Streeter, who established as early as the 1930s that the moral teaching of the Buddha has four remarkable resemblances to the Sermon on the Mount."[21]

Asceticism can be seen as a common point between Buddhism and Christianity, and is in contrast to the absence of asceticism in Judaism:

"Asceticism is indigenous to the religions which posit as fundamental the wickedness of this life and the corruption under sin of the flesh. Buddhism, therefore, as well as Christianity, leads to ascetic practices. Monasteries are institutions of Buddhism no less than of Catholic Christianity. The assumption, found in the views of the Montanists and others, that concessions made to the natural appetites may be pardoned in those that are of a lower degree of holiness, while the perfectly holy will refuse to yield in the least to carnal needs and desires, is easily detected also in some of the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The ideal of holiness of both the Buddhist and the Christian saint culminates in poverty and chastity; i.e., celibacy. Fasting and other disciplinary methods are resorted to to curb the flesh"
—The Jewish Encyclopedia [22]

The "lost years" of Jesus & New Age theories

One tradition claims that Jesus traveled to India and Tibet during the "Lost years of Jesus" before the beginning of his public ministry. In 1887 a Russian war correspondent, Nicolas Notovitch, visited India and Tibet. He claimed that, at the lamasery or monastery of Hemis in Ladakh, he learned of the "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men." His story, with a translated text of the "Life of Saint Issa," was published in French in 1894 as La vie inconnue de Jesus Christ. It was subsequently translated into English, German, Spanish, and Italian.

The "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men" purportedly recounts the travels of one known in the East as Saint Issa, whom Notovitch identified as Jesus. After initially doubting Notovitch, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda, journeyed to Tibet, investigated his claim, helped translate part of the document, and later championed his views.[23].

Notovitch's writings were immediately controversial. The German orientalist Max Müller corresponded with the Hemis monastery that Notovitch claimed to have visited and Archibald Douglas visited Hemis Monastery. Neither found any evidence that Notovich (much less Jesus) had even been there himself, so they rejected his claims. The head of the Hemis community signed a document that denounced Notovitch as a liar.[24]

Despite this contradictory evidence, a number of New Age or spiritualist authors have taken this information and have incorporated it into their own works. For example, in her book The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus' 17-Year Journey to the East, Elizabeth Clare Prophet asserts that Buddhist manuscripts provide evidence that Jesus traveled to India, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet.[25]

Other comparisons

Although Gnosticism pre-dates the alleged birth of Jesus it flourishes as a Jesus movement up until around the third century. The word Gnostic is the stem of the modern word knowledge and means 'the state of knowing. To the Gnostics salvation was dependent on knowledge of the world. This knowing by experience can be compared to the Buddhist idea of direct knowledge.

In the 2007 book Father and Son, East is West, the Buddhist sources to Christianity and their influence on medieval myths, the author Daniel Hopkins lists 12 Buddhist/Gnostic Christian parallels of which, he claims, 9 of them are not paralled even remotely by other dogmas. The partially recovered Gospel of Mary begins in the third chapter:

“Will matter then be destroyed or not?”

Jesus then said, “All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature.”

As usual, we can find thousands of utterances by the Buddha that parallel this truth. Here is an example from the Mahaparinibbana sutta.

The Buddha said, “Monks, all formations are subject to decay; therefore I exhort you to work out your salvation with diligence.”

The Buddhists also believed that beings existed "in and with one another". This is most seen in the Avatamasaka sutra were the text states that the Buddha puts all the creatures, forms, and lands inside of his body.

Criticism

There is some historical basis for the assertion that Buddhist influence was a factor in the formation of Christianity and of the Christian Gospels. The rock-inscriptions of Asoka may bear witness to the spread of Buddhism over the Greek-speaking world as early as the third century BCE, since they mention the flourishing existence of Buddhism among the Greeks within the dominion of Antiochus. But although Greek rulers as far as the Mediterranean are mentioned as having received Buddhist missionaries, only in Bactria and the Kabul valley did Buddhism really take root. Also, the statement in the late Buddhist chronicle of the Mahavamsa, that among the Buddhists who came to the dedication of a great Stupa in Sri Lanka in the second century BCE, "were over thirty thousand monks from the vicinity of Alassada, the capital of the Yona country" is sometimes taken to suggest that long before the time of Christ, Alexandria in Egypt was the centre of flourishing Buddhist communities. Although it is true that Alassada is the Pali for Alexandria; but it is usually thought that the city meant here is not the ancient capital of Egypt, but as the text indicates, the chief city of the Yona country, the Yavana country of the rock-inscriptions: Bactria and vicinity. And so, the city referred to is most likely Alexandria of the Caucasus.

Also, there are various views on the origins of the oldest Buddhist teachings of the Pali Canon. The origin of the later teachings of Mahayana Buddhism are especially obscure.[26] It is believed that most of the Mahayana sutras only appeared after 100 BCE,[27] and most did not reach their final form until much later (11th century AD).

The earlier teachings of the Pali Canon and the Agamas however, are clearly up to four centuries older than Christianity. Although Buddhism is older than Christianity, and some Buddhist influence, such as Barlaam and Josaphat, is clearly evident, it is difficult to tell whether the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity are a result of the Buddhist influence on Christianity, another influence which acted on both religions, or coincidence.

References

  1. ^ Catechetical Lecture 6 Concerning the Unity of God. On the Article, I Believe in One God. Also Concerning Heresies. Isaiah xlv. 16, 17. (Sept.)
  2. ^ According to the Gnostic Bible by Willis Barnstone, here is one of many authenticating references proving the centrality of Buddhism in Mani's formulation of Gnosticism
  3. ^ Jenkins, Philip. How Gnostic Jesus Became the Christ of Scholars. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13528_1.html. 
  4. ^ a b Conze, Edward. Buddhism and Gnosis. 
  5. ^ a b Pagels, Elaine (1979, repr. 1989). The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House. 
  6. ^ Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lecture 6, paragraph 23
  7. ^ Origin of Pagan Idolatry Ascertained from Historical Testimony, page 649
  8. ^ History of Religions, 1918, E. Washburn Hopkins, Professor of Sanskrit and comparative Philology, p 552,556
  9. ^ Bentley, Jerry H. (1993). Old World Encounters. Cross-cultural contacts and exchanges in pre-modern times. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507639-7. 
  10. ^ Iqbal Singh, S. Radhakrishnan, Arvind Sharma, (2004-06-24)). The Buddhism Omnibus: Comprising Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada, and The Philosophy of Religion. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195668987. 
  11. ^ "The Secrets about Christian Lindtner-a preliminary response to the CLT". http://www.jesusisbuddha.com/scherer.html. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Tweed, Thomas (2000). The American Encounter With Buddhism, 1844-1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent. University of North Carolina Press. p. 280. ISBN 0807849065. 
  14. ^ a b Elaine Pagels. "Extract from The Gnostic Gospels". pbs.org. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/pagels.html. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  15. ^ Father and Son, East is West, 2007
  16. ^ Jenkins, Philip. How Gnostic Jesus Became the Christ of Scholars. 
  17. ^ Marvin W. Meyer, Editor. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook. 
  18. ^ Scouteris, Constantine. "The Therapeutae of Philo and the Monks as Therapeutae according to Pseudo-Dionysius". http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/patrology/scouteris_theraputae.htm. 
  19. ^ "The Original Jesus" (Element Books, Shaftesbury, 1995), Elmar R Gruber, Holger Kersten
  20. ^ Gruber, Elmar and Kersten, Holger. (1995). The Original Jesus. Shaftesbury: Element Books. 
  21. ^ Chandramouli, N. S. (1997-05-01). Did Buddhism influence early Christianity?. The Times of India. 
  22. ^ JewishEncyclopedia.com - ASCETICISM:
  23. ^ Swami Abhedananda (1987). Journey into Kashmir and Tibet (the English translation of Kashmiri 0 Tibbate). Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vivekananda Math. 
  24. ^ Goodspeed, Edgar J. (1956). Famous Biblical Hoaxes or, Modern Apocrypha. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. http://www.tentmaker.org/books/FamousBiblicalHoaxes.html. 
  25. ^ Prophet, Elizabeth Clare (1987). The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus' 17-Year Journey to the East. Livingston, MT: Summit University Press. p. 468. ISBN 0-916766-87-X. 
  26. ^ What is particularly disconcerting here is the disconnect between expectation and reality: We know from Chinese translations that large numbers of Mahayana sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century. But outside of texts, at least in India, at exactly the same period, very different — in fact seemingly older — ideas and aspirations appear to be motivating actual behavior, and old and established Hinayana groups appear to be the only ones that are patronized and supported., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004, page 494
  27. ^ Theravada - Mahayana Buddhism By Ven. Dr. W. Rahula http://www.buddhistinformation.com/theravada.htm
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Certain modern scholars have asserted that similarities existed between Buddhism and Gnosticism, a school of thought that formed much of what was later considered heretical literature in Christianity.

Contents

Manichaeism

Early 3rd-4th century Christian writers such as Hippolytus of Rome and Epiphanius write about a Scythianus, who visited India around 50 AD from where he brought "the doctrine of the Two Principles". According to these writers, Scythianus' pupil Terebinthus presented himself as a "Buddha" ("he called himself Buddas" Cyril of Jerusalem). Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea where he met the Apostles ("becoming known and condemned" Isaia)[1], and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani, thereby creating the foundation of what could be called Persian syncretic Buddhism, Manicheism. We find evidence that Buddhist thought had major influence on the teachings of Mani:

In the story of the Death of Mani [2]:

It was a day of pain
and a time of sorrow
when the messenger of light
entered death
when he entered complete Nirvana"

Following Mani's travels to the Kushan Empire (several religious paintings in Bamiyan are attributed to him) at the beginning of his proselytizing career, various Buddhist influences seem to have permeated Manichaeism:

Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha.[3]
Manichaeism spread with extraordinary rapidity throughout both the east and west. It reached Rome through the apostle Psattiq by AD 280, who was also in Egypt in 244 and 251. The faith was flourishing in the Fayum area of Egypt in 290. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 during the time of the Christian Pope Miltiades. By 354, Hilary of Poitiers wrote that the Manichaean faith was a significant force in southern France.

Also, in the Great Song of Mani (13th-14th century) Mani is many times referred to as Buddha Mani.

Essenes

Philip Jenkins writes:

Theories of a possible Asian influence on the Jesus movement usually focused on the Essenes. Even orthodox scholars like Dean Mansel argued that Buddhist monks and missionaries had provided the inspiration for the monks and ascetics whom we find recorded in the Middle East before the coming of Jesus, like the Essenes and the related Egyptian sect of the Therapeutae. Some writers explored the idea that Jesus himself might have drawn on these esoteric traditions, as suggested by the title of Arthur Lillie's 1887 book Buddhism in Christendom, or, Jesus, the Essene. In 1880, Ernest von Bunsen argued that Christian messianic concepts derived from a common fund of tradition that was shared by Buddhists and Essenes. The Essenes, it was thought, provided a crucial link between Eastern mysticism and Western heresy, with Jesus as the pivot between the two trends. If Jesus had access to Buddhist ideas, and the Gnostic sects themselves preached reincarnation and other Asian themes, then once again this was evidence that Jesus' earliest teachings were best preserved among the so-called heresies.[4]

Gospel of Thomas

Elaine Pagels has written that "one need only listen to the words of the Gospel of Thomas to hear how it resonates with the Buddhist tradition... these ancient gospels tend to point beyond faith toward a path of solitary searching to find understanding, or gnosis." She suggests that there is an explicitly Indian influence in the Gospel of Thomas, perhaps via the Christian communities in southern India, the so-called Thomas Christians.

Of all of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Gospel of Thomas has the most similarities with Pure Land Buddhism. Edward Conze has suggested that Hindu or Buddhist tradition may well have influenced Gnosticism. He points out that Buddhists were in contact with the Thomas Christians.[5]

Elaine Pagels notes that the similarities between Gnosticism and Buddhism have prompted some scholars to question their interdependence and to wonder whether "...if the names were changed, the 'living Buddha' appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus. " However, she concludes that, although intriguing, the evidence is inconclusive, since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence.[6]

Early encounters

Early 3rd century–4th century Christian writers such as Hippolytus and Epiphanius write about a Scythianus, who visited India around 50 CE from where he brought "the doctrine of the Two Principles". According to Cyril of Jerusalem, Scythianus' pupil Terebinthus presented himself as a "Buddha" ("He called himself Buddas").[7] Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea ("becoming known and condemned"), and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani, thereby creating the foundation of Manichaeism:

"But Terebinthus, his disciple in this wicked error, inherited his money and books and heresy, and came to Palestine, and becoming known and condemned in Judæa he resolved to pass into Persia: but lest he should be recognised there also by his name he changed it and called himself Buddas."

In the 3rd century, the Syrian writer and Christian Gnostic theologian Bar Daisan described his exchanges with the religious missions of holy men from India (Greek: Σαρμαναίοι, Sramanas), passing through Syria on their way to Elagabalus or another Severan dynasty Roman Emperor. His accounts were quoted by Porphyry (De abstin., iv, 17[citation needed]) and Stobaeus (Eccles., iii, 56, 141).

Finally, from the 3rd century to the 12th century, some Gnostic religions such as Manichaeism, which combined Christian, Hebrew and Buddhist influences (Mani, the founder of the religion, resided for some time in Kushan lands), spread throughout the Old World, to Gaul and Great Britain in the West, and to China in the East. Some leading Christian theologians such as Augustine of Hippo were Manichaeans before converting to orthodox Christianity.

Such exchanges, many more of which may have gone unrecorded, suggest that Buddhism may have had some influence on early Christianity: "Scholars have often considered the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity. They have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha and Jesus" (Bentley, "Old World Encounters").

19th, 20th and 21st century writers

As far back as 1816 the historian George Faber in his book, The Origin of Pagan Idolatry Ascertained from Historical Testimony, stated, "There is so strong a resemblance between the characters of Jesus and of Buddha, that it cannot have been purely accidental.” [8]

In 1883, Max Müller, the pioneering scholar of comparative religion, asserted in his India: What it Can Teach Us: "That there are startling coincidences between Buddhism and Christianity cannot be denied, and it must likewise be admitted that Buddhism existed at least 400 years before Christianity. I go even further, and should feel extremely grateful if anybody would point out to me the historical channels through which Buddhism had influenced early Christianity." It is interesting to note that Muller himself, before examining the Buddhist/Christian copycat claims, stated that he intended to prove the priority of the Jesus gospels over the Buddhist texts.

In The Gospel of Jesus in relation to the Buddha Legend, and again, in 1897, in The Buddha Legend and the Life of Jesus, Professor Rudolf Seydel of the University of Leipzig noted around fifty similarities between Buddhist and Christian parables and teachings.

In 1918, in his History of Religions, Professor E. Washburn Hopkins of Yale goes so far as to say, "Finally, the life, temptation, miracles, parables, and even the disciples of Jesus have been derived directly from Buddhism." [9]

Much more recently, the historian Jerry H. Bentley notes "the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity" and that scholars "have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha and Jesus".[10]

In his Buddhism Omnibus Iqbal Singh similarly acknowledges the possibility of early interaction and, thus, influence of Buddhist teachings upon the Christian tradition in its formative period.[11]

In 1992 Zacharias P. Thundy, Professor of Literature, wrote a book titled, Buddha and Christ, Nativity stories from the Indian traditions in which Thundy concludes that there was a substantial amount of borrowing by Christianity from Buddhism. He prefers not to label Jesus either a Jew, Buddhist or a Buddhist-Jew, claiming that such distinctions are "fuzzy". Thundy further claims a long tradition of interchange between east and west and shows that western fables, such as those in Aesop's fables, and the story of Susans attached to the Book of Daniel, were originally Buddhist Jatakas.

In 2004, Burkhard Scherer, Reader in Religious Studies at England's Canterbury Christ Church University has stated: "...it is very important to draw attention to the fact that there is [massive] Buddhist influence in the Gospels....Since more than a hundred years, Buddhist influence in the Gospels has been known and acknowledged by scholars from both sides." He adds: "Just recently, Duncan McDerret published his excellent The Bible and the Buddhist (Sardini, Bornato [Italy] 2001). With McDerret, I am convinced that there are many Buddhist narratives in the Gospels."[12]

In 2007 Doctor of Asian Studies Christian Lindtner published a book titled Geheimnisse um Jesus Christus. Dr. Lindtner compares the Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist texts with the Greek gospels and determines that the four gospels were reformulated from older Buddhist texts based on gematria values, puns, and syllabic equivalences. Those who have scrutinized his work claim that his gematria values and syllabic equivalences are coincidental and that his puns exist because the Greek and Sanskrit are from the same language family. Those in support of his work claim that is findings are unique and that similar finds could not be made in regard to any other seemingly non-connected literature.

Also, in 2007 the author Daniel Hopkins wrote a book named Father and Son, East is West, the Buddhist sources to Christianity and their influence on medieval myths, in which he claims that the Jesus gospels were highly allegorical and mysterious in order to hide the name of Jesus' father, which he claims was the Buddha's name.[13]

Thomas Tweed, Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, notes that between 1879 and 1907 there were a "number of impassioned discussions about parallels and possible historical influence between Buddhism and Christianity in ... a variety of periodicals". By 1906 interest waned somewhat. In the end, Albert Schweitzer's conclusion appears to have been favored: that, although some indirect influence through the wider culture was "not inherently impossible", the hypothesis that Jesus' novel ideas were borrowed directly from Buddhism was "unproved, unprovable and unthinkable." [14]

Work of Elaine Pagels

Some scholars, such as Edward Conze and Elaine Pagels, have suggested that gnosticism blends teachings like those attributed to Jesus Christ with teachings found in Eastern traditions.[15]

Jenkins acknowledges that "the Jesus of the hidden gospels has many points of contact with the great spiritual traditions of Asia."

with the infant Buddha. Gandhara, 2nd century CE.]]

The word gnosis (knowledge) as used by the Gnostics is equivalent to the Buddhist word prajna. Both traditions of Buddhism and Gnosticism held that only direct knowledge was liberating. Some basic parallels held in common with the Buddhist and the Gnostic, and canonical gospels, is that the Buddhists believed that the Buddha was like a great father with sons of light (Bodhisattvas), while all Christians held that Jesus was the light and the son of a great father. While it is true that some Gnostics demonized the "Father", this concept could be the Buddhist concept of 'killing the Buddha', or leaving the raft (religion)behind. Scattered throughout the Gnostic gospels there can be found many exclusively Buddhist themes, such as within The Gospel of Mary can be found the stressing of matter as impermanent, within The Infancy of James those who chew, yet do not chew can be compared to the Bodhisattvas in the Surangama sutra who Taste, but do not taste, within the book Thomas the Contender, Jesus is recorded as saying, "woe to you , because the wheel that turns in your mind" which might reference the Buddhist wheel of dependent origination, within the Gospel of Thomas when Jesus is questioned about how disciples should prove that they were from God, Jesus says the proof of God in them was "motion, and rest" which again could reference the Buddhist belief that the easiest path to enlightenment was through contemplation on the ear organ and the understanding of its two defiling attributes of motion and stillness, the gospel of Phillip mentions that Jesus was martyred many times just as the Buddhist Jatakas and Pali texts mention of the Buddha in his former births.[16]

Philip Jenkins writes that, since the mid-nineteenth century, new and fringe religious movements have often created images of Jesus, presenting him as a sage, philosopher and occult teacher, whose teachings are very similar to those of Asian religions. He asserts that the images generated by these religious movements share much in common with the images that increasingly dominate the mainstream critical scholarship of the New Testament, especially following the rediscovery of the Gnostic Gospels found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. He alleges that, in modern scholarly writing, Jesus has become more of a Gnostic, Cynic or even a crypto-Buddhist than the traditional notion of the reformist rabbi.[17]

Jenkins acknowledges that "the Jesus of the hidden gospels has many points of contact with the great spiritual traditions of Asia." Pagels has written that "one need only listen to the words of the Gospel of Thomas to hear how it resonates with the Buddhist tradition… these ancient gospels tend to point beyond faith toward a path of solitary searching to find understanding, or gnosis." She suggests that there is an explicitly Indian influence in the Gospel of Thomas, perhaps via the Christian communities in southern India, the so-called Thomas Christians.

It is believed by some that of all of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Gospel of Thomas has the most similarities with Pure Land Buddhism within it. Edward Conze has suggested that Hindu or Buddhist tradition may well have influenced Gnosticism. He points out that Buddhists were in contact with the Thomas Christians.[5]

Elaine Pagels notes that the similarities between Gnosticism and Buddhism have prompted some scholars to question their interdependence and to wonder whether "...if the names were changed, the 'living Buddha' appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus. " However, she concludes that, although intriguing, the evidence is inconclusive, and she further concludes that these parallels might be coincidental since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence.[6]

Therapeutae influence

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spent his early childhood in Egypt which was at the end of the Silk Road. As a result of its role in trade with the East, Egypt was prosperous and enriched with religious diversity.source?

The Therapeutae (known only from Philo) were mystics and ascetics who lived especially in the area around Alexandria,[18] Philo described the Therapeutae in the beginning of the 1st century CE in De vita contemplativa ("On the contemplative life"), written ca. 10 CE. By that time, the origins of the Therapeutae were already lost in the past, and Philo was even unsure about the etymology of their name.

Philonian monachism has been seen as the forerunner of and the model for the Christian ascetic life. It has even been considered as the earliest description of Christian monasticism. This view was first espoused by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History.[19]

According to the linguist Zacharias P. Thundy the name "Therapeutae" is simply an Hellenisation of the Pali term for the traditional Buddhist faith, "Theravada". The similarities between the monastic practices of the Therapeutae and Buddhist monastic practices have led to suggestions that the Therapeutae were in fact Buddhist monks who had reached Alexandria, descendants of Ashoka's emissaries to the West, and who influenced the early formation of Christianity.[20] The evidence for this argument rests solely on the similarity of practices and the purported derivation of the name. There is no evidence from antiquity that supports this argument.

In their book The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy argue that the Therapeutae are possible candidates for the origin of what they characterize as "the legend of Jesus Christ".[citation needed]

Elmar R. Gruber, a psychologist, and Holger Kersten, a specialist in religious history argue that Buddhism had a substantial influence on the life and teachings of Jesus.[21] Gruber and Kersten claim that Jesus was brought up by the Therapeutae, teachers of the Buddhist Theravada school then living in the Bible lands. They assert that Jesus lived the life of a Buddhist and taught Buddhist ideals to his disciples; their work follows in the footsteps of the Oxford New Testament scholar Barnett Hillman Streeter, who established as early as the 1930s that the moral teaching of the Buddha has four remarkable resemblances to the Sermon on the Mount."[22]

Asceticism can be seen as a common point between Buddhism and Christianity, and is in contrast to the absence of asceticism in Judaism:

"Asceticism is indigenous to the religions which posit as fundamental the wickedness of this life and the corruption under sin of the flesh. Buddhism, therefore, as well as Christianity, leads to ascetic practices. Monasteries are institutions of Buddhism no less than of Catholic Christianity. The assumption, found in the views of the Montanists and others, that concessions made to the natural appetites may be pardoned in those that are of a lower degree of holiness, while the perfectly holy will refuse to yield in the least to carnal needs and desires, is easily detected also in some of the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The ideal of holiness of both the Buddhist and the Christian saint culminates in poverty and chastity; i.e., celibacy. Fasting and other disciplinary methods are resorted to to curb the flesh"
—The Jewish Encyclopedia [23]

The "lost years" of Jesus & New Age theories

One tradition claims that Jesus traveled to India and Tibet during the "Lost years of Jesus" before the beginning of his public ministry. In 1887 a Russian war correspondent, Nicolas Notovitch, visited India and Tibet. He claimed that, at the lamasery or monastery of Hemis in Ladakh, he learned of the "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men." His story, with a translated text of the "Life of Saint Issa," was published in French in 1894 as La vie inconnue de Jesus Christ. It was subsequently translated into English, German, Spanish, and Italian.

The "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men" purportedly recounts the travels of one known in the East as Saint Issa, whom Notovitch identified as Jesus. After initially doubting Notovitch, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda, journeyed to Tibet, investigated his claim, helped translate part of the document, and later championed his views.[24].

Notovitch's writings were immediately controversial. The German orientalist Max Müller corresponded with the Hemis monastery that Notovitch claimed to have visited and Archibald Douglas visited Hemis Monastery. Neither found any evidence that Notovich (much less Jesus) had even been there himself, so they rejected his claims. The head of the Hemis community signed a document that denounced Notovitch as a liar.[25]

Despite this contradictory evidence, a number of New Age or spiritualist authors have taken this information and have incorporated it into their own works. For example, in her book The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus' 17-Year Journey to the East, Elizabeth Clare Prophet asserts that Buddhist manuscripts provide evidence that Jesus traveled to India, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet.[26]

Other comparisons

Although Gnosticism pre-dates the alleged birth of Jesus it flourishes as a Jesus movement up until around the third century. The word Gnostic is the stem of the modern word knowledge and means 'the state of knowing. To the Gnostics salvation was dependent on knowledge of the world. This knowing by experience can be compared to the Buddhist idea of direct knowledge.

In the 2007 book Father and Son, East is West, the Buddhist sources to Christianity and their influence on medieval myths, the author Daniel Hopkins lists 12 Buddhist/Gnostic Christian parallels of which, he claims, 9 of them are not paralled even remotely by other dogmas. The partially recovered Gospel of Mary begins in the third chapter:

“Will matter then be destroyed or not?”

Jesus then said, “All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature.”

As usual, we can find thousands of utterances by the Buddha that parallel this truth. Here is an example from the Mahaparinibbana sutta.

The Buddha said, “Monks, all formations are subject to decay; therefore I exhort you to work out your salvation with diligence.”

The Buddhists also believed that beings existed "in and with one another". This is most seen in the Avatamasaka sutra were the text states that the Buddha puts all the creatures, forms, and lands inside of his body.

Criticism

There is some historical basis for the assertion that Buddhist influence was a factor in the formation of Christianity and of the Christian Gospels. The rock-inscriptions of Asoka may bear witness to the spread of Buddhism over the Greek-speaking world as early as the third century BCE, since they mention the flourishing existence of Buddhism among the Greeks within the dominion of Antiochus. But although Greek rulers as far as the Mediterranean are mentioned as having received Buddhist missionaries, only in Bactria and the Kabul valley did Buddhism really take root. Also, the statement in the late Buddhist chronicle of the Mahavamsa, that among the Buddhists who came to the dedication of a great Stupa in Sri Lanka in the second century BCE, "were over thirty thousand monks from the vicinity of Alassada, the capital of the Yona country" is sometimes taken to suggest that long before the time of Christ, Alexandria in Egypt was the centre of flourishing Buddhist communities. Although it is true that Alassada is the Pali for Alexandria; but it is usually thought that the city meant here is not the ancient capital of Egypt, but as the text indicates, the chief city of the Yona country, the Yavana country of the rock-inscriptions: Bactria and vicinity. And so, the city referred to is most likely Alexandria of the Caucasus.

Also, there are various views on the origins of the oldest Buddhist teachings of the Pali Canon. The origin of the later teachings of Mahayana Buddhism are especially obscure.[27] It is believed that most of the Mahayana sutras only appeared after 100 BCE,[28] and most did not reach their final form until much later (11th century AD).

The earlier teachings of the Pali Canon and the Agamas however, are clearly up to four centuries older than Christianity. Although Buddhism is older than Christianity, and some Buddhist influence, such as Barlaam and Josaphat, is clearly evident, it is difficult to tell whether the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity are a result of the Buddhist influence on Christianity, another influence which acted on both religions, or coincidence.

References

  1. ^ Catechetical Lecture 6 Concerning the Unity of God. On the Article, I Believe in One God. Also Concerning Heresies. Isaiah xlv. 16, 17. (Sept.)
  2. ^ According to the Gnostic Bible by Willis Barnstone, here is one of many authenticating references proving the centrality of Buddhism in Mani's formulation of Gnosticism
  3. ^ Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road, Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2010 ISBN 978-0-230-62125-1
  4. ^ Jenkins, Philip. How Gnostic Jesus Became the Christ of Scholars. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13528_1.html. 
  5. ^ a b Conze, Edward. Buddhism and Gnosis. 
  6. ^ a b Pagels, Elaine (1979, repr. 1989). The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House. 
  7. ^ Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lecture 6, paragraph 23
  8. ^ Origin of Pagan Idolatry Ascertained from Historical Testimony, page 649
  9. ^ History of Religions, 1918, E. Washburn Hopkins, Professor of Sanskrit and comparative Philology, p 552,556
  10. ^ Bentley, Jerry H. (1993). Old World Encounters. Cross-cultural contacts and exchanges in pre-modern times. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507639-7. 
  11. ^ Iqbal Singh, S. Radhakrishnan, Arvind Sharma, (2004-06-24). The Buddhism Omnibus: Comprising Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada, and The Philosophy of Religion. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195668987. 
  12. ^ "The Secrets about Christian Lindtner-a preliminary response to the CLT". http://www.jesusisbuddha.com/scherer.html. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Tweed, Thomas (2000). The American Encounter With Buddhism, 1844-1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent. University of North Carolina Press. p. 280. ISBN 0807849065. 
  15. ^ Elaine Pagels. "Extract from The Gnostic Gospels". pbs.org. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/pagels.html. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  16. ^ Father and Son, East is West, 2007
  17. ^ Jenkins, Philip. [Expression error: Unexpected < operator How Gnostic Jesus Became the Christ of Scholars]. 
  18. ^ Marvin W. Meyer, Editor. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook. 
  19. ^ Scouteris, Constantine. "The Therapeutae of Philo and the Monks as Therapeutae according to Pseudo-Dionysius". http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/patrology/scouteris_theraputae.htm. 
  20. ^ "The Original Jesus" (Element Books, Shaftesbury, 1995), Elmar R Gruber, Holger Kersten
  21. ^ Gruber, Elmar and Kersten, Holger. (1995). The Original Jesus. Shaftesbury: Element Books. 
  22. ^ Chandramouli, N. S. (1997-05-01). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Did Buddhism influence early Christianity?]. The Times of India. 
  23. ^ JewishEncyclopedia.com - ASCETICISM:
  24. ^ Swami Abhedananda (1987). Journey into Kashmir and Tibet (the English translation of Kashmiri 0 Tibbate). Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vivekananda Math. 
  25. ^ Goodspeed, Edgar J. (1956). Famous Biblical Hoaxes or, Modern Apocrypha. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. http://www.tentmaker.org/books/FamousBiblicalHoaxes.html. 
  26. ^ Prophet, Elizabeth Clare (1987). The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus' 17-Year Journey to the East. Livingston, MT: Summit University Press. p. 468. ISBN 0-916766-87-X. 
  27. ^ What is particularly disconcerting here is the disconnect between expectation and reality: We know from Chinese translations that large numbers of Mahayana sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century. But outside of texts, at least in India, at exactly the same period, very different — in fact seemingly older — ideas and aspirations appear to be motivating actual behavior, and old and established Hinayana groups appear to be the only ones that are patronized and supported., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004, page 494
  28. ^ Theravada - Mahayana Buddhism By Ven. Dr. W. Rahula http://www.buddhistinformation.com/theravada.htm

Redirecting to Buddhism and Gnosticism


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