Buddhists have theimpressionthat the redemption effected
by Jesus Christ corresponds to " the
development of Perfections in order to remove man-kind from all sufferings".
to becoming perfectly Enlightened, a person must develop Perfections for
the sake of others, even to the extent of sacrificing his life, his beloved
son and wife, his limbs, his vision, everything he owns. Even
after becoming a Buddha, He still goes on to remove mankind's sufferings,
which may be likened to hell-on-earth. He thus brings about
a blissful calmness in the world even unto its dumb animals. Such
an act directly involves the sacrifice of one"s life or personal happiness
in service of other men, and therefore be termed "Redemption",
is, applying self-sacrifice to redeem mankind from the entanglements of
defilements or cravings. Man is possessed by ignorance, which,
like a creditor or the devil, holds man in his grip. There
needs to be someone who is prepared to sacrifice even his own life in order
to wake man from his folly and to save him from sufferings which he himself
cannot perceive. The sacrifice of life by a "Redeemer" has
an everlasting effect, for He leaves His discourses as an inheritance for
the world, and these are taught for centuries after He has passed away. The
first layer is the redemption of other people and the second, self-redemption.
It was necessary for Lord Buddha to make every sacrifice in order to
find a way to get rid of mental defilement or to kill the Mara(the evil
one). He then sacrificed Himself by embarking on the task of
preaching to mankind in the midst of grave dangers until He finally won
their hearts. Once the Buddha's preaching has been understood
and practised so as to free oneself from one's own ignorance and defilements,
one is thus saved. The first redemption is by the Lord Buddha,
and the second, by the person himself. The most essential part lies
in the latter stage. Hence Buddhists regard self-redemption as a
cardinal principle, to the extent that it is prescribed: "Atta Hi Attano
Natho" i.e. " Self is the refuge of self"(Attavagga Dh.Kh.).
The Lord Buddha Himself advocated this principle, saying: "You yourself
must make the journey. The Tathagatas can only show the way".(Dh.
Kh.25/51) Without making the journey by oneself, one can never
reach the "Kingdom of God".
the Buddha to show the way, there would not be any journey at all.
Even if someone found the right path, after striving hard, he would
not be able to come back to pick up his followmen. His knowledge
would be too narrow in scope, and could only be used for his own good.
He would be at a loss to convince others of the profound truth he had found.
It takes someone who is endowed with the virtues of a Buddha to succeed
in showing the way, so that later generations may follow in his foot steps.
The primary Redeemer is therefore the Enlightened Teacher and the real
redeemer is no other than the traveller himself. If this concept
is acceptable, we can then see that redemption is common to all religions,
identical in essence, and differing only in minor details. The
true meaning of redemption is merely the "Resurrection" referred to in
John 3/3 which represents what Jesus Christ would have most wished . The
Lord Buddha defied Angulimala's scimitar and resurrected him there and
then. This is an example of the highest form of personal redemption
according to Buddhism. We may therefore define redemption briefly
as "to cause man to be reborn spiritually in this very life on earth".
Every religion embodies redemption as an essential course of action and
without this, would have no significance.
Going one step further, we may say that redemption
of sin is an act of Loving Kindness(Metta). One must possess the
highest form of Loving Kindness in order to be able to effect redemption.
Even if we were to say that redemption was effected at God's will, it must
have been from the God of Loving Kindness--an attribute of God. All
mankind must co-operate with God towards self-redemption. All
must bring about "resurrection" by practising the principles of religious
which are there to be studied and observed until they are thoroughly understood
and then earnestly applied to life. This is what we call "to
sacrifice one's life to God", which would then agree with God's will to
help us-this is to use the mixed terms of the lay language and that of
Dhamma. But, in fact, we must love ourselves, help ourselves
and have to overcome all evils by ourselves in order to be free from all
kinds of sufferings. By doing so, we shall be entirely redeemed
from the "original sins", or "new sins" or the 'present sins".
As regards the words of prayer, these are
but a kind of self-persuasion or praying to ourselves to act according
to God's will, for the words used in prayers tend to motivate us towards
goodness, or towards the path leading to God. This is true
even for the prayer of the Bahai religion which runs as follow:
thy Beauty be Divine Food for my feeling;
May thy Presence be an Elixir to my heart;
May thy Pleasure be my entire hope;
May the remembrance of thee be my companion in the journey;
May thy Abode be mine.
For, by substituting "Dhamma" of "Thy", the
whole prayer becomes a Buddhist Principle. They pray to the Buddha, the
Dhamma, and the Sangha for "forgiveness" of their transgressions, each
morning and evening; but in the Dharmic language, for the purpose
of self-direction or self-persuasion, not to do wroing in the future.
To summarize, redemption of mankind began with the teachers, who made great
sacrifices for mankind's sake, and fulfilled our response in trying to
understand their teachings. Whether the redemption is great
or not depends on the worth of what we have achieved thereby.
Collective redemption of sins in this manner is the essence of every religion,
for it will purify the earth, and free it from all kinds of sufferings.
This is the common objective of man's religions.
The ultimate consummation that man
may derive from religion is his happiness in this world and the good
things that he may enjoy in the future world of God. The great cultures of the world
have emerged out of religion, although perhaps in a rather primitive form.
Hence, the direct benefits obtained through religion have had to do with
things in another world beyond the scope of human cultures. That world
is generally known as the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Godhas
different meanings. In the layman's language, it means the world to be
obtained after death. But in the Dharmic language, the Kingdom of God,
in reality, means the world existing within the world itself; which common
people fail to see. The Buddhists call this state of condition "Nirvana",
which may be attained in the world here and now. It is this state which
is called the Kingdom of God. And mankind must strive to accomplish the
journey before it dies a natural death. Concerning this kind
of peacefulness, the most interesting advice contained in the Bible is
found in Corinthians,7/29-31 teaching the way of life characterized by
freedom from all attachments: "........they that have wives be as though
they have none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that
rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they
possessed not; and they that use this world, as not using it.........".
In Buddhism, this is known as " freeing one's mind from attachment in terms
of "I" or "my", which is imperative to put into practice in our day-to-day
lives. As long as we live peacefully in this way, so long will we live
in the Kingdom of God, for during this time there is purity, light of wisdom,
peacefullness and serenity beyond all description. Only then will we be
able to work for our own benefit and for the good of others. Therefore,
if these two Biblical concepts are well understood, you will see for yourself
that Christianity and Buddhism have more things in common than you have
ever known,thought or hoped. The best thing in religion is
to be given free. In Matthew 10/9, one reads:
"..........freely ye have received, freely give". In Revelation 21/6 "....
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life
freely". In Buddhism, it has been said: "Laddha Mudha Nibbutini Bhunjamana"
that is, they are enjoying Nirvana which has been attained for nothing,
freely. (Ratanasuttra, Khuddakapatha, Khuddaka-Nikaya). All this shows
that the loftiest thing of God is obtained freely. Thus,the
ultimate consummation of religion sought by man, is what is called the
loftiest Dhamma or the Highest Good or Summum Bonum that man can attain
in his lfetime, not after his death. Provided that a person is not spiritually
dead like other common people who die many times during a single day by
being victimized by evil or ills(suffering), as soon as he puts God's words
into practice, that kind of death will not touch him. He will be born anew,
enjoying the life which knows no such death. In Christian terms this is
called "the entry into the Kingdom of God", and in Buddhist Dharmic terms,
" the Attainment of the Deathless", and to use the layman language, "the
entry into the land of Nirvana". Is this possible in this very life or
is one to wait for it in one's grave? Let the wise think and decide