A few weeks ago during Lent, the doorbell rang.

At the door was a youngish man who described himself as ‘a travelling monk’. He left SpouseMouse with a small leaflet promising a way for people to be less stressed, calmer, more alert and healthier. People can accomplish this through yoga and meditation. At the bottom were Hare Krishna contact details.

What struck me about the leaflet was the ‘me, me, me’ focus.

A Christian leaflet could not — or should not, in any event — promise a better life on this earth. In fact, leaving behind the world to follow Christ can be fraught with problems involving families, friends and, possibly, employers. Yet, His crucifixion and resurrection bring us to eternal life. We focus not on this world but the life to come in the Kingdom of God.

This post is not intended to contrast the two faiths but to explore why Christianity is the more attractive, and only true, one.

Whenever I read about Buddhism, which isn’t often, my head swims. The prospect of reincarnation seems cruel: live over and over again, possibly not even as a human, until one gets it right. If you’re born poor or have a chronic disease, you must have done something wrong to deserve that: bad karma.

Quoting Buddhist literature, Evidence to Believe tells us more about samsara, the perpetual cycles of existence:

‘ … endless rounds of rebirth among the six realms of existence. This cyclical rebirth pattern will only end when a sentient being attains Nirvana, i.e. virtual exhaustion of karma, habitual traces, defilements and delusions. All other religions preach one heaven, one earth and one hell, but this perspective is very limited compared with Buddhist samsara where heaven is just one of the six realms of existence and it has 28 levels/planes.’

Accompanying this is the gnostic aspect; only the enlightened can master Buddhism. There is no sin, no soul, no beginning, rarely an end. Even more important, there is no mercy and no brotherly love, only enlightenment which one must work hard at. It must be like being on a hamster wheel.

Although there are Buddhist communities who feed and clothe the needy, Peter Kreeft explains (emphases mine):

This is the enlightened thing to do. For if you were freezing and had two gloves on one hand and none on the other hand, would it not be the enlightened thing to do to give one of the gloves to the bare hand?”

The Buddhist point is not the welfare of the recipient, but the liberation of the giver from the burden of self.

Suffering is another part of the human condition which everyone finds frustrating at any age. Sharon L Bratcher, writing for Canada’s Reformed Perspective observes:

Unlike the Buddhist nun, who claims that, “nothing can make us joyful in the face of sorrow,” we are able to experience a sense of peace, and even joy in accepting God’s will. James 1:2 encourages us to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of any kind,” and 1 Peter 1:6 states “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

This is seen by the Christian as a true “letting go” of a situation, but it involves a total trust in God rather than the Buddhist’s “true awareness of the real condition of existence” (Howley).

I imagine the man who dropped by our house was an Englishman who had been raised in a Christian home then rebelled. I knew a Buddhist who was raised in a devout Brethren community in the United States. When he grew up, he rejected Christianity altogether.

Yet, this experience is widespread in Western countries. More younger people are turning to Buddhism as they repudiate ‘organised religion’ and its many wars centuries ago.

ChristianAnswers has an interesting testimony from a former Buddhist who became a Christian. Excerpts follow:

I was skeptical about religious claims, but felt a deep void in my life. I yearned for meaning and truth in a unpredictable and often hostile world. In Buddhism, I thought I had found what I was searching for.

Buddhists has never started a war. There was never a Buddhist Inquisition. They emphasized wisdom, compassion, lovingkindness, and personal transformation. And they certainly never threatened me with eternity in a lake of fire.

But it was not meant to be … No matter how long I meditated or what teachings I read, I could not fill this emptiness in my life

This person had many unanswered questions about the nature and meaning of life. Eventually:

I strayed from the Buddhist path, the emptiness within me greater than before. I began to examine the claims of Jesus of Nazareth in a new light, laying aside the biases and prejudices that had caused me to dismiss Him as merely a “great human teacher.” The more I searched, the more I came to believe that there was a sovereign God who loved me and that Jesus was who He claimed to be—the Son of Man, fully human and fully God. I accepted Christ into my heart …

What’s more, I discovered that what I had sought through the Buddhist path—wisdom, compassion, and lovingkindness—were found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The supreme act of compassion was His sacrifice on the cross—that while we were still sinners, He died for us.

Let us keep this in mind, especially during Eastertide with the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday so fresh in our minds.

One thing we can do is to start reading the Bible daily so that we fully understand what God wants us to know about Him and His Son Jesus Christ.

As we read the histories in the Old Testament and of Christ’s life in the Gospels, we will see God’s infinite mercy at work throughout and His everlasting love for humanity.

Let us thank Him for the gift of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate.

Yes, Jesus loves us, but, more importantly, He also did more than any other religious leader did: suffered death on the Cross then rose again on the third day. Only He can bring us to life eternal.

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