Episode:Melchizedek Gospel—Response in the Orient (Part 6)
Buddhism took origin in a historic person; and while Gautama made no superhuman claims, his disciples early began to call him the enlightened one. According to his original teachings, salvation is achieved through faith, rather than through magic. The great truth of Siddhartha’s teaching was his proclamation of a universe of absolute justice; he taught the best godless philosophy ever invented by mortal man.
Summary by Kermit
Commentary from Summary
We saw fit to comment on the seemingly harsh words of the revelators, e.g., “grotesque perversion” and the like when referring to false beliefs and practices, in this particular case of the followers of Gautama. The key point in this is to maintain the clear distinction between the individual believer, whom God loves as His universe child, and false ideas about God and the cosmos.
8. The Buddhist Faith
The simple threefold faith proclamation, the Refuge, is reminiscent of the simple faith attitude taught by Melchizedek. However, with the passage of time and expanse of geography this simple declaration became more and more complex, obscuring the potential message of divine sonship and human brotherhood.
As with Lao-tse, the revelation confirms the historical person, Gautama. He made no superhuman claims for himself or his teachings. He was known to his disciples as the enlightened one. His original gospel was based on the four noble truths, centered about the problem of suffering, its origin, destruction and way of its destruction. The irony of this gospel lies in the fact that “pain and suffering are essential to progressive evolution” [86:2.1]. In its simplest and most direct form, the striving to escape suffering is counter to the Father’s way of progressive evolution. In our discussion the inevitabilities [3:5.5] were cited as examples of truths of suffering and their evolutionary utility in the development of cosmic character. The differential between what is and what ought to be, i.e., perfecting and perfect, represents the potential, the driving force for evolutionary progress. And as was mentioned evolution is the divine technique of creativity in time. Seeking escape from all suffering is of course futile and would short circuit this struggle. For the Supreme to be fully manifest, all of the potentials of suffering must be actualized.
Gautama’s doctrine of suffering and escape therefrom was embodied in the Eightfold Path: right views aspirations, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and contemplation. However, Gautama did not envision the escape from suffering to consist of the annihilation of all effort, desire and affection. He attempted to show the futility of attaching hope and aspirations to temporal goals and material objectives.
With pain and suffering being essential to progressive evolution, we briefly conjectured what form such suffering would take in the higher realms of our universe ascension. Our almost complete ignorance of the real nature and details of our higher existences and experiences make this difficult to envision, although the revelators do describe episodes in our ascension where the ascender suffers extreme disappointment in some aspect of the rugged ascension program.
Gautama’s moral commandments are reminiscent of the moral codes of conduct contained in the Dalamatian and the Edenic teachings. The simplicity of the five precepts of Buddhism became encumbered by material complexity over time. Siddhartha’s doctrine of Nirvana can be seen as a transcendence of the material level while still in the flesh. It was not the union with the Absolute as found in the Brahmanic philosophy, but something achievable in this life, a spiritual attainment liberating the individual from the fetters of the material realm. The revelators are stressing here that Gautama’s teaching had elements of faith consciousness. Though not believing in the immortality of the human personality, he was still seeking a transcendence of the material level of existence. Herein is the potential of Buddhism to go beyond its godless roots. The idea that the Buddha as a person continues to be a focal point of this unrecognized faith of Buddhist followers is further potential for a sometime concept of a personal god. Ironically, Gautama’s teaching served to move believers beyond a confusing and complex theology of many gods, superstitions, rituals, and the like, preparing them for a higher recognition of cosmic reality, even the Universal Father of all. He took initial steps to diminish superstitions and turn people away from ideas of magical salvation, but his successors misinterpreted these teachings and went on to assert that all human efforts for attainment are distasteful and painful, totally missing the fact that happiness is connected to the pursuit of worthy goals which lead to true progress in cosmic self-realization. Still, current day Buddhism is evolving and the potential Gautama seeded into it remains to be actualized.
Gautama’s proclamation of a universe of absolute justice was the great truth of his teaching. He taught an ideal humanism in that it removed all grounds for superstition, magical rituals, and ghost or demon fear. This godless philosophy could have cleansed the landscape of the myriad of confusing beliefs thus paving the way for the reception of a potent monotheism. As it is now, the humanism is now finding resonance in the west and constitutes a significant factor in the philosophic emergency so often referred to on this broadcast.
Unfortunately, the original gospel of Buddhism failed to produce a religion of unselfish service, becoming an isolated Buddhist community given to self-contemplation and given to hierarchical tendencies. As the revelators remind us, Gautama’s life was much greater than his preachment.
9. The Spread of Buddhism
A parallel between the spread of Buddhism and the spread Christianity was drawn from the role of Asoka who, through empire building, made Buddhism the dominant religion of one half the world, foreshadowing the emperor Constantine’s establishment of Christianity as a “state religion.” In general, it was a vastly superior religion to those it supplanted. The revelators speak very highly of the thrilling stories of spiritual devotion and missionary persistence of those who carried Buddhism to the corners of Asia. But alas, as we’ve seen before, the greater distance in time and geography from its origins, Buddhism lost its simplicity and became increasingly complicated, becoming more and more like the religions it supplanted. Eventually Buddhism withered and died in India, becoming Brahmanized surrendering to Islam. While in the rest of the Orient, Buddhism degenerated into a ritual that Gautama would never have recognized. As noted previously, the emptiness of Brahmanism was a highly suitable God-vacuum readily filled by the monotheistic Mohammedanism.
Lest the story of Buddhism end on a pessimistic note, the revelators tell of the north-south division of Buddhism into the southern, more fundamentalist Hinayana or “Lesser Road” version, and the northern, more progressive Mahayana or “Great Road” variant, which continues to evolve in China and Japan to this day.
“Buddhism is a living, growing religion today because it succeeds in conserving many of the highest moral values of its adherents. It promotes calmness and self-control, augments serenity and happiness, and does much to prevent sorrow and mourning. Those who believe this philosophy live better lives than many who do not.” [94:9.6]