Episode:Melchizedek Gospel—Response in the Orient (Part 7)
In Tibet may be found something of all the leading world religions except the simple teachings of Jesus: sonship with God, brotherhood with man, and ever-ascending citizenship in the eternal universe. Original Buddhist philosophy held that a divine nature resided in all men, and this teaching is one of the clearest presentations of the truth of the indwelling Adjusters ever to be made by a Urantian religion.
Summary by Kermit
(final edits by James)
10. Religion in Tibet
Our author tells us that Tibet harbors the strangest association of the Melchizedek teachings combined with Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Christianity. The Andite genetic contribution to the Tibetan people was explained as being a significant source of the restlessness that was expressed as primitive savagery encountered by the Buddhist missionaries. A parallel to the conditions faced by the Christian missionaries in northern Europe was cited. It was further suggested that this may also have been instrumental in some degree to a limited adoption of Christianity. The inordinately cumbersome and intolerably burdensome complex religious beliefs and practices of Tibet are contrasted with that which is sadly missing—the simple teachings of the Jesusonian gospel: sonship with God, brotherhood with man, and ascending citizenship in the eternal universe.
Tibetan practices, while exhibiting a consecration to spiritual matters, give excessive emphasis to the material components of such consecration. Thus, are their heavenly aspirations restrained and restricted by material gravity inherent in such material pursuits. Please note, this emphasis on the material components of spiritual practices serves to retard the religious lives of peoples worldwide, not just Tibet.
As was mentioned, the engagement with spirit, while experientially satisfying to a degree, if lacking a personal component, has no survival value. We are reminded that Jesus had the same difficulties with his apostles and disciples and their inability to clearly distinguish between the material, spiritual, and personally spiritual—truly religious domains. For only with the fifth epochal revelation (5thER) has mankind been shown that matter and spirit are distinctly different substances, each governed by their own universal laws.
11. Buddhist Philosophy
Buddhism entered China in the first millennium after Christ. It was compatible with the religious customs of the yellow race, particularly with respect to the reverencing of ancestors. Though the perversion of Gautama’s traditions and teachings made of him a divine being, embellished with miracles, this itself appealed greatly to those who subscribed to the Mahayana version of Buddhism. We are reminded that today, the multitude of miracles surrounding the teachings about Jesus have great appeal. Gautama’s acquired divinity remains a seed of the potential for a personal God. However, the teaching that the Sakyamuni Buddha’s spirit returned periodically as a living Buddha, paved the way for the very practices, rituals and ceremonies he deplored.
The comprehension of the relativity of all truth was a major advance for Buddhist philosophy. This point led to our discussion of the differences in truth related to facts—experiential truth, and the truth in relation to eternity—existential truth. Experiential truth obviously can be lived, but to do so requires more than a religious perspective in the inner life. It requires a philosophical perspective that must reconcile the fullness of threefold cosmic reality in harmonizing the inner and outer life.
The Buddhist philosophy also held that the Buddha nature resided in all men and could be realized through one’s own efforts. Such teaching represented one of the clearest presentations of the truth of an indwelling Adjuster ever to be made by a Urantian religion.
On the other hand, a great limitation in Gautama’s original gospel as interpreted by his followers consisted in their attempt to find complete liberation of the human self from all the limitations of the mortal nature by isolating the self from objective reality. This retreat to an inner life, removed from objective reality is most problematic. Only through a personal living philosophy wherein the material, moral and spiritual domains are harmonized in daily life can true cosmic self-realization result.
Fortunately, notwithstanding the contamination and degeneration of the Buddhist teachings with those of the lands to which it traveled, many great thinkers concentrated upon the issue of ascertaining the absolute truth and the truth of the Absolute. This upward ascent to envisioning the Primal Source of the universes, circuitous though it was, passed through three steps.
- The Gautama legend, based on the real person grew until it surpassed the idea of Gautama, the enlightened one.
- The many Buddhas—Here the Adjuster-like concept of Buddha nature being in all men gave rise to the teaching that there were many Buddhas and one could aspire to become one.
- The Absolute Buddha—With the proliferation of so many Buddhas, a reunification of this unwieldy concept became necessary. Thus, the teaching that it was a higher Eternal One of infinite existence, and Absolute Source of all reality that gave rise to the many manifestations of Buddha. Thereby did the Deity concept of Buddhism become separated from the person of Gautama.
This Deity concept, while not particularly popular in Asia and not vital to religious development, did lead to a unification of philosophy and harmonization of cosmology. Though not as comforting as the Salem gospel’s promise of divine favor and eternal survival through faith, this Deity concept continued to evolve.
As we are reminded, this information isn’t in the revelation to teach history alone. The philosophic quest for an understanding of Deity, and ideals related thereto, must precede the development of ideas of God, if those ideas of God are to be more than anthropomorphic. And yet, paradoxically, the beginning of such a quest must be jump-started by the religious spark of some idea of God. Students of the 5thER are obliged to heed the process of our own philosophic evolution in grasping the ideals of God, while letting go of our primitive ideas of God and replacing them with ideas that are true. Let’s make new wineskins, suitable for the new wine we have been given.
12. The God Concept of Buddhism
Even with its weaknesses of contamination with superstitions and the sublimation of Gautama, his teachings have continued to evolve.
It was with the teachings in Japan that a definite concept of God finally came to fruit in the belief in Amida Buddha. As described by our author, Amida Buddha is a personal God worthy of intelligent worship. Our Melchizedek author is most complimentary of the strengths of Buddhism and he offers an appeal and stirring challenge to contemporary Buddhism to seriously regard this 5thER:
At the time of this writing, much of Asia rests its hope in Buddhism. Will this noble faith, that has so valiantly carried on through the dark ages of the past, once again receive the truth of expanded cosmic realities even as the disciples of the great teacher in India once listened to his proclamation of new truth? Will this ancient faith respond once more to the invigorating stimulus of the presentation of new concepts of God and the Absolute for which it has so long searched?