Late Pope: Buddhism sucks

Our condolences to our Catholic brothers and sisters on the death of their leader John Paul II, and congratulations on his being posthumously annointed the foremost human being of the 20th century.

The late Pope had a reputation as an intellectual, and a bridge builder. So is it safe to assume he had a learned, mature appreciation of Buddhism? Hardly. His thoughts on Buddhism are at the level of a gross caricature, belying his reputation as a thoughtful scholar.

In his 1995 book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, His Holiness commented (emphasis in the original):

…it is not inappropriate to caution those Christians who enthusiastically welcome certain ideas originating in the religious traditions of the Far East—for example, techniques and methods of meditation…

Note how the pontiff limits his concern to Westerners adopting such “traditions”; he apparently does not feel all the Asians believing in them are worth worrying about.

The Pope goes on to reveal his ignorance by claiming fallaciously:

…the Buddhist tradition…[has] an almost exclusively negative soteriology…the “enlightenment” experienced by Buddha comes down to the convicition that the world is bad, that it is the source of evil and of suffering for man. To liberate oneself from this evil, one must free oneself from this world, necessitating a break with the ties that join us to external reality…

The dearly departed Holy Father then proceeds to debunk the theories of a relationship between Christian mysticism and eastern religions:

Saint John of the Cross does not merely propose detachment from the world. He proposes detachment from the world in order to unite onesefl to that which is outside of the world—by this I do not mean nirvana, but a personal God…Carmelite mysticism begins at the point where the reflections of Buddha end…

The Bishop of Rome continues in a highly chauvinistic and nearly racist vein. He credits Christianity with giving Western civilization its “positive approach to the world”, and, astonishingly, attributes the achievements of science and technology to “Judeo-Christian revelation”.

Luckily, we don’t have to worry too much about this. The Pope saves us the trouble of having to seriously consider his ideas on the topic by making his ignorance of the area so blatantly obvious.

12 Responses to “Late Pope: Buddhism sucks”

  1. Robert Says:

    The pope wasn’t a scholar but an idiot. First of all, let’s be honest about the historical validity of the christian god. Any reputable scholar will tell you that it is doubtful that such a figure even existed in time. The mythical christ of faith predates Xtianity and the jesus of history is relatively unknown.(ref. Westar Institute) The catholics know this and have been hiding and denying the truth for years. It is well known in scholarly circles that Xtaianity is nothing more than a mixed bag of Egyptian myth, neoplatonism, Judaism, and greek philosophy.When exposed to the facts and to logical reason, the entire religion falls apart like the house of cards that it is.

    The pope cast his own shadow on and marginalized the downtrodden and the outcasts of society. He was a polarizing figure and displayed self hate and a lack of compassion. It’s a joke to call such a person a scholar.

    Xtianity is the scourge of humanity and the sooner the collective culture at large accepts the facts, the better off humanity will be.

  2. Alasdair Says:

    Perhaps we should just be grateful that the late JPII didn’t spend more time or effort writing about Buddhism and other Eastern systems. One doubts that Benedict will be any better – Rabbi Michael Learner reports of him that:
    In 1997 Ratzinger called Buddhism an “autoerotic spirituality” that offers “transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations.” Hindusim, he said, offers “false hope,” in that it guarantees “purification” based on a “morally cruel” concept of reincarnation resembling “a continuous circle of hell.” At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church’s main enemy.
    “Ratzinger is being falsely described as a conservative, when in fact he, despite his publicly genteel manner, is a raging reactionary. Unlike many American conservatives who oppose gay sexual practices but not their legal rights, Ratzinger in 1992 argued against human rights for gays, stressing that their civil liberties could be “legitimately limited.”

  3. Paul Says:

    Whoa better keep hating Christianity guys – not surprising on this site. Buddhism will continue to get praise for a little while longer (we’ll have to endure it) until something else becomes popular. I guess Buddhists can’t stand others criticizing their religion/philosophy but they feel they can do it all they want to others (the posts so far have proven this fact).

    I have to hear it all day long: Jesus is fake and Buddha is real (why? because Buddhism is popular with the rebelling teens – I have never heard an answer better than that one).

    Buddhism is for smart people and it works with science (no I’m afraid there is no scientific research into karma or reincarnation because they are both wrong).

    The Pope says horrible things about homosexuals and sexual activity, why can’t he be more like the Dahlia Lama (oh you mean the guy who has said almost all the same conservative things the pope has? But then again the Dahlia Lama is cool so we must not point out when he says conservative things).

    “I’ve always wondered why rich Westerners, dismissive about religion in general, find solace in Buddhism. Well, let’s talk a look at the story of Prince Siddhartha, or Buddha as he became known. Basically, it’s the story of a rich kid that decided to slum it. No joke – this guy Buddha was living at home in his palace, leeching off his dad until he was 30. Then like some spoiled trust-fund baby, he decides to leave the palace and finds all this romance in self-inflicted deprivation, all the while knowing that he could ring up his dad to top off his Visa card the minute anything went wrong. Hey, Buddha, here’s a spiritual insight – all these poor people you were trying to emulate would’ve exchanged their noble life under the bodiatry for the opulence of your dad’s palace in a snap! Which brings me back to my original point – I wonder why all these rich Westerners can relate so well to Buddha? Well, maybe it’s because Buddha is the prototypical spoiled rich kid acting all dirty and poor. Let’s face it, if Buddha were alive today, he’d be playing bass guitar in the Strokes.” – John Safran

  4. Paul Says:

    “The pope wasn’t a scholar but an idiot. First of all, let’s be honest about the historical validity of the christian god. Any reputable scholar will tell you that it is doubtful that such a figure even existed in time.”

    Uh-uh, let me just say wrong. If you didn’t have your head up your arse and such an axe to grind, you wouldn’t be so blind to know that that vast majority of scholars state that Jesus did exist. Instead you read a whole ONE book on the Jesus Myth theory – the big problem is that only a handful of scholar (maybe .001% of real scholars) agree with this conspiracy theory. Any reputable scholar will tell you that it is doubtful that such a figure even existed in time? – Well all I can say is good work completely distorting the truth to meet your own beliefs.

  5. sajeev Says:

    Can I just point out that the Buddha did not believe in Reincarnation but several Buddhists clearly do. Paul clearly like most of us has a lot of anger – which is a sign of unhappiness. discusses the Buddha’s actual beliefs – not that anyone really knows he exists or how he lived – but what people claim he said.


  6. et Says:

    this is a weird post. if you’re a buddhist and posting hate remarks here i suggest you take a moment to reflect and meditate alright? i’m a buddhist and i’m perfectly fine with christianity btw. peace 🙂

  7. Marc Says:

    Wow! Buddhists against Christians; Christians against Buddhists…Buddhists against Buddhists and Christians against Christians; Nagarjuna would have a hayday with this one, the never-ending contradictions that contradict more contradictions. Trying to out-trump the next guy with more data about “your myth” versus the other guy’s data is obviously filled with aversion…do you think anyone here is speaking as a good student representative of their teacher? Is this the love and forgiveness either the Buddha or Christ taught? Besides the obvious gaps in historical data on either side of the fence, (Christian original writings of the disciples? Buddhist writings concerning Mahayana teachings?) neither would have a concrete footing in that battle, and therefore need to take the matters for themselves. Are there not enought wars? Are there not enough starving people? Is it that difficult to notice the benefits of love in the world? Does one religion have the monopoly on “miracles”? Didn’t think so. Just feel in your heart how quick to rise the blood pressure is when something that is not concordant with your adopted philosophy, then you’ll see if your religion is working FOR YOU or not…this does not mean that any religion is wrong everybody.

    Perhaps God (I’ll use that term with intended ambiguity) new that the words he needed to use with those predisposed toward Judaism and Christianity would pertain to THAT level of practitioner and chose to use a totally different set of words and images for other religions. Do we know that? What would the originals have to say about that? Oh, I’m sorry, you can’t find them either…and there are at last count over 400,000 variants from translations of all the earliest copies of the New Testament in Greek or Latin or regional, take your pick! So, with that, if your heart says to follow this or that, then DO! But don’t be pulled back to the world that NEITHER PARTY has as its object of refutation because someone believes something else! Just practice what you believe and follow your conviction for yourself, helping make the world a much better place to be with more positive people, people who smile at others and develop trust, love and compassion within all communities and within all dialogues.

    Perhaps the true matter here is with conviction in general. For a Christian that believes that Christ will return and that God will only take his chosen people, perhaps the conviction is in question since, knowing God, he’s a big boy and he’ll take care of it better than you…but shouldn’t you worry about that commandment “love thy neighbor?” And not to mention Levitical law in which respect is given to neighboring countries and their people?

    And a Buddhist that decides to take offense to a Christian’s attacks on Buddhism or Buddhist ideas really didn’t get that whole “emptiness” idea, and should study and develop compassion and patience. The Buddha had to teach many ways for his students’ needs and capacities…and compassion was at the heart of them, even for those who will probably never hear the Dharma, correct Dharma within this lifetime.

    For those that post with negativity towards one another, have you learned? Are you qualified then to speak on these matters when the irritations that you deal with is no different than a person swatting at invisible bees. If that is your religious tradition, develop it for yourself, grow and love and at the end see how much better you are spiritually- is it that difficult to love all of Creation? Even if that Creation doesn’t love back???


  8. Michelle Says:

    Robert, if Christianity “is nothing more than a mixed bag of Egyptian myth, neoplatonism, Judaism, and greek philosophy” then why do ppl like you worry so much about Christianity? I mean, in reality, why would you even care? Wouldn’t that make you feel better—-that it’s all so simple, so mixed, not one fixed religion? Because then, Christianity can be so open, like you. It seems to me that if you’re going to spend such a great deal of time researching Chrisitianity, which you so strongly seem to oppose, why not like it? In other words, why not spend all your time researching something you like? It seems quite pointless to go out and become an expert in something you really don’t care for. I think you seem to defending the freedom to think and be different, but if we already have that freedom, what are you doing?

  9. Nigel Says:

    I see that Robert has gotten (somewhat deserved) criticism for his post, but what about Paul? While defending his religion, justly, he decided to insult Buddhism as well, and took many things completely out of context (and spelled Dalai Lama wrong, mind you). I believe it said Christian God, Paul, not Jesus. Jesus and God are not the same, no matter what you believe. God was manifested in the flesh within Christ, but they were not the same.

    I am a Catholic, but a truly believe the teachings of Gautam are incredibly enlightening and that the Papacy’s (Pope Benedict in particular) view on Buddhism and Hinduism is completely wrong and biased.

  10. sampuna Says:

    Well, nothing agaisnt the late Pope John-Paul now since he has long departed.As a Buddhist,I wouldn’t agree with the Pope’s idea about Buddhism,BUT he’s entitled to his views as that’s his way of looking at things.To me,he lacks the REAL understanding of the Dhamma, that’s all.No big crime.It’s kinda sad though he hadn’t enough time to study Buddhism deeper.His affinity with the Dhamma is up to that level.So people,understanding this,please do not call him a fool.He has not fully developed Bodhi, like the rest of us in Samsara.

  11. Amaree Says:

    Fuck it everyone just get along

  12. oldnative Says:

    Nothing is real, ALL is illusion except for the countless precious unborn and undying minds of self and others. Everything else is valueless and impermanent. So to worry about anything else is just to invest in a silly dream that can cause sadness for self and others. 🙂
    I dedicate this to all that is REAL.

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