One argument that Buddha did not deny the existence of a self

My interest largely turned from Christianity to Buddhism about 8 months ago, even though I still posted a few posts on Christianity. But the main thing I’ve been thinking about recently is the claim by modern/secular Buddhists that Buddha taught there is no self / no soul. I don’t find this in the Dhammapada or the suttas in general.  It seems to me to be a misinterpretation.   Below I give one simple logical argument that I think goes a long way to demonstrating the absurdity of thinking he taught there is no self / no soul.

Did Buddha teach suicide or the eight-fold noble path as the means to liberation [from suffering]?  If the body is all there is then liberation comes merely from death and enlightenment is not necessary, everyone on their deathbed is liberated, arhat [i.e. fully enlightened] or not. You could not come up with a better way to undo the entire dhamma! A self beyond the body is required to make enlightenment/arhatship necessary for liberation. [Yet, Buddha taught that only arhats, those who are fully enlightened, achieve liberation.] Therefore, its impossible that Buddha did not teach a self.

That is easily backed up with Dhammapada 153-154 “Through many a birth in samsara [i.e. physical world] have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house. Repeated birth is indeed suffering! O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving.”

The house is clearly a metaphor for the body, the house builder whatever creates the body. The “I” is the soul that controls the body.

Now how did “I” wander through many lives when “I” according to modern Buddhism is only the body (i.e. the house) which is destroyed at the end of each life? Obviously “I” here is the unconditioned self / soul. Unless someone wants to argue that houses live in houses. The metaphor of the house requires that the “I” be distinct from the house, ergo the “I” is not the body.

Now that the “I” has seen the house-builder (reached Enlightenment/Awakening) there will be no more house (body, 5 aggregates) built, but the “I” here continues, just without a house. So the body that is obliterated with each death is not the self, but there is an unconditioned self, which alone is the true self, because the body is not the self but merely the “house” and not a real self it’self’.


Jesus and Monasticism 2. Buddhist influence on Jesus?

So in the last post, Jesus and Monasticism, I talked a bit about how statements like “Unless you hate father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, and yea your own life also, you cannot be my disciples” point to Jesus having taught a monastic religion (hate what your father and mother and siblings want for you, i.e. for you to get married and have children to give them grandchildren and nieces/nephews). And stuff like “turn the other cheek” and “if anyone sues you for your outer robe, give him your inner robe also” and “take no thought for the morrow” clearly points to a monastic religion not a religion for parents who certainly can’t follow such teachings.

Now, let’s take it a step further. Its amazing also considering the uber-violent Old Testament how Jesus miraculously comes up with this “turn the other cheek” stuff. If its the same god, why such a change?

Seems very clear ultimately that its not from god in the way imagined, and rather Jesus was influenced by Buddhism which originated 500 years earlier, and was all about monasticism and non-violence. But keep beating away at the air thinking you can remove Augustinianism from “Christianity,” when the fact is Augustinianism erased the original teachings of Jesus and left barely enough to see that Jesus didn’t teach what they claim he taught, obscured over by the rest of the Catholic scriptures like Paul the liar.

Now the real question is, Where did the Buddhist influence on Jesus come from?  Was he himself a Buddhist monk coming from India and not really a Jew? Was he really a Jew born in Bethlehem and moved to a foreign country like Egypt (or India) and became a Buddhist monk there and brought it back to Palestine? Was it the Essenes, a monastic Jewish sect (probably founded by a traveling Buddhist monk who mixed it with Judaism) that influenced Jesus, thus making him influenced by Buddhism only indirectly?

And the next question is, What was Jesus trying to accomplish? Was he a Buddhist monk trying to establish a pure Buddhist community in Israel? Was he a Buddhist monk trying to mix Judaism and Buddhism to make it more acceptable in Israel?  Was he an Essene monk who just preached straight Essenism as it existed before? Was he an Essene reformer or sectarian breakaway from the mainstream Essene group?

All that I feel confident to say for certain is he clearly was attempting to establish or spread some sort of monastic religion that had clear Buddhist influence in it.  He certainly wasn’t establishing Pauline-like lay Christianity.

Jesus and Monasticism

Where did monasticism come from?  Protestants seem to simply assume (wrongly) that the Roman Catholic church made it up. But this is totally wrong.  Monasticism pre-existed Roman Catholicism. This is provable by how Pelagian it was in the earliest centuries, especially in Britain and the Celtic isles.  Catholicism didn’t make it to Britain until the 5th century. Sometimes Catholics will even credit Palladius, Augustine (not Hippo, the later one), and of course St. Patrick, with Christianizing the region.  But Christianity was there before. It was largely a Pelagian-type monastic Christianity, though, one so clearly pre-Catholic that Catholicism has to deny it even existed and pretend that these lands were Pagan prior to THEIR missions.  But the truth on this is still available. For instance, there is a book called Christ in Celtic Christianity that I found interesting on this subject. (BTW, pre-Catholic tradition asserts that Joseph of Arimathea established the first church in Britain. Official Catholicism denies it in their attempt to claim Christianity didn’t make it to England until they brought their brand.)

The real question, though, is still WHEN exactly did monasticism develop. S o its pre-Catholic, and originally Pelagian in the theology (before Pelagius even lived, he learned his theology from them, not the other way around).  But still, WHEN did it develop?

Or did it develop? Was monasticism there at the beginning? Is that possible?  Did Jesus himself establish monasticism?

Protestants will most likely be resistant even to the question itself!

Why? Because “monasticism is Catholic.” Hahaha! No it isn’t.

Its interesting that in Tertullian’s day (when he was active writing, circa 200-210) he was upset with how Catholicism was so sexually immoral, and how divorce and remarriage was rampant. Yet, we know Catholicism as banning divorce, as esteeming celibacy, etc. How did that happen?

Monasticism was its own church; it was a rival denomination, essentially, when Catholicism began to develop in earnest. In order to conquer this rival, it was necessary to merge it into Catholicism. So from the time of Augustine of Hippo forward, Catholicism was AT WAR with monasticism. It couldn’t destroy it, not from outside, so it subsumed it.  And by doing so, Catholicism changed monasticism, but monasticism also changed it.

Catholicism changed monasticism, first by replacing its Pelagian theology with semi-Pelagian, then later with Augustinian.  Secondly, by bringing Mary worship into monasticism, but this didn’t succeed until the 8th century at least.

But monasticism changed Catholicism. The price of subjugating the monasteries to the Catholic system was subjugating the Catholic system to the monastic ideal: celibacy.  Celibate priesthood was a rule imposed by the merger of monasticism with Catholicism, which for a long time gave monastics an advantage in the Catholicism. But recently, the Vatican Two Popes have been gutting and destroying monasticism, finally achieving what the original objective of the RCC was with respect to monasticism: to destroy it. And once its fully destroyed, Catholicism will get back on track with what it really is: sexual profligacy.  We see already, Pope Francis is trying to allow divorce (and gay marriage) in Catholicism (i.e. the recent Synods on the Family). Its a proof that monasticism is essentially dead.

But all this is beside the point. The point is this….where did monasticism come from?

Did Jesus teach monasticism? Did he establish a monastic church?


Can a father or mother do that? Get killed and let their children starve? Get beat up so bad all their money goes to healing their injuries?  They have dependents. They can’t do that. Only the monk can.


Can a householder forego fighting a lawsuit and just pay the once suing them double the amount?  No. Children will starve, etc.  But a monk — the only person who would ever be sued merely for a robe — can.

There is a clear monastic stream in the Sermon on the Mount, isn’t there?

And what about this one? (i.e. Luke 14:26)


I’ve seen pastors try to explain this many times, and it basically come out like “If your family member is Catholic, but you know the Baptist church is the truth, don’t let those evil Catholic family members influence you” and vice versa.  But the monastic interpretation, which can be found in monastic writings from the 4th century, as well as in Augustine’s treatise Against Faustus (in a quotation from his opponent, Faustus), make a lot more sense.

To hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even one’s own life, means to become a monk. By rejecting the domestic life that mother and father desire for you, you hate father and mother. By not taking a wife and having children by her, you hate wife and children. By not providing nieces and nephews for your brothers and sisters, you hate brothers and sisters. By not engaging in the domestic life you could have had, you hate your own life also.

Does this interpretation not make more sense?

So it seems highly likely that Jesus HIMSELF actually established monasticism. The Catholic Bible hides it well, at least until you ask the question, because once you ask the question, you can begin to see it there.  It seems Jesus really was interested in establishing a monastic religion. Paul seems to be the founder of secular (non-monastic) Christianity.

After all, and isn’t this interesting, NONE of the apostles was married.  Where are their wives mentioned in the gospels?  They aren’t. Not even Peter’s.

I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute, what about Peter’s wife’s mother?”  Exactly, Peter’s wife’s mother, not his wife.  Why would Jesus and friends enter Peter’s house, find his mother-in-law sick, Jesus heals her, and SHE, the mother-in-law, serves them food…..alone…..why, if Peter’s wife is still alive would she not join her mother in serving them?  Its obvious Peter is a widower when he meets Jesus.  So all Jesus’ disciples were single. Also, Lazarus was not married, nor were his sisters. A man living with his two sisters. Hmmm.  We’re dealing with monasticism people.



Prove to me that epistular Paul believes in resurrection of unsaved

In my last post I stated that the epistular Paul believes that “the unbeliever ceases to exist instantly upon death and so only the saved can be resurrected because only they continue to exist after death.” As an afterthought I offered some passages in the comments which I believe demonstrate this point.  But now, I want to open a challenge.  Yes, a challenge.  All you people out there that believe that Paul (not the Paul of Acts, but the epistular Paul) teaches a resurrection of the unsaved, PROVE IT. Show me the money….err, I mean, the verses. Give me Book, Chapter, and Verse.  And no, Acts doesn’t count. It has to be from the Pauline Epistles.

How important is Christian orthodoxy?

I have to say a lot of these discussions about Christian orthodoxy no longer concern me because of something I’ve noticed. The Synoptics-Acts teach the resurrection of BOTH the just and unjust attendant with the unjust being raised to be tossed into hell. However, that hell is annihilation per Jesus’ comment about fearing “him who can DESTROY both body and soul in hell.”  The epistular Paul and John on the other hand teach that he who believes in Jesus will be raised (John), or Jesus will raise those who “belong to him” when he returns (Paul), i.e. no unsaved or unbeliever or no on who does not “belong” to Jesus will be raised, the punishment for the unsaved being death “the wages of sin is death” and “destruction” and that is meant literally, as in the unbeliever ceases to exist instantly upon death and so only the saved can be resurrected because only they continue to exist after death.  In each system, the unsaved are eventually obliterated, not tormented forever. The Synoptics system does have them being tormented between death and the resurrection (i.e. Luke’s story of the rich man and Lazarus), but finally obliterated in hell after the resurrection. John and Paul have them instantly obliterated at death.  So its pointless to worry overmuch about “orthodoxy.”

Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 7:16-17

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?

Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

The New Testament itself can’t agree on one coherent after-life view, but its two competing views certainly rule out the mainstream eternal torment view, and thus all the over freaking out about condemnation is beside the point. Is the law infinite? Is it going to condemn me no matter what? Will God invent a new law all of the sudden just to condemn me at the last minute, as Protestantism teaches?  Well then I’ll be obliterated.  Well then, in such a case, under such a tyrant of a god, I would simply agree with Job in Job 7:16

I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.

I would not = I don’t want to. And Job had never even watched Starship Troopers:

Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?

Actually its interesting to me, that early Christianity was about escaping from obliteration to get to live forever via the resurrection. Modern Christianity is about some indestructible soul that not even God can obliterate so the best he can do with one he doesn’t like is dump it in a furnace.  And Buddhism is the idea that this life sucks but we keep getting born back into it and so the point is to let go of all desires and achieve “enlightenment” so that you can finally “go to Nirvana” which more or less means just finally cease to exist. Job 7:16 (maybe not the entire book, but that one verse) seems more in line with the last one.

PS: I will post two comments below, both of which I made on a post over on Argo’s blog, in a post he calls “The Christian Does Not Die, He Becomes Death: Spiritual Marxism masquerading as the Christian orthodox ideal, Part 17“.  I’m posting those comments here because you kind of need them to understand my theory of finite vs infinite law, which was referenced above because this post was initially written as another comment for that blogpost which I decided to just make a blogpost on my blog instead. Anyone curious as to why I mentioned Buddhism here, see my comments on another of Argo’s posts, called “God’s Categorical Knowledge is Both Irrelevant and Impossible for Humanity to Know and Claim“.

Old people churches — a gift from God (part 1)

(I don’t understand why Part 1 stopped showing up, so I’m re-posting it.)

One of the major reasons my blog has mellowed out and I don’t post hardly ever anymore, and when I do, its usually just a link to a youtube video, is that I’ve been attending a different congregation for I don’t know exactly how long, a year, maybe a little more, and its a congregation of largely older people, using traditional hymns with nobody making trouble trying to introduce contemporary bullcrap music. And as a result, my engagement with neo-Calvinism in the real world has dropped to nearly absolute zero, and what’s the point of fighting something on the Internet that you don’t have to deal with in real life anymore?

Not everyone is old. I’m in my 30s, and there are few people there in their 20s, but the bulk of the congregation is my parents’ age or older. There are no little kids, no teenagers.

I don’t endorse the theology over at Internetmonk, and I hardly go over to that blog anymore because most of what its about is pushing acceptance of homosexuality, but there is one issue on which I do agree with the guys over there, and its highlighted in this article What about THIS “cutting edge”? bemoaning how the seeker-sensitive and mega-church culture caters to teenagers, and asking the question why there is no such outreach to the elderly. From the end of the article:

What does it mean to follow Jesus in the late autumn and winter of our lives?

And why don’t churches seem to care?

iMonk has run a lot of articles over the years about how they feel more liturgical churches are more mature or focused towards the more mature, or the older, those who’ve escaped the teens and twenties. That may be the case. I’ve never thought of my church as “liturgical.” Its not like the Anglican church, for instance, since there are no priests, no clergy, certainly no male clergy wearing dresses, no candles, no eucharistic adoration, etc. etc. But I guess in a way it is “liturgical” in that every service proceeds the same way. We’re not clamoring to “shake it up” by moving the constituent elements of the service around, or changing the style of music, etc. Its always the same. And there is something very grounding about that.

Before, when I was in a church filled to the brim with teenagers — well, really, there were probably only about 5 actual teenagers and then 5 adults who thought they were teenagers — there was constant trouble, both in wanting to constantly change the music style, AND in theology, i.e. the incursion of Calvinism coming in from those “hip” new books written by the “hip” and “happening” Calvinist pastors.

In an older church, where people admit to being their age, there is less likelyhood of such nonsense. Really the whole nonsense can’t be blamed on teenagers or twenty-somethings themselves, because its the adult teenagers, the guys in their 50s who want to believe they’re sixteen, that push the trouble. Now in my context, we’re not even talking rock music, because the theology of the “denomination” bans instrumental music from the services altogether, so we’re just talking contemporary “worship” music meant to be accompanied by piano and guitar that’s been modified to be sung without them (you can imagine how well that works). But do you really think if a teenager tried to change the way the church works with respect to music, they could? without the adults who refuse to admit their own age siding with them? Of course not.

There is, therefore, a great gift in finding a church full of old people. Like is said in Proverbs somewhere, “He who finds a good wife finds a gift from the Lord.” How much moreso, he who finds a church of older people finds a gift from the Lord!!!!! Because he can have a peaceful experience such as was had in days gone by. He can metaphorically sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, rather than having to constantly fight with Philistines of the church music incursions or of neo-Calvinism.

PS: You can see from the comments on that article at iMonk that people largely think of church as a business that has to “market” distinctly to different age-demographics. And I will address that in my next post.

Old people churches — a gift from God (part 2)

At the end of my previous post, I said:

PS: You can see from the comments on that article at iMonk that people largely think of church as a business that has to “market” distinctly to different age-demographics. And I will address that in my next post.

Well, this is my next post.

The great thing about a church filled with older people is there is no marketing, because there doesn’t need to be any. There may also be no growth, as in conversions, and only growth from people moving in, but so what! Do we really believe that the whole point of Christianity is to constantly bring in more people to no real purpose? There certainly is a place for churches that simply conserve the (can I use this phrase?) deposit of faith, and do not beat the bushes bringing everyone in. There are churches focused on evangelism, and there are churches focused on worship and living the Christian life. There is nothing wrong with this. Quite frankly, its hard to create a church that does both. If the focus is evangelism, worship is hindered, because the sermons end up all being on how to grow the church! If the focus is worship, and equipping the saints to live the Christian life, there ends up being little focus on evangelism, because Paul never taught anyone in any of his epistles that the point of the Christian life is evangelism.

That last point needs to be elucidated.

Paul teaches a lot about husbands loving their wives, salves obeying their masters (Paul wasn’t inerrant, you know, so yeah, he got that one wrong), children obeying their parents, etc. etc. He talks about living your life largely as it was before you became a Christian, just now without the sin. He calls it staying in the calling in which you were called, or something like that. In other words, he never said everyone has to be some big evangelist.

What epistle can you show me where Paul berates the congregation for not doing HIS job for him?  Paul was an evangelist, he was a missionary, he spent his life going out and establishing churches and making converts.  So did his associates, like Titus, but they never told the churches that this is the job of everyone or berated the people for not being able to be “missional” and always have tons of conversions going on in their absence. In fact, if you read carefully, you’ll find all the churches in the New Testament (on which we have any kind of information, aside from Rome, since it was the capital of the world) were pretty small, a collection of one or two, maybe three families. And Paul doesn’t get on their case for not growing numerically…..because that’s his job, not theirs.  This is a point that needs to seriously be considered.

So the next time you’re at church, and the preacher berates the congregation on how its not growing and its YOUR fault, i.e. the congregation’s fault, but yes, YOURS in particular, for not doing “enough”….ask him…not, “why aren’t you doing your job? Its your job to grow the church, preacher, or pastor, etc.” because I’m sure he hears that a lot anyway, but ask him “Please show me book chapter and verse where Paul ever preached anything like this. Please show me where Paul takes the Corinthians to task, for instance, for not doing enough to evangelize.”  I think I may actually do this myself, because I want to see their flustered look on one of the “everyone has to be a big evangelist like Paul” pushers’ faces.