Guest / Limited Access /
There are many points at which Christians differ with Tibetan Buddhists, but the following issues strike me as especially problematic.

The Dalai Lama states in his The Opening of the Wisdom-Eye that Tibetan Buddhist teachings and rituals "were taught by Lord Buddha in person." This claim has two serious weaknesses. First, there are the crucial differences in belief and ritual between the late Buddhism of Tibet and the earlier Buddhisms of India and Sri Lanka, in addition to variants in China and Japan. For example, Tibetan Buddhist tantric ritual, including visualization of wrathful deities, lacks harmony with earlier forms of Buddhist meditation.

There is the deeper question of the historical integrity of the earliest documents about Buddha. These texts, in Pali and Sanskrit, were written between four and five centuries after the death of Gautama. In A Short History of Buddhism, the devout Buddhist scholar Edward Conze dismisses any "confident assertions" about what the Buddha really said as "mere guesswork." Conze wrote in his introduction to the Buddhist Scriptures: "Buddhists possess nothing that corresponds to the New Testament."

Aspects of Tibetan spirituality also give a Christian pause. The Tibetan emphasis on contact with spirit mediums is a case in point. The Dalai Lama himself regularly consults with the Nechung Oracle, said to be a spirit deity who takes over the body of a chosen Tibetan Buddhist. Furthermore, as missionary Mark Tsering documents, many Tibetan Buddhists have a superstitious fear about the spirit world (a result of the animist influence of Tibet's Bon religion) and a magical view of reality—as if the number of prostrations and countless turns of a prayer wheel is all it takes to affect the ever-pervasive ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHow I Escaped the Mormon Temple
How I Escaped the Mormon Temple
After being in the LDS Church for 30 years, I began reading the New Testament. What was there shocked me.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickBless This Tackle? Not a Prayer
Bless This Tackle? Not a Prayer
Christians’ misguided fight for football devotions isn’t working.
Comments
Christianity Today
Plus: Weighed Down by Karmic Debt
hide thisJune 11 June 11

In the Magazine

June 11, 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.