Will you kindly allow me to say that the Rev.—was...

Rochdale (Eng.) Times

Will you kindly allow me to say that the Rev.—was entirely mistaken in taking the view that Christian Science is "a form of Buddhism"? In the first place, it might be well to point out, there are so many conflicting interpretations of Buddha's teaching, in the dogmatics of the various Buddhistic churches, in the western expositions of his philosophy, and in the endless speculations as to what thoughts were sealed up behind that dramatic silence, that it is quite impossible to assign to the term Buddhism any very definite meaning. This critic, according to your report, justifies his view that Christian Science is a form of this unknown quantity by reliance on the claim that the teaching of the unreality of the material world is common to both. Assuming that there is in this direction some resemblance in teaching (ignoring the charge of materialism that is commonly leveled at Buddha), it is surely a tremendous leap to the conclusion that one is therefore "a form" of the other. In what is considered his earliest and perhaps most explicit sermon ("To the Five Ascetics"), Buddha exhorted his monks to avoid the two extremes of asceticism and the life of pleasure, and to find the middle way, which, he assured them, would lead them to Nirvana. Now this clergyman's address was directed to show Christianity to be the "middle way." Indeed, the whole passage from Buddha's sermon might have been introduced into that address without seeming the least bit out of place. But would one on that account be justified in asserting that the critic's concept of Christianity was "a form of Buddhism"? I do not think so.

The way to settle such a question is, of course, to ascertain whether or not the positive, fundamental teachings of each are identical or analogous. And it may at once be said, however little may be known for certain of Buddhism, that there is in it no trace of that joyful and hopeful teaching which is at once the central and inspiring revelation of Christian Science, that a right knowledge of God, Truth, is an actual and present means of salvation from evil. Similarly, what are commonly held to be the distinctive Buddhistic teachings of reincarnation and final annihilation find, of course, no place whatever in Christian Science.

Christian Science is a ladder from earth to heaven. To mount that ladder is to acquire a changed consciousness, to gain, in place of the merely human and material, a relative view of things, a vision of spiritual truth, of the allness of God. It is that vision, or understanding, which discloses the actual nothingness of evil, of anything opposed to the omnipotence and omnipresence of God, and which thereby destroys its manifestations. And we may begin to mount that ladder now, and every step gained is a step toward peace and health and harmony. But as the ideal of Christian Science is perfection, the ideal the Master imposed, so is it concerned not to steer any careful middle way, but to leave farther and farther behind the evil and false and unreal, and to draw ever nearer to the real, the good, the absolute truth.

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