Nov 13

Journey into Buddhism: Vajra Sky over Tibet ★

This film was given to me by a very good friend who had converted from Anglicanism to Buddhism. It was his desire to demonstrate the virtues of Buddhist thinking. So, I watched it with as open of a mind as possible. The film was made in Tibet at the main centers of Buddhism. It showed the principle sites of worship, temple artwork, adherents coming to worship, and various outdoor scenes, some with religious events occurring. The commentary throughout the film was heavily oriented toward anti-Chinese sentiment regarding their purported destruction of a culture.

This film failed  to evoke sympathy for the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Countless cultures have come and gone throughout history, without any argument for their preservation. In Tibetan Buddhism, there was presented no argument that the culture offered anything worth preserving. True, the artwork was nice. True, a small subset of Tibetan devotees have the “right” to worship as they please. Yet, the film fails to suggest that Buddhism offers anything superior to the Christian faith, or any other religion or ideology. Even in Buddhism, they have the good and evil spirits, yet there is nothing to argue why the evil spirits are evil and the good spirits are good. All are one, and none should be given preference. In real life, Buddhists seem to be as violent as anybody else when given the opportunity. Similarly, I don’t see the same “Free Tibet” group arguing that Israel needs to be set free for the Israelite/Jew, since that is their legitimate homeland. I don’t see a war-cry that Temple worship should return to Judaism as restoration of a culture that should not have been destroyed by the nasty Romans. There seems to be a great degree of hypocrisy in the Free Tibet movement.

Oddly, the film reminded me much of our recent visit to Rome. In Rome, we saw devotees spending hours praying to artifacts, doing ritual climbs on “sacred stairs”, lighting of candles, holy water, endless repetitions of the Rosary. Is this no different than prayer wheels. If only we could automate our spirituality, or make it so that all one needs to do is to perform certain perfunctory functions. It is odd how Christ stated so plainly that God doesn’t listen to mindless repetition, yet this is how universal public religion has evolved. It is no wonder that the Roman Catholic church has often had the greatest problem in defending that Christianity is the only way to God as written in the Bible. The RC faith doesn’t offer anything much different from the Buddhists.

So, the film did not suggest that Buddhism is worth exploring. It only made me appreciate my Christian faith all the more. I am glad that I am able to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. I am content with an Absolute in morality, truth, and existence, by whom I gain my own existence. I am comforted that I don’t have to seek to attain to god-hood, yet never be sure if I could be good enough to do that. What could be more assuring than to have the God of the Universe provide forgiveness solely through true faith in Him, and trust in Him. Christianity gives a God who truly loves, truly feels, and encourages love for ones’ brother while seeking to attain progress in life through secular work and sacred worship together, as neither are better than the other, yet neither can do without the other. Life does not end up as an endless circle, but as a linear progress, so that I can view the future as a non-repetition of the present. It is a pity that too often Christianity degenerates into a mechanism, to which it offers no advantage over any other world religion.

I would love to take a trip to Tibet since I’ve read much about it. Yet, I’ll probably do it with my Chinese friend, and probably not feel bad that Tibet is now mostly Chinese.

 

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