View Full Version : Christian Redeption in Tibetan Buddhism

09 Aug 14, 20:37
Today I was reading "Indrajala's Contemplations" the blog of a Canadian Mahayana monk who seems to have been travelling around Asia for the last few years.

I came across an entry "Christian Redemption in Tibetan Buddhism"(one small page dated July 4th) and thought I'd post it here to see if anyone had any comments after reading it :



13 Aug 14, 14:10
Interesting blog post.

I'm not too savvy on Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhism but what little exposure I've had to it put me off it a bit. Not the core message or anything like that it just always seemed very similar in many ways to Catholicism, which I lost all interest in as a kid. It definitely strikes a chord when Indrajala outlined the similarities between the two: ritual, idols etc, and I also feel like Tibetan Buddhism has more of what secularists call "cultural baggage" than the other traditions I've looked at. Again, I'm not at all trying to disrespect this tradition, just my own aversion to things which remind me of "religion".

In terms of the idea of redemption as Indrajala discussed, and based purely on his article, it certainly seems possible. However, whether Western Tibetan Buddhists actually have the agenda he's suggesting seems, at least to me and on the strength of this one post alone, arguable. Because I didn't really take to Vajrayana myself, I've often wondered what makes it so popular in the West, but Indrajala himself points out how similar Christianity and Vajrayana are. For people who identify with their Christian roots, but are disillusioned with it at the same time, it could just be a matter of them slotting more easily into this tradition as it means they have less of their own conditioning to jettison, rather than there being anything about post-colonial white guilt underlying it.

To be honest, the whole Western guilt idea seems very odd to me. I can look at history and say "yes, these people did this to those people, it was abhorrent" but I certainly don't feel any personal guilt over it, nor would I expect anyone else to. I'm a Northern Irish catholic by birth, and am now "living in sin" with a protestant English woman. If she ever intimated that she felt bad about what England had done in Northern Ireland for example, I'd look at her like she was nuts!

I'm not saying that he is wrong in his assertion about Western Vajrayanists as, while I know the Tibetan political issue has a lot of overlap with Tibetan Buddhism, I don't know enough or have enough experience to really judge. A lot of people certainly take up Tibet's cause, more so than other countries or regions in turmoil, but that could well just be down to preferences. "I follow Tibetan teachings, so I'll march on China" in the same sort of manner as "I care more about people close to me than I do about strangers", which again, shows that a deeper agenda isn't necessary to explain the behaviour Indrajala mentions.

Just on the face of it the idea behind his post seems plausible, but certainly not self-evident or definitely true, which isn't to say that it's not true, just that in the absence of more information his stance isn't conclusive. Are there any Western Vajrayana Buddhists on this forum who could shed some more light on this, I'd be interested to hear peoples' thoughts