Monday, December 21, 2009

The Pope's view

Did you know that the Catholic church (and therefore the Pope) officially recognizes Buddhism as a way to get into heaven. Although Buddhist theology is regarded as incorrect (e.g., you will not be reincarnated), the Buddhist focus on love and compassion is correct, and a life of love and good works is what gets you into heaven. So if you are Catholic you should have no hesitation over being a Buddhist Catholic if you want. In fact, if adding Buddhism helps you to be more compassionate it actually makes you a better Catholic (i.e., more likely to get into heaven). If you turned to Buddhism after rejecting the Catholic church, as so many have, consider the advice of the Dalai Lama and Tich Nat Han and try to make peace with your roots. Some bad things have occurred through the Catholic bureaucracy but the bureaucracy is not the religion. Officially, it is love that gets you into heaven, not the bureaucracy.


  1. This isn't the Pope's view, at least it wasn't Cardinal Ratsinger's point of view, according to this:

  2. Thanks for this comment. It raises an important issue. The current Pope has made negative statements about Buddhism and other religions. This is not good. But what I said is still true. In Catholicism, it is believed that God will judge you according to how compassionate you were toward others, not according to what you believe (as in Fundamentalism). I know I read this somewhere but I can’t remember where, so I Googled it. Here is what Wickapedia has to say:

    The basis upon which each person's soul will be judged is detailed in the Gospel of Matthew which lists works of mercy to be performed even to people considered "the least". Emphasis is upon Jesus' words that "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven"

    This is from catholic answers, concerning whether Jews will go to hell, but the answer is the same for Buddhists or any other religion:

    Deliberately refusing to believe in the Son when you have reason to believe that you should is indeed grave matter, and belief in the Father (or the Holy Spirit) alone does not alter that. The key though is a deliberate refusal to accept revealed truth. If a person is innocently ignorant of Christian truth or innocently incapable of accepting it, God will not punish him for innocent ignorance or innocent error.

    So the worst that can be said about Buddhism is that it can innocently cause people to not accept Catholic beliefs. The only way the Pope can argue that Buddhism is bad is if it causes people to not act compassionately. I think that is what the current Pope believes, based on a deep misunderstanding of Buddhism. It is unfortunate that we have a Pope who is limited in his understanding of other religions. But it is important to keep in mind that the Pope is not a saint. Unlike the Dalai Lama, the Pope is not assumed to have any special spiritual status. He is the head bureaucrat in the Catholic Church and has absolute power over its workings. But the Catholic Church is not the Catholic religion, it is an institution that supports the practice of the Catholic religion. Over here in the West we experience Buddhism as something very free from institutional control, but in Asia this was not the case in the past and there are still Buddhist institutions with problematic views. In fact, the Dalai Lama recently excommunicated an entire Tibetan Buddhist sect for theological and possibly political reasons. People who are invested in an institution or identify deeply with a particular religion are always going to cause trouble. From a Buddhist perspective this is a form of attachment. Negative attachments can also be generated by bad experiences with a religion. I think this is one of the reasons the Dalai Lama and Tich Nat Han recommend making peace with the religion you were raised with, to let go of negative attachments.