There is probably no other heathen religion on earth that comes as near to counterfeiting Bible religion, and yet is as far from the truth and the true God, as is Tibetan and Mongolian Lamaism. To understand the origin of Lamaism and its nature, it is necessary first to glance at the leading features of Buddhism, which had its origin in India, and "arose as a revolt against the one-sided development of contemporary religion and ethics, the caste debasement of man, and the materializing of God."—"The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism," by L. A. Waddell, p. 7, Cambridge, 1934.
Siddhartha Gautama, or Sakyarnuni, the founder of Buddhism, appeared as an original thinker and teacher in India between the fourth and fifth century is.c., and died some time before Alexander the Great entered India on his great conquest. Seeing the degrading thralldom of caste and the priestly tyranny of the Brahmans, and trying to escape from an existence involved with the sorrows of this life, he left his estate, wife, child, and home to become an ascetic. He later reappeared after his retirement of severe austerities and penance, confident that he had discovered the secrets of deliverance from sorrow, and carried his so-called good tidings of truth from town to town. Gautama's tolerant creed of universal benevolence won many converts and developed a brotherhood of monks. However, for a hundred years or more he had little renown, and was considered by those in authority as only one of the many ascetics and religious leaders of his time. At no time did he himself pose as a god, and seemingly none of his followers thought of him as more than a holy man and their spiritual leader. Approximately one hundred years after Gautama's death, about 250 B.C., Waddell tells us this concerning Buddhism:
"It was vigorously propagated by the great Emperor Asoka, the Constantine of Buddhism, who, adopting it as his state religion, zealously spread it throughout his own vast empire, and sent many missionaries into adjoining lands to diffuse the faith. Thus it was transported to Burma, Siam, Ceylon, and other islands on the south, to Nepal and the countries to the north of India, Kashmir, Bactria, Afghanistan, etc." —Id., p. 8.
However, though surrounded by Buddhist countries, not until 640 A.D. did Tibet receive its first Buddhism, and not until the twelfth century did Buddhism enter Mongolia. In the meantime Buddhism had undergone many changes in form in India, and Buddha, as the central figure, soon became invested with supernatural and legendary attributes. Satan, perceiving his opportunity of developing a religion almost impregnable to Christianity, soon had many supernatural similarities to Christ inculcated into the legends of Buddha.
Buddhism Compared With Christianity
Alice Getty, in her books, notes four comparisons of Buddha to Christ: (t) He descended from high heaven to earth, but in the form of a white elephant; (2) He entered into the body of his mother, Maya, by the right side, without causing her any pain; (3) Ten months later he reappeared from his mother's body, but with human aspect; (4) As a child he revealed supernatural powers, so that he astonished his masters by reciting all that they desired to teach him and more. ("The Gods of Northern Buddhism," it. xviii, Oxford, 1914.)
Like Christianity, Buddhism also has ten commandments, although they are not all exactly the same, nor as comprehensive. However, several are the same, and they form a point of contact in introducing Christianity. The Buddhist commandments contain the following prohibitions: (t) Do not take life ; (2) Do not steal; (3) Refrain from unlawful sexual intercourse (for monks, from all sexual intercourse) ; (4) Do not tell lies; (5) Do not drink intoxicating liquors; (6) Do not take food except at certain specified times; (7) Do not take part in dancing, music, performances, and similar pleasures; (8) Do not adorn the body with flowers, or use perfumes and unguents; (9) Do not sleep on any high or wide bed; (to) Do not possess gold or silver. (Id., p. xxv.)
These commandments more definitely apply to Southern, or original, Buddhism, but Northern Buddhists also have prohibitions against ten sins, grouped as follows: three sins of the body—murder, theft, adultery; four sins of speech—lying, calumny, insult, idle talk; three sins of thought—hatred, covetousness, dogmatic error. These are, of course, constantly broken, and herein is an opportunity to show how Christ gives us power through His grace to keep the commandments of God. To their ten commandments add the practical creed of Buddhism, and you have a striking similarity to Christianity, with the exception of a different god. Thus you have one of the reasons for the difficulty of convincing a Buddhist of his need of Christianity. That we may see its similarity, I quote the creed from Henry Prinsep:
"1st. To take refuge only with Buddha. and. To form in the mind the resolution to aim at the highest degree of perfection, and so to be united with the supreme intelligence. 3rd. To humble oneself before Boodh, and to adore him. 4th. To make offering of things pleasing to the six senses. 5th. To glorify Boodh by music, and by hymns, and by praise of his person, doctrine, and love of mankind, of his perfections, or attributes, and of his acts for the benefit of animated beings. 6th. To confess one's sins with a contrite heart, to ask forgiveness of them, and to repent truly, with a resolution not to commit such afterwards. 7th. To rejoice in the moral merit and perfections of animated beings and to wish that they may obtain beatitude. 8th. To pray and exhort existing holy men to turn the wheels of religion, that the world may long benefit by their teaching."—"Tibet, Tartary, and Mongolia, Their Social and Political Condition and the Religion of Boodh as There Existing," pp. 176, 177. London, 1852.
Commenting on this creed, Prinsep says, "Persuade the Boodhist that Christ fulfills his 'idea of a perfect Boodh, and let the name of our Saviour be substituted for Boodh, in the above creed, and the Boodhist creed will approximate closely to that of a perfect Christian." p. 177.
Even though Buddha himself expressly condemned idolatry and sacerdotalism, yet about the first century these practices were introduced into Buddhism, and the worship of Buddha's image began. One of the earliest forms given to the metaphysical Buddhas was Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light, a sun myth incorporated from the early patrons of Mahayana Buddhism, who were sun worshipers. Thus sun worship in this form was incorporated into Buddhism and Lamaism, and the first day of the week in Tibetan and Mongolian is also known as Adia edor, or Sunday.
The Origin of Lamaism
When the time arrived that Buddhism, in the form of Lamaism, was introduced into Tibet, it had already gone through a series of distortions. The form of Buddhism that became prevalent in Tibet as Lamaism again underwent remarkable changes as it was curiously incorporated with Tibetan mythology and spirit worship. In spite of this, it still preserves much of the loftier philosophy and ethics of the system taught by Buddha himself. The worker for these people does well to acquaint himself with these loftier ideals, as through them he may approach and appeal to them on partially common ground. The educated, especially, will recognize these principles, many of which are worthy of consideration, even though they have been buried in the rubbish, superstition, and demonology of Lamaism.
In the seventh century A.D., a warlike king of Tibet, and later his son, constantly harassed the western border of China, so that the Chinese emperor of the T'ang dynasty was glad to come to terms, and gave to the son the Princess Wench
'eng in marriage. He had previously married a daughter of the Nepal king. Both of these wives were Buddhists, and they persuaded him to send to India for a teacher. However, Buddhism made but little progress until a century later, when a powerful ascendant to the throne sent for the renowned wizard of Tantrik Buddhism of North India.
This wizard of lama, named Padma-sambhava, is said to have delivered the land from the bondage and terror of malignant demons by the superior power of his magic and occult powers. He vanquished all the chief devils of the land, sparing most of them when they consented to support his religion, while he in return guaranteed their worship and keep. Thus Satanic demons, in all their power, became the supporters of this debased religion. Truly, in dealing with Lamaism "we wrestle not against flesh and blood." This wizard was deified and is now celebrated in every temple in Mongolia as the "Second Buddha," the "Lotus Flowered One," the "Saviour of a Suffering World." His name is incorporated into the ever-present prayer of "Om! Mani Padma! Hum !" which literally means, "Om! the Jewel in the Lotus ! Hum !"—"Om" and "Hum" being given various meanings.
"Told by the fingers on the never absent rosary, and muttered with the lips on the crowded market or crossing the lonely plain ; morning, noon, and night; at birth or in death, and on all occasions, the same almost inarticulate cry for deliverance goes up, in Mongolia as in Tibet, from a race held fast in sin and Satan's bondage."—"The Call and Challenge of Mongolia," by Reginald W. Start, p. 10. Glasgow.
Lamaism's prayers, its one sacred language (Tibetan), its ritual, hierarchy, saints, priestly orders and discipline, masses for the sick, rosaries, dress, hats, and cowls, cold hells and hot hells (purgatory), festivals and holy days, holy water, prayers and sacrifices for the dead, confessions and penances, and its eucharist, all are remarkably similar to Romanisin—truly the mystery of iniquity in pagan form. In support of this, note Prinsep again:
"There is in Boodhism no perpetuity of punishment in a place of torments, but the regeneration in inferior animals is not very dissimilar to the purgatory of Catholics, as was remarked by Father Grueber ; and the Devas, or gods, of the different heavens, are of the same class with angels and saints."—"Tibet, Tartery, and Mongolia," pp. 148, 149.
"But independently of the similarity of doctrine, of ritual, and of institutions, we find that Boodhism has run in the East a very analagous course with Roman-ism in the West."—Id., P. 173.
_______ To be concluded in May