Frens @ CAS,
are so glad to pay our respects to Venerable S. Dhammika this
evening, the last time we talked being a solid 23
years back, when there was still no CAS ( established in 1995
- Singapore ) or Phunstok Choling ( CAS ) ( registered in 2010
- Malaysia ) !!
writings and works have served the Dhamma so well and have
guided so many spiritually lost shadows as they groped
mindless in the modern day wilderness of thick coffees
and unstinting deadlines.
instruments include the amazing http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/ and
other truly treasures such as "Good Questions; Good Answers",
"Buddha Vacana" and so on !!
is probably NOT an exagerration to say
that the Dharma scene in the world ( and especially here in
SE Asia or Sri Lanka ) would have been so very much poorer
or more precarious than it already is, without his incisive, masterful and
brilliant works, always beautifully, honestly and scrupulously infused.
Venerable, on behalf of the holy Dhamma !!"
& frens @ Phuntsok Cho Ling ( CAS )
We thought to share an excerpt from one of Ven's works with
you people .... miss it to regret it !! ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Venerable wrote: "I am not
the 5th or 9th reincarnation of a great lama, I have not recived
any empowerments or initiations, I am not the holder of any
lineage, I am yet to attain any of the jhanas, I am not a
widely respected teacher, I am not a stream enterer (at least
I don't feel like one)and I do not have many disciples. Nontheless,
you may find some of my observations and musings interesting.
I have been a Buddhist monk for 32 years and am the spiritual
advisor to the Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society in Singapore."
Buddhist's Guide to Evangelical Christianity
January 14, 2004
by Ven. S. Dhammika
Courtesy: Buddhist Times (BT)
Shravasti Dhammika, an Australian monk, is a regular contributor
to newspapers and journals with perceptive observationson
matters related to Buddhism, Buddhist culture and Buddhist
practice. He is a distinguished lecturer who has spoken on
Buddhism and Asian religions in universities and on television
and radio in Australia and throughout Asia.
He is widely known for his thought provoking analysis on a
number of issues.
Ven Dhammika is the author of many popular books on Buddhism.
Good Question, Good Answer - published by Sukhi Hotu Dhamma
Publication (Also available as a BuddhaNet eBook)Questions
on: What is Buddhism? Basic Buddhist Concepts, The Buddhist
Scriptures, About Monks and Nuns, Rebirth, Vegetarianism,
Becoming a Buddhist, Buddhism and the God-idea, and many more
are answered by Ven. Dhammika.
Navel of the Earth - published by BDMSAn account of the history
and legends surrounding Bodh Gaya, the most sacred of the
Encounters with Buddhism - published by BDMSEssays by people
from both East and West, telling of their conversion to Buddhism.
Ven. Dhammika's latest work is entitled ' Who's That Knocking
on the Door? A Buddhist's Guide to Evangelical Christianity
The Buddhist Times ( Vol. 2 No. 8 Unduvap 2546 - December
2003 issue ) has published an extract from the forthcoming
book Who's That Knocking on the Door? A Buddhist's Guide to
We reproduce this extract below via courtesy of Buddhist Times:
" About six months ago there was a knock on my door and I
opened it to find two evangelicals Christians there. I knew
they were evangelicals because they had that fake friendly
smile on their faces, which all evangelicals have when they
are trying to convert someone. This was the third time that
month that evangelists had come knocking on my door and disturbing
me so I decided to teach them a lesson. 'Good morning' they
said. 'Good morning' I replied.'Have you heard about the Lord
Jesus Christ'? they asked. 'I know something about him but
I am a Buddhist and I'm not really interested in knowing more'
I said. But like all evangelists, they took no notice of my
wishes and proceeded to talk about their beliefs. So I said,
'I don't think you are qualified to speak to me about Jesus'.
They looked very astonished and asked, 'Why not'? 'Because',
I said, 'you have no faith'. 'Our faith in Jesus is as strong
as a rock' they insisted. 'I don't think it is' I said with
a smile. 'Please open your Bible and read the Gospel of Mark,
chapter 16, verse 16, 17 and 18' I said and while they flicked
through their Bibles I went quickly inside and came out again.
One of them found the passage and I asked him to read it out
loud. It said, 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved
but he who does not believe shall be condemned. And these
signs will follow those who believe in my name. They shall
cast out devils, they shall speak in tongues, they will handle
snakes and if they drink poison it will not hurt them and
they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover'. When
he finished I said, 'In that passage Jesus says that if you
have real faith you will be able to drink poison and not die'.
I took a bottle of Lankem from behind my back, held it up
and said, 'Here is some poison. Demonstrate to me the strength
of your faith and I will listen to anything you have to say
You should have seen the looks on their faces! They didn't
know what to say. 'What's the problem'? I asked. 'Is your
faith not strong enough'? They hesitated for a few moments
and then one of them replied, 'The Bible also says that we
must not test God'. 'I'm not testing God', I said, 'I'm testing
you. You love to witness for Jesus and now is your big opportunity'.
Finally one of then said, 'We will go and speak to our pastor
about this matter and come back and see you. 'Ill is waiting
for you' I said as they scurried away. Of course they never
came back again. Here is a bit of advice. Keep a copy of this
Bible reference and a bottle of Lankem ready and every time
the evangelists come to your door to harass you give them
this test. You might like to have a polanga ready as well.
Evangelical Christians are often predicting that the world
is going to end very soon and Jesus is going to come again.
When I was 18 I remember very distinctly that the Jehovah's
Witnesses came to our house and told me that the world was
going to end in 1975. If you find any old Watch Tower or Awake
magazines from that period you will see many articles about
the world ending in 1975. Of course they were wrong, just
as they were wrong when they predicted that the world was
going to end in 1895 and again in 1914. In the 1990's many
churches were claiming that the world was going to end in
2000. Some naive and impressionable people were frightened
enough to believe this nonsense and converted to Christianity.
In 1991 I was working in a particular place and every lunchtime
I would go to the restaurant on the ground floor. One day
I met three young men who told me that they were doing part
time work for a man on the 5th floor. One day as we sat having
lunch together the subject got on to religion and they told
me that their boss believed that the world was going to end
in 2000. One of them was obviously a little frightened by
this possibility and asked me what I thought about it. 'It
is complete nonsense' I said. 'I don't believe it and I guarantee
that your boss doesn't really believe it either.' 'Oh but
he does' the three boys said. They told me that he had books
on the subject and he had showed them passages in the Bible
proving that the world was going to end in nine years. 'I
tell you, your boss doesn't really believe that', I said.
'Do you mind if we tell him that' they said and I told them
that I didn't mind. The next day the man together with the
three boys came to see me. We had a friendly chat about Christianity
and then we got onto the subject of the end of the world.
The man insisted that the Bible clearly predicted that the
world was going to end and that he had utter faith in the
Bible. I laughed at him. 'You Christians are so confused and
lacking in awareness that you don't know what you believe'
I said. 'You have no right to doubt the depth of my faith'
the man said, now a little annoyed. I said, 'I can prove that
you don't really believe the end of the world and Jesus' return.
'Prove it then'! he challenged.
The three boys were now listening to our discussion very intently.
'Alright'! I said. 'Do you believe that the world is going
to come to a complete end in the year 2000'? 'Absolutely'!
said the man. 'The Bible predicts it and I believe it will
happen'. 'Okay' I said. 'I have a friend who is a lawyer.
I will ask him to come here tomorrow and you and I will draw
up a proper legally binding contract in which you will agree
to give me all your property - your house, your business and
all your assets - in the year 2001. Do you agree to do that'?
The man was flabbergasted. He didn't know what to say. 'Come
on', I said. 'If you are right, and you insist you are, in
2001 I will be in hell and you will be in heaven with Jesus
where you wont need all your worldly goods'. 'This is just
silly' said the man now very flustered.
Now one of the boys joined in. 'Its does not seem silly to
me. It seems like a good chance for you to prove you beliefs'.
'I agree' I said. 'Now is your big chance to demonstrate how
genuine you and strong your faith is. These boys might be
so impressed that they might become Christians. Put your faith
where your mouth is'. The man became very angry, got up and
walked away. The three boys were smiling and the one who had
been a little frightened about the end of the world was smiling
When two nice looking young American boys with short hair,
white shirts and ties appear on your doorstep you will know
that the Mormons have arrived. Mormonism is not only the weirdest
of all Christian sects it is also one of the most weird religions
in the world. The Mormons are also known as the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nowadays the Mormons are
very respectable but the early history of their church is
full of controversy and scandal. Of course the Mormons will
never tell you about this and indeed some of them don't even
know it themselves. So you might like to remind them about
it when they come knocking on your door. The two most shameful
things that the Mormon church used to teach was polygamy and
the idea that black people are evil.
The founder of the Mormon Church Joseph Smith taught that
a man could have as many wives as he liked and he is said
to have up to 40 at one time or another, some of them very
young. This caused outrage in America in the 1830's and Mormons
were persecuted, Smith was arrested and eventually killed
by an angry crowd. Brigham Young, the second head of the Mormon
Church had 27 wives, the youngest of whom was only 13 years
old. All the Mormons used to live in an isolated area of America
and in 18/ they wanted to become a part of the United States.
The America government insisted that they could only do this
if they gave up the practice of polygamy. So the church declared
that polygamy was wrong (after years of saying it was good)and
the Mormon state of Utah became a part of the USA.
Many Mormons were not happy with their church's compromise
and continued to have multiple wives and many still do. The
Mormons also believed that black people were morally and intellectually
inferior to white people and they were not allowed to enter
Mormon temples for over a hundred years. By the 1960's this
belief had started to become a major embarrassment for the
Mormons and so God very conveniently came to the rescue. In
1971 in a complete reversal of the revelation he had given
Joseph Smith 140 years earlier God revealed to the head of
the church that it was actually okay for blacks to enter temples.
Isn't it funny that God can't seem to make up his mind about
what is and is not okay.
Do miracles really happen as the evangelist's claim? No, they
do not. Then why are Christians always claiming that Jesus
is helping them? In some cases they are lying or exaggerating
in the hope that you will be impressed enough to inquire more
into Christianity and hopefully eventually convert. But in
some cases they really believe that Jesus miraculously intervened
in their lives. So deluded are they that they interpret the
most ordinary events, the most common occurrences, as a miracle.
I used to know a man who was always very aggressively trying
to convert me. One day I asked him why he became a Christian.
He drew himself up, pleased to have the opportunity be a witness
for Jesus and then he told me this story.
His mother had been a Buddhist and his father had been a Christian
and as a boy he was a little of both. During the Second World
War he joined the army and was taken from Sri Lanka to North
Africa. He and his platoon were due to be taken abroad a ship
but because to a series of strange incidents he was delayed
and when he finally arrived his platoon were all on the ship
and it was sailing out of the harbor. As he stood watching
the ship reach the open sea and a German submarine suddenly
torpedoed it. The ship sank and everyone on board died. After
saying this he stood there with a big smile on his face as
if this explained why he had became a Christian. 'What is
the point of your story'? I inquired 'Can't you see'? he said.
'If I had been on that ship I would have died. Jesus delayed
me in order to save my life. At that very moment I was born
again and I gave myself to Jesus'. I was silent for a moment
as I tried to comprehend the bazaar logic of the evangelicals.
Then I said. 'Do you mean to tell me that Jesus let hundreds
of people die just so that you would believe in him? Why didn't
he delay the whole platoon so they would all believe in him'?
He stood there with his mouth open. It was clear that he had
never thought of this possibility before. This man never talked
to me about Jesus again.
I know a Sinhalese family living in England. The wife is a
pious Buddhist but the husband is not particularly religious
although he is an very honest and kind person - religious
without calling himself so. He is also a very no- nonsense
kind of person. To the mother's great distress the oldest
daughter has become a very fanatical evangelical Christian
and she insists on praying every night before the family start
eating. Being a tolerant Buddhist the mother lets her do this,
the father sits there impatiently waiting for her to finish
and the other children smile to themselves, thinking that
their sister has 'gone a little loose'.
Evangelicals love to do this sort of thing. They will use
every opportunity to push their religion into the center of
attention. If they are Christian they will insist on letting
you know it. One of the things the daughter would often say
as she prayed was 'Thank you Jesus for this food that we eat
with gratitude tonight'. One night, after months of listening
to such things the father decided he had had enough. He roared;
'It is not Jesus who puts this food on the table every night
but me. It is I who work 50 hours a week to get the money
to buy what we eat, not Jesus. If you ever say that again
I will throw you out of this house and then you can ask Jesus
to get you another place to stay'.
Once I was sitting reading a book on Buddhism while I was
waiting for a bus. After a while a young man sat came and
sat beside me, saw my book and asked me if I was a Buddhist.
I told him I was and he started to bombard me with the usual
evangelical boasts, half-truths and unsubstantiated claims.
As he got more excited he said 'God exists and I can prove
he exists'. I laughed and told him that this was impossible.
'I have proof of God here in this bag', he said. This really
intrigued me and I asked him to show me. He put his hand in
the bag, pulled out an orange and held it up. Now I was really
bewildered. I asked him, 'How does an orange prove that God
exist'? He opened the orange, separated the segments and said,
'God has designed the whole universe for man's benefit. Look
at this orange, each segment is designed perfectly to fit
into our mouth'. I laughed out loud and then said, 'What about
a water melon! How would you fit one of those into your mouth'?
Such is the simplistic logic that leads some evangelists to
believe in God.
Just recently a friend of mine died and I went to his funeral,
which was at the crematoria. He was a very devote Buddhist,
he practiced meditation and was widely respected for his kindness.
As it happens his sister and brother are both Christians,
in fact his brother is an evangelical pastor. They and a few
of their Christian friends attended the funeral too. Because
the deceased was a Buddhist a well-known monk conducted the
ceremony. After he had finished his sermon he decided that
it would be a graceful gesture to invite the brother up to
say a few words also. The pastor came to the front and without
thanking the monk for his thoughtfulness launched into a long
and very angry speech. He said that there was only one true
religion and only one way to salvation and that there could
be no compromise between light and darkness.
When he had finished he left the platform again without thanking
the monk and walked back to his seat. Even I who are well
acquainted with the rudeness of the evangelists was shocked
by this display of bad manners. After we all left the crematorium
I was talking to a friend and he said, 'Wasn't that pastor's
sermon wonderful'. I was shocked by this comment and asked
him what he meant. 'Well', he said, 'there couldn't have been
a better demonstration of the difference between Buddhism
and evangelical Christianity. Every one of the hundred or
so people who came here today now knows how rude, fanatical
and bad mannered these people really are'.
In the 1980's a huge scandal hit the evangelical world of
the American. Two of the biggest evangelical pastors were
Jimmy Swarggart and Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy. Swaggart
had a television program which was watched by millions of
people every week. He was a typical preacher always pleading
for donations 'to do the Lord's work', loudly condemning all
kinds of immorality and insisting that only Jesus can make
a person better. Jim and Tammy Bakker had an enormously popular
television show too but they were better known for teaching
what is called the Gospel of Prosperity. They lived in ostentatious
luxury and were on salaries of hundreds of thousands of dollars
Both Swarggat and the Bakkers had built up empires of incredible
wealth and power and naturally they were very jealous of each
other. One day at the height of their power word leaked out
that there was something wrong in Jim and Tammy's church.
It soon emerged that there had been massive financial irregularities
in the church - fraud, theft, tax evasion and illegal bank
accounts. Worse, it was discovered that Jim had been committed
adultery with his secretary, had committed sodomy with his
driver and that Tammy was actually a drug addict.
America was shocked, the country's most pious couple were
actually thieving, lying hypocrites, and as the police began
their investigations the Baker's empire came crashing down.
Eventually Jimmy Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison
for fraud. One person however was ecstatically happy, Jimmy
Swaggart. On his television program he proclaimed that if
the Bakers had been 'real' Christians, the way he was, that
this would have never have happened. He said he would support
a move to expel the Bakkers from the church because evangelical
Christian organizations must be pure, the way his was, and
that true evangelicals must give themselves completely to
Jesus, the way he did.
Just a few weeks later a newspaper reporter managed to take
a photo of Jimmy Swaggart coming out of a brothel. The next
day the story was in the headlined of every major newspaper.
In front of an TV audience of millions Swaggart confessed
his sins and pleaded with Jesus to forgive him. Jesus may
have done so but the American public did not. Amidst cries
of 'Hypocrite'! and 'Pervert'! and howls of laughter from
critics of evangelical Christianity Swaggart had to resign
as a pastor. One night a few months later a policeman pulled
over a car which was driving too fast. Inside he found Jimmy
Swaggart with his pants down and dozens of pornographic magazines
on the back seat. Just as these scandals began to die down
yet another evangelical pastor was exposed as a hypocrite.
In 1992 the highly respected preacher Edward Gallimore was
charged with bigamy. It was discovered that not only had he
married a second time without divorcing his first wife but
that his second wife was only 15 years old. Such are the antics
of some of the leading lights of the evangelical Christian
churches in America.
Of course we cannot rejoice when we hear that a religious
person has been tempted into evil and betrayed the trust of
their devotees. But the fact is that these sorts of things
are very common in evangelical churches, far more common than
in the Catholic Church and the mainline Protestant churches.
And the reason for this is very clear. Long before the evangelicals
have genuinely changed their lives they are running around
trying to convert others. They are far more interested in
making converts from other religions than they are in making
bad Christians into better Christians. Further, evangelicals
have the most simplistic view of human problems, indeed they
have a simplistic view of everything. The answer to every
problem, the solution to every crisis, the medicine to every
sickness, the resolving of every doubt is 'just accept Jesus
as your Lord and Savior'.
If someone is depressed, suffering from anxiety or has a sexual
problem long term psychiatric counseling may help then, but
jumping up and down in a church while shouting 'Praise the
Lord' will not. Consequently evangelicals never really resolve
their problems, they merely suppress them, ignore then or
deny them. But the thing that corrupts evangelical Christians
more than anything else is their vaulting pride. They are
totally devoid of the humility that made Jesus so loved. They
have an utter certainty that only they are right, that they
have all the answers, that they can learn nothing from anyone
else. This pride leads to over confidence, which in turn leads
to all the types of bad behavior we have been discussing.
In 1985 I had a chance to visit the USA. It was a good opportunity
to learn about Christianity in America. I was very interested
to discover that there were 15 different Christian denominations
in the town where I stayed. Some of these only differ from
each other in very minor ways but the differences between
others are very great. For example, nearly all Christians
believe you should go to church on Sunday but the Seventh
Day Adventists believe you should go on Saturday. Catholics
worship saints and the Virgin Mary while other Christians
say it is wrong to do this. Most Christians believe Jesus
is the Son of God but the Jehovah's Witnesses believe he was
only a prophet.
Ordinary Christians go to a doctor when they are sick but
the Christian Scientists believe that to do so shows lack
of faith. Some teach that to be saved you must be baptized
as soon as you are born, others say that you must be baptized
at the age of understanding, the Mormons teach that you can
actually be baptized when you are dead. Some say that just
tipping the water over the head is enough to baptize you,
others insist that you must be submerged under the water.
All these different beliefs, ideas and doctrines prevent Christians
from worshiping the same God together. If Jesus' teaching
is so clear why are there all these different churches? Which
of all these different versions of Christianity is the true
one? If Christians really practice love why is there so much
mutual jealousy, rivalry and ill - will between the different
churches? What right have they got to impose on Buddhists
a religion that they can't even agree about amongst themselves?
In Sri Lanka there might be a dozen temples in a town and
yet they will all teach the same Dhamma. There may be personal
differences between monks but they all believe in the same
Some years ago I met a woman in Malaysia who told me an interesting
story. Her son got an ear infection and then started to go
deaf and he could only hear if she shouted very loudly in
his ear. Naturally she was worried and had gone to many doctors
but none could help. One day a friend told her about a Christian
healing rally and although she was a Buddhist she decided
to go just to see if it could make a difference to her son.
There were thousands of excited people in the rally, she,
her son and many other sick people were taken up on the stage
and one by one presented to the pastor who blessed them and
prayed for them. When the boy's turn came the pastor he asked
what the problem was and the mother said her son was deaf.
She was going to add that the boy had partial hearing but
before she could do so the pastor shouted at the top of his
voice, (evangelical pastors cant speak quietly or gently,
they can only shout) 'In the name of Jesus, be healed'! Then
he shouted 'Can you hear now'? and of course the boy nodded
because he can always hear if people shout at him. The pastor
started jumping up and down and shouting, 'It's a miracle!
The Lord has healed him'! and then the whole audience started
clapping and shouting 'Praise the Lord'. The woman and her
son were immediately hustled of the stage and the next 'miracle'
The woman later heard that several people in the audience
were so impressed by the little boy who's hearing was 'miraculously
restored' that they converted. This incident epitomizes the
reality behind most evangelical miracle rallies. Almost none
of the supposed healing are genuine. Often, as in the story
above, the pastor is so anxious to prove his power that he
loudly proclaims a miracle where there was none. On other
occasions a crippled or physically weak person gets so caught
up in the excitement that they are actually able to get out
of their wheelchair only to collapse again as soon as they
are off the stage. But of course the evangelicals do not care
about this, their only concern is to impress the audience
and make as many converts as possible. For them, sick people
are only tools to be used and then hustled away before too
many questions are asked or a doctor appears to examine the
On other occasions deliberate fraud is committed. They will
put a man on crutches in the audience, he will come forward,
pretend to be healed and then dramatically throw his crutches
away and dance around to show that he can now walk unassisted.
They always favor men on crutches because their supposed healing
is more easy for the audience to see than healing an ulcer,
bone cancer or deafness."