Catholicism’s uncanny resemblance to Buddhism
A Buddhist once said, “Guan yin is to Buddhists what Mother Mary is to Catholics”. Indeed, a quick examination reveals a number of other things that the two religions share in common. While their expressions may be quite different, their underlying principles appear to be somewhat related.
Here is an informal look at some of their more evident similarities.
1. Monks, nuns and monasteries
Both religions have monks and nuns who devote themselves to prayers and good works while abstaining from marriage, sex and other worldly activities.
1 Timothy 4:1,3 NIV The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
2. Exalted holy people
Catholicism and Buddhism recognise certain individuals, dead or alive, as “holy” and more spiritually exalted over ordinary worshippers.
3. Holy water and incense or smoke
Both use the sprinkling of holy water and burn incense or holy smoke symbolically during prayer.
Both religions encourage practitioners to bow or show a sign of respect once they enter their places of worship.
Exodus 20:5 ESV You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.
5. Lighting of candles
Candles are commonly used in both religions during their worship.
6. Prayer beads for prayer
Buddhists chant their prayers using beads as they meditate. Catholics practice a form of chanting by repeating their prayers with the help of rosary beads.
Matthew 6:7 NLT “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
7. Praying for the dead
In Roman Catholic theology, purgatory is “an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven, holding that “certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.” Hence, some Catholics pray for the dead. In some forms of Buddhism, worshippers pray for the dead and send gifts to them by burning symbolic paper objects.
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 ESV For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
8. Grand processions
Occasionally, both religions hold grand processions on certain dates. Spiritual leaders of both religions will wear special attire and often use symbolic objects of worship in religious activities.
Luke 20:45-47 ESV And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
9. The practice of penance
The Catholics practice a form of penance where members of the church confess their sins to and are given absolution by a priest. In Buddhism, penance is usually practised through some form of self-punishment as an expression of one’s repentance.
10. Colourful imagery and idolatry
No Buddhist temple would be complete without a large statue of Buddha. The same goes for Catholic churches, where one can find large statues and images of people from the Bible. Both religions decorate their buildings ornately with great symbolism.
Exodus 20:4-5 ESV “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Can you think of more similarities than the ones listed above?
Deuteronomy 18:9 ESV “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.
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