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As always, you see the good in people and tend toward optimism and generosity. I can't bring myself to feel sanguine about this new Pope.

On the one hand, the Catholics' choice of spiritual leader is none of my business. But this guy's background and outlook do not bode well for those of us who would like to see increasing respect for other religions and atheism from the most populous sect of the most populous religious tradition.

I must also disagree with your take on the "Buddhism is an auto-erotic spirituality" comment. The fact that this was mistranslated from "Buddhism is a self-absorbed spirituality" hardly makes the new Pope look better. The former interpretation is foolish and lampoonish and cannot be taken seriously, notwithstanding his credentials as a theologian. The actual comment is outright arrogant, ignorant, bigoted, and parochial.

The true rendering of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's comments are much more offensive than the mistranslation, if only because they reflect a degree of sincerity and meaningful conviction. And they are perfectly in line with his many public assertions that Christianity represents the only path of salvation.

I think this guy is yet another scary leader in an already scary world.

Heng Sure,

I didn't previously realize you too had a blog! It seems that you are making excellent use of it. I'm glad to know of the more appropriate translation of Benedict's statement on Buddhism. The original ("auto-erotic") was just bizarre. The correct translation, while perhaps equally or more offensive to anyone who sees value in Buddhism, is at least something I can try to wrap my mind around and deal with.

Actually, I feel bad for the then-Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. One and half day out of being Pope and no honeymoon period to speak of --it's majority bad press.

Speaking for myself, a Buddhist practitioner, I'm biased toward Buddhism. In fact, I guess people could also characterize my attitude toward other religion as "lesser searches for the truth" (like Ratzinger has expressed). I can't personally criticize a similiar attitude.

In terms of Cardinal Ratzinger's comments on "auto-erotic" spirituality, I'm always weary of the possiblity of misunderstandings when complex subjects like Religion. So many things taken out of its contextual framework sounds a little confusing or odd. So, I would like to give the new Pope a little slack as well.

Fortunately, I can across a book review that referred to that quote. And it appears that Cardinal Ratzinger was misquoted up and down by multiple Catholic press authors:

"This tone is reinforced when Teasdale asks His Holiness about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s comments about Buddhism to the French press in 1997. Teasdale says that Ratzinger referred to Buddhism as a form of “mental autoeroticism.” In fact, Ratzinger was not speaking about Buddhism as such, but about how Buddhism “appears” to those Europeans who are using it to obtain some type of self-satisfying spiritual experience."

So, in conclusion, I join with many in wishing that the new Pope continue with the work of peace, friendship, and understanding.

Oops.... Here's the link to the article:
http://monasticdialog.com/a.php?id=577&t=p

This newly elected Pope is old, and old fashioned. What does he know beyond what he is used to know anyhow? I give my condolence to the Catholics who will be blindly following a blind who is 'believed' to be infallible.

I can't believe this is still going on in this science and technoledge advanced 21 century where people still cling to a premitive mind. Just when will they wake up? Or not to ask too much, how about just a little bit awake...

When I saw that Ratzinger is now the Pope and I was told that they VOTED him in I was astounded and awestruck.

Firstly, because I didn't know that popes were voted in.

Secondly, I was astounded because I don't believe that true wisdom and spiritual penetration can be acknowledge by a political process. Logic says that it can only be earned and certified.

Thirdly, because it occured to me that while over time this process is meaningless, I couldn't help but be awestruck by the patience and compassion of the bodhisattvas who have vowed to wait for so many living beings who may be potentially sidetracked from the truth by this institution before they themselves attain true right enlightenment. Why was I awestruck? Well, I benchmarked my own patience against this and I can safely say that I'm nowhere near the mark.

Amitabha

Our relationship with Pope shall be just another sentient being that seeking spiritual progress in this life. Neither need we need his blessing nor recognition. He may find some lesson in this life as a Pope. However, if he needs to learn music, he shall study it in music schools and not from mathematic class. So, if he needs to comment on Buddhism, he shall learn it from the right source, and not from the Catholic churches.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I am a Buddhist, what did this new Pope say years ago doesn't bother me a bit. because I am not trying to predict or extrapolate what the new Pope's gestures toward to Buddhism will be. And as a Chan Buddhist, I am working hard to reduce my pre-conditioned preceptions (one of the 5 skandas), definetely I am trying not to add any conditioned preceptions into my mind.

Wait!, I do have added few conditioned preceptions to my mind.

That is practice hard on my Precepts, Samadhi and Wisdom (Old Dharma Master HsuYun)

Maha Prajna Paramita to you all, try not to let the fear runs around in the mind.

dfung

wow.
WOW.
what a coincidence, you meeting him and then him becoming the next Pope!

I am not a Buddhist, nor am I Catholic, but to an extent I can understand why the Pope said what he said. Some consider the way Buddhism holds yourself as the judge of natural law, and thus what is right or wrong, that it is basically setting yourself up as your own god. Now this of course clashes with the Christian belief that our God is the one true God. I don't agree with how he said what he said, or what he said, just explaining the way some people view your ways.

Catholicism is profoundly dualistic religious doctrine and practice. A Catholic is born into a state of Original Sin and must suffer for this for an eternity unless grace or good works intervene to allow salvation from this torment. This is God's plan. Good Luck!

Buddhism is a profoundly non-dualistic religion and practice. A Buddhist is born in a state of ignorance but is also born with the ongoing potential of fully realizing his or her Buddha Nature at any time without any intermediaries getting in the way of this realization ("If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him"). A sense of separation from one's true nature and from the world is simply the result of ignorance, not because Adam fell for the Devil's ploy through Eve one afternoon in the Garden of Eden. No intervening Gods or Saviors. Only teachers. Buddha certainly didn't die for our sins. He pointed out our ignorance with the ultimate of skillful means and compassion. How refreshing, don't you think?

Bottom line for me is this: Popes are extraordinarily amusing. What fantastic spin masters!! Much, much to be learned here. And they have had centuries of practice!! My heartiest best wishes to Benedictus XVI!!

I think the bottom line is that all people want 'salvation' and be free from suffering. Different way of 'thinking' makes it appear to be different and the dangerous thing is that people are attached to their own view which generates hostility in the world we live in.

The Buddha's wisdom helps Buddhist to understand this so we Buddhist have no problem with it. Unfortunate the theist world has yet to come to terms with it.

To me the Catholic Pope is just another politician elected to be a spokesman for 'God', how absurd. Buddhism is on a totally different level so profound that makes the rest of the world, to say it mildly, like primitive barbarians.

let us try to be rational. Most of the comments of the readers seem to be irrational. Pope Benedict XVI is not the then cardinal Ratziner. The then card. Ratzinger was an independent theelogian. But the Pope Benedict XVI is one who counts on all the religions and the culture. Let us try to be more rational and literate.

Yeah, I think we need a little bit more peace, friendship, and understanding within this thread of comments. For us Buddhists, we should "Truly recognize your own faults, And don't discuss others' wrongs. Others wrongs are just my own."

Peace,

So Ratzinger said Buddhism was the new threat to replace communism? I have to laugh. Since my mother spent two years as a Catholic nun before leaving the order to get married, she always said that her view was the Catholic Church was the biggest communist state on the planet.

Hello and warmest greetings.
I can assure you that Catholics such as myself hold all people of peace in the highest esteem. Buddhists who I have met personally have impressed me as spiritual and compassionate. However, both Catholics and Buddhists are also people: with all the faults, ignorances and negative passions associated with our earthly state. Some of the concerns you may hear expressed come from the fact that Catholics in areas such as Sri Lanka are under attack by Buddhists, and our Churches have been burnt to the ground. Rather than continuing the cycle of hatred, it is my greatest hope that we will instead embrace each other with love as beings of divine essence. May peace be with you all.

Evidently, if the new Pope is unaware of any "concrete religious obligations" in Buddhism, he must not have heard of the Buddhist Precepts, or the Patimokkha, or the Paramitas, or much of anything else. Truly, the Truth of Buddhism is rarely met with, especially by those with their eyes and ears closed. :-( I suppose we should offer him merit; he evidently needs some.

I think world is well aware of the narrow minded bigotary way of thinking associated with the pope (who can't accept the fact that the catholic priests he represent have been consistanly associated with homosexuality and paedophilia) .

I can imagine the word 'auto-erotism' or masturbation readily crossing his mind as it may be what he is up to most of the time in the dark rooms of vatican.

The anti-contraceptive policy of catholic church which continues to directly associated with spreading of HIV with all its' misery in Africa shows that these fundamental religious groups who do not allow intelligent dialogue should be scrapped from todays world.

In fact Buddhism being a religion which encourage non-violence and allows freedom of discussion should be suitable for all but the stupidest (stupid need a religion such as catholism, muslim, jewish etc which do not allow the followers to think but to do what the spiritual script or leader tells you to do), and the popes suggestion that buddhism is like marxism may be a kind of a complement

Catholicism, as opposed to Buddhism, isn't pseudo-naturalistic. The pope's comments are true, however, regarding the core motivation of Buddhism: overcoming the world, and ultimately, extinguishment of conditional identity. Most people who have an interest or consider themselves lay Buddhists will immediately recoil at this statement, but they do not understand the core motivations of Indian ascetic philosophies, which Buddhism is simply an offshoot of, which is all conditional existence, striving, and motivation is perilous falsehood.

In the west, we cultivate an identity from the world. Nirvana, the absence of an evolving identity, isn't an arcane, hidden side of life, either. It's simply a self-absorbed, wholesome, afflictionless state. You probably understood it when young when little baggage existed, but that doesn't mean the meaning of life is to crawl back into the cradle, then eventually the grave forever.

I grew up as a Catholic. One thing that opened up my mind via Buddha's enlightened teaching is that the so called 'God' or 'Creator' is not some being outside ourselves but it is our own 'true nature', we simply do not realize it due to our dualistic view. Once that kind of wisdom is opened up to me, there is no turning back. I no longer go to church.

Jesus said 'I am the way, the light...no one comes to my father but by me...' What he meant was that we are light unto our ownself, no one can enlighten ourselves but by our own efforts. Christians mistaken it by concluding that, therefore, Jesus is to 'save' them and forgetting to cultivate their own light.

If what the Genises Ch.I says about ourselves is correct, then Christians have forgotten their true heritage and potential as a human being. Jesus serves as a model for us, like the Bible says 'so you be perfect as the Father who in heaven is perfect...'. To me, cultivating the Buddha way can get you there, just like Jesus did. Buddha's wisdom is to open up our eyes to see and know that we truly are perfect and be willing to go through the 'cleasing' process via vigorous cultivation.

All region is about leaving suffering behind and return to peace and purity. There is nothing selfish about it -- Buddhism included.


use or but our thatotchnw" h and the g

It is via Buddhadharma is where I can find Jesus and remember Jesus said something like 'I have so much to teach yet you are not capable...'. I firmly believe that the teachings Jesus had to refrain from are the teachings that Buddha taught to those who are brave enough to accept. Now I fully understand what Jesus taught, thanks for Buddha.

Check into Bodhisattva vows under Mahayana Buddhism, it makes Catholism like boy scout (don't mean to degrade, but can't find proper comparison). Anyhow, for me personally, it is via Buddhadharma is when I truly understand what 'salvation' means. You will be so blessed if you venture into the wisdom of the Buddha which you and I also posses.

Scottia,
Allow me to express my own relationship with Jesus without having to utilize Catholic doctrines. You can say whatever 'valid' statement you like it won't change anything anyway. Things are just the way they are. I am glad for the Buddha, our fellow human citizen, who was courageous enough to open our eyes to see 'God' in an enlightened way. Stick to your familiar doctrine if that make you feel right. I have no problem with your comfort level, but please do not let our 'clinging' to our own view become a base to argument. If we can't exchange pleasantry to one another it is better then to just remain noble silence.

I agree that we should cut the man who holds the title Pope a little slack. Fact remains whatever your translation, the word in Question is his use of "Buddhists", the Bauddhas, we could likewise lump Catholicism with other Christian sects. We should also ask him if his Jesus taught that others would do greater things than him (Buddha's rebuke to Sariputra in the Pre-Christian Mahaparanibbana sutta).

When we break down the historical figures there is nothing that Jesus said that Buddha did not say first. Many, many pre-Christian Buddhist belief in the Buddha giving his life for all. The Passion and crucifixion being found in the Sanghabhedavastu sutra of the MSV and the Mrrchakatika. We know that the Sanghabhedavastu sutra can be dated to well b.c. because of its mention of a great window in the palace of Siddhartha. The window also appears in the earliest strata of Pali texts, where we read of a queen who uses the bend of a bathroom window to hide the fact that she let a dog mount her. Historians tell us that the Romans first used windows. Typical western History.

Also, time and time again, the Pope should know that the Allegorical speech of Jesus can only be understood when seen in light of their Buddhist sources, for example Jesus cursing the fig tree is him turning his back, or haulting Buddhism, as the true Buddha is known as the udumbaras, the fig flower. This is taken from the Lotus sutra in which every true religion (Dharma)has its counterfeit (pratirupaka)

Just a few thoughts!

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