Is Jewish Buddhism Kosher?
Is Jewish Buddhism Kosher?
by Lonnie Lane
Q. The following statement by a rabbi is referring to how one rises above the carnal mind in order to receive a miracle. According to Rabbi D., nature is an illusion which God created in order to give human beings free choice to recognize God or not. Once a human being has risen above the illusion of nature as an independent power, he is no longer constrained by “the laws of nature.” Then the miracle occurs! Is this kosher thinking?
A. What the rabbi is talking about is not Biblical Judaism, by any means. There are numerous Jews today, including rabbis, whose eclectic beliefs include some Buddhist principles. These Jews have even adopted a casual term for themselves as Jew-Bu’s — or Jewish Buddhists. This rabbi sounds like one of them. Torah which is God’s prescription for all aspects of life in the community of God, is fully a feet-on-the-ground interaction with the earth in all its natural aspects, such as growing crops, owning land, caring for animals, and celebrating the seasons, all of which are an integral part of their relationship with God, Israel was as intimately involved in “nature” and in the materials world, including relationships with each other in those practical ways, as they were in their relationship with the with God. In fact, God sees such things as the celebration of the seasons, of the first fruits of the crops, the setting aside of land for rest every seven years as worship unto Him. As has been said, “God is in the details,” and those details are the many facets of nature that He’s given to man as blessings and provision. God prescribes a life style very much in touch with the physical realm and every aspect of life is considered sacred and given to us by God for our enjoyment.
Buddhism on the other hand subscribes to the idea that reality is an illusion and uses words like “emptiness,” “impermanence,” and “not self” indicating that people should not be attached to anything because nothing is permanent and to ‘attach’ is to lead to despair. Detachment is valued in Buddhism, whereas Israel was to be a community of people responsible to and for each other in moral and in practical ways. Jesus summed up Torah as loving God, loving others and yourself. This is not detachment. This is involvement of the highest order. To Buddhism life on earth is something to escape from or overcome through detachment. The Bible gives no indication that “nature is an illusion,” though God does give us free will to “recognize Him” as Lord and to choose Him or not.
To the God of the Bible, every aspect of the life He gave us is to be considered sacred and precious. There is nothing in Torah that would suggest that human’s rise “above the illusion of nature as an independent power,” as the rabbi suggests. In fact, quite the opposite is true in that the way to God’s blessings is dependency upon Him, not becoming an “independent power.” If you did a Bible study see why God blesses some people while others seem to incur His disfavor, at the end of the study it would become very clear that the difference is a matter of Dependence vs. Independence. To rely entirely on God, to humble ourselves before Him, recognizing our need of Him, is to receive His blessings, protection and provision. To live independently of Him is to live within the limits of your own abilities to essentially provide, protect and nurture ourselves. Frank Sinatra might boast that “I did it my way” on this side of eternity, but I doubt he’s boasting of it now.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.