Gotema The Buddha and Jesus The Christ

… Japanese temple in Nara of the Buddha Mahavairochana.  The approach from the south is guarded by an imposing gate, with a guardian standing at either side in the form of a large wooden statue, twenty-six-and-a-half-feet high.  The statues stand in threatening attitude, bearing weapons.  The mouth of one is open, the mouth of the other is closed.  Their look is frightening. …  They are the counterparts, in the Buddhist mythic image, of the cherubim placed by Yahweh at the gate of Eden to guard “the way to the tree of life.”  I recall seeing in a New York newspaper, during the war with Japan, a picture of one of these imposing images, with a caption that read: “The Japanese worship gods like this” – a piece of information, no doubt derived from what in journalese is known as a “reliable source,” and published, of course, with high regard for the American public’s “right to know.”  But I had a wicked, uncooperative thought.  “No,” I thought, “not they but we!  It is we who worship a god like that.”  For in the Buddhist world the worshiper is instructed to walk right between those two gate guardians and approach the tree without fear; whereas, as told in the Book of Genesis, our own Lord God put his cherubim there to keep the whole human race out.  The Buddha sits with his right hand raised in the “fear not” posture and his left in that of “boon bestowing.”  One is not to be intimidated by the death threat of those guardians, but to case aside the fear of death and come through to the knowledge of one’s own Buddhahood – or, as that though would be rephrased, in biblical terms: one’s own Godhood, as Yahweh himself recognized when, in Genesis 3:22, he expressed the fear to his angels that man might “become like one of us … take of the fruit, and eat, and live forever.”  TMD 203

   “I am the door of the sheep,” he is reported to have said, in the second-century Gospel According to John.  “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. … I lay down my life, that I may take it again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay is down of my own accord.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:7, 9:17-18).  TMD 205


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