Abdu’l-Baha’s dim view of Buddhists and Buddhism

Abdu’l Baha Said : 

Placing Buddha amongst theist prophets would probably not sit well with him seeing that he was agnostic at best and perhaps even an atheist. One of Buddhas three primary teachings is anatman, no permanent soul, jiva. The Baha’i Faiths co-opting of Buddhism is quite shallow considering Abdu’l-Baha’s dim view of Buddhists and Buddhism as lapsed theism: “‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: The real teaching of Buddha is the same as the teaching of Jesus Christ. The teachings of all the Prophets are the same in character. Now men have changed the teaching. If you look at the present practice of the Buddhist religion, you will see that there is little of the Reality left. Many worship idols although their teaching forbids it. … The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back? Consider the laws of the Old Testament: the Jews do not follow Moses as their example nor keep his commands. So it is with many other religions.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 63)***

Anyone who has a true understanding of Buddhism knows just how untrue what Abdu’l-Baha’ said about Buddhism is. Abdu’l-Baha’s knowledge of Buddhism was obviously quite limited and based on the Shiah Islamic education he received. Buddhism was never a theistic religion, Buddhists have never worshiped statues any more than Baha’is worship the Greatest Name or pictures of Abdu’l-Baha’. My thought is that all of human spiritual experience, the entire human spiritual enterprise, is legitimate: pagan, polytheistic, theistic, non-theistic; and that this spiritual enterprise transcends belief in, or disbelief in, this god or that god. For me it is not a person’s professed beliefs, or disbelief’s, that defines them, it is their character and the manner they treat their fellow human beings. This is the true indicator of their spirituality.


Larry Rowe

About imranshaykh
I am a student of comparative religion with a special interest in Islam and The Bahai Faith

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