JESUS – I am the way, the truth and the life – JOHN 14:6
BUDDHA – You yourselves must strive; the Buddha’s only point the way
What has been the West’s fascination with Eastern religion and mythology? What is it in recent years that have propelled Buddhism into the spiritual limelight? At first glance Buddhism and Christianity seems to be at polar ends, with veneration of the Christian God and his teachings, opposed to the incorporation of teachings leading to a state of true awakening. As is often the case with religion however, this is a somewhat simplistic approach to take. This new cultural frontier is has been, through the use of media, spear headed by the Dalai Lama. This almost meteoric rise to stardom has brought the practice of Buddhism into new dimensions (Batchelor, 1997 Pg 96). What needs to be addressed is what is intrinsic to Buddhism, its teachings, and if they are being whitewashed to fit into the western domain, or is Buddhism teachings transferrable over a myriad of cultures.
Historically, the meeting of east and west can be traced back to long before the 18th century. Trade routes and early Jesuit missions, the Crusades and Marco Polo, encounters from the thirteenth century (Robinson, 2005 Pg 293). The turning point was in the seventeenth century when a change in the superiority mindset indoctrinated in Europe at the time began to heave and change. Leading the wave was what came to be known as the European and American Enlightenment movement. Academics liberating the west ‘from the intellectual and political tyranny of the past’ (Robinson 2005pg 293). In particular the control the church had over the populace. This brought Buddhism directly to the west through interpretation of Buddhist text, excavation of historical sites, but more importantly it opened many to in the West to the possibility that eastern religion could have something of benefit to bring to the western religious ideal. This intellectual association...