Is Xianity co-opted Buddhism?

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
I watched The Buddha last night. It discusses the core narrative of Prince Siddharta's life, and the derivation from that of the core Buddhist principles.

It claims that the original school of Buddha's was egalitarian and open to both genders. If so, then Evola's claim about Pali Buddhism (as we discussed in the OT Intro post) supporting the caste system of the prior Brahman system may be false - in some manner. In the narratives Buddha, of course, was born a member of the Kshatriya warrior caste.

Perhaps either Evola, or who he learned this from, were just another attempt to co-opt a reform that threatened their noble entitlements. Of interest here is that it is well known that the Hellenistic Greeks were well and long exposed to Buddhism in Bactria (Afghanistan) and today's western India. So perhaps it is from them, at least, that adaptations were made that eventually vectored into Christianity. The Romans would have had the same desperate motivations, despite the egalitarian claims in their foundational narrative revolving around Romulus and Remus.

To digress:

That is, that they led a band of egalitarian vagabond thieves, ala Robin Hood. And that they had grown up with them since being adopted by a lowly shepherd who recovered them from the care of a she-wolf. The latter of which who recovered the infants from having been floated down a river to save the sons of a god from an evil king. On the way to the Promised Land, as told to them by their dying mother (who was supposed to be a Vestal Virgin), they led the vagabonds across a foot bridge crossing a deep gorge. The bridge is destroyed just as soon as another king attempts to catch them, thus forming an interesting typology with the Exodus, Xianity, and possibly even the Trojan War (at least by the 1961 movie Duel of the Titans). The latter as Julia, Romulus's love interest, is a type of Helen. Julia, the princess of the elite Sabines, is won over to Romulus, and eventually even her father is won over by Romulus's virtues.​

As a matter of course, The Buddha then talks about the false sense of security that one's ego attachments to material things deliver.

Of more personal interest, it claims that Buddha did not teach reincarnation, nor deny it. He supposedly explained that knowledge of such was unnecessary, as one must constantly strive to improve, to Become, in the existence that they are in.

Many have wondered about certain parallels between Jesus and Buddha (and Krishna as well), and as such could this be yet another motive of the Romans besides neutering the rebellious the Jewish Tea Party of the day?

Jerry Russell

Staff member
Seems like a highly credible speculation. Wiki says that this Hellenistic Buddhism was the inspiration for the invention of Greek Skepticism and Cynicism by Pyrrho, Anaxarchus and Onesicritus. This in turn inspired Seneca's stoicism, which Bruno Bauer identified as a major source of Christian philosophy.

Along those lines, I've just received a copy of a fresh 2015 edition of Bauer's "Christ and the Caesars", translated by Byron Marchant & Helmut Brunar. At first glance, it seems to be less opaque than the earlier translation by Schacht.

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
This, of course, likely goes to the traditional antipathy of the Church to Buddhism, as to just who gains relative power: the individual or those few who control the Church and its associated institutions.

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
Chapter 9, "The Orphic Christ and the "New Song" of Christianity", of Fideler's Jesus Christ, Sun of God seems to me to speak to the point of this thread, namely that of a Buddhist POV. Here within the practice of Orphism, which elsewhere Fideler discusses as a common 'solar' basis with that later found within Mithraism and Christianity, and as earlier found within exoteric Atenism.

From pp. 172-174:

Christianity Before Christ:
The Orphic Impulse in Ancient Greece

Christianity arose at a time when Roman imperial religion had grown sterile.2 The state cult consisted of ceremonies of sacrifices made in the temples. Perhaps wisely, it preached no dogma. It was largely a civic affair and held out no promise of personal salvation. The gods were represented in human form, a fact which philosophers had been complaining about since before the time of Plato. Yet, alongside the exoteric state religion, there existed the esoteric, underground stream of Orphism, named after the mythical poet and bard Orpheus. According to popular account, it was Orpheus, "the founder of initiations," who had established the religious mysteries and the spiritual teachings of the
[Classical not the earlier Mycenaean - rs] Greeks. Orphism possessed a theology and held out the promise of eternal life in the other world for the initiate. And, contrasted with the state religion, Orphism was intensely personal.

The Orphics taught that the god Dionysus, as a child, had been slain by the evil Titans. One day, while innocently playing with some toys--dice, a top, a ball, a mirror, apples, a bull-roarer, and a tuft of wool3 --the Titans approached Dionysus from behind. They ripped him to shreds and devoured his fragments. Infuriated at the senseless attack, Zeus destroyed the Titans with his thunderbolt. From the ashes of the Titans humanity came into being. Because humanity arose from the ashes of the Titans, people possess a lawless and sometimes destructive "Titanic" nature. However, because the Titans had consumed Dionysus, humanity also contains a spark of the Godhead, which possesses eternal life.

The myths of the Greeks tell of the dismemberment of Dionysus, but also of his resurrection.4 Origen refers to the dismemberment of the young god, after which "he was put together again and was, as it were, restored to life, and went up to heaven."5 According to a variant of the Titan myth, Apollo took the pieces of Dionysus to Delphi, the center of the universe, and buried them by the omphalos.6

According to the Orphics, the soul pre-exists before descending into the realm of generation, the world of the manifest universe. Our birth is a forgetting of the spiritual realities we once knew. The world is pictured as a Wheel, the ever-spinning realm of generation, the cycle of incarnation. Through asceticism and spiritual practice, it is possible to help purify the soul of its Titanic nature and strengthen the Divine Spark within. Then, if we attain a sufficient level of spiritual realization, it is possible eventually to transcend the cycle of births and deaths and live eternally with the gods.

Most significantly, Orphism taught that it was possible to attain union with a divinity. Because of the divine spark in humanity, humanity is in part divine, participating in the nature of the gods, in the nature of the dismembered and resurrected divinity, Dionysus. The Orphics, in short, spiritually participated in the mystical nature of Dionysus in the same way that the early Christians participated in the "mystical body of Christ."

The concept of mystical identification with a divinity is a Hellenistic idea and quite alien to Jewish theology and religious aspiration. That is why the apostle Paul, in teaching mystical union with Christ, had little success in propagating his message to the Jews. Among the Greeks, however, Orphism had prepared the way, and Paul's mission met with great success. The personal identification with a slain and resurrected savior divinity was out of place in the Jewish world; amongst the Greeks it was commonplace and readily acceptable.
The above sounds remarkably like the central tenant of Buddhism, namely that the soul must return to the manifest universe, or to "reincarnate", as many times as is necessary to achieve a final reunion with the divine.

Origen, like his mentor, Clement of Alexandria, was a bishop in the early Christian Church, and as such, they and their theological positions were eventually made heretical. Many have noted that early Christianity was beset by many widely divergent sects at a time too early in its formation, that is, if we are to believe the conventional account. Instead, the presence of these sects points to the true theological origins of Christianity that long predate Jesus. As Fideler goes to great lengths in other parts of the book, Orphism is a solar and cosmic theology that I claim also links it to Atenism.

As well, one can see the theological source of Christian Communion rather than being merely some legacy from cannibalism. Instead it is a sanitized version of having the savior ripped to shreds. As I have mentioned before, the Sacred Heart of the Jesuits is felt by some to be an homage to Dionysus, consistent with their educational focus on the Classical Greek curriculum.

In any case, the question is left as to Buddhism or Orphism derived from one or the other, or whether they might have had a common source.
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Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
I just watched the following video, a reposting of a BBC documentary discussing the legends of Jesus having traveled to India and Britain (with his great-uncle Joseph of Arimathea), as well as to whether or not he had a close association with the Essenes (discussed by Eisenman). It compares the essence of Jesus's messages to that of the Buddhist's, and also the Druids. And it touches on why such as the Romans, via Paul, would want to have co-opted the most important aspects to them , that being the maintenance of profitable aristocratic domination over the peeps. This via the Christian feudal caste system, and that lower one's, especially, should not harbor 'soulful' thoughts about coming back for multiple bites at the apples. Only one shot at earthly life, and so: Here, have an easy short-cut to eternal paradise. Just say - "I believe." In contrast, following a reincarnating system such as Buddhism or Hinduism requires much effort, mandating more than one lifetime for a respective soul. I'm agnostically not necessarily endorsing any of these approaches, but this is the key difference in my view. Cui bono?

42 minutes:

Also among those commenting was William Bramley, whose caption included: The Contrary Christ, perhaps an abandoned title for his Jesus Goes to Hollywood: The Alternative Theories About Christ. See also:

Just prior to the above, I watched the following that focuses much more on associations with Hinduism, e.g. the relationship of Christ to Krishna, and the legends of Jesus visiting Kashmir and Shrinigar. This as well as the other claimed travels, and including the relationship of Jesus to Islam, a savior to them in their own Futurist apocalyptic End Times.

104 minutes:

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
Member Erc has graced us with an interesting link where it is posited that Christianity and many or most of the competing sects were born of the input of Buddhism into the area in the first century BCE

A new account of Christian origins, in schematic form (provisional).
We can now begin to identify the original theology that underlies all these figures. We can also flesh out the biography of that remarkable prophet who was the source of a great many movements long considered unaffiliated but that were in fact siblings, offshoots of one and the same parent. Like a precious crystal shattering into many parts, numerous apparently disparate movements came from the same original ministry. Each fragment of the crystal preserves an aspect of that ministry, an aspect of the ‘truth.’
Historically, each tradition has been treated separately—Mandeans (disciples of John the Baptist), Dositheans/Samaritans, Ebionites/Baptists, Pauline Christians. This is possible to do after the traditions diverge. If, however, the traditions have a common ancestor, then in the earliest stages they must be viewed synoptically. Academe and Church have not been able to do this, because they will not admit to links between these groups. After all, that would be heresy.
An important chronological point: we can now appreciate that the earliest stage of Christianity goes back not to the turn of the era but three generations earlier, to about 65 BCE (the ministry of Yeshu/John). For our purposes, the Roman invasion of Palestine in 63 BCE is the watershed event that separates the time of the prophet (apparently executed in the mid-60s BCE) from the first generation of disciples.
This new, earlier, chronology permits the inclusion into early ‘Christian’ history of many heretofore excluded movements, including the sect by the Dead Sea (DSS), the Therapeutae of Alexandria (Philo), the pre-Christian Nasarenes (Epiphanius), and the ‘pre-Christian’ Mandeans (Bultman, Lidzbarski)—to name only some obvious possibilities.
Hence, in the upcoming posts, I freely consult from the literature of all these long marginalized groups. They have a great deal to teach us about earliest Christianity.