What is enlightenment in Tibet?

A devout Buddhist scholar wrote in his introduction to the Buddhist Scriptures: “Buddhists possess nothing that corresponds to the New Testament.” Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama make many assertions, about the nature and reliability of early Buddhist writings that cannot be substantiated. And different schools of Buddhism make different claims.

Other aspects of Tibetan spirituality also raise questions. The Tibetan emphasis on contact with spirit mediums is one example. The Dalai Lama himself regularly consults with the Nechung Oracle, said to be a spirit deity who takes over the body of a chosen Tibetan Buddhist. Furthermore, studies have documented that many Tibetan Buddhists have a superstitious fear about the spirit world (a result of the animist influence of Tibet’s Bon religion) and a magical view of reality—as if the number of prostrations and countless turns of a prayer wheel is all it takes to affect the ever-pervasive karmic forces.

Notions of karma and reincarnation are offered as explanations for many of life’s mysterious events, but at a steep price. The Dalai Lama writes in one of his books that a person killed by a lightning bolt has earned that fate by some misdeed in a previous life. That example, though grim, does not address the deeper implications of the Buddhist view. Consider the Buddhist nuns raped by Communist soldiers during the purge of Tibet. Was this their karmic debt? Likewise, what does the Buddhist say about the death of Jesus? Did he deserve to die by crucifixion? If so, it is hard to imagine how Buddhists can still consider him even an enlightened teacher.

Pray for real enlightenment for those caught in the web of Buddhism in Tibet. This closed nation means prayer is one of the major tools for the light of God to shine into the lives of people, and bring hope into that nation.

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