Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Spread of Buddhism

One of the things I was curious about, as a teenager (while I was questioning the religion I was raised in),  was the fact that the Gospel of John had a Buddhist quality to it. A good number of the quotes in the Gospel of John are similar to quotes from the Buddha.

Between the ages of 12 and 30, (a gap of 18 years) Jesus was not mentioned in the New Testament at all.

I believe that at some point during those years, he may have travelled along the Silk Road to India. And while not necessarily converting to Buddhism, he certainly came into contact with the Buddhist religion, and indeed, may even have taught it as well. 

For the record, the Buddhist religion was founded approximately 500 years before Jesus was born. So it had plenty of time to grow and flourish. 

There are several good websites and one youtube video, I would like to mention here

Buddhism versus Christianity

Pagan Origin of the Christian Myths

Was Jesus a Buddhist?

Video - Did Jesus Learn Buddhism

Silk Road Transmission of Buddhism - Wikipedia

The Life of Saint Issa - Nicholas Notovich

The Life of St Issa

Evidence for Jesus' teachings being of Buddhist origin

The Tibetan Gospel of Issa

What got me started on this, was a book I picked up called - The Original Jesus - Subtitled the Buddhist Sources for Christianity - by Elmar Gruber and Holger Kersten. (1995)

More details can be found on this blog post - 
Jesus (Issa, Eesa) as a Buddhist

And in this book -
The Lost Years of Jesus by Elizabeth Clare Prophet

which says the following

"Your Jesus was here."
The Gospels record Jesus at the age of twelve in the Temple. Then about age thirty at the River Jordan. That leaves approximately seventeen years unaccounted for.
During those so-called lost years, the child "increased in wisdom and stature," as Luke wrote. But was it in the carpenter shop at Nazareth?
According to ancient Tibetan manuscripts, Jesus secretly withdrew from the home of Mary and Joseph at age thirteen. Young "Issa" joined a merchant caravan. Destination: India and the Himalayas.
At Juggernaut, "the white priests of Brahma made him a joyous welcome. They taught him to read and understand the Vedas, to cure by aid of prayer, to teach, to explain the Holy Scriptures to the people, and to drive out evil spirits from the bodies of men."
Buddhist scholars documented "The Life of Saint Issa" two thousand years ago.
Nicolas Notovitch discovered the long-lost document in 1887 at the Himis monastery in Ladakh.
Swami Abhedananda published a Bengali translation of the Himis manuscript in 1929.
Nicholas Roerich quoted the same verses in a 1929 travel diary of his Asian expedition.
And in 1939, a beaming lama at Himis presented a set of parchments to Elisabeth Caspari with the words:     "These books say your Jesus was here!"
Now you can read the controversial stories of these travelers together with the original Buddhist scriptures on the most important events that shaped the life and work of the Saviour Jesus Christ.
An historical breakthrough that will shake the foundations of modern Christendom!

I think it is quite plausible that Jesus went to India. He would have had to have travelled along the Silk Road to get there and back again. Jesus was clearly familiar with the teachings of the Buddha. The Gospel of John certainly has many Buddhist like sayings. especially those from the Sermon on the Mount. 

Silk Road Map and Theory of Diffusionism

This is a map of the Silk Road.  MAP SOURCE

As you can see, it is not just ONE road marked out between China and the Middle East. It is lots of different roads, all branching off and joining up (diverging and merging) along the way.

No wonder  cultures, inventions and ideas were diffused along the way. It was inevitable.

This idea is explored in a number of novels and books. One of my favourite is the NUMA Files Series written by Clive Cussler. 

Diffusionists believe that cultures didnt evolve in isolation, but rather that they diffused from one place to another.

The diffusionist theory had always faced one major hurdle. The absence of scientifically verified evidence that would prove contact between one hemisphere and another before Columbus.

People could talk all they wanted to about how Egyptian pyramids and Cambodian temples and Mexican mounds resembled one another. But nobody had discovered the artifact to connect them. Until Now.....

Chapter 4
A NUMA Files Novel
Clive Cussler & Paul Kemprecos

What is the Loulan Beauty?

If you have not already discovered, the URL or address of this blog is called Loulan Silk Road.

The Loulan beauty refers to a female Mummy found in Western China in 1980. Her reconstructed face looks like this.

And the original Mummy image can be seen here - at the bottom of the page.

The mummies of the Tarim Basin (and Lop Nur desert) in the Xinjiang province of western China, are thought to be of Caucasian origin and have been dated to over 2000 years ago. Which means that there were Europeans in contact with the Chinese, during or before the time of Christ.

The episode about the Loulan Kingdom can be seen here.

The Chinese filmed a 10 year expedition of the Talamaklan desert in western China in the 1970s and early 1980s. We know it is that early because the above episode (the Loulan Kingdom) makes reference to the Expedition of Aurel Stein in 1934, claiming it was "almost half a century earlier."
1934 plus 50 years is 1984 - so this film was made before 1984.

More details can be read on Wikipedia.

So with the Loulan Beauty being discovered in 1980, along with the Marco Polo TV Miniseries airing in 1982 - it was inevitable that  I would fall in love with everything to do with the Silk Road. 

Diffusion along the Silk Road

One of the things that archaeologists firmly believe in, is that culture and civilizations grew and developed on their own (more or less in isolation) and that they did NOT pass on their ideas and inventions to other cultures.

I have been interested in the Silk Road ever since I first watched a TV Miniseries about Marco Polo's Journey to China, that aired on TV back in 1982.

The link above is for Episode One, Part One, on Youtube. You can find the rest from there.

One of my favourite pages about Marco Polo is this one on Squidoo. 

Anyway, I am getting off track.

The Silk Road meant that ideas, inventions and cultures spread along the Silk Road, from China and the Middle East to Europe and back again. These ideas and inventions eventually spread, which means that diffusion is the way that the human race works.

I dont know why archaeology insists that cultures develop in isolation.

I don't believe the evidence supports that theory.

There is a clear history of cultures being spread around, by boats. Possibly even as far as the New World (North and South America), possibly even as long ago as 2000 years.

Yes I believe in DIFFUSION!!!!

Of course you are all going to tell me I am wrong. But I did not say definitely - I said MAYBE.

 The Phoenicians were the greatest navigators of their time and they were around over 2000 years ago. And who is to say that some adventurous and hardy Phoenician sailor did NOT travel the length of the Mediterranean to the Pillars of Hercules (now called the Straits of Gibraltar) and then, instead of turning right to go north to Britannia or left to go south to Africa, he went straight ahead instead - just to see what was out there.

Because we humans are a very curious race.

I am also very curious and I LOVE asking Questions.