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Mormonism, Hinduism, And Buddhism - Salient Similarities Pt. 2

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In many a tangential lecture in many a gospel doctrine Sunday school class, I was told that "our religion (LDS) has more similarities with Eastern Religions/Philosophies than with traditional Christianity/Protestant religions." I tried to write a thesis on the similarities between the concepts of eternal progression and transmigration/reincarnation/samsara but was turned down. So, did Adam and Eve teach their posterity the fullness of the gospel and then their posterity, including Hindu rishis (seers/"founders") teach diluted truths of the gospel to their posterity? What do you think of the following:

Part II. Salient Similarities in Belief The second part of my research will review salient similarities in belief amongst the four subject religions. This list of similarities will be added onto as the research progresses but for now it is comprised of the following: multiple phases of existence and eternal progression, a belief in many holy texts, Prophets/Seers/Great Philosophers, instauration/restoration, meditation/prayer, fasting, marriage (singular and plural), and temples. Multiple Phases of Existence All four religions believe in multiple phases of existence, including a pre-mortal or pre-earth life period and a post-mortal existence. Mormonism teaches that we existed as intelligences prior to being created spiritually by God. After being created spiritually, two-thirds of the beings present accepted the plan of salvation/plan of happiness God presented and chose to come to earth at appointed times. One-third of those present did not support God’s plan and chose instead to follow Satan; they were then sent to earth without physical bodies, having failed the test of their “first estate.” The “second estate” is considered to be our time on earth, when we must walk by faith, having passed through a veil of forgetfulness. After death, we remain on earth which we can then see as it really is, also known as the “Spirit World,” separated into paradise and prison where the truth is declared to those who never had the chance to hear it. After a certain amount of time, the final judgment arrives, where everyone who came to earth will be judged according to the things they did while on earth. This final judgment determines what kingdom people inherit for all eternity. The Celestial Kingdom which is divided into three levels is the highest kingdom and that is where God and Jesus Christ dwell. The Terrestrial Kingdom is the second kingdom for (D&C reference) and the Telestial Kingdom is the lowest kingdom of glory though still considered heaven. “In Islam, all souls are believed to have been created in adult form (before earthly life) at the same time God created the father of Mankind, Adam. The Quran recounts the story of when the descendants of Adam were brought forth before God to testify that God alone is the Lord of creation and therefore only He is worthy of worship (Quran chapter 7, verse 172), so that on the Day of Judgement, people could not make the excuse that they only worshipped others because they were following the ways of their ancestors. God then removed the memory of this event from the minds of Mankind (leaving only an innate awareness that He exists and is One, known as the Fitra in Islam) and He decreed at which point each and every human would be born into the physical world.” Both Mormonism and Islam believe that in the afterlife will include eternal marriage and eternal procreation, as the faithful learn and progress, step by step, grace for grace, etc. Hindu and Buddhist practitioners also believe that all of us existed before this life and that we will continue on the cycle fo rebirths until we eventually reach nirvana and are released from the cycle. Like Mormons, Buddhists and Hindus belive plants and animals have spirits and are here on earth for specific purposes, or to “fulfill the measure of their creation.” (footnote: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/2006_10_03_christensen.htm) A belief in many holy texts Upon first learning of the thousands of holy texts the Hindu and Buddhist cultures have, one might wonder how that is reconcilable with the Bible. After considering the scriptures excluded from inclusion in the Bible by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, other Aprocrypha, biblical pseudepigrapha (whose authenticity is disputed), the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other ancient Judaic and Christian texts, one can see that many volumes of scriptures exist for Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. “Islam believes that in order to guide mankind, Allāh sent a total of 124,000 prophets to all the nations. Some of the pre-Islamic prophets listed in the Quran by name are: Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses, and David; these prophets are also recognized by the Jews and the Christians. Additionally, Islam believes that four of the prophets were given Holy Books, and hence they are called Messengers (Arabic: Rasūl, Persian: Paighambar/Payambar). They are: David (who was given the Psalms), Moses (who was given the Torah), Jesus of Nazareth (who was given the Gospels) and Muhammad ibn Abdullah (who was given the Quran).” The Qu’ran is more comparable to the LDS Doctrine and Covenants rather than the Bible, Book of Mormon, Bhagavad Gita, etc. Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon strengthens, reinforces, and clarifies the Bible. Additionally, the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants are considered Holy Scriptures and form the four main scriptures of the religion. In addition, LDS people believe in an “open cannon,” or continuing, modern revelation through living prophets and apostles. For example, the extension of the priesthood to all worthy male members of the LDS Church in 1979 is considered scripture. Biannually living prophets and apostles address the church membership and their speeches are collected, recorded, and distributed. Muslims believe in the Holy Qur’an, the Torah, the writings of David, the Psalms, and a portion of the gospel as revealed to Jesus Christ, known as the Injil. Like Mormons, they believe the Bible inasmuch as it has been translated correctly. Hindus and Buddhists believe in thousands of scriptural texts but primarily the Bhaghavad Gita and the Buddhavacana, or “words of the Buddha,” respectively. Prophets After Jesus was resurrected and his twelve disciples were martyred, the LDS Church believes an apostasy or “falling away (2 Thessalonians REFERNCE) occurred. Joseph Smith ended the Apostasy when God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to him in Palmyra, New York in 1820. From this time on, living prophets with quorums of both 12 Apostles and 70 Elders (Exodus 24:1, 9; Numbers 11:16; Ezekiel 8:11; Luke 10:1, 17; Doctrine & Covenants 107:25, 34, 93-97; 124:138) have been on earth. In Islam, it is believed that many prophets before Mohammad lived and were true prophets, including Abraham and Moses. Muslims believe that Mohammad was the last prophet. Buddhist practitioners believe that great spiritual leaders are reincarnated into young children, as the spirit/essence of such noble leaders progresses ever closer to nirvana, through the cycle of many lives and rebirths. “Similar to the concept of prophethood, Hinduism has the concept of Rishis. The Sanskrit word Rishi is loosely translated into English as "sage" (a respected wise man) or "seer" (a prophet, a man who can see the future). Hinduism recognizes and reveres thousands of Rishis, who can be thought of as the collective founders of the Hindu religion over many millennia (but unlike Islam, Hinduism has no single founder). Of these, special importance is given to the Saptarshi (the Seven Sages), widely regarded as Patriarchs of the Hindu religion, whose listing is different according to different texts. One of the texts, the Brihadāranyaka Upanishad (2.2.4) lists their identities as: Atri, Bharadvāja, Gotama, Jamadagni, Kashyapa, Vasishtha & Vishwāmitra. The Saptarshi and their clans are believed to have composed the hymns of the four Vedas by entering into communion with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit through meditation. For instance, Rigveda 1.1 is attributed to Rishi Madhucchandā Vaishwāmitra (i.e. Madhucchandā of the clan of Vishwāmitra). Most Rishis were male, but there were some female Rishikās too. Lopāmudrā is the authoress of one hymn in the Rigveda, and Gārgī Vāchaknavī is described in the Brihadāranyaka Upanishad as a highly respected woman in the field of Brahmajñāna. Apart from the Vedas, various Rishis are also credited with composing the several Smriti texts, like Vedavyāsa who composed the Mahābhārata.” Instauration Buddhism “restored” the true path or noble way, that it claimed Hinduism had lost between 2300 BCE (or earlier) when Vedic Brahmanism first was practiced and the life of Siddhartha Gautama (“Buddha), 4th to 6th centuries BCE. Islam rejected the existent idolatry and tried to restore people to the one true God, Allah. After God called Joseph Smith as a prophet, God then restored Jesus’ true gospel, with the “same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth.” Meditation/prayer Muslims pray five times per day, toward the east. The statues of the Angel Moroni on top of some Mormon Temples points toward the east, as it are believed that the Savior will return to Jerusalem. Fasting Hindu Karwa Chauth “is a form of fasting practiced in my country (India) where married women fast for the well-being, prosperity, and longevity of their husbands. The fast is broken after the wife views the moon through a sieve.” The Buddha Fasting in the monastic community is considered an ascetic practice, a "dhutanga" practice. (Dhutanga means "to shake up" or "invigoration.") Dhutangas are a specific list of thirteen practices, four of which pertain to food: eating once a day, eating at one sitting, reducing the amount you eat, on alms-round, eating only the food that you receive at the first seven houses. These practices are adopted by individuals voluntarily, they are not required in the normal course of a Buddhist monastic's life of practice. The Buddha, as is well known, emphasized moderation, the Middle Way that avoids extremes, in all things. Fasting is an additional method that one can take up, with supervision, for a time. To fast (upavasa or anasana) is to go without food for an extended period. Fasting is practiced for religious, for health or for medical reasons. It has also sometimes been used for political purposes as Mahatma Gandhi and IRA prisoners did. Scientific research has shown that regular fasting for brief periods can be good for the health, although long fasts (more than three days) can be dangerous. Those preparing to undergo certain medical procedures are often asked to abstain from food. Fasting of one sort or another and for one period or another is practiced in most religions. Jains practice several types of fasting including what is called Santhana, fasting to death. Muslims are supposed to abstain from all fluids and food between sunrise and sunset during the month of Ramadan. Fasting is frequently mentioned in the Bible (e.g. Acts 14,23; Luke 2,37; Matthew 6,16; etc.) and Jesus once fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4,2). Fasting, even extreme fasting, formed a part of the self-mortification (attakilamathāna yoga) practiced by ascetics during the Buddha’s time. During the six years the Buddha (or more correctly, the Bodhisattva) was learning from other teachers and experimenting with various ascetic practices he to underwent long fasts. Some of these as described by him in the Mahasihanāda Sutta included eating only once every seven days, eating only one kola fruit a day (M.I,78). The kola is the fruit of Zizyphus jujube, a small fruit with limited nutritional value. As a result of these and other fasts the Buddha’s body became extremely emaciated. ‘Because of eating so little my ribs stuck out like the rafters of an old hut, my eyes sunk into their sockets and their gleam looked like the gleam in the on the water in a deep well, my stomach touched my back bone so that when I tried to touch my stomach I got my backbone and when I touched my backbone I got my stomach, all because I ate so little.’ (M.I,80). The famous Fasting Buddha in the Lahore Museum in Pakistan is based on this passage. After attaining enlightenment there is no record of the Buddha fasting himself or recommending fasting. Monks and nuns are expected to abstain from food from noon to sunrise the next day, a too short to be considered fasting. Also, during that time they are allowed to take fruit juices and other liquids. Milk is included in the prohibition against food at night but for some unaccountable reason Thai monks ignore the fact that cheese is made out of milk and eat it in the evenings. The Vinaya also stipulates that monks and nuns can eat honey, sugar, oil and ghee in the evening if they are ill (Vin.III,51). Sri Lankan monks participating in all-night chanting will consume a mixture of these four substances. This mixture is called catumadhura. Lay people keeping the uposatha will also abstain from food from noon to sunrise the next day. The Buddha’s recommendation to monks and nuns to abstain from food at night seems to have been entirely for reasons of health. He said, ‘I do not eat in the evening and thus am free from illness and affliction and enjoy health, strength and ease.’ (M.I473). Long fasts such as are recommended by certain ‘health’ practitioners are not good for health and would contravene the Buddha’s concept of talking a middle way (majjhima patipada) and avoiding extremes. The LDS code of health or “Word of Wisdom,” as explained in Doctrine and Covenenats section 89, encourages believers to “be temperate in all things” and to use “moderation in all things,” including both excessive fasting and eating too much meat. Marriage and Polygamy Old Testament kings, prophets, and other leaders who practiced polygamy, include: Lamech, Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Moses, Gideon, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Elkanah, Ashur, Abijah, Jehoiada, Ahab, Ahasuerus, Ashur, Belshazzar, Benhadad, Caleb, Eliphaz, Ezra, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Joash, Machir, Manasseh, Mered, Nahor, Shaharaim, Simeon, and Zedekiah. The LDS Prophet, Joseph Smith is said to have married to over 30 women, some of them were widows and some of his wives were not the average age of women who get married today, due to the agricultural lifestyle of the 1800’s. Brigham Young, who was the LDS Prophet after Joseph Smith was martyred, had 55 wives, 21 had never been married before; 16 were widows; six were divorced. [1] In the LDS Temple marriage, many blessings of prosperity and protection are given, which bless and protect women who are widows, divorced, etc. Latter-day Saints practiced polygamy for about 50 years during the 1800s and “officially ceased the practice of such marriages after the Manifesto1 was issued by President Woodruff in 1890.”2 After signing the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act3 in 1862 Abraham Lincoln “reportedly compared the Mormon Church to a log he had encountered as a farmer” and said that the occasional log was “‘too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plow around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone, I will let him alone.’"4 In Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878) ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict prohibiting polygamy, intruded not only into the LDS right to the free exercise of religion, but forbad the same right of marital practice for the Buddhist (Aiken, p.74), Hinduism,5 Judaic,6 and Islamic religions as well. 7 Buddhism: In Buddhism, “marriage is more of a secular thing, so it receives no religious sanction. Some monks participate in it, some monks don’t.[7] … It is said in the Parabhava Sutta that "a man who is not satisfied with one woman and seeks out other women is on the path to decline". Other fragments in the Buddhist scripture can be found that seem to treat polygamy unfavorably, leading some authors to conclude that Buddhism generally does not approve of it[8] or alternatively that it is a tolerated, but not the most preferred marital model.[9] Until 1935 polygyny was legally recognized in Thailand. In Burma, polygyny was also frequent. It is still legally recognized but very rarely practiced in modern day and socially less acceptable. In Sri Lanka, polyandry was practiced (though not widespread) until recent times.[7] When the Buddhist texts were translated into Chinese, the concubines of others were added to the list of inappropriate partners. Polyandry in Tibet was also common traditionally, as was polygyny, and having several wives or husbands was never regarded as having sex with inappropriate partners.[10] Tibet is home to the largest and most flourishing polyandrous community in the world today. Most typically, fraternal polyandry is practiced, but sometimes father and son have a common wife…. Other forms of marriage are also present, like group marriage and monogamous marriage.[11] Polyandry …is also common among Buddhists in Bhutan, Ladakh, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent ( Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[1]).” Hinduism “Polygamy was practiced in many sections of Hindu society in ancient times. There was one example of polyandry in the ancient Hindu epic, Mahabharata, Draupadi marries the five Pandava brothers. Regarding polygyny, in Ramayana, father of Ram, King Dasharath has three wives, but Ram has pledged himself just one wife. The Hindu god, Lord Krishna, the 9th incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu is supposed to have had 16,108 wives at his kingdom in Dwarka. “Eight were his princely wives and 16,100 were rescued from Narakasura, who had forcibly kept them in his harem. After Krishna killed Narkasura he rescued these 16,100 women and freed them, but all of them returned to him saying that they have been raped by Narkasura repeatedly and now neither their family will accept them nor will any one marry them, thus remaining shelter less. Krishna married them and gave them shelter in his new palace and a respectful place in the society but never had sexual relations with any.[66][67]” In the post-Vedic periods, polygamy declined in Hinduism, and is now considered immoral,[57] although it is thought that some sections of Hindu society still practice polygyny, in the areas of India. Marriage laws in India are dependent upon the religion of the subject in question. Although the Vedas and the Hindu religion itself do not outlaw polygamy, the terms under the Hindu Marriage Act has deemed polygamy to be illegal for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Only Muslim men in India are allowed to have up to 4 wives, since they are governed under Sharia law.[58” ] Islam Both Obama and Romney have many polygamists in their family histories. In Islam, “polygamy is allowed, with the specific limitation that a man can have up to four wives at any one time. Muhammad had eleven wives in his lifetime, and had 4 wives at a time.” Islam, like Mormonism, also believes that marriage can survive beyond mortality and procreation throughout eternity is part of God/Allah’s plan for His faithful children. Temples Temples in Mormonism are the places where the Resurrected Christ appears and reveals His will to the Prophets and Apostles. Within these Temples, members pray, meditate, and participate in sacred ordinances including proxy baptisms and marriages take place. LDS believers are encouraged to complete such temple work for their ancestors, as to allow them the opportunity to progress in the spirit world, should they (the ancestors) decide to accept the gospel in that world. Only LDS people who keep certain commandments are allowed to use the temples. Buddhist temples are used mainly for worship activities including: bowing, chanting, lighting incense, altar offerings, and meditation. In Nicheren Buddhism, the chant of “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” appears roughly equivalent with the Mormon Hosanna shout, used both when a temple is dedicated and by the Nephite people of ancient America, after they heard the Resurrected Christ preach his gospel. Though there are many exceptions, Hindu people use temples for four main types of worship, “each of which involves some form of recitation of the names of the Lord, of saints, or of the devas, or demigods, powerful servants of God. The recitations may be repetitions of a mantra or may be melodious and poetic songs, with accompanying instrumentation. The commonly used instruments are kartals (finger cymbals), mridanga (a two-headed drum that can be held or carried), and harmonium (a hand-organ). Types of temple worship:

1. Japa - Individual silent or soft repetition of mantras.

2. Bhajan - Singing of religious songs, individually or in a group, usually accompanied by instruments.

3. Kirtan - Congregational singing and chanting of holy mantras, especially those containing names of God, such as Rama or Krishna. Kirtan is accompanied by instruments and simple dance.

4. Arotik - This is an ancient ceremony wherein certain pleasing articles are offered to the Lord in his deity form, accompanied by kirtan.”

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