The Abrahamic faiths and genuine Buddhism (based on the Pali
sutras, not the later versions such as vajarayana/lamaist)--
none of these are based on secret teachings.
What made these distinctive is that all
these sects regard their doctrines as complete and
that nothing has been held back.
There need be no anxiety that something has been with-held,
no anxiety that you have been deprived of what you need
for full spiritual and human development.
If you are Jewish, Christian, Musliam, Buddhist -- you lack
By contrast, any sect that names Moses, Abraham, Solomon, Jesus,
and Mohammed but claims they held back secret teachings,
teachings revealed only later because modern times or the Kali Yuga
need something new --- this is a stance entirely different
and a stance that must be revealed if one is to participate
in full good faith in an interfaith dialogue with those
who trust and teach that thier prophets or their Jesus
revealed all that was needed and kept no secrets.
And a sect whose members believe the are led
by a living, infallible, and unquestionable
Master, and thus have access to new and private
revelationss beyond and superior
to those of mainstream Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity
Islam -- because of their leader's alleged infalliblity,
these sects have no stable canon (yardstick) by which
to test newly revealed teachings.
Thus the name of the sect may remain, but its actual
teachings and identity may change. Persons in mainstream
traditions safeguarded against secretive and arbitrary
changes of doctrine can have no idea whether the sect
they deal with in an interfaith project is a stable
entity or constantly mutating.
Stable themselves, and with no secrets to hold back, members
of mainstream faiths whose teachings are open, self critiquing
self correcting societies, cannot know whom they are dealing
with if if a sect participating in an interfaith project
presents as an open society, but in practice functions
as a closed society whose leader is infallible and unquestionable
as a person, not merely when pronouncing publicly on doctrine
in an an ecumenical council.
Unlike God-men or God-women cosseted in entourages,
unlike Ascended Masters,
popes of Rome are not infallible
as persons and can be questioned. There is an articulate
press and media network critiquing pontifical decrees. And
even the toughest popes of modern times face blinding
in an interfaith project alongside them is in a group
that operates as a closed society.
The following comments on interfaith matters apply to universalist
sufisms -- the stuff separated from its Islamic context, the
strand of universalist sufism that was heavily influenced by
Blavatkyian and Baileyian theosophy in the last decades of the 19th
and early decades of the 20th century.
Genuine interfaith relations are peer to peer, all cards open on the table,
clear and complete communication of all beliefs.
The common ground is sincerity, courtesty to tell each other the truth
and ability to state actual areas of disagreement.
Frithjof Schuon, who later created his own version of traditionalist universal
sufism, began to develop practices he confided only to intimates
but kept secret to outsiders and also lower ranking members who were
This kind of secrecy is *not* compatible with the full and
complete disclosure of dogmatics and liturgical practices
needed for interfaith dialogue.
For example, Schuon's take on the Blessed
Mother was rather different from both that of Islam and even
Christianity. Catholics fully aware of Schuon's methods of Marian
devotion might have chosen never to enter into interfaith dialogue
Burckhart and Lings were among Schuon's earliest friends and associates.
Here is the price of elitist secrecy. Hossain Nasr had done and has done
more than anyone to make many of Schuon's ideas respectable in academia.
"..the inner circleof Primordialists, the "New Schuonians" the outer circle of more Islamic Maryamis generally described as "Muslim
Muslims" who were looked down on by the Primordialists for their excessive
attachment to the exoteric formalities of Islam.
(Which Shuon had first taught, before entering into his many eccentric modifications -Corboy)
"Many older Maryamis were increasingly absent or excluded. Burkhardt
who had been ill for some time, did not follow Schuon to America; he died
in 1984. Danner died in 199* not having met with Schuon since 1985.
"Nasr visited Inverness Farms (Schuon's American group) occasionally,
about once a year, and according to some sources there was a deliberate
attempt to hide from him some of what was going on there.
Lings visited only once a year, but he too was perhaps not allowed to
see everything and was regarded by some or even many Primordialists
(inner circle) as a pedant tolerated only with difficulty.
(Corboy note: Martin Lings' biography of Al 'Alawi entitled
A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, was the one book that
brought many into this very group. Scholar Robert Irwin, who
disagrees with Ling's interpretations and who himself
was a disciple of 'Alawi's successor, summed the book up
as an 'eloquent masterpiece.')
In the long run, those 'not in the know' were regarded
with condescension -- a sad return for their years of sincere
devotion to Schuon, their love for him.
Officially, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have zero allowance for reincarnation.
What has been given to Judaism, Christianity and Islam is regarded as
complete and all that is needed for any person to
reach the heights of spiritual attainment in this life.
**There is no need to worry that something is missing and that
one has to look for a 'hidden master' or 'secret teaching' to
get what one needs to connect with God.
In Buddhism, in the Parinibbana Sutta, Buddha answered all
possible questions before he died, and as he died, he stated
he had taught all that was needed to practice the Dharma,
that he had held nothing back. No need to look for
secret teachings or some hidden master.
In all three Abrahamic faiths, there is a core concept: The
inherant dignity of the human person.
This one life is all we know and thus has dignity.
In reincarnation based systems, humans are recycled.
In practice, social snobbery and class divisions have riven
all three Abrahamic faiths. But...there is no caste system
as exists in Hinduism.
There is no shortage of Christian artwork depicting the last
These three faiths are meant to be inclusive, with
the same doctrine shared by all.
The prophets of these faiths are prophets of God
An avatar by contrast, is no prophet but is a manifestation
of a Hindu deity, usually of Vishnu.
In interfaith dialogue if one group regards Jesus as a prophet
(Islam) another as the Savior, Incarnate of God (Nicene Christianity)
and yet another group regards Jesus as but one in a series of
avatars,all must disclose their quite different views of Jesus in
order for genuine interfaith dialogue to be possible.
Often gnostic variations have been regarded with suspicion as
bringing disruption to communities.
gnostic trends within each (Essenes and Kabbalah,
in Judaism, gnosticisms in Christianity, very many Gnostic
variations within Islam,
some of which may disclose schemes for reincarnation or rebirth to
an initiated elite, but these gnostic variations are NOT considered
normative doctrine for these faiths and have often been
regarded as elitist, disruptive and in some cases, heretical.
Within the communal faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,
gnosticism seems a perennial temptation -- there are always
persons who consider matter and embodied existence as painful,
and want a elite, secret, and special, sort of experience
than seems possible in the open, communal life of faith.
What makes the Abrahamic faiths distinctive from Hinduism
is that time is linear, not in cycles.
There is no escape hatch provided by reincarnation.
Because this one life is all we have, and justice, restitution,
right dealing, honesty apply in this life.
And, mainstream, the Abrahamic faiths do not have esoteric
teaching for an elite with ordinary teaching for the rabble.
(In practice, all three of these faith divisions did develop
allegorical methods of interpreting Scripture. And there will
always be small numbers of persons in any faith tradition who will
create an esoteric version in which the argument is made that
the elite, the initiated, are not bound by the obligations that
apply to the community. But these elitist interpretations are
regarded as deviations from the mainstream, not representative.)
Jesus said, let your yes be yes, let your no be no. Anything else
is from the evil one.
Moses and Abraham are prophets, not avatars. They encountered
an awesome and mighty God, but God presented as One who keeps
promises and convenants.
**This is distinctive from the Hindu view of creation as a game,
a leela of the gods.
The great innovation of Judaism was to transform a terrifying tribal
God into the God of word, of contracts, where human reason and
negotiation could come into play.
Abraham negotiated with God.
God gave advance warning to Noah that a flood would arrive,
giving Noah time to build the boat and save animal and human
This is not the mere Leela of Hinduism.
God is not a whimsical toddler in Judaism. A contract can be made.
Tiny as we are, we can stand before God and speak and be heard.
Humans are given dignity before God in Judaism.
God doenst demand our mere servitude or obedience nor make us
endure endless whims and tantrums.
There are early forms of esotericism in Judaism. But the
most influential book of Kabbalah, the Zohar, did not
begin to circulate until the late 13th to early 14th century
CE. The important developments in Kabbalah life at Safed,
in what is now the State of Israel, developed during the early
to late 16th century, CE.
Kabbalah is thus very late development within Judaism.
God in human form. A god who suffered as one of us, not just with
—Is a group's Jesus the Jesus who would be recognized
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, and
by the saints of the Roman and Eastern Catholic Churches?
The Jesus who, in the Greek Scriptures, gave so many warnings
about the abuses of wealth and power and who made himself
available to social outcastes?
This Jesus broke through into history. This Jesus was not
just another avatar, not just another in a long line of avatars.
The Jesus recognized by all these churches lived in a human body
as a human person, felt pain, suffered faced his accusers all
alone died in lonely anguish by torture, and in compassion, God
raised him from the dead as both man and God and sent him back to
The message as God works through matter, through history
and through people.
Contrary to new age and theosophical teachings Jesus was not just
one in a line of Ascended Masters, and contrary to Hindu-Sufi
fusions, Jesus, so far as the Christian Churches are concerned,
is **not** just another avatar in a long line of avatars.
To participate in good faith in Interfaith projects, a group should
be candid and complete in discribing whether its take on Jesus differs
from those of the churches –the Jesus of the saints.
Merely appropriating Jesus into a theosophical belief system
in which Jesus is just one among many Ascended Masters,
is different from a belief in Jesus that sees him
as unique, that includes the scandal of the Cross.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer went naked to the Nazi gallows in service to
As did the many saints who recieved the stigmata.
I cannot trace the story, but once, from the pulpit, the preacher
told us of a patient who was bedridden in a medieval hospital.
Some pompous physicians paused at his bed, speaking Latin, the
languageof the learned.
In Latin, the physicians said, "Why not experiment upon this
To thier consternation, the patient was a university student, for
he replied in Latin, good as theirs:
"Can one be a wretch for whom Christ did not disdain to die
So the story went, this student recovered and later became a
member of the order founded by Francis of Assisi.
The Jesus who is just one among many Ascended Masters, or merely
someone who left a phantom mirage to hang on the cross
is different from the Jesus of Christianity.
In Jan Huizinga's The Autumn of the Middle Ages, one of the
biographers of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy in the 15th
century, noted his master did not seek information about
the future from astrologers or fortune tellers.
"..in all things he (Philip) showed himself to be a man of
correct and complete trust in God, without having any
need to know His secrets."
Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, 1996, p 288
Transl Payton and Mammitzsch
This man of the 15th century showed himself more emancipated
in some respects than many today who drive automobiles,
use and even program computer systems, yet tremblingly
submit to the hints, whims and predictions of someone
claiming to have astral insights into the future.
God created all.
And creation of the cosmos is not leela
or play or mere
whim on God's part.
"Not for sport did We create the heavens, earth and all that
"It wasn't a plaything."
In Islam, God's supremacy, majesty and power are
emphasized. God is incomparable, God has made humans,
but has never incarnated into human form and never will.
God has sent prophets and Mohammed is the final and supreme
In Islam, time is linear, not cyclic, no kali yuga
dealt with by a gnostic elite.
As with Judaism and Christianity, conversion to Islam rightly
guided, is 'it'.
One is not use Islam as a mere means to entering a valid
'initiatory tradition' -- as many do who are actually
by Guenon or Schuon. Thoughtful Muslims object to Islam
beingregarded as a mere means to an end.
In Islam, there is a Last Judgement. Your
fate is based on your beliefs and deeds.
Karma is not
part of Islam, God did not speak of karma
toMohammed or any of the other earlier prophets.
No one can cleanse you of the consequences of your bad
deeds. In this life, you must resort to Gods mercy, pray,
fast, give alms, make restitution to those harmed, and if
health and means allow, do the Haj to Meccah at least once.
If a Sufi teacher arrives on the scene, he or she is supposed
to have way of life and teachings evaluated in terms of Koran,
Hadiths, and shariah.
If the person claims some special initiation via vision or dream
(Uyassi, or from Kadir), that must be in line with Sharia.
"A story of a shaykh traveling through the desert with his exhausted followers During Ramadan. Suddenly, an oasis with a cool, clear pool and date palms laden with ripe dates appear from nowhere.
"Help yourselves!" says the voice of God. "You are so dedicated to My way that you no longer need worry about formalities.”
“I take refuge in God from Satan the accursed! replies the Shaykh.
"How did you know it was me?" asks Satan (for indeed it was him).
“Partly because of the way your voice sounded," replies the shaykh
“and because I know that God never releases anybody from observing the Sharia."
It would take an adept to recognize the voice of Satan. But it is safe and within reach of all to know the Sharia."
In Islam nothing and no person is
to be associated with God, substitute for God, or be equal to
God. Not even Mohammed is God. One cannot substitute veneration
of a holy person as a substitute for God. Human beings
are not supposed to be intermediaries to God. And many
a Muslim ecstatic died by torture for going too far in ecstacy
and claiming to be God or one of Gods attributes.
Mohammed is the final Prophet. Period.
In Islam, Mohammed is the final, the unique Prophet. Not just
another avatar in a long line of avatars.
All forms of Sufism recognized by Muslims are rooted in the Koran
and regard Mohammed as the perfect Sufi.
No God, no first principles. Caste and ritualism not needed.
Buddha is not one avatar in a line of avatars or prophets, either. In Buddhism
in its oldest sources, there is no First Principle, no God. Buddha stated
caste was irrelevant, only virtue mattered. Buddha taught as a human teacher,
and did not want his personality worshipped. He said his teaching mattered,
not himself. And he stated that karma is one of the topics that are imponderable
and a waste of time.
(Tibetan/Vajaryana Buddhism mingles so many elements of Hinduism
that its focus on karma and reincarnation is a distortion of the simplicity
of the 4 Imponderables. All the emphasis on karma, reincarnation and
acquiring merit was a way to support a hierarchical society of ritualists and cadres of expert lamas – the kind of ritualism and caste system Buddha originally sought to free us from.
Buddha came to free us from ritualism and anxiety about
karma, not enslave us to a new system and a new set of gurus.
In the Parinibbana sutta, Buddha is described as making
a final round of travels so all his students could ask any
questions. When he died, he said he had held nothing back --
he had taught all necessary for practice, no secrets hidden
(Quote) § 22. "These four imponderables are not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about them would go mad & experience vexation. Which four? The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha]... The jhana-range of one absorbed in jhana [i.e., the range of powers that one may obtain while absorbed in jhana]... The results of kamma... Speculation about [the first moment, purpose, etc., of] the cosmos is an imponderable that is not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about these things would go mad & experience vexation." (Unquote)
* Were you told at first that you could be a Catholic
(or Jewish or Buddhist)and still be in the group, but
only later found how much the groups teachings reduce
Moses, Buddha Jesus and Mohammed to
precursor prophets, mere a forerunners to your
Later, after joining the group, did you find
that claims are made that the guru teaches
stuff about the prophets, about Jesus
that differs radically from what is
taught in canonical Christianity, Judaism, Islam
and the various Buddhist traditions.
Does the guru (living or dead) claim to have
had special channelled teachings from
prophets and other holy persons -- material
not recognized as legitimate by any mainstram
tradition -- and you have to keep this a
secret from outsiders?
Do you find that you have to clam up around
outside friends who remain Catholic, Jewish,
Muslim or Buddhist, because you fear they would
be put off, or shocked?
A group may thus rationalize interfaith participation,
mentioning Jesus (or Mohammed, Buddha, etc), but
conceal that they regard them as mere precursors
to their own venerated leader. Through tactful
omission, outsiders are allowed to assume that a sect's
Jesus is the same as the Jesus of Saint Paul ('I
preach nothing but Christ crucified', the Jesus whose
name is above all other names'. (Philippians)) -- the
Jesus in relation to whom so many Catholic devotees
and saints received the stigmata.
A sect may not be frank in stating in its
entry level teachings that they regard
thier doctrine and community as superior to all others
because it includes but transcends the limited glimpses
of Truth accessible to the other faith traditions.
Other faiths, that do play their part in
the Cosmic Drama.
But....the poor darlings dont Know the Grand Scheme
of Things they unknowingly assist.
We are superior because we Know.
Your group, though, your group Knows.
But..this Knowledge, must be kept secret.
Now, when you were a newbie, and perhaps
reassured you could remain a Catholic or Jewish
or Buddhist and still join, would you
have joined if you'd been told then what
you have discovered since?
Privacy is negotiated consensually between equals.
And it can be re-negotiated at any time without
a crisis erupting.
Secrecy is imposed non consensually. You cannot
discuss it or negotiate an exit without there
being a nasty scene.
Secrets are burdensome.
If you realize you are lonesome, and havelost touch with
friends outside the group drop them a note.
It has long been recognized that soldiers need to get
away from the battlefront and get R&R -- downtime.
Just buddies and beer.
Persons worn down being foot soldiers in a cosmic
battle...they deserve respite, too.
Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2014 07:35PM by corboy.