Once upon a time, Hollywood was influenced by a Christian worldview. But, today it is completely taken over by Buddhism. It rejected Biblical worldview and embraced Eastern mysticism. Among others, Hollywood stars like Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, Patrick Swayze, Willem Dafoe, Keanu Reeves, Steven Seagal, Oliver Stone embraced Buddhism. Buddhism has 488 million followers, making it the fourth largest religion in the world.
Hollywood now constantly feeding Buddhism to millions of people in America and around the world. It’s movies convey Buddhist worldview to the masses.
Let me give you the list of movies influenced by Buddhism.
Lost Horizon (1937): A movie set in the mythical Shangri-La with Buddhist monks living in a monastery in Himalayan mountains.
The Razor’s Edge (1984): This movie is based on the novel by Somerset Maugham. It tells the story of an American pilot who becomes distraught with First World War, then goes in search of transcendental meaning, finds it in India through enlightenment and liberation from cycle of human suffering.
Groundhog Day (1993): One man relives the same day 10,000 times until he gets it right. You reincarnate until you got the enlightenment.
Star Wars series: The Force is the universal consciousness, the Buddha-mind. Like Buddha, Luke Skywalker has to take a journey to his enlightenment.
Little Buddha (1993): In this movie, we see the life of Buddha contrasted with the story of a boy in Seattle thought to be reincarnated Tibetan lama.
Seven Years in Tibet (1997): Starring Brad Pitt this movie is about an Austrian man who converted to Buddhism while living in Tibet. This movie prompted Time magazine to run a cover story, ‘America’s Fascination with Buddhism’
Caravan a.k.a Himalaya (1999)
Heaven and Earth (1993)
Regret to Inform (2000)
Rivers and Tides (2001)
Hollywood movies became powerful tools for spreading Buddhism. People are now talking about karma, reincarnation, enlightenment, yoga, meditation etc.
Dzongsar Khyentse, served as an adviser to the film Little Buddha. He said, “This film is better than building a hundred monasteries because it will reach throughout the world”.
Communism, Nazism spread through films. Satan today using films to spread false religions like Buddhism.
Why does Hollywood love Buddhism?
You see, Christianity and the Bible teach us about a personal God, a Creator God who is holy. This God loved us but He also commanded us to live in a certain way. Buddhism denies a personal God. Many people love that belief. No personal God, now I can live my life in my own way. No God of accountability, now I can live my life on my own terms without the fear of judgment.
That is why Hollywood loved Buddhism. They dislike Christianity because they don’t like God, morality, accountability and judgment. They made movies praising Buddhism and ridiculing Christian faith. Martin Scorsese made the movie Kundun, extolling the life of Dalai Lama. This is the same person who made the movie The Last Temptation of Christ, attacking the moral purity of Lord Jesus Christ.
James Cameron produced movies like Titanic. He made the movie Avatar, about the incarnation of Hindu gods taking a flesh form. Then he produced Exodus. His point was the Israelites did not cross the Red Sea, they only walked through a reed sea.
He also claimed that he had the bones of Jesus. Hollywood does not like the God of the Bible who is capable of doing miracles and wonders. Buddhism has no such concepts.
Martin Scorsese and James Cameroon, both married five times. Buddhism has no God who will ask you an account of your marriage and family.
Buddhist influence went into all sectors of society. You can see it in sports. Athletes should take a course on Mindfulness in Performance. They teach, ‘Pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment’ This is based on Buddhism.
Now, let me give you some basic facts about Buddhism. Buddhism originated in India around 5th century BC. It was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince who was troubled after witnessing suffering and death as he visited his kingdom. Gautama was born a Hindu. You can see many similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism like karma and reincarnation. But, there are important differences between Hinduism and Buddhism.
For example, Buddhism does not believe in a personal God. This is the reason why most atheists tolerate Buddhism more than Christianity.
Buddhism also does not believe in a personal Soul. Buddha taught karma and reincarnation. Our good deeds and bad deeds will accumulate and impact this life and future lives. Self is an illusion. There is no atman. Believing in a personal soul or self is the root cause of our suffering. It is our self which craves and the craving causes suffering. The self should disappear, only then will we get liberation from craving. But one is not reincarnated as the same person or soul in the next life, rather one is reincarnated as the reorganization of karmic matter. The original person or ‘self’ no longer exists. Finally, after successive payments, karmic elements dissolve and extinguish forever. This is called nirvana.
Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci directed the movie Little Buddha in 1993. He said, ‘The difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that Christ says, ‘Love thy neighbor like thyself’ but Buddhism teaches ‘Love thy neighbor because he is yourself’. There is no distinct self in Buddhism. Whatever self we have now is an illusion and it will disappear.
So, in Buddhism there is no personal God, there is no personal self. If you are a materialist or a naturalist, you would love Buddhism. Because there is no self, there is no free will. So, if you are a determinist, you would love Buddhism. Christianity is worlds apart from Buddhism. Ravi Zacharias wrote in his book The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, “Jesus and Buddha cannot both be right. The lotus is the symbol of Buddhism; the cross, the symbol of the Christian faith. Behind the two symbols stand two diametrically opposed beliefs”
Once upon a time, I was witnessing in a neighborhood. I came across a gentleman who told me, ‘I am a Buddhist for this life and Christian for the afterlife’. Buddhist for this life and Christian for the afterlife? They call themselves ‘Chrisbus’. We also have Jews who embrace both Judaism and Buddhism. They call themselves ‘Jubus’. The Jew in the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz became an international best seller. Jacob’s Ladder, this film made in 1990 depicts the biblical story of Jacob’s Ladder interpreted in Buddhist terms from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
This interfaith deception is not new. The famous Catholic missionary to China, Matteo Ricci used to dress up like a Buddhist monk. He wanted to attract Chinese to Catholicism. Hollywood tried to introduce Buddha as a Jesus like figure. In the movie Little Buddha, Buddha is compared to Jesus. Jesus walks in the mountains, Buddha walks in the mountains. Jesus gets baptism, Buddha steps into water after enlightenment.
Christianity Versus Buddhism
There are very important differences between Christianity and Buddhism.
Buddhism has no personal God, but Christianity introduces us to a personal God. A God who loved us and wants to have a relationship with us. Buddha never claimed to be a god, but today Buddhists worship him as a god. In reaching out to Buddha, you can see how human beings crave for a relationship with God. Christianity offers a personal relationship with God in Christ.
Buddhism denies personhood. Christianity teaches you are a person made in the image of God. In the Bible, we have a God who calls everyone with their name.
In the Garden of Eden, God called Adam by his name, ‘Adam, where are you?’
God called Abraham by his name.
God called Moses by his name.
God called Samuel by his name.
God called David by his name.
Jesus called each of his disciples by his name. ‘Simon, do you love me?’
Jesus called Lazarus by his name, ‘Lazarus, come out’.
Jesus called Paul by his name, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
One of the beautiful scenes in the New Testament happens after the resurrection of Christ. Mary runs to the tomb of Christ. She weeps because she could not find the body of Jesus. She thinks someone had stolen the body of Jesus. As she continues to weep, Jesus comes to her and calls her out, ‘Mary’. Mary leaps with joy when Jesus calls her by her name. That’s the beauty of Christianity. You are a person, God is a person. You start a beautiful personal relationship with God when you trust in Christ.
You are an eternal person like God. The eighth century Chinese poet Li Po wrote,
“The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains”
In Christianity, you exist longer than the mountain. You exist longer than the entire universe!
Buddhism teaches this life is one among the many. Christianity teaches this is the only life we will ever have in this world. Buddhism has a circular conception of history, while Christianity has a linear view with a clear beginning and end. Hollywood portrayed reincarnation as a good news. But in fact, in Buddhism, rebirth is bad news. If life is characterized by suffering, sickness and death, then why would anyone want to go through this whole cycle over and over? Again and again?
In Christian faith, suffering is not a waste of time. God carries his purposes in our lives, not in spite of suffering, but through the suffering. Jesus prepared for us the way of salvation and redemption through the suffering of the cross, not in spite of it.
Buddhism has no concept of holy God. Now, holiness scares lot of people, even Christians. I have a six year old son. When I take him in my car, I tell him to sit in the car seat, I put the seat belt on him. I tell him, ‘Son, keep the seat belt throughout the drive’. I put restrictions on my son’s movements for his own safety. Similarly, God puts restrictions on our lives for our own safety. When God commands us, ‘Don’t, he is telling us, ‘don’t hurt yourself’.
One reason Hollywood loves Buddhism is Buddhism or any other Eastern religions do not make any moral demands. Propagating the winds of secularism, existentialism and moral relativism, Hollywood successful changed all definitions of human living from a Christian worldview to a existenlialist, Darwinian, or Buddhist spiritual terms. Marriage, gender, family, sexuality, education, entertainment – Our culture has changed the Christian definitions of these things into non-Christian and anti-Christian definitions through the influence of Hollywood.
Hollywood misunderstood the holiness of God. They think God of the Bible is a killjoy, who can’t stand anyone having fun. But holiness is what gives us joy, fulfillment and safety. Holiness of God gave us a moral framework. Buddhism has no concept of a holy God. You know in Thailand, prostitution has been legalized and hundreds of thousands of women have been living in enslavement as tools of satisfaction for men who visit them. Thailand is a Buddhist nation and many in that nation say, ‘poor women, that’s their karma’. As Christians, we don’t say, that’s their karma, we say it is evil, because every one of those women is created in the image of God, she has a self, she is significant, she can have a personal relationship with God in Christ.
Jesus was the God who made the world while Buddha was a god made by the world. Buddha never claimed to be a god, he never performed any miracles, he died but never raised from the dead. But Jesus claimed to be the God, he performed miracles, he died and rose again from the dead on the third day. We should understand that fundamental difference between Jesus and Buddha.
Hollywood started with a Christian worldview but now embraced a Buddhist worldview. But the cries of the heart remain the same. Why New Age is exploding? Because people are longing for loving relationships. Founder of Apple Inc, Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011) grew up in a Christian home and later became a Buddhist. His biographer, Walter Isaacson described how Steve Jobs used to listen to John Lennon’s song ‘Mother’. Steve Jobs biological parents left him and gave him for adoption. John Lennon’s mother was killed when he was a teenager and his father had abandoned him. Lennon wrote the song, Mother in 1970.
Mother, you had me but I never had you
I wanted you, You didn’t want me
So I got, I just got to tell you
Father, you left me but I never left you
I needed you, You didn’t need me
So I got, I just got to tell you
Mama don’t go, Daddy come home
Reading those lines brought me to tears. We have millions of people in our world crying for the love of a father or a mother. Steve Jobs used to play this song often. We was longing for his biological parents who left him for adoption. We hunger for a loving relationship. Buddhism denies personhood for both God and man. Needless to say, it cannot offer a relationship between God and man. Only Jesus can give us such a loving relationship with God. The triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – inviting everyone of us into a loving relationship through Christ.
Dalai Lama said, ‘Emptiness is the ultimate devotion’. No sir, being filled by the Holy Spirit is the ultimate devotion.
Wages of sin is death, Uma herself promoted violence and sexual immorality in her films. Now she became a victim and complaining. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
May God help you to come to Jesus and get saved and become his child.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for being our Savior. You are a Savior who calls us by our name. We pray for millions around the world who follow Buddha, a mere human being, and Buddhism, just another philosophy of man. You are the way, the truth and the life. In your precious name, we pray. Amen.
Paul Kattupalli MD
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