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Lions Roar : September 2017
Mahayana Buddhism, this has been for me the single most inspiring and tren- chant teaching. But as a Christian theolo- gian, I am often disappointed by the way Buddhists contrast the teachings on bud- dhanature with the Christian doctrine of original sin. It seems the purpose of drawing this contrast is to highlight how much the teaching on buddhanature differs from the despair about human nature that MAHAYANA BUDDHIST traditions affirm the teaching of buddhanature (tathagatagarbha)—that fundamentally all sentient beings possess the same noble qualities as the Buddha. As a student of FROM WHERE I SIT The Real Meaning of Original Sin Buddhists misrepresent the Christian view of human nature, says theologian STEVEN SHIPPEE. It’s a lot closer to Buddhism than you think. plagues so many of us, for which the doctrine of original sin is supposedly to blame. I have noticed how deeply the contrast resonates with people, and I have no intention of dismissing anyone’s negative experiences of Christian teach- ings. One can only regret any harm done under a religious guise. However, I am always disappointed by the caricature of original sin— that humans are evil by nature—this CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE THEFALL,AFTER1479(OILONPANEL)(DETAILOF13000),GOES,HUGOVANDER(C.1440–82)/KUNSTHISTORISCHESMUSEUM,VIENNA,AUSTRIA/BRIDGEMANIMAGES STEVEN SHIPPEE is a lay Catholic theo- logian who writes on Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He teaches at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 13