By Bruce Chilton
When they arrived on the position which God had indicated to him, Abraham built
an altar there, and organized the wooden. Then he certain his son and placed him on
the altar on best of the wooden. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the
knife to kill his son . . .” —The booklet of Genesis
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Additional info for Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
The specific qualities attributed to each realm vary from tradition to tradition, but they correspond logically with the type of inhabitants involved. In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, the six realms of demons, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demigods, and gods are associated respectively with (among other things) the poisonous emotions of anger, greed, ignorance, desire, jealousy, and pride. For fur ther discussion of this cosmology, see "Heaven and Hell" on page 27. What is the historical context from which Buddhism grew?
HEAVEN AND HELL The various realms in Buddhist cosmology range from a heavenly one of devas (godlike beings) to a hellish one of demons. The following Zen story illustrates this truth. A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk. " The monk looked up at this mighty warrior and replied in a voice of utter contempt, "Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn't teach you about anything. You're filthy. You stink. You're a disgrace to the samurai class! " The samurai was speechless with rage.
When non-Buddhist Tamils from India first began invading the island, Sri Lankan monastics finally commit ted the huge body of oral Theravada teachings into writing. They used the local official language, Pali, a dialect of Sanskrit and an im port from India. Their purpose was to ensure that the Dharma would survive in Sri Lanka even if the sangha members themselves were exterminated. The feared calamity never occurred, but the precaution against it ESSENTIAL BUDDHISM gave history a supremely rich and instructive library of sacred litera ture known as the Pali Canon—the oldest collection of Buddhist teachings in writing (see "Sacred Texts of Buddhism" on page 37).
Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Bruce Chilton