Syncretism with adoptive traditions
Philosophical syncretism is the fusion of differing systems of belief. The Way of the Lord was incorporated in many religious traditions. These traditions employed a syncretism, therefore adopting and adapting elements of the Lord’s teaching. Such is the nature of reformation.
The alternative to reformation is to establish an entirely new religion based on its own unique religious philosophy. This, however, was not the route taken by the Lord. He opted to reform existing religions. Thereby injecting into existing traditions the awareness of God our Father, the true purpose of life and the purpose of ‘Soul School Earth’.
What we understand as “Hindu” self-identification, is the product of a great process of synthesis over several centuries BCE to CE. Different streams of Indian religious thought and tradition, which used to separate people in a harsh manner, came together in the first and second century. We see Brahmanic tradition becoming softer on their position that dharma is the only way. Vedanta’s various schools started talking again and accepted the learning of wisdom (jnana or gnani) as a way, and so did Yogi Philosophy and Samkhya come to accept the role of the Savior as a valid way. The crowning achievement of this beautiful synthesis with other traditions, achieved through rationale and ahimsa (nonviolence), is the widespread acceptance and popularization of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes individual devotion and mysticism, a spirituality not previously available to average Indians. It speaks of how individuals may yoke themselves to the Lord—yoke is the meaning of the Skt. word yoga—to walk the Way. As we souls at school identify with the Bhagavad Gita’s protagonist Arjuna, who employs the Lord as his charioteer in the battle of life—we learn the three-fold Way of the yoga of devotion, yoga of wisdom, and yoga of good works. The (new) devotional way remained a central path in Hinduism. Later generations of Wayists who arrived in Kashmir from the West, acknowledged the Bhagavad Gita (and the DaoDeJing) as Scripture because they read in it the Wayism of the Lord.
For Hindus, it made perfect sense to add to their worship of the Immutable One, the personal Savior and hope for the future, the Lord Avalokiteshvara. This is an important aspect of Wayism.
Yes, we are fully immersed in our awe, gaga about the direct and immediate presence of the Omnipresent One in all things—and we have a permanent devotional attitude to that—just as spiritual beings in Heaven do. But…the purpose of life for souls is to graduate from this school on Earth, to be reborn in Sukhavati. For that, we worship the Father in Heaven—and thank the Lord and angels for their help, and we follow the Way.
This is what Hindus of old understood. For them it came naturally to add the Savior aspect to their devotion to the Omnipresent One. Westerners must really wrap their heads around the concept and decide about it—for the Hindus, no decision was required; it came naturally.
Of the many examples where Avalokiteshvara was incorporated with another religion, Cambodia offers striking evidence, more like existential evidence. When you come to Cambodia, take a walk with me through the Bayon—existential is the word.
The Hindu King Jayavarman VII, adopted Wayism and did not abandon his nation’s devotion to the Unfathomable One. Today, we still walk on the hallowed ground of the Bayon Temple, which the King built for posterity. Here, one cannot but be awestruck to behold how hundreds of huge and beautifully serene faces of the Lord intimately watch over several shrines where the Creator is worshiped. The Omnipresent One is worshiped in the Hindu Tradition, in which the cosmic functions of creation, destruction, rejuvenation, and maintenance, and personified by the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the transformer or destroyer.
King Jayavarman VII’s Angkor Kingdom is a prime example of a Wayist kingdom. The kingdom lasted a few centuries, a few hundred years of deep spirituality, beauty, and prosperity. He erected hundreds of hospitals, schools, and monasteries, each with a shrine for the Lord Avalokiteshvara. He preserved hundreds of older temples dedicated to Hindu gods, and syncretism is evident in the art. One can see how, just as it happened in Kashmir, the gods Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma were integrated with worship of Avalokiteshvara.
Notwithstanding attempts by 15th century invading forces to destroy King Jayavarman VII’s legacy, the majestic temples are still there, replete with hack and chop marks where thousands of artworks were defaced. Nonetheless, the good people of Cambodia have Wayism etched into their souls. They are a most beautiful, peaceful people. The land of smiles—proud and honorable.
When the USA, Russia and China arrived to play their war games in neighboring Vietnam—Cambodia was the loser. When the superpowers had exhausted their reserves of millions of bombs and landmines, dropped willy-nilly on all and anyone, Laos and Cambodia suffered most because they were in the path of destruction—collateral damage. What followed was Maoist inspired genocide—over three million Cambodians killed in the name of ideology and land grab. Total devastation. All people with education were killed, banks, monuments, libraries, educational institutions, and records—totally wiped out.
It is their inherent Wayist nature, humility, simplicity and compassion that makes one believe the Khmer will prevail; pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Although the new Government is partly made up of perpetrators of genocide, and imposed Theravada Buddhism—Avalokiteshvara worship is prevalent because its beauty and peace is the true spirit of the Khmer people. Not only prevalent, but omnipresent as Khmer natural religion does not gel with the stern overlord-style monk culture as much as it venerates the spirit of the Divine in all things, in nature, in animals, in people and in places—you see it in their smiles. Look a Theravada monk in the eyes, and look over his shoulder to the child behind him—you see God in the smile of the child, blank in the eye of the monk. A portion of the proceeds of this book goes toward giving Cambodian children more reason to smile.
Annotations to the book Universal Gateway of Enlightenment: The second coming of Jesus as Lord of the World in c. 78AD, by author Jean du Plessis