The International Writers Magazine: Noah the Law
THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS OF A BUDDHIST AMONG BAPTISTS
Reverend Father Antonio
Hernández, O.M.D., A.B.F.
Founder of the Independent Order of American Buddhist Fathers
COMPARISON OF BUDDHISM AND NOAH'S LAWS
is a new by-word floating in "New Age" circles: Bene Noach,
the Sons of Noah. These non-Jewish, non-Christian folk are adherents
of the Seven Laws given to Noah (that's "NOACH" in Hebrew).
This simple event and the Laws can be found in the Bible, Genesis
(9:4-17). It is claimed that many adherents to these Laws, true
descendants of Noah, are practicing in an unbroken lineage to this
very day. Well, it is true, though some Jews think the whole thing
As a Noachite Buddhist,
here's what I think is funny: ancient Buddhists and Jews probably acknowledged
each other as related. Buddhism is the first of the 'liberal' monotheist
religions, meaning no specific doctrine about a Supreme Being was ever
forced. It seems Buddhism was the first popular, organized sect of Noachitism.
The Buddha himself called all his monks "priests", or rather,
"servants of God" (that's "BRAHMANA" in Sanskrit).
Later, accepting the Noachite Laws and accompanying vows was merely
a way for non-Christian Gentiles to show solidarity and acceptance of
a common heritage with the Jews. But also, many Jewish converts out
of the faith adhered to the general monotheist Noachite Laws.
Today, that part of the Jewish community accepting of Noachites holds
some authority over them. For example, though not Jewish, Noachites
may rely on rabbis for guidance, and may attend the synagogue. It shall
be abundantly clear from the following simple lists that Buddhist Laws
and Noachite Laws are in perfect harmony. Although a few Noachite Laws
are found in Buddhist practice but not listed as Law, all is identical.
In the Noachite Laws, too, there are found many aspects of Buddhist
Dharma that are not commonly known.
Thus we also have in our record the renewed Jewish influence, found
in later Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Taoism, Manicheeism, Ariusite
Christianity and many others.
ºDo not kill.
ºDo not steal.
ºDo not lie.
ºDo not abuse sexuality.
ºDo not become intoxicated.
THE SECOND FIVE PRECEPTS, COLLECTIVELY KNOWN AS THE TWO HOLY VOWS:
ºDo not perfume or adorn the body.
ºDo not sleep in a high, wide luxurious bed.
ºDo not touch money (rescinded), precious/semiprecious metals or gemstones.
ºDo not attend live entertainment, viz., plays, concerts etc.
ºDo not participate in live entertainment, viz., sing, dance, or perform
in any way.
The Buddhist Sanskrit term vinaya, meaning "order" or "orderliness",
corresponds exactly to the Hebrew term kosher. Though the Vinaya is
the Buddhist text spelling out rules of the monasteries and convents,
its meaning is nonetheless identical to kosher. The term avinaya, meaning
"disorderly" or "out of order", can be perfectly
translated as "that which is not kosher". There is, therefore,
a true and solid tradition of "Buddhist Kosher". This adds
to the Noachite zest at the core of Buddhism. Perhaps it signifies more
NOACHITE LAWS, THE SEVEN LAWS OF THE NOACHITES
("SHEVA MITZVOT SHEL BENE NOACH"):
ºDo not kill.
ºDo not steal.
ºDo not idolize (extensionary: not to make or cause to make idols, not
to accept idols, not to revere idols). "Idol" implies any
object that takes the place of/represents the Eternal One.
NOTE: LAWS AGAINST GRAVEN IMAGES DO NOT APPLY IN NOACHITE MATTERS.
GRAVEN IMAGES CAN BE MADE, DISPLAYED, ETC.
ºDo not abuse sexuality.
ºDo not be remiss in setting spiritual courts of law. This includes
following the laws of the land.
ºAcknowledge the Eternal One.
ºDo not vivisect an animal (general injunction against any cruelty),
nor ingest nor touch its blood. [THIS LAW WAS GIVEN TO NOACH AFTER THE
FLOOD RECEDED. IT IS COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE POST-DILUVIAL SEVENTH COMMANDMENT
ADDITIONS TO THE NOACHITE LAWS::
ºIdentify as Bene Noach, adopt a Semitic name, add "ben Noach"
to one's name, and publicly declare one's religion to be a Judaic variant.
ºConsult or follow rabbis.
ºStudy Jewish history and current issues.
ºStand in support of all Jews.
ºGrow a beard- preferably without a moustache, as a variant of the mitzvah
of not "rounding the corners of [the] beard."
ºLearn Hebrew for daily use and Scripture study.
ºStudy and learn Torah. "Any Bene Noach who is skilled in Torah
is as great and exalted as the High Priest of the temple", according
to Jewish opinion. This means, in other words, that a valid GENTILE
variant of Kohanim (priests) are to be recognized and compared to the
Tribe of Levi, since not all Bene Noach will be equal Masters of Torah.
ºAdopt certain Jewish practices as special vows of spiritual practice
(i.e., wearing a yarmulke, reciting the Blessings, saying Kaddish, learning/reciting
Jewish prayers). With a rabbi's permission, even certain kosher Laws
may be taken as personal vows. Always consult a rabbi about this.
ºThere is no injunction against graven images, as long as graven images
are not worshipped. They can be revered, and it is expected that Bene
Noach will own and revere portraits of rabbis, Jewish-related artwork,
ºDo not identify as Jewish- unless there is Jewish ancestry, such as
ºDo not learn the Oral Tradition; only the written Law may be studied,
ºDo not fail to adhere to the requirements in the study of the Scriptures
ºDo not fail to respect the counsel of any rabbi.
ºDo not endanger lives, or allow a life to be in danger, for the sake
of any laws.
ºDo not follow kosher laws as a Jew would, to whit, and especially:
1. Wearing the fringed prayer shawl.
2. Growing sidelocks.
3. Putting on the morning prayer phylacteries.
4. Placing the mezuzah (meaning at the doors of the home- as compared
to the mezuzot worn in phylacteries). However, there is no prohibition
against the deployment of mezuzah cases. Some Bene Noach do this, leaving
the case empty of mezuzot, to signify their religion. There are also
special plates bearing some Scriptural passage that may be put up, instead
of a mezuzah case.
5. Observing Shabbos (the Sabbath). There is NO prohibition- contrary
to popular belief- against having a day of rest, or Sabbath, as long
as it is distinguished completely from Jewish Shabbos, and it is not
specifically held from Friday night to Saturday night. Otherwise, any
Noachite's day off or weekend would constitute a violation of this anti-Sabbath
6. Observing kosher diet. However, purchasing proper kosher food, and
kashering (that is, koshering, making kosher) uncooked food, is an excellent
way to observe the anti-cruelty 7th Law.
7. Observing any Jewish High Holy Day or holiday after the manner of
the Jews. However, it is highly recommended that Bene Noach attend synagogue
As another excellent article states here at the magazine, there is much
we do not know about Jewish history, about its impact on the world.
If one studies, pays close attention and reads, the truth can be made
out in some form. With the above proof, I can safely put it to my readers
that Buddhists and Jews once regarded each other as cousins- and the
Followers of Noah were and are real. Perhaps this will be the start
of a vital lesson our world needs: we are all RELATED.
© Rev Antonio Hernandez June 2004
all rights reserved