Thanks for the A2A Deanna.
This is not a simple question to answer. Firstly, there are many different branches of Christianity; secondly, there are subtle differences within Buddhism regarding the Mani mantra’s intrinsic mechanisms. Taking these two variables into account, you can juxtapose one Buddhist take on the Mani with one denomination of Christianity and conclude that, yes indeed, reciting this mantra would be considered sacrilege. But then you could immediately juxtapose a different interpretation with a different denomination and conclude that, no, this would not be sacrilegious at all, but highly facilitative.
Let me turn this question around a little, placing it in a different context. Suppose you asked “Do Buddhists believe that reciting the Orthodox Jesus Prayer perpetuates delusion and suffering?” Here again, you will arrive at different conclusions depending one which Buddhists you ask, and what interpretations of the Jesus Prayer are being applied.
Personally, as a mystic whose practice is informed by both Buddhism and Christianity, I have no problem at all reciting either the Jesus Prayer or the Mani mantra. Why? Because I believe that, if a person practices either approach diligently, with the persistent shaping of underlying intent encouraged by each, they will arrive at the same interior space, the same fundamental ground of awareness, and extraordinarily similar ineffable insights. Via either path, a practitioner of either faith tradition will annihilate egoic identifications of self, explode a felt experience of compassionate understanding within their heart, and abruptly find themselves afloat in profoundly deep and swift river of unconditional acceptance, kindness and charity. At that point, any dogmatic differences between the two traditions becomes utterly irrelevant.
However, because of both misunderstanding between traditions, and substantive differences between the cultures within which various schools of spiritual thought have emerged (and are contextualized or interpreted), it is easy to find intellectual, legalistic or traditional grounds for rejecting the practices of other traditions. And of course this even occurs between particular disciplines of Buddhist teaching, and between particular disciplines of Christian teaching. It also occurs between different practitioners of the same teachings in each tradition, when those practitioners are at different stages of practice and maturity. IMO this is human nature.
I also suspect folks in each tradition want to enjoy a certain superiority over other traditions - and this also seems to be human nature. I attended a lecture of a well-known Buddhist monk a few years ago, and felt strong resonance with everything he said….until this statement: “A Catholic Priest once asked me to explain emptiness, but emptiness is for Buddhists. A Christian should have nothing to do with *emptiness*.” Well he was simply mistaken. In the Christian contemplative tradition, there are stages of awareness, insight and being that parallel the Buddhist experiences of emptiness, and they are extremely important in that tradition. Again, though, this may just be evidence of either an uninformed disconnect - or a pride in one’s own tradition - that interferes with folks grokking the suchness of each others’ particularity. Ultimately, when we find ourselves awakening to culminations (peak experiences) of Buddha-nature, luminous mind, the cloud of unknowing, a dark night of the soul, etc. those awakenings are One - without difference, and without even a concept of difference. Only when we begin to discuss, contextualize and integrate such encounters do language and culture demand we differentiate and contrast them.
I hope this was helpful.
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