Wayism, as a school of thought, has always been an option for Buddhists. There was, and is, nothing untoward with Buddhist devotees to hold Wayist ideas because these two gel in the Mahayana mainstream. Early examples of how Wayist thinking influenced some Buddhist schools trace back to the first century CE with the Sautrantika school.
We have many things in common with Mahayana Buddhism. Wayism and Mahayana both share a Vedic root. Both were influenced by the 1st century ministry of Iesous. Both adopted loving-kindness, metta and compassion as a central value. Both hold Amitabha Buddha as Father in Heaven in highest regard. Both venerate Avalokiteshvara, the 2nd coming of Jesus in spiritual form. Wayist mysticism has much in common with Pure Land and Tiantai. We share a mutual affinity for the Lotus Family of Sutras, yet we diverge on important doctrinal aspects.
While there is nothing wrong for a Buddhist to hold Wayist affiliations, as there are many Christians who hold Wayist affiliations, it will however be incorrect to state that Wayism is a bona fide Buddhist school of thought.
I surmise that any true Buddhism will agree to and advance at least the following tenets:
- The Three Universal Seals
- Four Noble Truths
- Eight Fold Paths
- Twelve Links of Dependent Origination
- Organization of the Buddhist teachings (Dharma) into the three classifications of Sutra, Vinaya and Sastra.
- Mind as the principal area of taming and control is fundamental to all schools.
- The threefold training of Precepts, Meditation and Wisdom
Where does Wayism differ from Buddhism in terms of the above?
First, let’s state the assumption that if a teacher or school of thought deviates from the above stated tenets then it will disqualify to be regarded as a proper Buddhist school of thought.
I won’t deal with each point above, but will discuss a several fundamental aspects to show that Wayism is not a neo-Buddhism or a Buddhism as such.
Wayism acknowledges, and venerates the Ultimate One, the unnamable THAT which is the primary cause behind all. Buddhism is silent on this matter. Wayists understand the Energies of the ONE to be present in all things seen and unseen.
Buddhism rejects the concept of the “I”, of individuality. In Buddhism, there is no soul and no individual person. In Wayism, we know that we are soul beings who have come a long way over lifetimes in different physical bodies, to learn at this school of life on earth. Each lifetime adds wisdom, and it is that accumulation of wisdom which will help us to graduate from here and be reborn as spiritual beings, or Buddhas, in other words.
Buddhism holds that we are mind only, and not soul. Some would say that the mind is the soul but Buddhism agrees that the mind dies when the body dies. To understand the Buddhist philosophy about what then happens to one’s (we cannot say one’s, because in Buddhism we are not individual entities) individual (we cannot say individual because in Buddhism that does not exist) karma is very hard to follow. To understand how this non-entity that does not really exist, then reincarnates and brings with it it’s karma, is very difficult indeed. Wayists, on the other hand understand the soul of the soul being to be an entity that incarnates for the purpose of learning in the school of life. Successful souls will have learned the wisdom through living compassionate lives required to graduate from here and will continue to exist in heaven (Sukhavati), again as individual entities (but Buddhism again states that after this Nirvana, individuality that never existed will cease).
Tomes of Buddhist Scriptures and writings are devoted to explain the high philosophy of their position on this matter. Only educated, learned souls with fortunate births can learn this philosophy. Wayism, on the other hand believes that the Truth is humble, simple and compassionate and is accessible to all within their means.
It is our position that we have very much in common with Buddhism, but on this very crucial aspect we differ. This alone, may be reason enough to disqualify Wayism as a Buddhism.
Besides several philosophical differences of importance, Wayists also do not hold some of the other rules in the highest regard. For example:
Theravada says that women cannot become monks, and the Theravada ideal of arahatship cannot be attained by females. Wayism, on the contrary, believes that women are better equipped than men to be successful in this journey.
Buddhism, like Wayism has ancient Vedic roots. When Buddhism started using the concept of Dharma, they redefined it to mean the teaching of the Buddha. The original meaning to which Wayism and Hinduism still holds is that of Duty, which results from wisdom. This was a major departure from the ancient philosophy on the part of Buddhism. For us, Drama is something that automatically results from every gain in wisdom. One day, when we graduate from this school we will be full of wisdom, and also full of duty. Wisdom is not wisdom if not put into practice. The wisdom which we came here (to Earth) to learn is mainly focused on Compassion. When we graduate, we will be immensely compassionate beings and we will have Dharma that compel us to do the correct compassionate thing with incredible wisdom at all times. Why? Because we are in training to be angelic Lightworkers, to put it in mundane terms. We are learning, as Iesous stated, to be “perfect in your Love as our Father in Heaven is perfect”. We share the aforesaid concept with the Mahayana concept of the Bodhisattva Path because both Mahayana and Wayism learned this from Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the Christ, the World Savior.
Buddhist monks are told to shave their heads and wear robes. The Vinaya (Sangha rules) is well developed and almost universally adopted among Buddhist schools—however these do not easily apply to Wayism. Wayist monks/nuns are urged to conduct that is quite contrary to that of Buddhist monks and nuns. We are urged to blend in with the cultural norms as far as possible and to be active in the community, living lives of compassion and working for justice and care of the needy.
Differences in definition of seemingly common terms is also important. As in the case of the concept Dharma, Wayism also differs from Buddhism in the definition of the concept of Karma. Karma, for us, is neither punishment nor reward. It is the metaphysical mechanism that brings to each person his/her individualized, developmentally-appropriate curriculum in the school of life. We are here to learn, and learn we will—come hell or high water, we will be successful in the end. Some of us will face tests, over and over again, that many may see as exceptionally hard but the purpose of it is merely to help us eventually learn about compassion, humility and simplicity.
Chakras, for esoteric Buddhism, are subtle energy centers in the human body. For Wayists, chakras are soul minds. Each chakra is a learning and governance center for particular qualities of soul. The combined energy field output by the chakras is our aura, or soul body. What we come here to learn is so much more than what a human mind can ever manage. We need four soul minds and three spiritual minds over many lifetimes in different settings to finally accumulate the required wisdom. The mind of the body’s brain is just that, it is the brain that keeps the temporary animal body alive and thinking. It is made for this three-dimensional life and it has serious shortcomings to try and fathom metaphysical reality beyond this world of organic brains.
While we do have very much in common with Buddhism, especially our love and devotion for Avalokiteshvara, Tara and Amitabha, Wayism departs from Buddhism on tenets that are very important to them; which will most probably disqualify Wayism as a bona fide school of Buddhism.
It is true that Wayists learn and use the same Sanskrit words and concepts as do Mahayana Buddhists. But, it is also true that Wayists understand and embrace Hindu and Daoist concepts, and that should not invite people to brand Wayism as one of those schools of thought. We share a history and some concepts with Christianity, because we have a common teacher in Iesous, but that does not make us Christian, not even by a long shot.
Wayism is best understood as either a mindset that comfortably exists within another religion, or it is a standalone lifestyle and worldview all on its own. It can, and has, served both these two purposes for many centuries as it co-existed with and within, other religions.
Written by Jean du Plessis. Jean is an author and teacher of Wayist spirituality. He teaches in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in North America at PranjaParamita School of Pneumatherapy and Wayist Centers. Jean also does online counselling and pneumatherapy.