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Comparing the teachings of Jesus and Buddha? Jesus is still the way?

edited December 2005 in Comparing Religions
http://www.letusreason.org/Buddh1.htm

Basics of Buddhism
Generally Buddhism does not believe in a personal God or a divine being, it does not have worship, praying to, or praising of a divine being (although some sects do.) It offers no form of redemption, forgiveness, no heavenly hope, or a final judgment to those practicing its system. Buddhism is a moral philosophy, an ethical way to live for the here and now of this world to gain the ultimate state. It has more in common with humanism and atheism than its original religion Hinduism it separated from. But Buddhism is not atheism just because they don’t believe in a personal God. It is more like pantheism, there is a impersonal force the void which is the ultimate.

There are 327 million Buddhists worldwide (313,114,000 in Asia) here in Hawaii the major Japanese, Korean population are Some type of Buddhist. There are numerous offshoots but their are two major branches. For us to understand and use the gospel to penetrate this religion we need to know what they teach about the Buddha and use the stories as possibly bridges to reach them. In my opinion of all religions this is one of the hardest to reach and understand, since Buddhism can be cultural, it is a lifestyle of many generations as well as a spiritual practice.

For centuries, Buddhism has been the dominant religion of the Eastern world and still remains the predominant religion in China, Japan, Korea, as well as southeast Asia. In Japan alone there are approximately 200 sects. This makes it difficult to address this religion as a whole since it can be so diversified.

Buddhism has made a tremendous impact in the United States with a growing Asian population in the U.S, thousands of Americans have been attracted to Buddhism making it their religion. There are now over one thousand Buddhist temples, monasteries, and centers in the United States.

Sangha which means the order or brotherhood (community) who are monks. Each member of the Sangha must wear a yellow robe, shave their head and practice meditation. They are to affirm the three refuges (triple gems): take refuge in Buddha who became enlightened when he discovered the true reality. The Dharma which are the laws the adhere to on the path to eliminate their suffering. These consist of the laws of the world and the teachings of Buddha. From a Christian point of view the laws of this world would be subject to the present condition of things which is fallen. And Sangha which is the community as a whole striving for the qualities of the Buddha. There are to adhere to over 225 regulations which forbid them to do many things.

There are many noble and humanitarian teachings found in Buddhism that elicit compassion and understanding for their fellow man. But these cannot be seen as a means to the end itself. The concern many have is that some Christians seem to think there is little difference in Buddhism to Christianity. There is a harmonizing of its practices incorporating its teachings into the Church. Some even have them speak inside their churches.

Comparing Buddha with Jesus

It is said Siddhartha became the Awakened one, so Jesus became the Anointed one is a common misconception. Christ was the anointed one from eternity while the Siddhartha became the Buddha by searching and self discovery became illuminated. Anointing and enlightenment are two very different concepts.

Buddha came at a time when the people were tired of Hindu sects, castes and teachings. Buddha discovers a new way and he discards some teachings and upholds others. Christ came when the people were oppressed by religious leaders also but they did not know the truth nor were they asking for deliverance spiritually. Jesus only explained what they already had in the Scriptures giving the correct interpretations and fulfilling the prophecies.

Buddha died at the old age of 80 years old by eating rotten food, his life was lived without exaggerations of either luxury or asceticism. Jesus ate fish, meat and did not have people give up their possessions unless it interfered with their relationship with God. He died at 33 years old, sentenced to death like a criminal, tortured and executed for something he did not do. Not much similarity here.

Claims are there are similarities to relics (statues, icons ) in both Buddhism and Christianity. But this is only found in the Catholic Church side. The Bible specifically addresses this as wrong and calls the usage of these as idolatrous. Throughout the Scripture this is specifically addressed as an affront to God.
Isa. 45:20-22: "Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, who carry the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other."

Buddha was passive in his outlook of humanity. He was engaged in self discovery to change himself. Which can be good if one comes to the conclusion that the answers are not found within us, and looks toward the creator of all mankind.

Christ did not have to search for wisdom since he was the wisdom and power of God before and during his coming to earth. He came from heaven as a servant to mankind. He grew in understanding in his humanity only, but even at an early age he was aware of his purpose and who he actually was.

Buddha needed to make sense of the world and its suffering for himself. He was in turmoil in his soul seeing the condition of life being unfavorable for so many. So he searched for enlightenment to have answers for the dilemma he saw in the world.

Christ exhibited love which is active, it participates in others lives. He did not tolerate falsehood or have the same reaction for one being sad or happy. He taught objective truth, the true reality of life is that it is real and there are consequences here and now as well as afterward.

Thereavada says Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God. The fact that Buddha did not consider the existence of God to be important shows that he is not in any way related to biblical prophets or Jesus. Buddha said it doesn’t matter whether you believe in him or not. Buddha claimed to point to the right way to escape suffering and attain enlightenment. Contrary to this, Jesus claimed to be the way. Christianity teaches there was only one incarnation of God and he came to relieve the source of all suffering sin.

Although the Buddha did not deny the existence of gods, he taught that the worship of gods obstructed one's quest for nirvana. To him the gods inhabit the cosmos and are impermanent like all other living beings. There is no God as an eternal deity. Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, did not claim to be divine. He claimed to be the one to point the way to Nirvana. an ultimate state in the afterlife, but it was up to each individual to find his own way there. Each has their own path to walk on to discovery.

Dr. John Noss states, "... there is only the ultimate impersonal unity of being itself, whose peace enfolds the individual self when it ceases to call itself " I " and dissolves in the featureless purity of Nirvana, as a drop of spray is merged in its mother sea."( Noss, p.183.)

They look to this ultimate elimination of self as their identity merges into the great unity. But the goal on earth is to eliminate whatever is possible now." Regard the world as void" (Suttanipata, 119). "So one who is convinced of the emptiness of everything has no likes or dislikes. For he knows that that which he might like is just empty, and sees it just empty" (Sik-shasamuccaya, 264).

The concept of a personal God does not fit into the Buddhist system of religion. Today there are many sects of Buddhism. Many differ in their concept of the divine and of Buddha. In general, if a Buddhist believes in God he holds to a pantheistic view. Many view God as an impersonal force which is made up of all living things and holds the universe together. This is the same as the Hindu concept of Pantheism that the force is united with all living and non living thing in creation.

The late Dr. Suzuki is considered one of the greatest teachers of Zen Buddhism, said about his concept of God: "If God after making the world puts Himself outside it, He is no longer God. If He separates Himself from the world or wants to separate Himself, He is not God. The world is not the world when it is separated from God. God must be in the world and the world in God." ( D. T. Suzuki, The Field of Zen p. 16.)

Dr. John Noss explains, "there is no sovereign Person in the heavens holding all together in unity."( Noss, p. 183.)

Since Buddhism generally does not believe in a personal God or a divine being, it does not have worship, praying, or praising of a divine being. Although these are practiced without any reference to God. It offers no form of redemption, forgiveness, heavenly hope, or final judgment. Buddhism is, more of a moral philosophy, an ethical way of life that can have improvement on ones state.

Professor Kraemer describes the Buddhist system as "a non-theistic ethical discipline, a system of self training, anthropocentric, stressing ethics and mind-culture to the exclusion of theology."( Taylor & Offner, p. 177.)

Christianity teaches

Heaven is a reality
personal eternal life
Savior is the person of Christ
There is a literal hell of suffering
the one God is tri-une Father
Son (Jesus)
and Holy Spirit
the triple gem

God is a personal being
Moral absolutes
World is real for us
Sin is the problem
Desires needs redirection
Jesus = God is salvation Emmanuel = God with us Christ = the anointed one

Buddhism teaches
Nirvana is the ultimate state = nothingness
Extinction of the self
Savior is ones self and ones works
There is no hell in the biblical sense of permanency
the triple gem 1)the Buddha = teacher
2) the dharma = truth
3) the sangaya = light

Impersonal force, no God
No moral absolutes
World is an illusion
ignorance is the problem
Desire needs to be eliminated
Buddha = the Enlightened One

Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God in fact Buddha did not consider the existence of God to be important. Buddha claimed to point to the right way to escape suffering and attain enlightenment. Contrary Jesus claimed to be the way. Christianity teaches there was only one incarnation of God. While anyone can make a belief system, it is another thing to prove it. In this Buddha and those who followed after failed and Jesus succeeded.

Christ is not a spiritual master as they claim Buddha is, Christ is his creator. If one only looks at Jesus as a human being he exemplifies the highest ideal in man, he has all the qualities Buddha taught about and sought after, but Christ is more than just a man he is our and the Buddhists creator.

Most Buddhists believe their are many ways to God. The emphasis is based on the path that we must work on by our own effort. That's not good news. The difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that its been done, while in Buddhism they are still trying to accomplish it. One is by our own efforts the other was obtained by the perfect man.

Christ clearly offers salvation to His followers. Buddhism does not. It is said that Gautama's last words before his death were: "Buddha's do but point the way, work out your salvation with diligence."

Theravada teaches that each man is responsible for their own this is reached by ones self-effort; "Be lamps unto yourselves. Be a refuge unto yourselves. Do not turn to any external refuge.... Work out your own salvation with diligence" (Mahaparinibbana-sutta 2.33; 6:10; from the Pali Canon)
The exclusiveness of Christ's claims through the concept of reconciliation. Restoring a relationship that is broken. Lets say you broke your relationship someone you care about, how many ways are there to restore it, only one. By confessing our fault and asking forgiveness.

The WAY

It is best to live a moral life. Self discipline has value. Many religions offer this for the seeker. Meditation and prayer are important, compassion, virtue are all common qualities we should develop. It is how we achieve it that needs to be understood.

The goal of each Buddhist is the attainment of the state of nirvana. This word means to extinguish or to blow out of existence. Like a candle in the wind, just like the song. This is the ultimate state where one enters nirvana with the extinguishing of the ego. Their life merges in the sea like a drop of water. Nirvana is very different from the Christian concept of heaven. Christianity teaches that ones personality continues but is perfected by Gods grace, not by anything we can accomplish. Gautama's original teaching was that nirvana is not union with God or heaven, his system has no place for deity or ones personal self, but rather is a state of being. What exactly this is, Buddha never really articulated. Today it is known as nothingness this is not annihilation but means a release from suffering, desire, and the finite state of self. The Absolute is completely impersonal, and salvation is attained solely by self-effort.

The Buddha taught, "I had no notion of a self, or of a being, or of a soul, or of a person, nor had I any notion or non-notion." (Vairacchedika, 14).

Personal peace will be found when we abide in that which is permanent. As christians we believe to abide in God is the only permanence to be found as he offers eternal life with him in a place as real as earth, heaven.

Reincarnation is offered as the process to give one enough time to develop the qualities and practices to enter nirvana. Buddhists hope to enter into the state of Nirvana, but there is no clear, objective proof or teaching on what occurs beyond the grave. Even Buddha himself was not certain what lay beyond death. He left no absolute teaching on the afterlife only philosophical speculations which can still be debated today. The body of Buddha lies in a grave in at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains. The facts of life after death still are an unsolved mystery in Buddhism. Buddhism offers neither assurance of forgiveness or eternal life. In contrast Christ spoke emphatically and absolutely about an afterlife, something every religion had sought to have answers for. It would be best to listen to the one who conquered death and lives eternally than continue to speculate on it. That is what we hope Buddhists will do.
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Comments

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2005
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I....when they say.....ahahahahahaha.......I mean what.....ahahahahahahahaha.

    *Composes self*

    Whew....ok.

    It could almost be convincing, except that they get too many facts wrong. Good attempt though. I'm sure that many people who have never learned anything about the Buddha's teachings would buy this "obviously un-biased" look at Christianity and Buddhism.

    Lets have some fun shall we? How about we break down this summary and see what we find. I'll be on the "Buddist" team and the author shall be on the "Christian" team. We'll add up the points at the end to see who has the most:

    Buddhism teaches
    Nirvana is the ultimate state = nothingness
    (Nibbanan/Nirvana is never described as nothingness, only empty/void--big difference. Point for me)
    Extinction of the self
    (This is Nihlism which the Buddha DID NOT teach. There is no extinction or annihilation. Point for me)
    Savior is ones self and ones works
    (Yes and no. We do the work of course but saviour, eh not the right word. Self....what self? One point each)
    There is no hell in the biblical sense of permanency
    (Ok, this is true. Point for them)
    the triple gem
    1)the Buddha = teacher
    2) the dharma = truth
    3) the sangaya = light
    (The light? What about the community of monks and lay-followers? Hmm point for me?)
    Impersonal force, no God
    (More like Natural Laws such as gravity, cause and effect, etc. And what is "God"? An arguement over the definition could be seen here if one chose such a course. I'll leave this one alone. I cannot say who is correct since I have no idea what "God" is. No points)
    No moral absolutes
    (Well depends on how you look at it. Could be yes, could be no. Too long of a subject to get into here. Morals are tools, and we are imperfect so bad things WILL happen, and yet there was a need for them for a reason so...are Christians absolute anyway? You can kill which is immoral and yet still be forgiven so, I think they disqualify themselves from such a simple contradiction. Point for me)
    World is an illusion
    (Not necessarily. The world exists. We exist. Our perceptions may be illusion. How we "see" it and "experience" it may be not in line with reality, but the Dhamma is absolute reality not illusion. I suppose some schools of Buddhism may say that everything is an illusion, but they just group all of them all together. I can see where they may get this idea and it can be argued either way so, they get a half a point while I get half a point.)
    ignorance is the problem
    (Yep, and they should know from personal experience hehehehe, ok cheap shot I know, I know...Point for them)
    Desire needs to be eliminated
    (Yea, or maybe just understood for what it is. An arguement over definitions could be seen here. Point for them)
    Buddha = the Enlightened One
    (Awakened, enlightened...close enough. I'll give them this one. Point for them)

    So, 5.5 for me and 5.5 for them. A tie! Not bad but FAR from being anywhere near a correct understanding and/or view of Buddhism, just in this one little summary.

    And this, "The body of Buddha lies in a grave in at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains."
    Where the f*#k did they get this idea from? It very clearly states in the Mahaparinibbana sutta that the Buddha was cremated. I also have trouble with certain contradicitions such as, "Generally Buddhism does not believe in a personal God or a divine being, it does not have worship, praying to, or praising of a divine being." and, "Most Buddhists believe their are many ways to God.". It's one or the other, which is it?

    I don't think I need to go on any further. It's nice that people like to reason why one path may be the "better" path for any number of given reasons (I have no problem with this whatsoever), but at least they could get the facts straight so they don't look like complete idiots.

    Ah well, that was entertaining. :) Much appreciatied for the post.....for me to poop on! (Humourous reference to Triumph the insult-comic dog in case you don't get it. I'd take Conan over Jay or Dave anyday!)
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2005
    Ow. I just read over my post after posting it, and I have to admit it sounds rather mean. I so very much did not intend it to sound like I was making Christianity out to be "wrong" and Buddhism to be "right". I just wanted to point out that some of the information they were using was false in a funny way. I also did not mean to make it sound like I was being mean to identityless for posting this article. I often forget that A. many people do not understand my sarcastic humour and B. new members of the forum have no idea what my personality is like. I'm all to often very serious and my humour is never really "apparent". If I was offensive in anyway I apologize in advance. The Triumph reference was only because I was recently watching Conan O'Brien by the way.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2005
    There are many similaririties between Buddhism and Christianity, as HHDL, Thich Nhat Hanh, Masao Abe and many others have pointed out. The notion of "non-self" can be found in the gospels of Mark and of Thomas, for example.

    But they are not the same and it is a waste of valuable practice time to try to make them so.

    Jesus said he was the "way" and the "gate"; the Buddha Shakyamuni said he was a finger pointing at the Moon. Neither one of them said they were the goal!
  • edited July 2005
    Thanks indentityless, that was a good comparison. I have to say I would not disagree with anything in it.

    I'm not sure if your intention was anything beyond charing a good article, but if you were trying to convince Buddhists that Christ is better, then....*yawn* .... I won't be pulled into another one of these debates. It's getting tedious.

    Buddha compared the "way" to a raft for getting across an ocean - to get to the other side. Once you have reached the shore, you would not carry the raft on your back. Do not become too attached to your religion.

    But thanks! :bigclap:
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2005
    Lets just say that Jesus was a perfect Jesus, the Buddha was a perfect Buddha, and they each taught Truth as it was realized by each of them. Nothing more, nothing less. To try and comapre them is pointless since they are two completely different beliefs.

    I apologize for being so critical. It just shows me something that I have to be more mindful of.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2005
    I am often humbled by my own reactions. It can be a shock to see your conceit and ego peaking through your own words. It's a little embarrassing. So much pride in your practice, your level of understanding, your knowledge of suttas, only to show how far you really still have to go.

    It's something similar to what Mike once said, "Suddenly and without warning its back. The conditioned mind again rides roughshod over everything I do. After reading/studying a book list as long as my arm it seemed that I was making headway into this thing we call Zen. I was able to philosophize and conceptualize until it "felt right". Confidently leaping upon the back of the runaway ego, slaying false emotions with a sharp Zen sword. When I hit the wall at a seshin one time the teacher said "Great! Full speed ahead!" So I just dove deeper. But diving deeper is a direction and so you-know-who was back in charge. "I'm going to get what "I" want out of this Zen. So now I am completely lost. Before, right or wrong, I had convictions. "I" stood for something (lol). Now I have nowhere to stand. Nothing feels right as I free fall into....? All I can think is "gee, I sure hope all that Zen stuff is soft and cushy so it pads my a** when I hit the bottom" Feeling attacked and unable to defend, tell me, is this the beginning or the end?

    ^gassho^"

    I all too often feel like I am starting my practice all over again. :(
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2005
    There are many of us who believe that Buddhism in the West needs to look at Christianity and the other spiritualities that inform the context within which our culture has evolved. The interaction between 'Indian' Buddhism and the other cultures has been extremely rich and has resulted in a wonderful variety of traditions.

    The synergy of Christian spirituality (not 'churchianity') and Buddhism may yet produce something quite extraordinary.
  • edited July 2005
    There are some Buddhists who believe that God is Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva in disguise. hmm... I am slowly to believe it too. Personally I think Mother-Mary is Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva.

    Jusk my thinking. :)

    cheers,
  • comicallyinsanecomicallyinsane Veteran
    edited July 2005
    SOunds like there is the Buddhist CIA. Secret Agents out to bring peace to the world. :grr:
  • edited October 2005
    There are many different fruits in the world. Some of us partake of apples, others oranges and some are allergic to strawberries. In a like way, each religion/philosophy has its followers. Neither is right or wrong, but in the place they need to be at this time in their lives. I have been christian (catholic/baptist), nichiren buddhist and investigated others inbetween the two. When I was younger, I introduced my father to buddhism, he practiced for 3 yrs than sent me a letter telling me christ was the only way, i needed to return or burn in hell. I wasn't (and am not) the most diplomatic person in the world, I responded by saying, "Dad, that would be like a queen giving up her thrown to become a $2 whore." 6 years later I have learned, each needs what he needs to carry him/her through life and its not another persons right or decision to try to influence them other wise. The Soka Gakkai has been running a series on christianity and buddhism for the past year in our monthly periodical "Living Buddhism" and the opening line says, you can't compare apples and oranges, but what we might do is find the siimilarities so that we can have reason not to be at each others throats about our choices ( I paraphrase) There have been more wars in the world due to religious belief than any other thing. What I do know is this, religious choice is extremely personal, it ain't my job to tell anyone what to believe, or beat them up becasue they don't believe as I do. I say do the best you can with the tools you have.
  • edited October 2005
    Hi Tracey,

    You are right. :)

    cheers,
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited October 2005
    I realise that I had not posted the following link:

    http://www.monasticdialog.com/gethsemani2/about.htm

    A fascinating outcome of Fr Thomas Merton's Asian journey.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited October 2005
    Simon,
    Am trying to PM you but your mail box is full.....:crazy:
    Could you clear some of your fan mail? you know how brilliant you are anyway....!! :rockon: :lol:
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited October 2005
    Sorry, Fed. I keep forgetting to clear my 'sent' box! It is done.
  • edited October 2005
    TraceyLinMiller said:
    "Dad, that would be like a queen giving up her thrown to become a $2 whore."
    Ouch.

    How did he take that spoonfull of diplomacy?

    -bf
  • edited October 2005
    He passed four months later. I am sure that what he did not understand in life, he does in death.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited October 2005
    TraceyLinMiller said:
    He passed four months later. I am sure that what he did not understand in life, he does in death.
    I hope you had opportunity to be reconciled with one who had contributed to your unique human life, Tracey, and that you, too, have come to understand more.
  • edited October 2005
    can anyone inform me about Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva? what does he do? and what is a bodhisattva?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited October 2005
    Avalokitesvara is the Buddha of Infinite Compassion and Unconditional Love. there are many stories about him and you can find out a good deal more here:

    http://www.answers.com/topic/avalokitesvara-1

    and

    http://web.singnet.com.sg/~alankhoo/Avalokitesvara.htm

    In Tibetan, he's known as Chenrezig and The Dalai Lama is a recognised reincarnation of him....
    He also has a feminine form, fashioned from his tears of Compassion... tara, who manifests in 21 forms (the two most famous of which are White Tara and Green Tara)


    http://www.exoticindiaart.com/article/tara

    http://www.uwec.edu/greider/Buddha/Buddhism.Course/student.culturetexts.'01/MaackJM@Tara/index.htm


    .....and in Chinese s/he is known as Kwan Yin, in Japanese, Kannon.

    I don't know why the last link didn't appear as the others. you'll have to copy and paste, but it's a nice site, so worth it....;)
  • edited October 2005
    Simonthepilgrim said:
    I realise that I had not posted the following link:

    http://www.monasticdialog.com/gethsemani2/about.htm

    A fascinating outcome of Fr Thomas Merton's Asian journey.
    One more to contribute: http://www.thubtenchodron.org/Publications/InterfaithInsights/II_Intro.html
  • edited November 2005
    :(
    identityless said:
    http://www.letusreason.org/Buddh1.htm

    Basics of Buddhism
    Generally Buddhism does not believe in a personal God or a divine being, it does not have worship, praying to, or praising of a divine being (although some sects do.) It offers no form of redemption, forgiveness, no heavenly hope, or a final judgment to those practicing its system. Buddhism is a moral philosophy , an ethical way to live for the here and now of this world to gain the ultimate state. It has more in common with humanism and atheism than its original religion Hinduism it separated from. But Buddhism is not atheism just because they don’t believe in a personal God. It is more like pantheism, there is a impersonal force the void which is the ultimate.

    There are 327 million Buddhists worldwide (313,114,000 in Asia) here in Hawaii the major Japanese, Korean population are Some type of Buddhist. There are numerous offshoots but their are two major branches. For us to understand and use the gospel to penetrate this religion we need to know what they teach about the Buddha and use the stories as possibly bridges to reach them. In my opinion of all religions this is one of the hardest to reach and understand, since Buddhism can be cultural, it is a lifestyle of many generations as well as a spiritual practice.

    For centuries, Buddhism has been the dominant religion of the Eastern world and still remains the predominant religion in China, Japan, Korea, as well as southeast Asia. In Japan alone there are approximately 200 sects. This makes it difficult to address this religion as a whole since it can be so diversified.

    Buddhism has made a tremendous impact in the United States with a growing Asian population in the U.S, thousands of Americans have been attracted to Buddhism making it their religion. There are now over one thousand Buddhist temples, monasteries, and centers in the United States.

    Sangha which means the order or brotherhood (community) who are monks. Each member of the Sangha must wear a yellow robe, shave their head and practice meditation. They are to affirm the three refuges (triple gems): take refuge in Buddha who became enlightened when he discovered the true reality. The Dharma which are the laws the adhere to on the path to eliminate their suffering. These consist of the laws of the world and the teachings of Buddha. From a Christian point of view the laws of this world would be subject to the present condition of things which is fallen. And Sangha which is the community as a whole striving for the qualities of the Buddha. There are to adhere to over 225 regulations which forbid them to do many things.

    There are many noble and humanitarian teachings found in Buddhism that elicit compassion and understanding for their fellow man. But these cannot be seen as a means to the end itself. The concern many have is that some Christians seem to think there is little difference in Buddhism to Christianity. There is a harmonizing of its practices incorporating its teachings into the Church. Some even have them speak inside their churches.

    Comparing Buddha with Jesus

    It is said Siddhartha became the Awakened one, so Jesus became the Anointed one is a common misconception. Christ was the anointed one from eternity while the Siddhartha became the Buddha by searching and self discovery became illuminated. Anointing and enlightenment are two very different concepts.

    Buddha came at a time when the people were tired of Hindu sects, castes and teachings. Buddha discovers a new way and he discards some teachings and upholds others. Christ came when the people were oppressed by religious leaders also but they did not know the truth nor were they asking for deliverance spiritually. Jesus only explained what they already had in the Scriptures giving the correct interpretations and fulfilling the prophecies.

    Buddha died at the old age of 80 years old by eating rotten food, his life was lived without exaggerations of either luxury or asceticism. Jesus ate fish, meat and did not have people give up their possessions unless it interfered with their relationship with God. He died at 33 years old, sentenced to death like a criminal, tortured and executed for something he did not do. Not much similarity here.

    Claims are there are similarities to relics (statues, icons ) in both Buddhism and Christianity. But this is only found in the Catholic Church side. The Bible specifically addresses this as wrong and calls the usage of these as idolatrous. Throughout the Scripture this is specifically addressed as an affront to God.
    Isa. 45:20-22: "Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, who carry the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other."

    Buddha was passive in his outlook of humanity. He was engaged in self discovery to change himself. Which can be good if one comes to the conclusion that the answers are not found within us, and looks toward the creator of all mankind.

    Christ did not have to search for wisdom since he was the wisdom and power of God before and during his coming to earth. He came from heaven as a servant to mankind. He grew in understanding in his humanity only, but even at an early age he was aware of his purpose and who he actually was.

    Buddha needed to make sense of the world and its suffering for himself. He was in turmoil in his soul seeing the condition of life being unfavorable for so many. So he searched for enlightenment to have answers for the dilemma he saw in the world.

    Christ exhibited love which is active, it participates in others lives. He did not tolerate falsehood or have the same reaction for one being sad or happy. He taught objective truth, the true reality of life is that it is real and there are consequences here and now as well as afterward.

    Thereavada says Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God. The fact that Buddha did not consider the existence of God to be important shows that he is not in any way related to biblical prophets or Jesus. Buddha said it doesn’t matter whether you believe in him or not. Buddha claimed to point to the right way to escape suffering and attain enlightenment. Contrary to this, Jesus claimed to be the way. Christianity teaches there was only one incarnation of God and he came to relieve the source of all suffering sin.

    Although the Buddha did not deny the existence of gods, he taught that the worship of gods obstructed one's quest for nirvana. To him the gods inhabit the cosmos and are impermanent like all other living beings. There is no God as an eternal deity. Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, did not claim to be divine. He claimed to be the one to point the way to Nirvana. an ultimate state in the afterlife, but it was up to each individual to find his own way there. Each has their own path to walk on to discovery.

    Dr. John Noss states, "... there is only the ultimate impersonal unity of being itself, whose peace enfolds the individual self when it ceases to call itself " I " and dissolves in the featureless purity of Nirvana, as a drop of spray is merged in its mother sea."( Noss, p.183.)

    They look to this ultimate elimination of self as their identity merges into the great unity. But the goal on earth is to eliminate whatever is possible now." Regard the world as void" (Suttanipata, 119). "So one who is convinced of the emptiness of everything has no likes or dislikes. For he knows that that which he might like is just empty, and sees it just empty" (Sik-shasamuccaya, 264).

    The concept of a personal God does not fit into the Buddhist system of religion. Today there are many sects of Buddhism. Many differ in their concept of the divine and of Buddha. In general, if a Buddhist believes in God he holds to a pantheistic view. Many view God as an impersonal force which is made up of all living things and holds the universe together. This is the same as the Hindu concept of Pantheism that the force is united with all living and non living thing in creation.

    The late Dr. Suzuki is considered one of the greatest teachers of Zen Buddhism, said about his concept of God: "If God after making the world puts Himself outside it, He is no longer God. If He separates Himself from the world or wants to separate Himself, He is not God. The world is not the world when it is separated from God. God must be in the world and the world in God." ( D. T. Suzuki, The Field of Zen p. 16.)

    Dr. John Noss explains, "there is no sovereign Person in the heavens holding all together in unity."( Noss, p. 183.)

    Since Buddhism generally does not believe in a personal God or a divine being, it does not have worship, praying, or praising of a divine being. Although these are practiced without any reference to God. It offers no form of redemption, forgiveness, heavenly hope, or final judgment. Buddhism is, more of a moral philosophy, an ethical way of life that can have improvement on ones state.

    Professor Kraemer describes the Buddhist system as "a non-theistic ethical discipline, a system of self training, anthropocentric, stressing ethics and mind-culture to the exclusion of theology."( Taylor & Offner, p. 177.)

    Christianity teaches

    Heaven is a reality
    personal eternal life
    Savior is the person of Christ
    There is a literal hell of suffering
    the one God is tri-une Father
    Son (Jesus)
    and Holy Spirit
    the triple gem

    God is a personal being
    Moral absolutes
    World is real for us
    Sin is the problem
    Desires needs redirection
    Jesus = God is salvation Emmanuel = God with us Christ = the anointed one

    Buddhism teaches
    Nirvana is the ultimate state = nothingness
    Extinction of the self
    Savior is ones self and ones works
    There is no hell in the biblical sense of permanency
    the triple gem 1)the Buddha = teacher
    2) the dharma = truth
    3) the sangaya = light

    Impersonal force, no God
    No moral absolutes
    World is an illusion
    ignorance is the problem
    Desire needs to be eliminated
    Buddha = the Enlightened One

    Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God in fact Buddha did not consider the existence of God to be important. Buddha claimed to point to the right way to escape suffering and attain enlightenment. Contrary Jesus claimed to be the way. Christianity teaches there was only one incarnation of God. While anyone can make a belief system, it is another thing to prove it. In this Buddha and those who followed after failed and Jesus succeeded.

    Christ is not a spiritual master as they claim Buddha is, Christ is his creator. If one only looks at Jesus as a human being he exemplifies the highest ideal in man, he has all the qualities Buddha taught about and sought after, but Christ is more than just a man he is our and the Buddhists creator.

    Most Buddhists believe their are many ways to God. The emphasis is based on the path that we must work on by our own effort. That's not good news. The difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that its been done, while in Buddhism they are still trying to accomplish it. One is by our own efforts the other was obtained by the perfect man.

    Christ clearly offers salvation to His followers. Buddhism does not. It is said that Gautama's last words before his death were: "Buddha's do but point the way, work out your salvation with diligence."

    Theravada teaches that each man is responsible for their own this is reached by ones self-effort; "Be lamps unto yourselves. Be a refuge unto yourselves. Do not turn to any external refuge.... Work out your own salvation with diligence" (Mahaparinibbana-sutta 2.33; 6:10; from the Pali Canon)
    The exclusiveness of Christ's claims through the concept of reconciliation. Restoring a relationship that is broken. Lets say you broke your relationship someone you care about, how many ways are there to restore it, only one. By confessing our fault and asking forgiveness.

    The WAY

    It is best to live a moral life. Self discipline has value. Many religions offer this for the seeker. Meditation and prayer are important, compassion, virtue are all common qualities we should develop. It is how we achieve it that needs to be understood.

    The goal of each Buddhist is the attainment of the state of nirvana. This word means to extinguish or to blow out of existence. Like a candle in the wind, just like the song. This is the ultimate state where one enters nirvana with the extinguishing of the ego. Their life merges in the sea like a drop of water. Nirvana is very different from the Christian concept of heaven. Christianity teaches that ones personality continues but is perfected by Gods grace, not by anything we can accomplish. Gautama's original teaching was that nirvana is not union with God or heaven, his system has no place for deity or ones personal self, but rather is a state of being. What exactly this is, Buddha never really articulated. Today it is known as nothingness this is not annihilation but means a release from suffering, desire, and the finite state of self. The Absolute is completely impersonal, and salvation is attained solely by self-effort.

    The Buddha taught, "I had no notion of a self, or of a being, or of a soul, or of a person, nor had I any notion or non-notion." (Vairacchedika, 14).

    Personal peace will be found when we abide in that which is permanent. As christians we believe to abide in God is the only permanence to be found as he offers eternal life with him in a place as real as earth, heaven.

    Reincarnation is offered as the process to give one enough time to develop the qualities and practices to enter nirvana. Buddhists hope to enter into the state of Nirvana, but there is no clear, objective proof or teaching on what occurs beyond the grave. Even Buddha himself was not certain what lay beyond death. He left no absolute teaching on the afterlife only philosophical speculations which can still be debated today. The body of Buddha lies in a grave in at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains. The facts of life after death still are an unsolved mystery in Buddhism. Buddhism offers neither assurance of forgiveness or eternal life. In contrast Christ spoke emphatically and absolutely about an afterlife, something every religion had sought to have answers for. It would be best to listen to the one who conquered death and lives eternally than continue to speculate on it. That is what we hope Buddhists will do.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    Welcome, Pauline.

    I'm not sure what friend Identityless is aiming at but it would appear that the interest centres on differences (mainly in myth) between The Jesus meassage and the Buddha's. Some of us are more interested in the ground we share.
  • edited November 2005
    Simon, are you familiar with the Christian Zen movement?
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    I've come across many Xtian/Buddhist interfaces. Not sure I know one labelling itself "Christian Zen". My first Zen teacher was an Orthodox Jew. As he used to say that Gautama had nothing to say about suffering that Jews hadn't lived with for millennia!
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    Having Googled "C hristian Zen", I've come across a rather peculiar site:
    http://www.christianzen.com/index.html

    It has managed to put my back up by starting off with a Yhwhistic 'God'. But I'll read on.
  • edited November 2005
    Yes, I included that one but I've not come across them before. You might also be interested in the books written by Tom Chetwynd about the Christian Zen Movement, such as Zen and the Kingdom of Heaven, and Tom I can personally recommend:


    Zen and the Kingdom of Heaven
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    Thank you, Genryu. Do you know The Ground We Share by Roshi Robert Aitken and Brother David Steindl-Rath? I also find Masao Abe very instructive, particularly his Emptying God.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited November 2005
    This is taken from "shambala Publications'

    http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/isbn/1-57062-219-1.cfm


    Reviews of "The Ground We Share"
    "This is a lovely, engaging, insightful conversation between two important contemporary spiritual teachers and practitioners, one (Aitken)an American-born Zen master and the other (Steindl-Rast) a Benedictine monk. The conversation is drawn from a week-long retreat that Aitkin and Steindl-Rast shared in Hawaii in 1991. They agree quickly to focus on "everyday practice" rather than on abstract conceptions of Buddhism and Christianity. The result is not a formal contribution to the growing body of Buddhist-Christian dialogue so much as an illuminating and multifaceted exploration of common ground—the sacred heart that beats at the center of a world shared by Christians and Buddhists. This volume offers a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on a conversation between compassionate believers comfortable with their differences, fully engaged with each other, and fully engaged in the world."

    Steve Schroeder, Booklist.


    This sounds like a wonderful publication, and what I believe inter-faith dialogue is all about. To read even a review such as this one is to make my heart sing with joy, and make me believe there's hope for this tiny misbegotten, misguided and all too wretched planet yet! It's on my Christmas booklist - !! (Not that we Buddhists actually celebrate Christmas per se..... Oh crikey, have I started something else - ?!? :o :lol:
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited November 2005
    .....And for a lengthy but interesting and thorough review of 'Emptying God' and other Books of this theme and nature, try:

    http://jbe.gold.ac.uk/4/jones2.html

    'Journal of Buddhist Ethics' Site.

    Thanks for those, Simon.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    Thank you for the links, Fede.

    Steindl-Rath's work is all wonderful but I love The Ground We Share above all because it is down-to-earth and we are eavesdropping on the conversation of two great teachers.

    Masao Abe is a much more "chewy" writer with impressive qualifications as both a Buddhist and a Christian scholar.
  • edited November 2005
    Whilst I know of both Aitken Roshi, Masao Abe and Brother Standl Rast, I hadn't come across these titles before. Thank you for that, I'll be looking out for them.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    Fede,

    Buddhism has shown itself extremely good at syncretism, absorbing other traditions, gods, recognising new Buddhas, adopting ceremonies and celebrations. I think we need the attitude of a taxi driver I know in Goa: he has a small pic of the Dalai Lama hanging from his rear-view mirror, a staute of Sri Ganesha on one side of the dash and, on the other, a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. Anyone who has been in a taxi in Goa (or anywhere else in India) will know that you can't have too much protection!!!

    As for Christmas, its place in the calendar demonstrates how good Christians used to be at fitting in with local custom (pity the flexibility has been lost!). If the 'Christ' bit of the festival is uncomfortable, why not celebrate what really happens? The Sun 'stands still' for a few days and 25 December is the first day on which it is possible to notice, with the naked eye, that the days are lengthening again and the Sun has set out for the North again. The fact that days will not get any darker and that Summer will come again is reason enough for feasting.

    This is a festival which can engage even the most staunch rationalist.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited November 2005
    ....And from a TCM and Chinese philosophical point of view, deep winter is the time of 'Supreme Yin' - a period during which Nature, and all of her Children, hold their strengths in reserve and shut down to maintain and preserve their personal resources....

    But Yin does not remain for long....it transforms and swells and gradually gives way to Yang, which brings growth, abundance, and which flourishes anew, as the never-ending cycle perpetually moves, unfailingly on...
    And Yin contains Yang, so even in the depths of Cold, there is Warmth - even as night falls too early, and day lasts too short a time, we heat our homes with candlelight, and eat warm foods to fuel the fire - !!
    Winter is a time of quiet reflection and containment - but it is also a time of Promise.
    The fact that days will not get any darker and that Summer will come again is reason enough for feasting.
    Quite so.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2005
    .........which is why 25 December was chosen as the birthday of the god Mithras, the Unconquered Sun, and then pinched by the Western Christians for Jesus, the Conquering Son.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited November 2005
    "Thou shalt not steal, but thou canst borrow indiscriminately providing thou makest reasonable attempts to cover thy tracks. Yea."
  • edited November 2005
    Not sure where you come from. I have never heard of a lot of things you said. But i do know that the very last patriarch of zen buddhism stayed hidden for twenty years because the students of the fifth patriarch wanted to kill him.. Sounds like a religion not a philosphy.

    When you no longer need to know the sky is blue , give me a shout ..
  • edited December 2005
    Indentityless and All
    Please pardon me if I sound totally ignorant.
    This avenue of thought has puzzled me for years. Help me out here.

    Buddha was 80 years when died of natural causes. In his lifetime he wrote extensively. And his followers studied and translated his writings.

    Jesus died a violent death at age 33. Did he write anything?? Or did his followers quote his sayings and words in the New Testament??

    Jesus came along 600 years after Buddha died. Was he aware of Buddha's existence??
  • edited December 2005
    Indentityless and All
    This avenue of thought has puzzled me for years. Helps me out here.

    Buddha was 80 years old when he died. In his lifetime, he wrote extensively of his thoughts and his followers studied and translated his works.

    Jesus was 33 when he died a violent death. Did he write anything down, or did his followers quote him in the New Testament?

    Jesus was born 600 years after the death of Buddha. Was he aware of Buddha's works?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2005
    As far as I'm aware, and I'm sure to be corrected, the Buddha wrothe NOTHING down during his lifetime.... In fact, his teachings were not committed to the written word until at least 100 years after his Death.... I'm not sure where you obtained this information - and I'm not saying you're wrong, but I think you may be mistaken.....

    As for your second question, it is a simple theory of mine, but I remain personally convinced that, if he was not aware of the Buddha's direct teachings, Christ was certainly aware of teachings and scriptures other than the ones he would have been immediately exposed to as a Jew. It is a curiosity to me that we know nothing of Christ between his 12th and 30th year. I can well believe then, that he utilised this time in between to further his own learning.....
    This is of course, making the assumption that the New Testament gospels are a bona fide and creditable account of his life...... ;)
  • edited December 2005
    For dust touched NOT their feet.

    They either both wrote or did not. They either both learned from others or did not.
    What is the real question ? They both had good and bad apostles . The both of them did not work. The both of them had no job and encouraged others to follow in their path.

    Both of them could encompass all human beings. Not If you are not with us , you are against us.

    If you are not against me , you are with me.
  • edited December 2005
    The Buddha didn't write anything. His teachings were memorised verbatim until they were written down, as the culture changed from an oral to a written one. And Jesus in all probablity had no knowledge of the Buddha.
  • edited December 2005
    Thank you for your replies. I stand corrected about Buddha's personal writing.

    However this may reinforce my thoughts that both Buddha and Jesus had followers that continued their personal teachings and subseqently wrote them down. This could mean that some part therein could be interpreted as hearsay.
    Please pardon if I offend. I'm reaching out here.
  • edited December 2005
    No offense taken. It's a common misconception though that oral traditions are somehow less accurate than written ones. Often the opposite is the case. Since the teachings that were memorised were compared with other's memorisations and checked and rechecked for errors, interpolations or omissions, we can be confident that the Buddha's message was not changed while it was an oral tradition. A tradition which still continues today by the way. The other side of this is that the teachings are not dogma. They're not a set of words, written down, to be kept locked up in a museum. They are instead direct and practical pointers, coming from the experience of awakening. That same experience has been affirmed and continued by many thousands of men and women since the time of the Buddha right down to today.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2005
    It is actually far more difficult to improvise when a text or speech is memorised verbatim... it is far easier to change the context of a piece of scripture once it is written down.... especially if the text also needs translating from a 'minority' language to another.... The translator is bound to be tempted to not only find exactly the right word, but also maybe, in doing so, to 'improve' on the original - !!
    This is why, historically speaking, for example, the Qu'ran is such a reliable written work. it is part of Islamic Law (and I'm prepared to be corrected, because I read that somewhere!) that not one single detail - word, spelling, reference, 'capital' letter, comma or punctuation mark is to vary from one edition to the next. This is why Moslems believe that the only True Qu'ran is written in Arabic. All other translations are merely interpretations.....
    So 'spreading the Word' verbally, is actually a lot more reliable than we think.... :)
  • edited December 2005
    "verbatim" How do you know that btw ?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2005
    I'm saying that if something - anything - is memorised 'verbatim' it's harder to improvise. I wasn't referring to any specific memorised work......
  • edited December 2005
    Then perhaps you can explain this:

    If you are not with us, you are against us.

    If you are not against us, you are with us.
  • edited December 2005
    catweasel said:
    "verbatim" How do you know that btw ?
    Because it was a practice well known while the Buddha was alive, there are Sutras for example where the Buddha himself questions monks (without them knowing it is him) to find out how well they have memorised the teachings.
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