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I have never understood why so many Buddhists will deny the existence of God so vehemently, and then believe in all these other "spirits". I think there's a lot of confusion between actual Buddhism and culture, and the two should not mix.
I'll give you my definition...not saying it's the definition:
An animal is sentient if it can express in any way emotion.
I know...it's as imperfect as all the other definitions.
No one knows how they will react when death comes. "And each one there has one thing shared. They have sweated beneath the same sun. Looked up in wonder at the same moon. And wept when it was all done, for being done too soon."
I can't even reconcile the teachings of Jesus with Christianity
I think that's a very good point. Jesus as the pivotal figure in Christianity has always seemed at odds with the doctrine of the church, where the one is about loving ones neighbour and the other seems very concerned with original sin.
There are certain coinciding areas with Buddhism though - in Buddhism too we start off afflicted, although by ignorance, desire and anger. I've been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Living Buddha, Living Christ and finding that a quite interesting comparison.
That is one of my favorite books. I need to go back and read it again.
But here's my viewpoint: I can be a Buddhist and still be open to ideas from other religions. A good idea is a good idea, no matter who comes up with it.
I can learn from Buddha's teachings.
I can learn from Christ's teachings.
I can learn from many people.
Before too many people jump on anyone about not being able to prove there is a God, it might give some pause to some to do a Google search of "did Buddha exist". There are lots of questions out there about that issue, or -- assuming he did exist -- how much do we factually know about him.