Monday, August 06, 2007

Christianity and Buddhism


Buddhism and Christianity both have great value for the student of religion, or of spiritual psychology.

But a direct comparison between the two is a bit like a comparison of apples and oranges, or tulips and roses. Each system of philosophy, each pattern of behavior, has its place in the enlightened life.

Christianity's great strength is that it emphasizes Love. It super-emphasizes It, for it says, "God is Love." No higher complement to any ideal could ever be made.

Buddhism also highlights maitri ("Love) and karuna ("compassion") as supreme values.

Christianity says that we all contain a Mind of enormous spiritual Power, Love, and wisdom. It is called the "indwelling Holy Spirit," and this is an equivalent term with "Christ," equal to "God."

While Buddhism says nothing about an "outer, anthropomorphic (human-like) God, it does recognize the inner Spirit. This is called your "Buddha-nature." It is our purpose as human beings to cultivate this higher nature of Love, compassion, kindness, and goodness. A famous Buddhist leader said, "Kindness is my religion."

Anyone who sincerely tries to cultivate and express the Christ-spirit or Buddha-nature will become a much improved person.

Buddhism has nothing to say about the "end of the world." But, in the original Bible (the best ancient Greek manuscripts), this phrase is not found even a single time, not even in Revelation.

Buddhism, with its clear teaching of reincarnation, agrees with Christianity that the Soul (mind) survives death. Historians recognize that early Christians also accepted this "controversial" view of the Soul. For example, John the Baptizer was Elijah, and the common people believed that Jesus was "Isaiah or one of the other prophets."

The wise student works hard to remain open to new ideas, to growth and development. She is careful not to let her mind become "set in concrete." (This would make her a "blockhead"!:) Remaining open to wisdom from every and any source, we can study Buddhism and Christianity in tandem, letting them together mutually support and reinforce each other. And they can both sustain a deeper spirituality. For these great systems are not in conflict.

Btw, Buddhists do not "worship" statues of the Buddha. These statues exist only to remind us of our interior nature of gentleness, tenderness, mercy, and forgiveness. If a Buddhist "worships" formally at all, she worships the interior Holy Spirit, Christ-spirit, or Buddha-nature.

1 comment:

David B. Beaver said...

I've always found it interesting that Buddhists are so much more open to Christianity than Christians are to Buddhism...sometimes I even think i would much rather get to know a Buddhist monk than a Christian evangelist anyday...

As a Christian let me say I truly enjoyed this entry, kudos.