Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

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Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:11 am

Hi,

Do you think that Buddhism has more in common with Christianity than with atheism? I reckon that many Christians are endowed with ottappa (moral dread) which the Buddha said was a treasure. What do you think?

Thanks / dhammapal.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Mr Man » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:24 am

Buddhism and Christianity are both religions atheism isn't (or though religious people often try to argue that it is).

I reckon that many non religious people are also endowed with ottappa. It is a human quality.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:26 am

Well I would say Buddha has more in common with Jesus, than in common with Christopher Hitchins or Richard Dawkins, if that's any kind of answer to your question!!

You can claim atheism isn't a religion, but they seem to be recently setting up church services all over the world, if you have read the news.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:55 am

lyndon taylor wrote:
You can claim atheism isn't a religion, but they seem to be recently setting up church services all over the world, if you have read the news.
"They" are not a singular thing or grouping. "They," who are setting up churches, likely constitute a very small minority of those who might identify themselves atheists.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:09 am

you're right, the ones setting up church services are hardly representative of the whole, but it seems to me agnosticism is more areligious, whereas atheism is a religion of denial, not just of God, but of the supernatural.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:29 am

I reckon that, even with the law of kamma, Buddhism is less fatalistic than atheism, as atheists assume that you will suffer from memories of being cruel for the rest of your life and on your deathbed, whereas in Buddhism memories are a combination of past and present kamma.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:56 am

dhammapal wrote:Do you think that Buddhism has more in common with Christianity than with atheism?


I've observed that Buddhism seems to be more attractive to atheists than theists, though both Buddhism and Christianity place great emphasis on ethical behaviour and compassion.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby manas » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:04 am

I think Christianity and Atheism have more in common with each other, than either of them has with Buddhism. They both cling to something that cannot be proven (ie, is there an ultimate, 'Source' of all, or is there nothing but this physical body and trillions of atoms?). The Buddha, aiui, rejected such speculation, and invited us instead to look at this mind of ours, not to either cling to or speculate on whether a 'big daddy' kind of God exists 'out there', or not.

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:39 am

manas wrote:The Buddha, aiui, rejected such speculation, and invited us instead to look at this mind of ours, not to either cling to or speculate on whether a 'big daddy' kind of God exists 'out there', or not.
Though the Buddha did, however, pretty much say that the was no omniscient, omnipotent, ceator of the universe.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:48 am

Three phenomena, two of them hugely multiform and varied due to a couple of milennia of evolution in different cultures; and one primarily defining itself by what it is not, and therefore rendering itself compatible with a huge range of other views and dispositions.

So take your pick. The more you know of the three positions, the more you can select things which prove similarity, or difference. One of the important things we might want to think about is whether selecting and pondering these differences and similarities is motivated by skillful intentions or not.

"Why do I think this about Christians, or atheists? And is it good to do so?"
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Mr Man » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:12 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Three phenomena, two of them hugely multiform and varied due to a couple of milennia of evolution in different cultures; and one primarily defining itself by what it is not, and therefore rendering itself compatible with a huge range of other views and dispositions.

So take your pick. The more you know of the three positions, the more you can select things which prove similarity, or difference. One of the important things we might want to think about is whether selecting and pondering these differences and similarities is motivated by skillful intentions or not.

"Why do I think this about Christians, or atheists? And is it good to do so?"


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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:00 pm

The profundity of the anatta doctrine sweeps past any theistic claims. It is a denial of both creator god and soul.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:09 pm

manas wrote:I think Christianity and Atheism have more in common with each other, than either of them has with Buddhism.


Yes, I think in a way Buddhism transcends the dichotomy of theist v. atheist, and more broadly belief v. disbelief.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby brahmacharya » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:36 pm

If by Christianity you mean the teachings of Jesus Christ & by Buddhism you mean the teachings of Gautama Buddha, then Buddhism and Christianity are basically the same. Jesus and the Buddha taught the same thing. Only the masses differentiate.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Anagarika » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:43 pm

I'd say it's not "closer" to either of the others. It stands alone in its profundity and its rational and pragmatic approach to life and mind. To my mind, both Christianity and Atheism require a certainty of belief, a dogma. The Buddha implored his disciples to take the Dhamma and with it as a tool, always ask ethical and wise questions in the study of life and mind.

To me, it's like asking "is a diamond closer to an apple than a kumquat?"
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Feathers » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:08 pm

Technically, atheism just means not believing in gods, it's just that recent atheists have gathered a lot of other images and meanings, not all of them terribly positive. That said, I do think The God Delusion is a book everyone should read, regardless of belief (or lack thereof). It probably won't be most people's cup of tea, but it raises some major issues and questions that rarely get raised.

In the end though you can't compare Christianity, Buddhism and atheism in anything but the vaguest terms, there are so many different flavours of all three.

One interesting thing I read ages ago by a Christian theologian discussing how quite a lot of doubting Christians head for Buddhism, and why he came back: The Buddhist Phase
The writer reflects on how his exploration of Buddhism has enriched his Christianity, and why he stuck with Christianity in the end.

For me, the metaphysics the writer alludes to are just too much to swallow, so here I am, an atheist with a developing Buddhist practice, with no inclination whatsoever to go back to Christianity. The thing I do miss though is my original (pre-Buddhist) understanding of compassion - not sympathy, not detached loving-kindness, but suffering-with.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:32 pm

brahmacharya.net wrote:If by Christianity you mean the teachings of Jesus Christ & by Buddhism you mean the teachings of Gautama Buddha, then Buddhism and Christianity are basically the same. Jesus and the Buddha taught the same thing. Only the masses differentiate.


This is not correct.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby cooran » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:09 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:The profundity of the anatta doctrine sweeps past any theistic claims. It is a denial of both creator god and soul.

Agreed.

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:19 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:The profundity of the anatta doctrine sweeps past any theistic claims. It is a denial of both creator god and soul.


I'm not disagreeing for an instant, but somewhere on a Christian discussion forum I can envisage

"The profundity of God sweeps past any claims about no self. It is a denial of godlessness and anatta".
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby daverupa » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:37 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:The profundity of the anatta doctrine sweeps past any theistic claims. It is a denial of both creator god and soul.


I'm not disagreeing for an instant, but somewhere on a Christian discussion forum I can envisage

"The profundity of God sweeps past any claims about no self. It is a denial of godlessness and anatta".


Brute comparisons are one thing, but when it comes to these sorts of prima facie faith-based claims it's helpful to reflect on the Brahmajala Sutta's repetitive statement that, of any view, it arises due to feeling, and that due to contact. This is a helpful reminder that the content of the views is one thing, tangential and marginal yet alluring and distracting. The trick is the structure of the view, the fact that one takes their personal experiences and says that these are true and right, and all else is wrong or incomplete.

The structure of such belief can be examined in order to accomplish release, or it can be taken for granted and played with, with theistic and atheistic and other such results (roughly-speaking, 62 of them).

Only the Dhamma steps back in this way, allowing for this oversight.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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