Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

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Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:56 am

I'm going to be taking a class on the New Testament (the part of the Bible based on the teachings of Jesus) starting tomorrow. The class will be focused on the history of the development of Christianity and the teachings of the historical Jesus. This class is going to be intense... 6 hours of lecture per week, 100-200 pages of reading per week, plus studying over the course of 6 weeks.

To keep my interest my plan is to keep a log (this thread) of the parallels, differences, etc between the teaching of the Buddha and Jesus. Anyone with experience/interest in this area please share :smile:

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby plwk » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:25 am

As starters...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
"Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."[3]
3. A famous quotation. It has been compared with Christ's words: "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30)

When my mom did her B.Th & ThM some years back, she had to learn Hebrew & Greek when covering the NT. Are you required to for this course?
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:27 am

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:43 am

plwk wrote: Are you required to for this course?


thanks! no this class is upper division for my BA, 'Intro to the New Testament'... GE class outside of my major.

David N. Snyder wrote:By Ven. Dhammika:

http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=62


thanks Dr. Snyder
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:44 am

Fr. Greg Boyle... my favorite Christian:

“Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”

― Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

"Anderson Cooper was struck with the selflessness of what Greg Boyle is doing. He asked him, “Do you ever get taken advantage of?”

Father Boyle replied, “I give our advantage away.” Nobody takes it."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipR0kWt1Fkc
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Kusala » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:54 am

marc108 wrote:I'm going to be taking a class on the New Testament (the part of the Bible based on the teachings of Jesus) starting tomorrow. The class will be focused on the history of the development of Christianity and the teachings of the historical Jesus. This class is going to be intense... 6 hours of lecture per week, 100-200 pages of reading per week, plus studying over the course of 6 weeks.

To keep my interest my plan is to keep a log (this thread) of the parallels, differences, etc between the teaching of the Buddha and Jesus. Anyone with experience/interest in this area please share :smile:

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This book might be of interest... Land of No Buddha: Reflections of a Skeptical Buddhist http://books.google.com/books?id=nk9KAm ... &q&f=false
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:39 am

marc108 wrote:Fr. Greg Boyle... my favorite Christian:

“Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”

― Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

"Anderson Cooper was struck with the selflessness of what Greg Boyle is doing. He asked him, “Do you ever get taken advantage of?”

Father Boyle replied, “I give our advantage away.” Nobody takes it."


In light of this, what is your take on the Christian teachings on eternal damnation for all those who don't convert?

Also, how do the numerous competing Christian churches resolve the problem of figuring out which Christian church is the right one? Given that one has to choose the right Christian church, or one will burn in hell for all eternity.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby floating_abu » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:22 am

Thomas Merton explored this topic a bit, I believe.

Others:

Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby floating_abu » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:24 am

Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst (/within you)”

Luke 17:20-21
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Dan74 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:14 am

There have been some interesting people who tried to straddle both traditions. In addition to Thomas Merton mentioned above, see Father Anthony De Mello http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_de_Mello, and from the Jesuit/Zen side - Frs Hugo-Enomiya Lasalle, Niklaus Brantschen, Reuben Habito and Robert Kennedy spring to mind.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby santa100 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:31 pm

The Buddha:
"Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let your thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world."


The Christ:
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."


Great minds think alike!
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:11 pm

Luke 19:27
"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."

---

I'm having a hard time finding something similar from the Buddha...
    "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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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:52 pm

Should be interesting Marc. Personally I don't see much more similarity between Christianity and Buddhism than with Buddhism and other sramanic religions, perhaps even less so. There are similar themes in soteriology, and also some of the ways the two figures of Buddha and Christ have been approached. The parallel sayings are sometimes a bit spooky though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlaam_and_Josaphat
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:08 pm

Coyote wrote:The parallel sayings are sometimes a bit spooky though.


I think I should clarify that my interest is in finding similarities and differences between the historical teachings of the Buddha and Jesus, and not the religions that developed around them.

and yes there seems to be dozens if not hundreds of paralleled sayings/teachings. I wonder how much of that is due to the Buddhist influence on the Greeks and the Greeks influence on Jesus, or even direct Buddhist influence on the Jews.


binocular wrote:In light of this, what is your take on the Christian teachings on eternal damnation for all those who don't convert?

Also, how do the numerous competing Christian churches resolve the problem of figuring out which Christian church is the right one? Given that one has to choose the right Christian church, or one will burn in hell for all eternity.


My opinion may change once i dig deeper into the New Testament but as of now:

I personally do not believe Jesus taught in a literal hell and literal eternal damnation. Jesus taught almost solely in parables and metaphor, and I think a lot of what is taken as literal really was meant to convey teaching within the context of the Jewish religion/culture he lived within. The descriptions of hell & heaven are VERY similar to the descriptions of hell realms and deva realms in Buddhism, and I think a lot of what Jesus was talking about re: heaven and hell, was 1) literal rebirth in deva or hell realms and 2) metaphor for skillful and unskillful mind states.


as far as what church is right... who knows. this class, and my interest, are solely in the teachings of the historical Jesus and not in the religious development of Christianity.

daverupa wrote:Luke 19:27
"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."


this quote is part of a parable Jesus was giving and not a direct quote from Jesus.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:23 pm

I believe that Jesus was likely a stream-enterer due to the way he speaks and teaches around the 1st 3 fetters. I also think his contact with God and angels was not a delusion or some sort of story made up after his death, but rather that he was in contact with sort of deva(s), perhaps what had become called the Brahma Deva in Buddhism. It's interesting to think about how much of the Judeo-Christian religions central teachings have been effected by contact and influence from devas.

It's interesting to see the parallels in the way that Brahma is spoken about in the Suttas and the way God is spoken about by Jesus and the various biblical prophets.

Having developed a mind of good will for seven years, then for seven aeons of contraction & expansion I didn't return to this world. Whenever the aeon was contracting, I went to the realm of Streaming Radiance. Whenever the aeon was expanding, I reappeared in an empty Brahma-abode. There I was the Great Brahman, the Unconquered Conqueror, All-seeing, & Wielder of Power.

Itivuttaka 22


the parralels in how DN 1 describes Braham and how the Judeo-Christian religions describe God are striking:

While the world is expanding, an empty palace of Brahmā appears. Then a certain being, due to the exhaustion of his life-span or the exhaustion of his merit, passes away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arises in the empty palace of Brahmā. There he dwells, mind made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long period of time.

41. "Then, as a result of dwelling there all alone for so long a time, there arises in him dissatisfaction and agitation, (and he yearns): 'Oh, that other beings might come to this place!' Just at that moment, due to the exhaustion of their life-span or the exhaustion of their merit, certain other beings pass away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arise in the palace of Brahmā, in companionship with him. There they dwell, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And they continue thus for a long, long period of time.

42. "Thereupon the being who re-arose there first thinks to himself: 'I am Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And these beings have been created by me. What is the reason? Because first I made the wish: "Oh, that other beings might come to this place!" And after I made this resolution, now these beings have come.'

"And the beings who re-arose there after him also think: 'This must be Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And we have been created by him. What is the reason? Because we see that he was here first, and we appeared here after him.'
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:27 pm

marc108 wrote:
daverupa wrote:Luke 19:27
"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."


this quote is part of a parable Jesus was giving and not a direct quote from Jesus.


Yes - but that line of the parable is about divine retribution, so the point stands. Jesus taught about divine retribution because, on this view, ones ability to contribute in a positive way is solely God-given (there will be theological hairsplitting here, but naught hangs on the details) so one must ultimately report to God for one's behavior.

The Buddha doesn't seem to have taught in this sort of way.
    "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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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby marc108 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:27 am

daverupa wrote:
Yes - but that line of the parable is about divine retribution, so the point stands. Jesus taught about divine retribution because, on this view, ones ability to contribute in a positive way is solely God-given (there will be theological hairsplitting here, but naught hangs on the details) so one must ultimately report to God for one's behavior.

The Buddha doesn't seem to have taught in this sort of way.


I must admit I don't have a broad understanding of Jesus' teachings yet but I don't see that parable as about divine retribution, rather about nongreed and faith
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:30 am

daverupa wrote:
marc108 wrote:
daverupa wrote:Luke 19:27
"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."


this quote is part of a parable Jesus was giving and not a direct quote from Jesus.


Yes - but that line of the parable is about divine retribution, so the point stands. Jesus taught about divine retribution because, on this view, ones ability to contribute in a positive way is solely God-given (there will be theological hairsplitting here, but naught hangs on the details) so one must ultimately report to God for one's behavior.

The Buddha doesn't seem to have taught in this sort of way.

Hi, Dave and all,
I'm not sure that you're right in saying this particular parable is a teaching about divine retribution (and I do mean "I'm not sure", not "I'm sure you're wrong but I'm too nice to say so") but if it does, it is an example of an essential underlying difference between the two traditions.
The Buddha taught that we make our own future conditions by our own actions, and we alone are responsible for them whether they are good or bad.
Jesus (plus the compilers of the OT) taught that a supernatural being can and does alter our future conditions by excusing us (being merciful), rewarding us (heaven for choosing the right teacher) or punishing us because we have offended him.
That difference (which I am sure about) is a tough one to get around for anyone wanting to see the two religions as "both true". All the moral teachings are pretty similar, especially if you leave out the OT, but the carrot and stick are not.

:namaste:
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:28 am

IMO the NT is not a reliable source as to the teachings of the historical Jesus, and is itself a product of religious development removed significantly from that of Jesus himself.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:00 am

The passage I quoted is from the Parable of the Minas. Here is a good summary of the points, with the point sustained by my quote underlined:

There seem to be at least five major points that the parable communicates. First, Jesus will leave his disciples for an undetermined amount of time. Second, Jesus will return to consummate his kingdom some time in the future. Third, disciples of Jesus who are good stewards in his absence will receive incredible rewards from him upon his return. Fourth, disciples of Jesus who are poor stewards in his absence will have their rewards taken away and given to the disciples who are good stewards. Fifth, those who reject Jesus as the rightful king will face a terrible judgment upon his return.


You can google the parable if you'd like to generously hunt for alternatives.

:anjali:
    "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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