Buddhist view on Christianity

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Post Reply
User avatar
VinceField
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 2:03 am

Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by VinceField »

I want this thread to explore Buddhist interpretations of the Christian belief system, especially the belief that Jesus Christ is an almighty God force that can be tapped into by all humans through faith and doing so can induce real personal transformation without having to put forth any real effort to change other than accepting Christ as God.

I'll start with my thoughts.

The belief in Jesus Christ is a fine example of attachment to views. The happiness that the belief in Christ brings is ultimately unsatisfactory because it is born from and conditioned on the mental constructs of a deluded mind and is thus an illusory and impermanent happiness.
SarathW
Posts: 15236
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by SarathW »

Also Jesus Christ asked you to observe some precepts and exercise Brahama Viharas.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
culaavuso
Posts: 1363
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:27 pm

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by culaavuso »

SarathW wrote:Also Jesus Christ asked you to observe some precepts and exercise Brahama Viharas.
DN 13 also explains that practice of the brahmavihāras leads to union with Brahma, a being which DN 1 describes as referring to itself as "the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be." It seems that the suttas would support the idea that the teachings of Jesus have the potential to lead to arising in heaven with the Lord.
User avatar
VinceField
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 2:03 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by VinceField »

culaavuso wrote: It seems that the suttas would support the idea that the teachings of Jesus have the potential to lead to arising in heaven with the Lord.
Isn't the idea of the existence of "the Lord" in the sense you are using here contradictory to the Buddha's teachings?
In Buddhist literature, the belief in a creator god (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected
From:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... didea.html
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 11142
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Ceisiwr »

Jesus was as deluded as Epicurus



Both trapped in metaphysical wranglings because of their addiction to pursuing feelings, and fabricating them into a "self" which either lives forever, or is annihilated.



Christianity does have some salient points, like Epicureanism does. All philosophies touch upon the Dhamma, and how non-grasping leads to peace. However they vary in how far they follow this insight. The doctrines of annihilationism (Atheism/Materialism etc) are closer to Buddhadhamma than those of Eternalism (Christianity/Islam etc), since the one view is closer to non-clinging than the other.

However they all fail because of their inability to see past "self", which Buddhadhamma does.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
culaavuso
Posts: 1363
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:27 pm

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by culaavuso »

VinceField wrote:
culaavuso wrote: It seems that the suttas would support the idea that the teachings of Jesus have the potential to lead to arising in heaven with the Lord.
Isn't the idea of the existence of "the Lord" in the sense you are using here contradictory to the Buddha's teachings?
In Buddhist literature, the belief in a creator god (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected
From:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... didea.html
The existence of Brahmā does not appear to be contradictory to the Buddha's teachings. It can be found in numerous suttas.
MN 97: Dhānañjāni Sutta wrote: Ven. Sariputta said: "And what is the path to union with the Brahmas? There is the case where a monk keeps pervading the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. He keeps pervading the first direction with an awareness imbued with compassion ... appreciation ... equanimity, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with equanimity — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. This, Dhanañjanin, is the path to union with the Brahmas."
...
"Sariputta, Dhanañjanin the brahman has died and reappeared in the Brahma world."
Whether Brahmā actually is the Creator is a separate question, but the suttas seem to state clearly that Brahmā uses the term self referentially and that other beings also use the same terms of reference. Whether "the Lord" is merely an appellation or a deserved description is similarly a separate question.
DN 1: Brahmajāla Sutta wrote: 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.'
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/godidea.html]Buddhism and the God-idea[/url] by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera wrote: Buddhism does not deny that there are in the universe planes of existence and levels of consciousness which in some ways may be superior to our terrestrial world and to average human consciousness.
...
Further, it need not be denied that such worlds and such beings may have their lord and ruler. In all probability they do.
...
These, however, are largely matters beyond the range and concern of average human experience. They have been mentioned here chiefly for the purpose of defining the Buddhist position, and not to serve as a topic of speculation and argument. Such involvement can only divert attention and effort from what ought to be our principal object: the overcoming of greed, hatred and delusion where they are found in the here and now.
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 18185
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by mikenz66 »

See also:

Tolerance and Diversity by Bhikkhu Bodhi
To the extent that a religion proposes sound ethical principles and can promote to some degree the development of wholesome qualities such as love, generosity, detachment and compassion, it will merit in this respect the approbation of Buddhists. These principles advocated by outside religious systems will also conduce to rebirth in the realms of bliss — the heavens and the divine abodes. Buddhism by no means claims to have unique access to these realms, but holds that the paths that lead to them have been articulated, with varying degrees of clarity, in many of the great spiritual traditions of humanity. While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha's Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world.
:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
VinceField
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 2:03 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by VinceField »

Thanks culaavuso and Mike.

I especially resonated with this quote and fully agree:
While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha's Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world.
But although there are noble virtues to be gained from following the teachings of other religions such as Christianity, there seems to be a degree of delusion embedded within the belief systems that may ultimately restrict one's ability to access the true happiness of the unconditioned that can be achieved from the Buddhist path. Also, there may be underlying unwholesome factors motivating the cultivation of otherwise wholesome and virtuous characteristics, such as the motivation of fear, which is imbued in much of the Christian doctrine.
SarathW
Posts: 15236
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by SarathW »

Buddha help many people with wrong views.
Some Buddhist also hold wrong views.
So they all depend on the seeker.
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
culaavuso
Posts: 1363
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:27 pm

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by culaavuso »

VinceField wrote: But although there are noble virtues to be gained from following the teachings of other religions such as Christianity, there seems to be a degree of delusion embedded within the belief systems that may ultimately restrict one's ability to access the true happiness of the unconditioned that can be achieved from the Buddhist path.
These noble virtues may be helpful to observe when they are found and could assist in the practice of the Dhamma.
AN 8.54: Byagghapajja Sutta wrote: There are these four qualities, TigerPaw, that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in this life. Which four? Being consummate in initiative, being consummate in vigilance, admirable friendship, and maintaining one's livelihood in tune.
...
And what is meant by admirable friendship? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called admirable friendship.
...
And what does it mean to be consummate in virtue? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking life, abstains from stealing, abstains from illicit sexual conduct, abstains from lying, abstains from taking intoxicants that cause heedlessness. This is called being consummate in virtue.

And what does it mean to be consummate in generosity? There is the case of a disciple of the noble ones, his awareness cleansed of the stain of miserliness, living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms. This is called being consummate in generosity.
User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6552
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Mkoll »

VinceField wrote:Also, there may be underlying unwholesome factors motivating the cultivation of otherwise wholesome and virtuous characteristics, such as the motivation of fear, which is imbued in much of the Christian doctrine.
I think the fear you have in mind is indeed unwholesome. However, there is a place for a healthy sense of fear, a sense of fear without hysteria or panic.
AN 2.9 wrote:"Bhikkhus, these two bright principles protect the world. What are the two? Shame and fear of wrongdoing. If, bhikkhus, these two bright principles did not protect the world, there would not be discerned respect for mother or maternal aunt or maternal uncle's wife or a teacher's wife or the wives of other honored persons, and the world would have fallen into promiscuity, as with goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, dogs, and jackals. But as these two bright principles protect the world, there is discerned respect for mother... and the wives of other honored persons."
Ven. Bodhi has a good essay on hiri (shame) and ottappa (fear of wrongdoing) here.
Pug 79, 80 wrote:"To be ashamed of what one ought to be ashamed of, to be ashamed of performing evil and unwholesome things: this is called moral shame. To be in dread of what one ought to be in dread of, to be in dread of performing evil and unwholesome things: this is called moral dread" (Pug, 79, 80).
One could also argue that samvega is a healthy sense of fear as well.
Ven. Thanissaro wrote:Samvega was what the young Prince Siddhartha felt on his first exposure to aging, illness, and death. It's a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range — at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. This is a cluster of feelings we've all experienced at one time or another in the process of growing up, but I don't know of a single English term that adequately covers all three. It would be useful to have such a term, and maybe that's reason enough for simply adopting the word samvega into our language.
And please note I'm not saying anything about Christians here.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
User avatar
VinceField
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 2:03 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by VinceField »

I am especially referring to an unhealthy degree of fear, such as a fear of eternal damnation, which brings about wrong motivation- motivation born of selfishness rather than truth. One should not act wholesomely because one is afraid of being punished, one should act wholesomely because one knows that wholesomeness brings happiness and one wants that happiness for oneself and all beings.
User avatar
Kusala
Posts: 814
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:02 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Kusala »

VinceField wrote:I want this thread to explore Buddhist interpretations of the Christian belief system, especially the belief that Jesus Christ is an almighty God force that can be tapped into by all humans through faith and doing so can induce real personal transformation without having to put forth any real effort to change other than accepting Christ as God.

I'll start with my thoughts.

The belief in Jesus Christ is a fine example of attachment to views. The happiness that the belief in Christ brings is ultimately unsatisfactory because it is born from and conditioned on the mental constructs of a deluded mind and is thus an illusory and impermanent happiness.
"In the Dhajagga Sutta, it is mentioned that by taking refuge in Sakra, the king of gods or any god, the followers would not be free from all their worldly problems and fears. The reason is, such gods are themselves not free from lust, hatred, illusion and fear, but the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha (i.e. the community who has attained perfection) are free from them. Only those who are free from unsatisfactoriness can show the way to lasting happiness."
"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "
SarathW
Posts: 15236
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by SarathW »

According to Buddhism, even If you do a wholesome act with fear, you still will reap the wholesome benefit.
The danger is when people become knowledgeable, they will question the wrong or inadequate teaching.
End result is they end up becoming nihilists or not believing any after life at all.
Believing in no result for good or bad Kamma is dangerous thing
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7898
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Sam Vara »

VinceField wrote:I want this thread to explore Buddhist interpretations of the Christian belief system, especially the belief that Jesus Christ is an almighty God force that can be tapped into by all humans through faith and doing so can induce real personal transformation without having to put forth any real effort to change other than accepting Christ as God.
I would say that this would be a daft view, about as pointless as the belief that the Buddha is an almighty God force that can be tapped into by all humans through faith and doing so can induce real personal transformation without having to put forth and real effort to change other than accepting the Buddha as God.
Post Reply