Buddhist view on Christianity

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Spiny Norman
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Spiny Norman »

Sam Vara wrote:It is also worth noting that lots of similarities that one finds in some strands of modern liberal Christianity seem to be the result of importing bits of secularised Buddhism. My wife attends a Christian contemplation and meditation group, and some of the mental exercises there are called "centering" and "stilling" and look very much like anapanasati.
I have some Quaker friends who do silent meditation - they call it "silent worship". I've met a couple of non-theists, but most of them seem to have a fairly traditional view of God.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Sam Vara »

Spiny Norman wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:It is also worth noting that lots of similarities that one finds in some strands of modern liberal Christianity seem to be the result of importing bits of secularised Buddhism. My wife attends a Christian contemplation and meditation group, and some of the mental exercises there are called "centering" and "stilling" and look very much like anapanasati.
I have some Quaker friends who do silent meditation - they call it "silent worship". I've met a couple of non-theists, but most of them seem to have a fairly traditional view of God.
Good point - I had forgotten about Quakers, whose practices are over 300 years old. I get the impression that most Anglicans who are interested in such things would have anathematised them a few years ago.
SarathW
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by SarathW »

Buddha never claimed that he is the first or the last to discover Four Noble Truths.
We should admire any person who follow the Dhamma according to his/hear capacity.
Many of my Christian and Muslim friends are very Dhamma oriented people.
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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by tiltbillings »

SarathW wrote:Buddha never claimed that he is the first or the last to discover Four Noble Truths.
Certainly, but also keep in mind the contexts that Buddha talked about such things. Also, while some aspects of the FNT can be found in other religions, the underlying structure that makes the FNT the FNT is absent from any foundational texts/teachings of any other religion.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by tiltbillings »

SarathW wrote:We should admire any person who follow the Dhamma according to his/hear capacity.
Many of my Christian and Muslim friends are very Dhamma oriented people.
That is taking the warm and fuzzy hammer to the Dhamma.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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SDC
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by SDC »

There is a fundamental difference when it comes to salvation which diminishes the soundness of almost any comparison that is drawn between the two practices. Yes, there is similar language throughout; when it comes to moral behavior things seem on par; but that is about where it stops. Everything the dhamma practitioner does is done in order to lay the groundwork for progress towards awakening, a task which must be actively completed through an applied method within the experience. The Christian has but to behave a certain way in order to get to heaven where all kinds of cool, interesting stuff will happen ranging anywhere from a full party scene to a deep spiritual union with God. The Christian is looking to BE (bhava) in some form or another while the dhamma practitioner is looking to put an end BEING altogether.

While anyone can casually engage with the dhamma to a certain extent with no formal guidance, there is only so far a Christian would even look to take it due to this difference in salvation. Heaven makes sense within a general view of the world; you exist now, you would exist in heaven; the world exists, heaven would exist. While heaven will be far grander - and so will you - it, and you will still BE in one way or another. The general arrangement is the same and the Christian will have no need to look beyond it, especially not at the odd possibility that the current state of BEING (any state of BEING) can be taken apart by seeing it as nothing more than something that is assumed about experience - a situation that would altogether remove the need for God or heaven. Aside from needing the teachings of the Buddha to even know about this possibility (let alone to learn how to achieve it), to even want to investigate and pursue such a situation would require one to have a general dissatisfaction with any sort of BEING, even the possibility of the divine sort, which the Christian does not (if they did they are no longer in the realm of Christianity). And while the dhamma practitioner may try and try and only achieve a heavenly rebirth (just like that of a Christian) they would still have established, and be working toward a salvation beyond BEING. They are looking for something further whereas the Christian is not.

EDIT - I did not see the post by clw_uk on page one which says something very similar. I would have quoted it along with my post. Reading-the-whole-thread-before-you-post fail.
Last edited by SDC on Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by DNS »

SDC wrote:There is a fundamental difference when it comes to salvation which diminishes the soundness of almost any comparison that is drawn between the two practices.

While anyone can casually engage with the dhamma to a certain extent with no formal guidance, there is only so far a Christian would even look to take it due to this difference in salvation.
:thumbsup: I agree. There is talk in a lot of comparative religion discussions about how all religions teach love and compassion and are the same. But the Abrahamic religions only go so far. For example, let's take a look at the brahma-viharas:

karuna (compassion)
metta (loving-kindness)
mudita (sympathetic joy)

In the above three, the Abrahamic religions teach all of the above, but it is a superficial practice, often only toward members of their own religion. I have heard religious services where they actually pray for only members of their own religion and certainly not all beings in the lower realms (animals, insects, ghosts, purgatory).

upekka (equanimity) - not even discussed in most denominations and sects of the Abrahamic religions. There is little to no talk of going beyond the base emotions to any mental cultivation or transcendental realm where one is not trapped or held by certain emotions.

The other religions with their teachings on compassion, Golden Rule, and good-will will take you to the base camp of the mountain (heaven), but not the summit (nibbana).
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by barcsimalsi »

David N. Snyder wrote:
upekka (equanimity) - not even discussed in most denominations and sects of the Abrahamic religions. There is little to no talk of going beyond the base emotions to any mental cultivation or transcendental realm where one is not trapped or held by certain emotions.

The other religions with their teachings on compassion, Golden Rule, and good-will will take you to the base camp of the mountain (heaven), but not the summit (nibbana).
Constantly mindful of submitting whatever to God's will seems like an easy an effective tool for equanimity. No?
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Sam Vara
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Sam Vara »

barcsimalsi wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
upekka (equanimity) - not even discussed in most denominations and sects of the Abrahamic religions. There is little to no talk of going beyond the base emotions to any mental cultivation or transcendental realm where one is not trapped or held by certain emotions.

The other religions with their teachings on compassion, Golden Rule, and good-will will take you to the base camp of the mountain (heaven), but not the summit (nibbana).
Constantly mindful of submitting whatever to God's will seems like an easy an effective tool for equanimity. No?
Good point. Although I am very wary of seeing false parallels, the fact that something is called by a different name, or is not explicitly referred to, is not evidence of its absence.
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Mkoll
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by Mkoll »

barcsimalsi wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
upekka (equanimity) - not even discussed in most denominations and sects of the Abrahamic religions. There is little to no talk of going beyond the base emotions to any mental cultivation or transcendental realm where one is not trapped or held by certain emotions.

The other religions with their teachings on compassion, Golden Rule, and good-will will take you to the base camp of the mountain (heaven), but not the summit (nibbana).
Constantly mindful of submitting whatever to God's will seems like an easy an effective tool for equanimity. No?
Maybe in a general sense if one uses the general definition of the word as the "quality of being calm and even-tempered; composure." But not equanimity in the Buddhist context which is obviously dependent upon the Buddha's teaching.

Anyway, that kind of thinking sounds to me like clinging to views and clinging to a doctrine of self. It also sounds like a perversion of kamma, as one who practices that would place everything in "God's hands" and thus deny intention (kamma) for themselves.
MN 135 wrote:Student, beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator.
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thepea
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by thepea »

Mkoll wrote: It also sounds like a perversion of kamma, as one who practices that would place everything in "God's hands" and thus deny intention (kamma) for themselves.
MN 135 wrote:Student, beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator.
God's hands is the past accumulations(ourselves). God acknowledging past deeds or forgiveness.

I am taught that the whole path can be summed up as awareness and equanimity, Christianity seems to focus on God and forgiveness.
Mat 6:12 (TEB) "Forgive us the wrongs that we have done, as we forgive the wrongs others have done us."

Luke 6:37 (NIV) "...Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Mat 6:14-15 (NIV) "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
barcsimalsi
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by barcsimalsi »

Mkoll wrote: Maybe in a general sense if one uses the general definition of the word as the "quality of being calm and even-tempered; composure." But not equanimity in the Buddhist context which is obviously dependent upon the Buddha's teaching.

Anyway, that kind of thinking sounds to me like clinging to views and clinging to a doctrine of self. It also sounds like a perversion of kamma, as one who practices that would place everything in "God's hands" and thus deny intention (kamma) for themselves.
MN 135 wrote:Student, beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator.
Sure, the buddhist equanimity is accompanied by insight not bare faith.
However, the main purpose of practicing equanimity is to be able to overcome one's emotion.
In Buddhism when someone is dealing with sadness and remorse, the contemplative instructions is to see the aggregates as not-self and surender to the nature of impermanence. Similarly, a theist can contemplate that he/she belongs to God which can help generate the notion of not-self.

For morality and intention, it needs a different approach which for Buddhist, can refer to the sutta you quote. As for Christian, there is a whole lot of hell threat in the bible enough for theists to reflect.

Hence, i think it won't be a big issue if Christians are smart enough to distinguish the right thing to reflect for different occasions.
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by martinfrank »

Lord Buddha's Discourses contain explicit meditation instructions. The New Testament doesn't contain explicit meditation instructions. I believe that Lord Buddha's meditation instructions are perfect.

On the level of practice, the differences are much less clear. Discussing meditative states we haven't personally attained is like comparing my dreams with your dreams.

The percentage of Buddhists who meditate is low but I guess we could get together a strong team to compete with meditators from other religions.

In Christianity (and in Islam and other religions) there is a vast tradition of meditation. We should not underestimate the mystics of other religions. They could get together strong teams too but maybe we would win this game.

Christians would probably challenge Theravada Buddhists on the field of Charity where Theravada Buddhists are shamefully weak. When the huge, worldwide Christian aid organizations are rushing to help, where are the Theravada Buddhists? Game lost.

The main Theravada countries all have terrible Human Rights records. Another game lost.
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dhammacoustic
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by dhammacoustic »

clw_uk wrote: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.
I don't think Jesus was deluded. I read his teachings about impersonality, mostly in the gospel of Thomas (which is not included in the Bible) if i remember correctly.

People at those times were ignorant as hell and so evil-minded, and i think that Yeshua (let's say that he was a real man) being an enlightened person formed this mechanism of fear and hope - as a vechile for those people to live virtuous lives. "Examine yourself", "Know thyself" etc, - sound like words of wisdom to me.
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Re: Buddhist view on Christianity

Post by DNS »

barcsimalsi wrote: Constantly mindful of submitting whatever to God's will seems like an easy an effective tool for equanimity. No?
No. Constant submitting and praising of some so-called being is a master-servant relationship where you are the servant, i.e., slave. The master is some delusional being with huge ego and human frailties worse than most humans have, including the desire for continual praise, who provides continual reprimands and swift punishments for disobedience. No equanimity at, actually lots of fear driven relationship.
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