THis an excerpt from an article: http://www.examiner.com/article/buddhism-and-christianity Please remember that when usig quotes of more than 4-5 words credit needs to provided and site where the entire article may be found rather than quote a long passage such as this. thanks, Thomas Convert Issues forum moderator.
The first issue that must be addressed, I realized, is that when we say Christian or Buddhist there is an assumption that all Buddhists and Christians practice their faiths homogeneously.
Of course, this is not true. Ask a Orthodox Christian about their faith and it becomes clear that there are very significant differences between that belief system and that of a Roman Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Baptist, etc. Even within the overall acceptance that Jesus is the Son of God, there is a profound difference in almost every other aspect of practice and understanding. The same can be said about Buddhism, ask a Theravada Buddhist and you'll see differences between that and Mahayana, Tibetan, Shingon, Tiantai, Zen etc.
So while some Christian faiths are less fundamental and open to diverging concepts being incorporated into their daily religious practice, there are other sects of Christianity that are more strict in their understanding of Christ.
I really cannot profess to know much about which particular non-denominational Christian group my family follows but it was not open to ideas of a separation of secular and spiritual practice. Orthodox try to reject the world and all it's attachments because it causes nothing but suffering (much like Buddhism, but our suffering is being away from God) for the person and they try to live a more spiritual life. As they asked more about my practice, it was obvious to me that my family did not believe in their own concepts of free will. That is not to say that they didn’t believe in free will, but in their eyes all decisions were guided correctly through a divining rod in their soul to the right directions and choices they make.
But this is not the case of all Christians.
As we discussed our faiths during a family picnic, I had to acknowledge that my sect of Buddhism was also very different than other traditions. As a American Theravadan Buddhist, my practice and understanding of Buddhism does differ in flavor.
WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA AGREE
There are many books on the topic of where Buddhism and Christianity agree in philosophy. The same can be made of most (if not all) religions. Some of the key factors of what is best of the Bible and Buddhism both converge on the areas of ethics, kindness, giving, and love.
Even the concept of sin, depending on how you interpret the Bible, is the same.
On the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus states many concepts that would agree with many Buddhist traditions:
Be compassionate (a possible translation of sympathy through mourning)
Live simply (a possible translation of meek)
Be ethical (a possible translation of righteous)
Be pure of heart
Be a peacemaker
Do not live in fear to do what is right
Be an example to others (“the light of the world”)
Do not murder (the Buddhist First Precept)
Do not commit adultery (The Buddhist Third Precept)
Sin is not only found in action but in intention (the Buddhist concept of volitional action creating karma)
Keep your promises (The Buddhist Fourth Precept)
Turn the other cheek (The Buddhist concept of compassion or karuna)
Do charity because it is in your heart to do so (the concept of dana)
Do not judge ( The Buddhist concept of the three poisons: hatred, greed and delusion)
Always be seeking and questioning ( “seek and you will find .. “)
Beware of false prophets and judge them by the fruit they bare (the sutta of the Kalamas)
In many ways, this seminal talk of Jesus encompasses almost all of the major concepts of Buddhism.
WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA DISAGREE
The definitive dividing line for Christianity and Buddhism is also set out in the “Sermon on the Mount.” While Buddhism is a faith of self-realization, Christianity is a faith of God’s revelation.
In order to be Christian, you must believe that there is a God and that Jesus was his only begotten son who came to Earth. (Well for most Christians).
But the Buddha purposefully did not speak of a creator God. He also lived 500 years before Jesus and would not have known him (although there is speculation that Jesus would have known Buddha’s teachings). Buddha not being a theist or atheist left alone the issue of God as irrelevant to his practice.
“I teach only the understanding of suffering,” said Buddha, “and the end of suffering.”
However, if Jesus is the way to salvation, can you believe in the practices of the Buddha and still be Christian? Isn’t Jesus the only way to the end of suffering?
For those who follow a Christian Buddhist path, Jesus himself could best present the answer. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Jesus, “and unto God what is God’s.”
Buddhism is a faith in the practice of here and now. Christianity is a practice for the afterlife.
BUT WHAT ABOUT NIRVANNA AND HEAVEN?
For those Buddhists who practice for an understanding of the afterlife, a Christian afterlife for them would be almost impossible. The concept of rebirth precludes the idea of an eternal heaven. Although it is interesting to point out, although Buddhist believe in reincarnation they don't believe in a complete death like Atheist do. Even when a Buddhist reaches enlightenment the mind will still exist forever, but where it is reincarnated, who knows, many debates about this. Also, Buddhist do not believe in a soul, they believe in the mind. But the way they believe in the mind is very much how we believe in a soul, in the sense that it has a nonbody form and can move after death.
The Christian faith requires the concept of heaven (although not historically a concept of hell. Orthodox Christians never and still don't believe in Hell as a place, but it's a state of being in the presence of God.). There is a God, a Heaven, and Jesus. So Buddhists who embrace the cosmology of certain sects of Buddhism or atheism, could never entertain the idea of Christians and Buddhists believing in the same God let alone Buddhist believe in the Christian God. Buddhist believe in 6 realms of existence and two of which have little gods and big gods, but these gods have long lifespans and will eventually die: just as Christians who believe God is continually participating in every thought of their life could never believe in a happiness that is caused by their own free will.
But what of God being in every aspect of the world? Effecting every action? Some Christians, not all but the majority that are seen with the public eye think that no movements are made in the universe without God’s intervention. We know about providential and divine authority of God, but for those who think of only divine authority I would direct them to Kings 19:11-13
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
In this understanding of God, the Creator would be one that does not interfere with the world in which we live, but only touches the heart of man to let him know he is there. It is up to man to make his volitional choices using his free will, and making his own happiness.
The story of Job tells of the story of a faithful man who is beset by all sorts of misfortune, but he “chooses” to keep his faith. While Jesus performs miracles and teaches his gospel, he always leaves these parables as tools so that his followers can make their own choices towards happiness.
The Buddha does the same as Jesus, but without the need to exclude the idea of other faiths. The Buddha said for us to always question and practice and see the truth by the fruits of our efforts.