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Buddhism vs Christianity
similarities, differences

Buddhism vs Christianity

In the tolerant and enquiring times in the West over recent decades many people have become interested in other faiths than Christianity and in Buddhism in particular.

To some people Buddhism appeals because of its promises of calm and enlightenment where traditional "Creationist" Christianity has come to be intellectually regarded, by many, as having been discredited by the challenge of alternative explanations of Human Existence such as the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.
Non "Creationist" Eastern Mysticism being less open to such intellectual criticism.

Investigations into the differences and similarities between Buddhism and Christianity show marked differences in doctrinal outlook BUT close similarities in their "Central" teachings abouit spirituality.

As to Doctrinal Outlook:-

There is no "God" in Buddhism equivalent to the Christian God - minor gods and godesses (of Mercy etc.) do appear however. The Buddha is viewed as having been a, remarkable, Human Being who had attained unto Enlightenment and who, out of boundless compassion, had sought to offer guidance to all sentient beings in order to save them from their sufferings.
Personal mortality is followed by reincarnations after better or worse "rebirths" depending upon merit attained in previous lives.
Buddhism's goal in the attainment of Nirvana a state where cravings, desires and even "egos" cease and where, because of the associated merit, one can hope to be freed from the endless chain of rebirths into suffering lives.

Mainstream Christianity accepts such things as:-

There is a personal God in Christianity.
Personal mortality is followed by judgement by God.
One of Christianity's goals is the attainment of eternal life with God. A reward that is seen as being only available to those who have faith in Jesus Christ, and are made righteous by Him.

Given these substantial differences in doctrine the close similarity between Buddhist and Christian "Central" Spiritual Teachings is perhaps surprising!
Brief resumes of such "Central" Spiritual Teachings from Buddhism and Christianity are set out below:-

Wisdoms & Insights

Many wisdom quotes that demonstrate the Depth of Insights that are recognised by several Buddhist sources are available in the Dhammapada and also in The Lotus Gospel.

Disdain for Material Things
  He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled, immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, Mara (the Tempter) will certainly overthrow him, as the wind throws down a weak tree. He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well controlled, moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mara will certainly not overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a strong mountain.

Dhammapada V. 7-8

A Distrust of Intellect
  They pass from generation to generation ,
Poor in virtue and of little happiness,
Oppressed by all the sorrows
And dwelling in the thickets of debate,
Such as, Existence? or Non-existence?
Relying on their propositions,
sixty-two in number,
They become rooted in false philosophy,
Tenacious and unyielding,
Self-sufficient and self-inflated,
Suspicious, warped, without faith.
During thousands and milliards of kalpas
Such hear not the name of Buddha,
Nor ever learn of the truth.

from The Lotus Gospel

A Yearning for Divine Edification
  Wise people, after they have listened to the laws, become serene, like a deep, smooth still lake.

Dhammapada V. 82

  The disciples of Gotama are always well awake, and their mind day and night always delights in compassion.

Dhammapada V. 300

Purity of Heart
  All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

Dhammapada V. 1-2

  He who controls his hand, he who controls his feet, he who is well controlled, he who delights inwardly, who is collected, who is solitary and content, him they call a bhikshu. The bhikshu who controls his mouth, who speaks wisely and calmly, who teaches the meaning and the law, his word is sweet. He who dwells in the law, delights in the law, meditates on the law, follows the law, that bhikshu will never fall away from the true law. Let him not despise what he has received, nor ever envy others: a mendicant who envies others does not obtain peace of mind. A bhikshu who, though he receives little, does not despise what he has received, even the gods will praise him, if his life is pure, and if he is not slothful.

Dhammapada V. 362-366

  Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth! Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked for little; by these three steps thou wilt go near the gods.

Dhammapada V. 223-224

Communion with God
  There is no "God" in Buddhism!!!
That being said - those who make spiritual progress through following the teachings of Buddha are often held to attain to states of trancendent calm and of Enlightenment.

  The bhikshu, full of delight, who is calm in the doctrine of Buddha will reach the quiet place (Nirvana), cessation of natural desires, and happiness.

Dhammapada V. 381

Our extensive Spiritual and Poetry insights quotations pages are FULL of examples of how such profound truths are recognised, and applauded, by a Spiritual-Poetical aspect that seems to be innate to Human Nature.

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Wisdoms & Insights

Quotations that demonstrate the Depth of Insights that are recognised by Christian sources are set out below. They are sourced from the Bible and also from the works of Thomas a Kempis whose "Of the Imitation of Christ" ranks as the second most widely read christian text after the Bible itself.

A Disdain for Materialism
  Some have Me in their mouths, but little in their hearts.
  There are others who, being enlightened in their understanding and purified in their affection, always breathe after things eternal, are unwilling to hear of earthly things, and grieve to be subject to the necessities of nature; and such as these perceive what the Spirit of Truth speaketh in them.
  For it teacheth them to despise the things of the earth and to love heavenly things; to disregard the world, and all the day and night to aspire after heaven.

Thomas a Kempis

A Distrust of Intellect
  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

St. Paul

A Yearning for Divine Edification
  It is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
  ...the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

St. Paul

  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

St. John

Purity of Heart
  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

St. Paul

  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whomsoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.


  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

St. James

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A Non-mainstream interpretation of one of the main teachings of Jesus sees "Enlightenment" as being possible for Christians!!!
The Parable of the Sower is, perhaps, the most "Enlightenment" related teaching of Jesus!!!

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times."

Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." ...

... Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear."

Jesus' teaching ~ as set out in St Mark's gospel Chapter 4

The Parable of the Sower actually features in three of the four, primary, "Canonical" Gospels, (i.e. of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke, and of John), - such that it is possible to attempt to derive deeper meaning by presenting the following alternative ending ~

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
~ as set out in St Luke's gospel Chapter 8

This "Parable of the Sower" could be said to suggest that Enlightenment does not appear to be Intellectual but may principally arise from keeping to spiritual teachings!!!

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Our extensive Spiritual and Poetry insights quotations pages are bursting at the seams with examples of how profound truths are recognised, and applauded, by a Spiritual-Poetical aspect that seems to be innate to Human Nature.

Our web site features several pages on World Faith mysticism featuring key quotations from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Taoism.

Links to our pages about "Central" Spiritual Insights from the major World Faiths are available here:-

Please click on these links to review
quotations about "Central" Spiritual Insights
drawn from sources as indicated :-

World Religions Spirituality Quotations

Buddhist       Islamic       Hindu


Sikh       Taoist       Jewish