Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123
Results 21 to 27 of 27

Thread: Are Buddhism and Christianity fundamentally different religions?

  1. Top | #21
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    The North
    Posts
    9,268
    Archived
    9,514
    Total Posts
    18,782
    Rep Power
    46
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    So we've got the low-hanging fruit out of the way and done our rain dance on Christianity.

    So how about their similarities?

    And are they fundamentally different, or just dissimilar?
    The religious understandings of reality, goals, and how to attain those goals between the two have nothing in common. The societal lessons necessary for a coherent civilization (don't kill, don't lie, don't steal, be nice to each other, etc.) are universal even for groups that have no religion.
    Is that true? To me the goal of reaching heaven / understanding that it's all a part of God's plan is very similar to the Buddhist doctrine of not clinging to desire. Both share the same goal of liberating us from suffering.

    I'd grant their understandings of reality, although something feels similar to me between a zen monk saying something like 'there is nothing and everything in nothing', and the christian monk meditating on the oneness, and divinity of the universe.

    That does raise the question of what would make a religion fundamentally different from another.

  2. Top | #22
    Member aupmanyav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    New Delhi, India
    Posts
    149
    Archived
    18,926
    Total Posts
    19,075
    Rep Power
    51
    If you are BENT on mixing Christianity and Buddhism in spite of all other people saying, NO, NO, NO; I dont think anybody or anything can stop you.

  3. Top | #23
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    The North
    Posts
    9,268
    Archived
    9,514
    Total Posts
    18,782
    Rep Power
    46
    Quote Originally Posted by aupmanyav View Post
    If you are BENT on mixing Christianity and Buddhism in spite of all other people saying, NO, NO, NO; I dont think anybody or anything can stop you.
    I wouldn't say I'm bent on mixing the two, but am curious about the perspectives of others.

  4. Top | #24
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Chochenyo Territory, US
    Posts
    2,597
    Rep Power
    10
    So I've been doing some thinking about this. Get ready for a longish post.

    General considerations

    Both traditions are too large and diverse to easily or fairly generalize about. They have also been aware of one another for probably as long as Christianity has existed, which means thinking of them as intrinsically or essentially separate traditions is probably unrealistic; you can't be entirely independent of the religious traditions you know about, even if you don't endorse them. Indeed, crafting oneself in intentional opposition to another's traditions is not the same as being separate from them really. This is especially true of 20th c. American Protestants and immigrant or convert British/US Zen Buddhists, and these seem to be the two groups most discussed in the preceding pages. Time is also a factor. Neither Buddhism nor Christianity in the 20th century resemble their 5th century incarnations, for instance, either philosophically or politically. But I tend to feel that if you're going to talk about a tradition you should talk about all of a tradition, not just whatever branch or time frame you happen to know best. But that leaves you in a strange position as some versions of Christianity have been as diametrically opposed to other forms of Christianity as they are to any form of Buddhism, and likewise many branches of Buddhism that have no great argument with Jesus will be slow to so much as acknowledge other branches of Buddhism as being such. In short, comparing and contrasting. A to B is tricky when A1, A2, A3, and A4 are noticeably different from each other, and A2 is quite similar to B1 but not to B3 and B2.

  5. Top | #25
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Searching for reality along the long and winding road
    Posts
    5,151
    Archived
    12,976
    Total Posts
    18,127
    Rep Power
    64
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    So we've got the low-hanging fruit out of the way and done our rain dance on Christianity.

    So how about their similarities?

    And are they fundamentally different, or just dissimilar?
    The religious understandings of reality, goals, and how to attain those goals between the two have nothing in common. The societal lessons necessary for a coherent civilization (don't kill, don't lie, don't steal, be nice to each other, etc.) are universal even for groups that have no religion.
    Is that true? To me the goal of reaching heaven / understanding that it's all a part of God's plan is very similar to the Buddhist doctrine of not clinging to desire. Both share the same goal of liberating us from suffering.

    I'd grant their understandings of reality, although something feels similar to me between a zen monk saying something like 'there is nothing and everything in nothing', and the christian monk meditating on the oneness, and divinity of the universe.

    That does raise the question of what would make a religion fundamentally different from another.
    You seem to be confusing all too human musings on their place in the universe with the concrete explanation and guides detailed by organized religions. Mystics and mysticism is something else although individual members of organized religions can also be mystics or they can be mystics without belonging to an organized religion. Organized religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Shinto, etc. establish credos and tenants that the followers 'must' accept or they are not members of that religion. They are something else.

    Although there is much more to these two religions, the foundational essence of Christianity and Buddhism are:

    ... Christianity offers a feudal system as their description of reality with god as the supreme authority, provider, and judge. Christianity is focused on external powers, a god. A Christian's goal of being admitted to heaven is in the hands of god to decide if they will be.

    ... Buddhism is focused on the individual. There is no external authority. It is the self that a Buddhist struggles with to attain their goal of overcoming the cycle of death and rebirth.

    Because of the different essences of these two religions, they describe the reason to follow the societal rules (don't kill, don't steal, don't lie, don't be mean, etc.) very differently. Christianity says that god commanded obedience and failure to obey will piss him off and he will punish you. Buddhism says doing these things will create a Karmic debt. Shinto would probably say that it would bring shame on you and your family. A secular state would say it is against the law and you will be arrested.

  6. Top | #26
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Chochenyo Territory, US
    Posts
    2,597
    Rep Power
    10
    Points of Comparison

    Temporal Origin: There are a couple of points of overlap in terms of when and how they both came about. In the theories of Karl Jaspers, both are considered characteristically "Axial Age" traditions, emerging or becoming more defined during the same chronological and political epoch and bearing some similarities in terms of how they subsequently spread and propagated as well as some shared key ideas, some of which will be detailed below.

    Spread: Both traditions have a strong symbolic connections to their mythological point of origin, Israelis and northern India respectively, but are now a tiny minority and pointedly disempowered tradition in those places (2% of Israelis are Christian, about 0.7% of Indians are Buddhist), and have taken on most of their currently recognized features and philosophy as they spread out into an ever increasing global diaspora. At present, both have vast followings on nearly every continent, but have syncretized heavily every time they have migrated to a new location.

    Founders: Christianity and Buddhism are both associated with one key figure more than any other (Jesus and Siddārtha Gautama respectively) but actually have a quite a panoply of founding figures, many of whom have had more impact on the current theology and practices of their traditions than those archetypal founding figures themselves. Some of these contributors are acknowledged but downplayed, such as St Paul or St Augustine to Latin Christianity or Mahendra Maurya to Theravada. Others are largely forgotten to anyone other than historians. And some had such an outsized impact that they spawned nearly autonomous branches of their respective faiths, such as Joseph Smith (Mormonism) or Amitabha/Dharmakāra (Pure Land).

    Personal characteristics of founders: Both Jesus and Siddārtha are contentious figures whose specific perspectives and actions are heavily disputed, and whose historicity has been severely challenged, both existentially and in terms of correlation to known historical times and peoples. Both are said to have royal claims that they deferred in favor of a spiritual path. Both are described as having studied for quite some time before beginning their public careers, and both are described as fighting and subduing demonic forces during that pre-pedagogical time. Both preferred to teach in the form of parables rather than direct factual presentation, if purported primary sources are to be believed, and disseminated information through a small cadre of close disciples. Neither tradition could possibly be deduced or understood solely through the known traditions of these founders, and indeed both are known to downplay the importance of even trying to do so.

    Disowned children: The relationship of Christianity to other Abrahamic faiths, and Buddhism to other Dharmic faiths, are similar in many respects, especially in that they are perceived by their parent traditions as somewhat heretical but perceive themselves in a supercessionist fashion - they are the "true" form of their predecessors to no one but themselves, yet they are often spotted throughout history claiming to have a superior claim of connection to the distant past. Similarly, the Vedas to Buddhism and the Hebrew Scriptures to Christianity play a similar role in providing much philosophical language and narrative grounding, though the actual conceptualization of these books is very different between the two.

    Characteristic arrogance: see above.

    Divine/Cosmological sources of information: Both traditions acknowledge at least part of their tradition as having originated in other realms, worlds, or cosmological contexts than the human community here on earth. Christianity indeed heavily emphasizes divine revelation, and though the idea is less ingrained in the other tradition, Chinese Buddhism sees celestial Buddhas and their role as extremely important.

    Monasticism: Though understood differently, both traditions are well known for fostering socially segregated ascetic communities of highly devoted adherents, and much of their history has been defined by very complex interactions between monastic communities and state powers that could neither control nor eliminate them. Christian and Buddhist monasteries differ in many significant respects, but nevertheless resemble each other much more closely than ascetic communities in any other tradition, and indeed interacted directly for many centuries across Transoxiana.

    Material culture: They both dig wearing robes, sniffing incense, shaving heads, using prayer beads, and building giant metal or stone statues of the presumptive founders of the faith that then become shrines for worship and meditation as well as an venue for physical offerings, many of which are donated to humanitarian causes once the needs of internal upkeep are met. Both strongly eschew animal sacrifice as a valid form of offering.

    Meditative practices: are common in both traditions, and are thought to have a similar neurological profile in both.

    Individual merit: is a significant pragmatic concept in at least some variants of both traditions.

    Mediated mutual knowledge: Both traditions know each other better through theologically distinct offshoot traditions arriving via immigration (Nestorian Christianity for historical Buddhists, Japanese Buddhist variants in the modern "Christian West") than through the more conservative/traditional branches of either faith, or from the nation-states where they are most practiced.

    Cosmology: Is too diverse in both traditions to reasonably compare or even really distinguish. But there are many similarities between particular branches. Many denominations of Christianity and many forms of Buddhism share a belief in "therapeutic afterlives", heavens, hells, or purgatories meant to cleanse or correct the soul/mind in a context other than the present material world. Mormon Christianity and some forms of Buddhism share a belief in other worlds besides Earth and propose an extra-terrestrial origin for many of the key ideas and persons of the faith. Roman Christianity and Pure Land Buddhism share a belief in a physical paradise that adherents spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to attain.

    Fundamental Oneness: Both Christianity and Buddhism have tended see the universe as fundamentally unified in character, having a single One as both its origin and characterizer. This Oneness is challenged, in both traditions, by the seemingly contradictory reality of suffering and material desires for things other than this fundamental unity. Most of the earliest of systematic Christian theologies, such as those outlined in Origen and Athanasius, directly borrow cosmological elements from Buddhism, and it is quite clear that the early Christian patriarchs were in conversation with Buddhist monks or travelers, as there are both philosophical principles/language and shared metaphors and narratives extant from the first four Christian centuries. Most importantly, both see a return to a state of unity with the fundamental substance of the universe (though they differ greatly in conceptualizing what that actually is) and there have been branches of both that see such as the primary goal and purpose of the spiritual life as a whole.

    Role of the temporal: Both traditions have a deep history of disregarding the importance of the physical, and share a skepticism about the capacity of "earthly influences" to positively impact human existence. And both traditions eventually set aside this once-powerful drive, to both endorse and be endorsed by powerful empires later on in their respective histories, in particular endorsing monarchy in a way that seems nearly paradoxical to their starting philosophies. Similarly, there is an early commitment in both to temper the desire for wealth, but have likewise both been tempered and tamed by more capitalistic impulses in both modern states, opposed in both cases by the monastic traditions found within both.

    Non-violence: Avoidance of physical violence is a key philosophical and pedagogical factor in both traditions, despite seldom seeming to actually curb political violence in practice.

    Valorization of poverty: Similarly, is key to the teachings but seldom to the lived experience of most of their non-monastic adherents. Fundamental compassion for the poor is described as a major motivating factor for the founders of both faiths, and also drives much social action and humanitarian projects of both faith communities despite the contradictions discussed above.

    Evangelism: Both traditions are bitterly internally divided over the question of to what extent the faith should be proselytized and to whom, but their general reputation is of an evangelistic tradition, and wandering monks and missionaries of both traditions vastly influenced global history from the time of their origination well into the present. This is more remarkable if one studies the history of world religions at any length, and realizes how rare it actually is for any religious tradition to see evangelism as being optional, let alone required. Both had a tendency to both erase local traditions and syncretically take on aspects of philosophy and ritual as they spread.

    "World Religions": Because of the above, both traditions are among the Big Five religious traditions generally emphasized in Religious Studies programs, and share certain social characteristics only commonly associated with other world religions.

    Texts: Both traditions heavily emphasized the written word in general, and codices in particular, as a means of pedagogy and spiritual practice. Both have produced a significant corpus of world literature that is read and respected by thinkers even well outside of their own religious tradition and culture.

    Pilgrimage: Pilgrimages to various holy sites, some very distant from the homelands of most of their current practitioners and many in very politically contentious locations, are a major feature of both religious traditions but rare in most others.

    Literary and speech genres: Parables and Sermons in both traditions share certain otherwise unique prosodic features, and these likely stem at least in part from direct conversation between these traditions historically.

    Relative mutual tolerance and syncretism: Most Buddhists accept Jesus as a bodhisattva and are reasonably accepting of Christian ideas as long as they don't conflict with Buddhist practice. The relationship is more contentious in the other direction, but there are many modern Christians who have accepted Buddhist traditions, cosmology, or practices into their own perspectives, embracing ideas such as reincarnation, meditation, and karma that they first encountered via the other faith tradition, especially as a result of the efforts of groups such as the Theosophical Society to intentionally popularize Buddhist texts and practices during the late 19th century onward.

    Gender issues: Both traditions were heavily patriarchal throughout most of history, more so than even many of the surrounding cultures they ultimately erased. In both cases, the 20th century has seen severe challenges to these patriarchal aspects, but much more so in some branches than others.

    Secularization, capitalism, and communism: Have had noticeably similar effects on both traditions both politically and socially.

    Islam: Both traditions have contentious if not characteristically bloody relationships with the youngest of the Axial Age giants, and have both been associated with mutual attempts at genocide from ancient times into the present day. This is interesting, because Christianity and Buddhism, despite moments of severe tension, don't enjoy nearly as much of a history of direct bloodshed with respect to each other as they do with this perceived interloper.

    Indigenous animist traditions: See above.

  7. Top | #27
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    5,040
    Rep Power
    13
    I believe Buddhism generally divides between those who believe in enlightenment for all and those who think it can only be the few.

    I'd have to look up the names, I think one school is Mahayana.

    Some do not consider Zen true Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism is mystical and supernatural. The paranormal like levitation. One of their saints was said to fly through the air.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •