Kyle at The Reformed Buddhist already properly tore into this post by a conservative Christian’s view of Christianity and Buddhism but some highlights are needed since there was a legitimate question asked…
I am a 19 year old evangelical Christian. My sister, who is 21, is a very liberal Catholic. The other day, we got into an argument. She claims that you can be both a practicing Buddhist and a Christian/Catholic (I have also been told this by a theology teacher at my Catholic school when I was in high school).
I feel that this cannot be true, but I had no real good defenses for my position. The only thing that I could think of was that Christianity and Buddhism have two completely different end goals (Fellowship with God aka Heaven vs. Nirvana), and that no religions with separate end goals could ever be compatible
But while Kyle did a perfectly fine job of tearing apart the response of John “Boundless” Thomas I would prefer to actually address some of the differences between the Christian and Buddhist faith. But bear in mind “Christian” and “Buddhist” are just labels…lame, stupid, insipid labels. What is largely at stake is whether you view either religion as inclusive rather than exclusive. Far and wide, I think Christianity tends towards exclusion (I go to Heaven. You burn in Hell) while Buddhism tends towards inclusion. I will grant though that this largely depends upon the person. There are plenty of stodgy Buddhists and accepting Christians.
Anyway, were I to answer an honest question about how Buddhism differs from Christianity….
- There is no Omniscient God in Buddhism. There is no father figure to hand out rewards or punishments (or diplomas) when you die. This is not to say that there aren’t Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or Deities that may lend some aid to our practice form time to time.
- Buddhists do not owe any allegiance to a supernatural being. We don’t exist by the “Grace” of God or any other being. We aren’t saved. We place our emphasis on self-reliance, self-discipline and personal striving which culminates in our life-long practice.
- The Buddha is a guide and teacher. Not a savior or incarnation of a God. The Buddha does not “wipe the slate clean”, he provides a path of learning and practice. He stresses that we objectively test what he says. If it works then roll with it; if not then keep a-searchin.
- We all have Buddha Nature and can realize that through striving to cut our delusions. Labels, deities and God are delusions and keep us from realizing our True Nature. What is True Nature? How do you know when you find it? Fuck if I know.
- Heavens (other realms of existence) may exist, who knows? But one thing is for sure, if they do exist and there is one full of Christians like John “Boundless” Thomas, I would rather take another spin at this one and work towards the Pure Land….just sayin. A life-time of intensive practice seems a better option than hanging with the Christ. Either way, we’re really just pissing up a rope.
- I may or may not be reborn….this has nothing to do with reincarnation. That would infer a steady and permanent soul which most Buddhists don’t believe in (I say most since a few Buddhists view Buddha Nature as a soul of sorts…it gets cerebral and wastes my time). *kauf* *kauf* *zennist* *kauf*
- A balance of Metta, Wisdom and Compassion are the cornerstones of Buddhism. If you can get these down, I believe the rest is just icing on the cake.
- Suffering happens. Deal with it. This is not sin. No sin in Buddhism, original or otherwise. Moral action does not need commandments or precepts. It just requires compassion, wisdom and metta.
- No eternal Hell or eternal Heaven. No eternal anything except what is eternal. What is eternal? Fuck if I know.
So, I hope this was helpful, young Evangelical Christian. Now that I explained some of my beliefs do me a favor and forget it. Throw it away. My practice and beliefs have fuck to do with you or anyone else and are completely worthless. Take some time to think for yourself and explore your practice. If it includes Christ and Buddha and leads you on a path of compassion then fantastic. If it helps you explore a larger picture of God then great. If it leads you down the “devils” path then lock on some “Metal Horns”, blare some Iron Maiden and “Run to the Hills”!
For me, the myth of an Eternal savior and Creator God does nothing for me. I threw them out long ago. But the goal of realizing Buddha Nature through compassion, metta and wisdom does not counteract Christian beliefs if you hold those Christian beliefs with compassion, metta and wisdom. Simple.
Weed your garden, “Young Evangelical Girl”. John “Boundless” Thomas needs to just burn his.
Scott from The Buddha is my DJ put it well when he said…
Just like we can’t point to one of the Five Skandhas and say “that’s the essence of ‘me'”, we can’t point to one brand of Buddhism, one part of the vast library of the Buddha’s teachings, and say “that’s the essence of Buddhism.” It is only when looked at collectively can we describe them in their entirety as “Buddhism.”
Dharma doors really are boundless, and for a good reason. If you haven’t found one that works for you, try another.
On of the best things about my Buddhist practice is that my sangha consists of atheists, Christians, Pagans and Buddhists. Not too many other religions can brag that fact. Dharma gates are indeed truly Boundless.
Smilin’ from Buddhist Hell,