Buddhism from a Christian Perspective

Russell Minick 2 Comments

(a handout for a group discussion)

The goal of discussing Buddhism is to be better prepared to express appropriate love to people who identify with Buddhism. This introduction comes from the perspective that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Christ. This does not go against the awareness that a person who is Buddhist is created in the image of God and will often express the goodness of the One who created and sustains them even if they do not accurately acknowledge God as He is. Simply stated, be ready to encounter some wonderful things while engaging Buddhists without being disloyal to Christ, the hope to be offered to all people.

Buddha is a title = ENLIGHTENED

Christ is a title: ANOINTED

Siddhartha Gautama was the name of a prince in modern day Nepal

Jesus was the name of a political refugee in modern day Israel

Siddhartha lived 25 centuries ago

Jesus lived 20 centuries ago

Siddhartha ended up teaching that there is no hope in an impermanent world

Jesus taught that this world is impermanent and not our hope

Siddhartha believed everything in existence was impermanent and therefore non-existence (Nirvana) was the only hope

Jesus taught that God is permanent and self-existent (I AM) and is the only hope

To follow the Dharma of Buddha one must learn not to be attached to anything or anyone

To follow the way of Christ one must learn to give and receive appropriate love to the God who is (I AM) and to other people

Buddhism calls for mercy that comes from lack of desire

Christianity calls for mercy that comes from passionate desire for God’s glory and people’s good

Teaching Four Noble Truths
Buddha preached his first sermon focusing on his way of salvation. Like a doctor giving a cure for an ailment, the problem was diagnosed, the cause of the problem identified, and the removal of the cause recommended along with a course of treatment. What he ended up with are what are called the Four Noble Truths.
The first noble truth observes the fundamental problem of misery. Life is dukkha. Dukkha is sometimes translated suffering in English, at other times unsatisfactoriness. These ideas are clearly included, but usages in Buddhist writings indicate that dukkha is suffering from hopelessness in regard to satisfaction. This sense of being unsatisfied in life has a discernable cause: desire (tanha).
The second noble truth explains this cause of life’s dukkha. People have cravings that cannot be adequately sated. We desire to grasp for and attach to things that seem to be good, but those things are elusive. That is because, according to Buddha, all things are impermanent (anicca):

‘This monks, is the holy truth of the cessation of dukkha:
the utter cessation, without attachment, of that very craving, its renunciation,
surrender, release, lack of pleasure in it’.

This is nibanna. No desire for that which one cannot have ultimately means a state in which neither mind nor body finds footing. Essentially, beyond existence is the hope to pursue. That is the third noble truth.
The fourth noble truth is how to get on with getting from the dukkha of a craving existence to the nibanna beyond existence. What is needed is to follow the Middle Path. Without extremes, desire subsides until full release occurs. This eightfold path is the way of living which results in the decreasing enslavement to ignorance (avija) and desire. Each of the eight is called ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ (samma). Being right (perfect, complete) is the means by which a follower of Buddha hopes to experience release from the misery of existence and desire. Similar words and ideas, with a very different conclusion, are found in the comparable story of Jesus’ temptation and instructing of his disciples.

No god, no Brahma can be called
The Maker of this Wheel of Life:
Just empty phenomena roll on
Dependent on conditions all
“Path of Purification XIX;

By oneself is evil done, By oneself defiled. By
oneself it’s left undone, By self alone one purified. Purity, impurity on
oneself depend, No one can purify another.” – Dhammapada 165

What is left is a world without God or a savior, a lonely ambition to cease existence.

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Comments 2

  1. Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism teaches that a Buddha is anyone who is “awaken to” or is “enlightened” to the power that exists in all living beings. Mahayana buddhism does not teach to extinguish desire, nor that there is no hope in the impermanent world but rather “HEAVEN and HELL” EXISTS HERE ON EARTH AND WE HAVE WITHIN US THE ABILITY TO TRANSFORM them WHEREVER WE ARE. By chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” and taking the actions alligned with the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, we can summon up unlimited wisdom,compassion, courage, and life force. NOT TO BE ATTACHED TO ANYTHING OR ANYONE ALSO GOES AGAINST THE TEACHINGS OF Nichiren's buddhism. “earthly desire leads to enlightment” is a major theme within this practice. check out the website “sgi-usa.org” and do some more research. Need I go on in refuting your statements when you define “buddhist beliefs” ? Please declare which sect of buddhism you are commenting on because the beliefs and actions of Catholics (and some of their priests), Baptists, Protestants, evangelists, tele-evangelists, etc. do have some differences, don't they?

  2. I once visited a Nichiren Daishonin group in a house. They were real calm, did their chants, then had discussion times. When questions started they seemed a bit… aggressive.
    How is the NMRK chant working for you and interpersonal relationships? Have you seen much progress with humility, compassion, etc.?


    p.s. I'll write more about your questions as to why my blog entry wasn't more developed. Thanks for asking.

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