Buddhism vs. Christianity

Okay, I admit I gave this a more controversial name than I’d really would like this string to follow.

It seems that many of the debates on this board are of the “Christianity or nothing at all”, or the “Creationism vs. Evolution” variety. These often decay into a science vs. spirituality mindset.

I’d like to use this string to explore what mistaken ideas people have about Buddhism. I’m no expert, and therefore invite people who practice Buddhism (as well as it’s antecedent Hinduism) to answer people’s misconceptions - respectfully please.

Why? The either/or debates here beg the influence of another mindset, the both/neither. Also, Buddhism is a faith that does not seem to conflict with science as much as other religions.

Let’s avoid debating the philosophical veracity of the principles - instead, lets just be clear on what these principles are. In other words, if this string was about Christianity, and someone said “Chistians believe in the divinity of Christ” a reply that said “That can’t be true, God is dead, and I can prove it” would not really be what were looking for here.

So knock yourself out - do you believe Buddhists worship the Buddha (heard that one a few times)? Do you think Buddhism is devil worship, atheism or a cult? Is it a science, a philosophy, a faith or a religion?

I actually like the title of the thread. It reminded me of that early South Park episode…you know, “Buddha vs. Jesus, the ultimate battle! One night only, only on pay-per-view!!” etc. etc.

But, uh, yeah. I’ve got nothing meaningful to add, so I’ll shut up now.

I am not a Bhuddist so I will not presume to speak for them. As to the question of why so many debate threads are proposed as “Christian vs Secular”, that has everything to do with the political context of teh United States and the “only through me” beliefs of so many Christians.

There are, of course, a broad range of other options (a point I like to bring up when faced with Pascal’s Dilemna). I look forward to the growth of this thread.

The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity.

My conceptions (I am a practicing Roman Catholic, for what it’s worth):

I believe that Buddhists generally accept the teachings of the Buddha, formerly Siddartha. The term ‘Buddha’ is a title, referring to one who is enlightened and who can show others how to become enlightened. Other Buddhas will coem along, although not for a very long time. (“When a silk handkerchief wears down a mountain, is the time it will take for another Buddha to appear.”)

In general, I think the Buddha taught that life is inherently full of suffering, that the cause for all suffering is attachments or longings, that the way to end all suffering is to end your attachments, and that the way to end your attachments is to follow eight basic steps. These propositions are commonly called “The Four Noble Truths.”

The eight basic steps are:
[list type=1]
[li]Right Understanding[/li][li]Right Thinking[/li][li]Right Speech[/li][li]Right Attitude[/li][li]Right Livelihood[/li][li]Right Effort[/li][li]Right Mindfulness[/li][li]Right Concentration[/li][/list]

Achieving the state of having freed yourself from all attachments and longing will cause you to no longer be reborn, since it is attachments that cause rebirth. You will no longer exist (“Where does a candle flame go when extinguished?”) thus defeating the cyclical trap of suffering that exists for those that continue to be reborn.

That’s my basic understanding of Buddhism, as a outsider looking in.

  • Rick

An interesting comparison of two approaches:

a) Jesus Christ healed the sick and the lame and brought Lazarus back from the dead.

b) When a young woman approached Gautama and asked him to bring her dead baby back to life, he told her to “go and bring me a mustard seed from a house where no one has died.” She was forced to the realization that death is universal.

You are correct in the Buddhists follow the teachings of the Buddha. Many christians mistakingly think that Buddhists worship Buddha because of the prevelance of the statues. This is not the case. The statues of Buddha are to remind us of his enlightenment and the dedication needed to find enlightenment, he is usually seen seated in the meditative position, as he did under the bodhi tree to achieve enlightnement.

Buddha taught there were 4 Nobel Truths. These 4 truths are as follows:

1- Suffering is universal and inevitable.
2- The immediate cause of suffering is desire, the ultimate cause of suffering is ignorence concerning the true nature of reality.
3- Encourages humanity that there is a way to dispel ignorence and relieve suffering.
4- To dispel ignorence and relieve suffering follow the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path is:
Right View
Right Thought
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration

Now there are several sects of buddhism:
The Mahayana which was developed in India in the first century B.C.
China also adopted the Mahayana school but also incorporated it’s own free form called Pure Land buddhism.
In Japan it became Zen Buddhism and this is also now quite popular in China.
There is also tantric buddhism, from India, which is also known as Vajrayana.

Buddhism and Christianity usually cohabitate well, because they both have many of the same ideals morally.

However one of the core differences is in Christianity, the only way to attain heaven is through christ, and you may not be saved, but through christ. In Buddhism, the attainment of Nirvana is up to the individual soley. You cannot reach Nirvana simply by just saying “i believe”. You must practice and meditate and recieve enlightenment.

Another core difference, is in Christianity, when one commits a sin, you ask for forgiveness and sometimes you must perform a pennance of soem type, and you are fogiven. In Buddhism, there is Karma. No bad deed goes unpunished. You may be sorry for your deed and that is good, but you will still have to suffer for your bad decisions. But in suffering there is knowledge.

The greater your dreams, the more terrible your nightmares.

friend rob roy,

an interesting thread!


wakefulness is the way to life.
the fool sleeps
as if he were already dead,
but the master is awake
and he lives forever.

he watches.
he is clear.

how happy he is!
for he sees that wakefulness is life
how happy he is,
following the path of the awakened.

with great perserverance
he meditates, seeking
freedom and happiness.

(from the dhammapada, translated by thomas byrom)

“don’t get strung out by the way that i look, don’t judge a book by it’s cover” (tim curry as dr. franknfurter in rhps)

Alas, I see that everyone on this board is well acquainted with Buddhism, and no one really needs any questions answered.

Some postings above were very complete, but I hoped that those who didn’t know about it might ask…