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Common Ground and God’s prescription for Buddhists and Christians

May 21, 2011

Did you know that there is a common ground between Buddhism and Christianity? I wanted to share this publicly as I have both Christian and Buddhist friends in Singapore.

For example, Buddhists and Christians believe that
1. Life continues after death
There is a natural fear of death for both, but the fear of it is under control, probably because both know that life continues after death. With their fear of death under control, they can actually both focus on “living” and being able to help others to do the same.

However, Christianity and Buddhism conceive of life after death in very different forms:

* Buddhism teaches that humans are trapped in a repetitive cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Each successive rebirth may be into a better, a worse life, or a similar life, depending upon the person’s Karma — the sins and merits that have accumulated during their present and previous lives. One’s goal is to escape from this cycle and reach Nirvana. Once this is attained, the mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. Suffering ends because desire and craving — the causes of suffering — are no more.

* Christianity has historically taught that everyone has only a single life on earth. After death, one’s beliefs and/or actions are evaluated in the Final Judgment. An eternal life awaits everyone. Depending on the judgment, it will be either in Heaven or Hell. There is no suffering in Heaven; only joy. Torture is eternal without any hope of cessation for the inhabitants of Hell.

2. We must submit to the Ethic of reciprocity
Both share a basic rule of behavior which governs how they treat each other.
* Two quotations from Buddhist texts which reflect this Ethic are:

o “…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?” Samyutta NIkaya v. 353.

o “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

This compares closely to Christianity’s Golden Rule, which is seen in:

o “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Matthew 7:12.

o “…and don’t do what you hate...” Gospel of Thomas 6. This Gospel was widely used in early Christianity but never made it into the official canon because of its Gnostic content. However, it remains valuable today because it seems to have preserved many unique sayings of Jesus that do not appear in other gospels.

3. both have Themes of morality, justice and love
4. Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ did not intend to form a religion
Gautama Buddha was an Indian prince who got fed up with traditional religion (Hinduism specifically, which believes in many Gods). He walked away from a comfortable life in SEARCH for Truth. In the same way, Jesus Christ fought traditional religion (Jewish) and shared the TRUTH. The difference though is, Buddha is a SEEKER of TRUTH, wherease Jesus is a BEARER of TRUTH. Both so-called followers of Buddha and Jesus, created RELIGION. REligioN is humans trying to work their way to God through good works. Take note that not even Buddha intented to create Buddhism as a RELIGION. Buddha wrote a set of practices for rightful living. Christianity on the other hand is God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us about RELATIONSHIPS – relationship with God and with our fellowmen.
5. personal and intercerssory prayer is powerful

Monday Cell Group at Upper Bukit Timah

At this point, I would like to give praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us a model for prayer. I also would like to acknowledge our Cell Group Leader & his wife and our Pastors who patiently minister to us weekly. Undoubtedly, God worked through this people to bring His message of love, peace and good will to men. Thank you Brother Stephen, Sister, Karenn, Pastor Andy & wife and Pastor Bobot. And also thanks to those kindred spirits I met online (Mrs. S and Mr. C) who shared a piece of themselves (despite cancer), a piece of their lives, although they are of different faith. I am praying that the grace and peace that comes from God will be with you tonight and give you a restful and relaxing sleep. That you will also have spiritual friends and advisors who will meet with you regularly, to give you hope, without talking about cancer. And most of all to keep reminding you that there is life after death, the ethic of reciprocity (do to others what you want them do to you) and also the power of personal and intercerssory prayer.

So, what is God’s Prescription for Cancer Warriors?

God's prescription (prayer, fellowship and studying God's words0

God’s Prescription is the same for everyone.
-Proverbs 4:20-22 An alternative translation to the word “health” in the verse is “medicine”. God’s word is good medicine for our total being: spirit, soul, and body.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2011 11:48 pm

    Dear Nanay,

    I do read your blog everyday but I have not commente before.

    Strictly speaking Buddhism is not a religion and Buddhism is only a label invented by humans for differentiation.

    What you wrote of the common grounds are only a fraction on the commonality. For a more complete thesis on this topic, I would recommend the book “The Buddhist Christians” written by two Germans. It examines the Buddhist scriptures and the Bible in detail. However, this book is banned in many countries, I am not sure if it is available in Singapore.


  2. May 23, 2011 11:45 am

    Hi CT,
    Thanks for commenting in my blog– its an honor. I agree that most people use Religion as a label for one’s faith. Not even Jesus labeled His disciples as “Christians”. Not even Jesus asked for traditions or rituals as a form of worship (a subset of religion). He came to reinstate the relationship between God and sinful man.

    The commonalities probably makes it easier for me to relate to Buddhists– as you also believe in atonement of sins, repaying of sins– as if it is some form of debt that must be repayed. And that you also “pay it forward”, not just living for one’s self.

    Gautama Buddha — from my little knowledge about him he travelled in search of truth.. somehow I find his writings similar to King Solomon (a Biblical character who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes).


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