midwestbuddha: (buddha)
Namaste, Readers! Know that if you are just joining this column, you can scroll back one entry to find part one of this article. :)

In his travels, Siddhartha was once asked, “Are you a god?”
He answered, “No.”
“Are you a wizard, then?”
“Then, you are a man?”
Again the answer: “No.”
“Then, what are you?”
“I am awake,” came the wise response.

With this incident, the Buddha taught that simple awareness was the key to the understanding of all things.

Although Jesus taught that all things are in the hands of God almighty, he also seems to have believed that the common man held much more personal spiritual power than he realized…as, when performing miracles, Jesus would say: “Go thou, and do likewise.”

There are many stories of the miracles Jesus performed: the loaves and the fishes, healings…and, of course, his resurrection and ascent to Heaven.

Likewise, there are stories of great battles ended by the Buddha with a simple touch of his hand to Mother Earth, causing her to tremble in witness of his right to win them.

Regarding miracles, Borg’s book quotes:

“Truly, I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” --Mathew 17:20

A monk who is skilled in concentration can cut the Himalayas in two. --Anguttara Nikaya 6.24

According to Marcus Borg, the one major difference between Jesus and Buddha was Jesus’ social and political passion, which the Buddha apparently didn’t possess. He also believes that this accounts for Jesus’ public activity being so brief by comparison. Here are some passages that seem to support this:

“Whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.’” --Luke 10:10-11

“The wise man does not befriend the faithless, the avaricious and the slanderous, or the one who stirs up strife; the wise avoid the wicked.” --Udanavarga 25.1

To obtain salvation, they taught:

“Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” --Mathew 5:19

“These worthy beings who were well-conducted in body and mind, after death have reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. But those worthy beings who were ill-conducted in body and mind, after death, have reappeared in the realm of ghosts.” --Majjhima Nikaya 130.2

Now, read these passages from The Parallel Sayings regarding the deaths of these two awesome figures:

Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. --Mathew 27: 50-51

At the Blessed Lord’s final passing there was a great earthquake, terrible and hair-raising, accompanied by thunder. --Digha Nikaya 16.6.10

I can find no better way to end this review than by closing as Borg does, and quoting the famous poet, Kipling:

There is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, /When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
midwestbuddha: (Default)
If you had been studying Buddhism with well-known meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, just a few years ago, you would've traveled to a small island of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Once there, you would've been treated to a wondrous sight by the monks of the island: two fifty-foot tall statues of Jesus and Buddha, smiling, with their arms around each others' shoulders. Jack describes it this way, "While helicopter gunships flew by overhead and the war raged around us, Buddha and Jesus stood there like brothers, expressing compassion and healing for all who would follow their way."

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and Jesus Christ don't seem to have had much in common at first glance: Siddhartha was the son of a rich man and Jesus was the son of a poor carpenter. Siddhartha was born into luxury and an ideal childhood, where all unpleasant things were kept from his path. Jesus was born in a poor manger with farm animals looking on… Siddhartha inhabited an Iron Age world and Jesus lived during the height of the Roman Empire. Siddhartha tried more than one spiritual path before becoming a teacher. Jesus knew one path and taught others from an early age. Some sects of Siddhartha's faith embrace many deities, while Jesus' embraces one true God.

So what in the world could these two faiths-Buddhism and Christianity-have in common?

The first and most important answer is, of course, compassion-that quality with which we love, understand and accept others exactly as they are, regardless of their actions. Also, Jesus and Buddha were both able to teach through parables (short, religious stories), the Buddha instructing fellow beings on the nature of the mind, and Jesus on the nature of the soul.

Marcus Borg, who refers to himself as "a Jesus scholar and a devoted but non-exclusivist Christian", has edited a book entitled Jesus and Buddha, The Parallel Sayings. In it, Borg explores some eerie similarities in the texts of the Bible and many of the Buddhist scriptures. However, he tends to downplay the idea that some have espoused that Jesus may have been exposed to Buddhist teachings at some time in his life, and thus carried them forward into Christianity. Instead, he believes that the wisdom teaching of both Jesus and Buddha sprang from similar formative experiences of the sacred.

In comparing the births of these two revered figures, Borg's book sites these two passages:

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we have observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." --Mathew 2:1-2

For what reasons are these signs revealed? Is it that a god of great merit has been born? Or is it that a buddha has emerged in the world? Never before have we seen such signs! We must trace them together, across a myriad of lands, seeking the glow and investigating it together. --Sadharmarmapundarika Sutra 7

On the subjects of materialism & vegetarianism, The Parallel Sayings had this to say:

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on." --Luke 21.1-4

"Giving is the noble expression of the benevolence of the mighty. Even dust, given in childish innocence, is a good gift. No gift that is given in good faith to a worthy recipient can be called small; its effect is so great." --Jatakamala 3.23

"There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile." --Mark, 7.15

"Stealing, deceiving, adultery, this is defilement. Not the eating of meat." --Sutta Nipata 242

To be continued next week... In the meantime, I'd love to read your comments.


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June 2012

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