What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist?

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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist?

Postby Infinite » Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:18 am

catmoon wrote:It's simple really.

Get ten Christians together, throw a hat on the floor and they will put money in the hat and hire a missionary.

Get ten Buddhists together, throw a hat on the floor, and they will still be there three weeks later, arguing about whether or not the hat is real. If they can settle that one, they will put money in the hat, but then they will start arguing about whether or not the money is real. Eventually they will wander off looking for a good restaurant where they can continue the discussion. At that point a Christian comes along, finds the hat full of money, yells "Praise the Lord" at the top of his lungs, and hires another missionary.

:applause: :jumping:
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist?

Postby ground » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:09 am

Wesley1982 wrote:Hello,

What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist? . .

There is no difference but their preferred beliefs differ.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist?

Postby Luke » Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:56 am

Wesley1982 wrote:What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist? . .

What is the difference between any two sentient beings? The appearance of their bodies at that moment in time, their thoughts at that moment in time,...

Next question:
What is the similarity between any two sentient beings?
Answer:
Their buddha-nature!
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist?

Postby LightSeed » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:25 pm

:good:
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

— AN 5.198
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby papaya » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:42 pm

For me, there are two fundamental differences between a Christian and a Buddhist:

1. Christians believe that the world is temporal--"created in time." Buddhists believe that the world is eternal--no beginning and no end.

2. Christians believe in a personal God, entirely other and omnipotent. Buddhists believe in an impersonal entity, immanent in all existence, a life force, enlightened consciousness.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:54 pm

papaya wrote:Buddhists believe in an impersonal entity, immanent in all existence, a life force, enlightened consciousness.
That sounds suspiciously like Pantheism, rather than Buddhism.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby uan » Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:51 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:Hello,

What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist? . .


In a way, your categories are far too broad. There are huge differences in beliefs among Buddhists (Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana) that are as different as the 3 major religions that come out of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which have also all come from the same source, but have taken very divergent paths. Within Christianity, there are huge differences where one wonders if the different traditions believe in the same thing. Which is similar to the different traditions within Mahayana or Vajrayana.

If you remove the external trappings of the different faiths, there's actually quite a bit of overlap to be found among some Christian (as well as Judaism/Islam) and some Buddhist traditions. In certain circumstances, you could have a Buddhist and a Christian that are very close in their beliefs and have more in common than they would have with some other Buddhists or Christians.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby papaya » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:30 am

Thank you to Sherab Dorje and uan for your helpful responses to my post.
Sherab Dorje wrote:
papaya wrote:Buddhists believe in an impersonal entity, immanent in all existence, a life force, enlightened consciousness.
That sounds suspiciously like Pantheism, rather than Buddhism.

As to Sherab Dorje's remarks:
Pantheism literally means "the belief that God is in all things." Pantheism becomes anathema only to those who hold that there is only one God, a supreme being, supernatural, eternal (outside of time) and infinite (without limits). In Buddhism there can be no pantheism because there is no God as just described. When something is immanent, it is within being. When Buddhists speak of enlightenment, for example, they refer to the awareness of light (knowledge) from within, not from above. The Buddha was enlightened to the reality of all existence. Most Christians believe in the doctrine of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit; that is, that the Third Person of the Holy Trinity lives within the heart, mind, and soul of the believer. When Lotus Sutra Buddhists speak of the Mystic Law, for example, they are referring to a force or a principle that is within (immanent) all reality, not some being that comes from without (eminent).
uan wrote:
Wesley1982 wrote:Hello,
What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist? . .

In a way, your categories are far too broad. There are huge differences in beliefs among Buddhists (Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana) that are as different as the 3 major religions that come out of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which have also all come from the same source, but have taken very divergent paths. Within Christianity, there are huge differences where one wonders if the different traditions believe in the same thing. Which is similar to the different traditions within Mahayana or Vajrayana.

If you remove the external trappings of the different faiths, there's actually quite a bit of overlap to be found among some Christian (as well as Judaism/Islam) and some Buddhist traditions. In certain circumstances, you could have a Buddhist and a Christian that are very close in their beliefs and have more in common than they would have with some other Buddhists or Christians.

As to uran's remarks:
I completely agree with all of your remarks; however when you say that my "categories are far too broad," I must point out that I am responding to the question as posed originally on this sight. In light of your fine and concise exposition of how difficult it is to compare Christianity and Buddhism, I should like to add a bit more to my original remarks.

First of all, as stated, I am referring to fundamental differences between Christians. To me, fundamental means the bedrock upon which a belief system rests.

The question of whether the world was created in time (temporal) or whether it simply has always existed and will exist forever (eternal) is a philosophical question, actually two. The questions of whether there is a God or not, and if there is, is that God personal or impersonal, and that if there isn't a God, what accounts for the existence of this world, are also philosophical questions. In addition, they can be theological questions.

Doing philosophy starts with a premise or set of premises. For example, the premise that the world was created in time by a Supreme Eternal Being (God). A premise, of course, by its very definition is a given. As scientists know, there is no way to prove whether the world is temporal or eternal. The scientist would say that such a question is not for the scientist but for the philosopher or the theologian.

I have wrestled with the question of the fundamental differences between Christians and Buddhists for over 50 years. The question is important to me for two reasons: I was born into a Catholic family and practiced Christianity until I started practicing Buddhism in 1984, when I was 45 years old. Often I would be asked why I converted to Buddhism. The question is now important to me because I have retired to Thailand, a Buddhist country, where I am asked the same question, but from the other side of the table, as it were. There's one other fundamental difference I have determined between Christian and Buddhist belief, and that is the fact that Christians believe in revealed truth (through the prophets and the incarnated God, Jesus), whereas Buddhists trust reason and the ability of humans to wake up to the reality of all existence which dwells within the very heart, soul, mind, and intellect of human beings.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:44 am

papaya wrote: Christians believe in revealed truth (through the prophets and the incarnated God, Jesus), whereas Buddhists trust reason and the ability of humans to wake up to the reality of all existence which dwells within the very heart, soul, mind, and intellect of human beings.


I'd sign under that one, except perhaps it is best not to localise the reality within the heart, etc. That's an idea in itself that is better not to hold on to.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:48 am

papaya wrote:As to Sherab Dorje's remarks:
Pantheism literally means "the belief that God is in all things." Pantheism becomes anathema only to those who hold that there is only one God, a supreme being, supernatural, eternal (outside of time) and infinite (without limits). In Buddhism there can be no pantheism because there is no God as just described. When something is immanent, it is within being. When Buddhists speak of enlightenment, for example, they refer to the awareness of light (knowledge) from within, not from above. The Buddha was enlightened to the reality of all existence. Most Christians believe in the doctrine of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit; that is, that the Third Person of the Holy Trinity lives within the heart, mind, and soul of the believer. When Lotus Sutra Buddhists speak of the Mystic Law, for example, they are referring to a force or a principle that is within (immanent) all reality, not some being that comes from without (eminent).
The tathagatagarbha (sugatagarbha/dharmakaya) is neither an impersonal entity (not an entity at all, let alone impersonal), nor a life force (as it has no relation to life or death) nor an enlightened conscious (being beyond the duality of enlightened/ignorant, and because it is not one of the skhanda).
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby muni » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:05 am

papaya wrote: whereas Buddhists trust reason and the ability of humans to wake up to the reality of all existence which dwells within the very heart, soul, mind, and intellect of human beings.


This reasoning is fine tool, it is temporary and the insight is to apply. I think guidance to awaken must be awaken guidance or to say the talk must come from recognition itself and so not by the conditioned human intellect.

Even all depend on own mind.

:namaste:
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby Mkoll » Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:05 am

Dan74 wrote:
papaya wrote: Christians believe in revealed truth (through the prophets and the incarnated God, Jesus), whereas Buddhists trust reason and the ability of humans to wake up to the reality of all existence which dwells within the very heart, soul, mind, and intellect of human beings.


I'd sign under that one, except perhaps it is best not to localise the reality within the heart, etc. That's an idea in itself that is better not to hold on to.

I agree that Buddhists don't believed in revealed truth in the Chistian way that you're describing: "through the prophets and the incarnated God, Jesus". That's readily apparent.

However, I would argue that all religions have at their core revealed truths. The founder of the religion figures something out and preaches it to people. The founder reveals things unheard of before, i.e. it is an act of revelation. Without that founder's original revelation and their preaching of it, there would have been no religion.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby papaya » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:29 pm

I would argue that all religions have at their core revealed truths. The founder of the religion figures something out and preaches it to people. The founder reveals things unheard of before, i.e. it is an act of revelation. Without that founder's original revelation and their preaching of it, there would have been no religion.

Of course what you say is correct. I think I should have qualified what I wrote by referring to divinely revealed truth or truth revealed by God to man, truth that, if not revealed by God, would never be known.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby papaya » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:21 pm

Seishin wrote:Also, when you travel to Asian countries a lot of people see Buddha as a god. However, although these people consider themselves buddhists, quite often they have never read a sutra or taken the precepts. Also, some countries like Japan & China will freely mix their native religions with buddhism, and in such case Buddha is usually portrayed as a god.

I have been living in Thailand for over three years, and I agree with most of your observations. Before Buddhism was introduced in Thailand, the Thais practiced spiritism, the belief that spirits live within all things, some good and some bad; the good ones are to be solicited and the bad ones, appeased, but all are to be recognized. With the advent of Buddhism, the practice of spiritism did not vanish. In fact, most Thais have a "Spirit House" outside their homes and businesses to protect those who dwell and work within. Daily, Thais make offerings to the spirits by placing incense, fruits, rice, even liquor before the spirit house and bowing in deep reference. Thais will always tell anyone interested, that the custom of having spirit houses is definitely not Buddhist.

I would disagree with you that reading sutras or vowing to uphold precepts are what makes a Buddhist a Buddhist. To the Thai, reading sutras and vowing to uphold the precepts makes one a Buddhist monk. According to the Thais, one is a Buddhist because one supports the Buddha monkhood, the temple.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby steveb1 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:13 pm

Re: subject line of the tread, one observation -

Christians find the ultimate disclosure of what God is like, lived in a human life, in Jesus.

Buddhists find the ultimate disclosure of truth in the Dharma.

Of all religions, Christianity is focused on the life of a human being. While Buddhism is essentially indebted to Gotama, its adherents do not see him as God/Son of God/Revealer of Heaven's will and Heaven's secrets. The Dharma, not any particular Buddha, is Buddhism's core focus.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby papaya » Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:26 am

papaya wrote:Christians find the ultimate disclosure of what God is like, lived in a human life, in Jesus.
Buddhists find the ultimate disclosure of truth in the Dharma.

A great contribution, a wonderful observation! You have struck at the heart of the matter. Here in Thailand, I have occasionally met Thais who have converted from Buddhism to Christianity. When I ask why, the answer is inevitably Jesus. When I am asked why I converted to Buddhism from Christianity, my answer is the teaching of the Buddha, the Dharma. I have a theory that Asians brought up on the cold impersonal religion of Buddhism are often attracted to Christianity because it is so personal, a relationship with Jesus. Likewise, I have a theory that many Westerners brought up on the intense personal religion of Christianity are often attracted to Buddhism because it is so impersonal, so scientific. I am aware that these are broad generalizations, and that is why I have labeled them my own theories. Comments are welcomed!
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby steveb1 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:33 am

papaya wrote:
papaya wrote:Christians find the ultimate disclosure of what God is like, lived in a human life, in Jesus.
Buddhists find the ultimate disclosure of truth in the Dharma.

A great contribution, a wonderful observation! You have struck at the heart of the matter. Here in Thailand, I have occasionally met Thais who have converted from Buddhism to Christianity. When I ask why, the answer is inevitably Jesus. When I am asked why I converted to Buddhism from Christianity, my answer is the teaching of the Buddha, the Dharma. I have a theory that Asians brought up on the cold impersonal religion of Buddhism are often attracted to Christianity because it is so personal, a relationship with Jesus. Likewise, I have a theory that many Westerners brought up on the intense personal religion of Christianity are often attracted to Buddhism because it is so impersonal, so scientific. I am aware that these are broad generalizations, and that is why I have labeled them my own theories. Comments are welcomed!


Thank you for the nice words. (Just a funny note: your post cites papaya as your respondent, whereas you were responding to me, steveb1.)

I based my definition of Christianity on things that New Testament scholar Marcus Borg has written, e.g., that Judaism and Islam find their center in sacred texts, whereas Christians identify their center as a person. A nice distinction.
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby uan » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:08 am

steveb1 wrote:
Of all religions, Christianity is focused on the life of a human being. While Buddhism is essentially indebted to Gotama, its adherents do not see him as God/Son of God/Revealer of Heaven's will and Heaven's secrets. The Dharma, not any particular Buddha, is Buddhism's core focus.


That's one way to look at Christianity. Another valid way is that the focus is really on Jesus's teachings, not just Jesus. Re Buddhism, some traditions have him as a human being who became Buddha, other traditions have him as already being a Buddha who just went through the motions. In Pure Land Buddhism, the focus is on Amitābha, less so the Dharma, as the practitioner, once reborn in Amitābha's Pure Land, will be taught the Dharma. Then there is Guru Yoga where "The Guru is Buddha, the Guru is Dharma, the Guru is also Sangha" (quote taken from Wikipedia).

There is a large devotional tradition around Jesus, but it's his teaching that is most important. Sutras are the teachings of Buddha, and often start out with Buddha and the assembly of 1250 monks and disciples etc and then Buddha goes into his teachings. The new testament of the Bible is very similar, with Jesus giving sermons to his disciples and/or to a group of people (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount).

If you go into the house of a Tibetan, you'll find a shrine with a picture of the HHDL. Go into the house of a Catholic and you'll find a shrine with the picture of the Pope. Are these people worshipping the man, or the what the man represents? It probably boils down to the individual practitioner.

I think it's too easy to say Christians follow a man, but Buddhist follow the Dharma. We're not even talking about the more esoteric/mystical sects within Christianity (or Judaism and Islam).
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby papaya » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:10 am

(Just a funny note: your post cites papaya as your respondent, whereas you were responding to me, steveb1.)

Mmmmm I'll have to figure out how I managed to quote you as if it were me! Old age is indeed funny territory!
I based my definition of Christianity on things that New Testament scholar Marcus Borg has written

If I can remember, one day I will look into Marcus Borg. Sounds like my kind of thinker and writer. Thanks for the reference!
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Re: What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhis

Postby steveb1 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:16 am

papaya wrote:
(Just a funny note: your post cites papaya as your respondent, whereas you were responding to me, steveb1.)

Mmmmm I'll have to figure out how I managed to quote you as if it were me! Old age is indeed funny territory!
[quote]

No worries, I am in the same boat. I just wish my flubs were fortuitously positive, instead of the usually embarrassing gaffes I find myself in...
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