Can You Be A Buddhist Christian?

I visited my my family this weekend for a picnic. They live in Chicago. I live almost eight hours away and other family members live even farther. It is rare to get us all together and so I felt compelled to show.  I had to deal with many questions of my Buddhist faith. Most of my family is heavily invested into their Christianity and to them, the concepts of any other faith are considered false.

So how do you speak with a Christian that is trying to understand that Buddhism a wholesome practice for everyone?

WHAT KIND OF BUDDHIST or CHRISTIAN ARE YOU?

The first issue that must be addressed, I realized, is that when we say Christian or Buddhist there is an assumption that all Buddhists and Christians practice their faiths homogenously.

Of course, this is not true.  Ask a Catholic about their faith and it becomes clear that there are very significant differences between that belief system and that of a Protestant, Mormon, Baptist, etc. Even within the overall acceptance that Jesus is the Son of God, there is a profound difference in almost every other aspect of practice and understanding.

So while some Christian faiths are less fundamental and open to diverging concepts being incorporated into their daily religious practice, there are other sects of Christianity that are more strict in their understanding of Christ.

I really cannot profess to know much about which particular non-denominational Christian group my family follows but it was not open to ideas of a separation of secular and spiritual practice. As they asked more about my practice, it was obvious to me that my family did not believe in their own concepts of free will.
That is not to say that they didn’t believe in free will, but in their eyes all decisions were guided correctly through a divining rod in their soul to the right directions and choices they make.

But this is not the case of all Christians.

As we discussed our faiths during a family picnic, I had to acknowledge that my sect of Buddhism was also very different than other traditions. As a American Theravadan Buddhist, my practice and understanding of Buddhism does differ in flavor.

Each year, I help organize a multi-traditional Vesak ceremony (the celebration of the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing of the Buddha). It is fascinating to see the variety of practices and divergent concepts of what Buddhism means to each of them.

So the first realization that must be made in trying to reconcile anyone who chooses to be a Christian-Buddhist (or Buddhist in the Christian Tradition) is that their combined belief systems must incorporate the similarities of the Buddha and Jesus.

WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA AGREE

There are many books on the topic of where Buddhism and Christianity agree in philosophy. The same can be made of most (if not all) religions. Some of the key factors of what is best of the Bible and Buddhism both converge on the areas of ethics, kindness, giving, and love.

Even the concept of sin, depending on how you interpret the Bible, is the same.

On the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus states many concepts that would agree with many Buddhist traditions:

  1. Be humble
  2. Be compassionate (a possible translation of sympathy through mourning)
  3. Live simply (a possible translation of meek)
  4. Be ethical (a possible translation of righteous)
  5. Be merciful
  6. Be pure of heart
  7. Be a peacemaker
  8. Do not live in fear to do what is right
  9. Be an example to others (“the light of the world”)
  10. Do not murder (the Buddhist First Precept)
  11. Do not commit adultery (The Buddhist Third Precept)
  12. Sin is not only found in action but in intention (the Buddhist concept of volitional action creating karma)
  13. Keep your promises (The Buddhist Fourth Precept)
  14. Turn the other cheek (The Buddhist concept of compassion or karuna)
  15. Do charity because it is in your heart to do so (the concept of dana)
  16. Do not judge ( The Buddhist concept of the three poisons: hatred, greed and delusion)
  17. Always be seeking and questioning ( “seek and you will find .. “)
  18. Beware of false prophets and judge them by the fruit they bare (the sutta of the Kalamas)

In many ways, this seminal talk of Jesus encompasses almost all of the major concepts of Buddhism.

WHERE JESUS AND BUDDHA DISAGREE

The definitive dividing line for Christianity and Buddhism is also set out in the “Sermon on the Mount.” While Buddhism is a faith of self-realization, Christianity is a faith of God’s revelation.

In order to be Christian, you must believe that there is a God and that Jesus was his only begotten son who came to Earth. (Well for most Christians).

But the Buddha purposefully did not speak of a creator God. He also lived 500 years before Jesus and would not have known him (although there is speculation that Jesus would have known Buddha’s teachings). Buddha not being a theist or atheist left alone the issue of God as irrelevant to his practice.

“I teach only the understanding of suffering,” said Buddha, “and the end of suffering.”

However, if Jesus is the way to salvation, can you believe in the practices of the Buddha and still be Christian? Isn’t Jesus the only way to the end of suffering?

For those who follow a Christian Buddhist path, Jesus himself could best present the answer. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Jesus, “and unto God what is God’s.”

Buddhism is a faith in the practice of here and now. Christianity is a practice for the afterlife.

BUT WHAT ABOUT NIRVANNA AND HEAVEN?

For those Buddhists who practice for an understanding of the afterlife, incorporating Christianity would be almost impossible. The concept of rebirth precludes the idea of an eternal heaven.

The Christian faith requires the concept of heaven (although not historically a concept of hell). There is a God, a Heaven, and Jesus. So Buddhists who embrace the cosmology of certain sects of Buddhism or atheism, could never entertain the idea of Christian Buddhists: just as Christians who believe God is continually participating in every thought of their life could never believe in a happiness that is caused by their own free will.

But what of God being in every aspect of the world? Effecting every action? Christians who consider adding Buddhism to their practice may find others like my family who think that no movements are made in the universe without God’s intervention. I would direct them to Kings 19:11-13

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” 
 Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In this understanding of God, the Creator would be one that does not interfere with the world in which we live, but only touches the heart of man to let him know he is there. It is up to man to make his volitional choices using his free will, and making his own happiness.

The story of Job tells of the story of a faithful man who is beset by all sorts of misfortune, but he “chooses” to keep his faith. While Jesus performs miracles and teaches his gospel, he always leaves these parables as tools so that his followers can make their own choices towards happiness.

The Buddha does the same as Jesus, but without the need to exclude the idea of other faiths. The Buddha said for us to always question and practice and see the truth by the fruits of our efforts. If a Christian can grow and develop his faith by adding the tools of the Buddha, then I see it as a good thing.

WHAT DO I BELIEVE?

My Buddhism is one of today. A businessman once said, “Success is always the by product of work not the goal.” I believe that this is true with all faith. To practice Buddhism for a goal to reach Nirvanna is to miss the point of my Buddhist practice. I practice to live the fullest and happiest life possible. That requires developing myself with the tools and lessons provided by the Buddha. If I were to become enlightened, that is a byproduct of what I think is important.

I strive to reach the four sublime states of compassion, sympathetic joy, unconditional friendliness, and equanimity in my being.

It is true that I do not follow the Christian faith, but I have studied it for many years. I believe that Christianity is not about trying to get to Heaven, but embodying the essence of Christ, who encompassed the four sublime states.  A Christian wanting to achieve these qualities can enrich his faith by adding Buddhist practices and not be hypocritical.

While I do not follow Christianity, I do not deny it.  While I do not believe in the afterlife as they do, if those who follow it embody the qualities of Jesus in the here and now, then I embrace their practice as successful and good.

Too many practitioners of all faiths focus on the rewards at the end of our journey, when the rewards and purpose are the journey itself.

About these ads

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Buddha, Dharma, Four Noble Truths, Kharma, Lifestyle, New Age, Noble Eightfold Path, Relationships

Author:Sumitta

Reverend Sumitta, is an ordained Buddhist Minister/Chaplain through the International Order of Buddhist Ministry. He is also a member of the Buddhist Society of Pittsburgh (www.pittsburghbuddhist.com) and the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center (www.pittsburghbuddhistcenter.org). In addition he is a prolific writer on Buddhist, Veteran, Business and Life issues for various publications (online publications, Valley News Dispatch, Pittsburgh Tribune, etc.) Born Joshua Hudson, He finished a twenty-year career as a military photo-journalist. His work creating positive military awareness and supporting military and veterans organizations has had a significant impact. During his career, he served forward deployed as a photojournalist during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Bosnia, 9/11, the first detainees to arrive at Camp X-Ray GITMO, and Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. He spent more than ten years in the Middle East and six years in Europe. Currently, he serves as the healthcare patient advocate for the Veterans Healthcare Administration, and is a License Clinical Social Worker, with a Master’s in Clinical Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, working as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor, public speaker, trainer and personal/family advisor. A devote Buddhist, he was given his dharma name "Sumitta," which translates to "Good Friend" in Pali.

Subscribe

If you like Applied Buddhism, then why not sign up and subscribe!

50 Comments on “Can You Be A Buddhist Christian?”

  1. August 19, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    Summita,

    Can you comment on how taking refuge and the 4 noble truths can fit in when the very definition of Christian is the belief in Jesus Christ and the fact the he died for our sins to save us from our sin? While I agree that there is so much in common between these 2 and other religious philosophies, I can’t see how you can meld them together without abandoning the basic tenets of one or the other.

    • August 19, 2010 at 3:26 am #

      This is a very good question. In short… being saved from sin does not mean that you are saved from suffering. A Christian may be saved from his actions in this life to enter the kingdom of God in the next— but that doesn’t mean that he is mentally free from all levels of anguish from living: the pains of craving, clinging, aversion, delusion.

      Again, the first thing we have to do is explore our personal relationships with Buddhism and/or Christianity. If you are a Christian that believes that the only suffering comes from original sin and the only relief from suffering comes from redemption by the Savior– well then nothing will open your eyes to any other possibility or concepts. This not only includes Buddhism, but academic philosophy, or psychiatry. There is only your choice to give yourself to Christ and believe that all good decisions are his will.

      However, this is not the belief of all (or even most Christians if you look globally). In some faiths, we are all sinners who are redeemed by the act of God’s sacrifice. Just as Abraham was asked to offer his son for sacrifice, God sacrificed his son instead. As a non-Christian I cannot say that I see the need for a Creator to ask for any life to be sacrificed in order to receive forgiveness, but it is for most it is a representation of absolution for entrance into Heaven.

      By this common definition, it still leaves the human condition to humans. We still suffering the Four Noble Truths. We have a natural dissatisfaction (or suffering) with life. This is not a suffering of sin, but the mental anguish of being temporary beings in this world who create unwholesome thirsts that prevent us from living mindfully. Christian, atheist or Buddhist– the more mindful we live the more fully engaged with the world we are: and therefore the more we fully live in the world.

      If the Four Noble Truths enrich our secular lives, it could compliment a Christians spiritual practice as they transform themselves into being more worthy of a heavenly afterlife.

      On the other end of the coin- As a non-Christian Buddhist: I do not believe in a soul. I do not believe in an afterlife. For me, it would NOT be possible to reconcile my practice with Christianity. However, I am not so delusional as to assume absolute knowledge of truth or how someone’s spiritual path should progress. I only offer that it IS possible with the right circumstance for someone to reconcile a Christian/Buddhist practice. Not all Buddhists (even all monks) believe or concern themselves with the concepts of rebirth (some very notable monks actually). I have even heard Bon Buddhist lamas talk of the human soul. Buddhism is very diverse and I embrace diversity as long as each path is putting forth the effort to be compassionate, joyful, friendly, and working towards the end of suffering.

      As the Buddha told Ananda (on two separate occasions), “all of Buddhism is heedfulness. All of Buddhism is spiritual friendliness.”

      • August 20, 2010 at 11:54 am #

        dragonflydm

        I hope to follow the Buddha’s teaching about what I call, “picking and choosing” beliefs from all religions and spiritual paths I come across that offer me a clearer understanding of “Living Right.” Living Right for me may not be the same for you.

        I’m Greek. I may want to pursue an adventure with the old Greek gods, picking and choosing the attributes that help me along my quest.

        I am a recovering Catholic, practicing Buddhism, dancing a Sufi Dervish whirl, while studying Kabbalah. Throw in some New Age beliefs like Crystal and Reiki healing and you capture my Essence walking a Labyrinth of my own choosing.

        Thanks for this wonderful comparison and the non-judgmental approach that Buddhism offers to everyone. I missed you!

        michael j

      • August 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

        Thank you, Michael. Yes, the New Age philosophy of “Many Paths- One Truth” does have to play into a multi-faith existence. While I am entirely focused on my Theravada Buddhist path, I recognize that we are all “processes” and if walking your path out of ignorance requires incorporating your other faith– that is OK. From my point of view, everyone should eventually move beyond the labels of their practice to embrace liberation.

        From my point of view, I also recognize that there is more in the universe than is understood. Nobel Awarded Physicist said once, “Science in the believe in the ignorance of experts.” I believe that is true of faith. I believe that is what the Buddha believed. We must always be questioning, investigating, testing even our strongest beliefs (especially our strongest beliefs).

        So when I see someone who is a Christian Buddhist, I do not judge his process. I support his practice towards wisdom.

      • August 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

        Dear Dragonflydm, thanks for addressing Christian/Buddhist practice.

        While I do not know any Christians who are as doctrinaire as the original sin-types, I do know that many are seeking the sort of contemplation and insight for which Buddhism is known. I also know of a new Christian spirituality publisher (Circle-Books.net; a real publisher that pays royalties and doesn’t charge authors) seeking such books. Tim

  2. August 23, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I think you are dead on. If you practice Christianity in order to live a good life then you can be both a Buddhist and a Christian due to the overlap in the ideas of morals and ethics. However, if you practice Christianity due to your belief and understanding of the afterlife and with the purpose of securing your place in heaven then I do not think you can fully be what is generally considered a Buddhist – though you can definitely appreciate their viewpoints. However, in the vein of practicing a religion not with concern about the afterlife but with concern on how to treat others, then I think most if not all of the world’s religions will fill that gap as they all teach the basic understanding of how to better treat other people. In this case, all religions are the same.

  3. September 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    This is quite a good treatise with very good perceptions of both religions although Buddhism does not consider itself a religion along the Theravada lines. (small point of minor consequence)

    One huge consideration tht seems to be terribly overlooked is that of historic revelation…which occurred in 1945. The discovery of the Nag Hammadi documents in Egypt inside a sealed pottery jar written on ancient parchments has lent a new perspective on the face of CHristianity.

    I always say, in this respect, that CHristianity is a hijacked religion. The long periods of incubation in the custody of a dominant and deceitful Roman guardianship, brought changes to the message of Jesus that shaped it into the CHristianity we now have…. in all its fragmentation today.

    Few writers take this consequence into consideration and they merely accept that CHristianity in all its fundamentalism is a pure product unnaffected by the principles of domination, political deceits, financial extortions, and the manipulation of the working classes to abide by church instigated doctrines and dogmas.

    To deny that this occured is a case of spiritual blindness., hoping that belief in the truth ( as it is promoted from christian pulpits ) is sufficient to insure the conversion of a sinful creation into one that is expectantly ready to be absorbed into a spiritually benificent nature on the basis of belief alone.

    In other words, I present a case for a CHristian tradition that has been radically flawed by the wilfull manipulation of chirch officials who felt sure they would not be found out if they burned and destroyed all the existant manuscripts that were uncomfortable with Jesus’ instruction…..

    …. that men must die to their personal self nature…. ..just as Buddha instructed….. his followers.

    In this perspective you can see that the there is no basis for the historical “one shot at life” and the traditional ideas of heavenly reward or the consequences of a hellish damnation.

    Jesus told his listeners in Matthew 8:11

    “I say this unto you….

    …many shall come from both the east and the west and attempt to sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob..in the Kingdom of Heaven…BUT..

    .the…. “children”of the kingdom” …..shall be cast out ….into the outer darkness.

    There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    Certainly the authoritative theologians of the developing Roman Christianity had quite a problem with this insightful saying that the “CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM” would be led upon a rose strewn path with heavenly expectations only to discover that they would not, after their leaving the body, find their expectations to be valid…but they would once more be cast back out into the world of weeping and great angst.

    It is my realization that there is much more to validate the things I suggest than this single instance that has survived many centuries of severe editing for the purpose of extorting the masses under Roman dominance which still continues today in the auspices of the Catholic traditions.

    These confabulations also persist in Protestant denominations which received their scriptures directly from the Roman triflers, after 1500 years of manipulation during which time the existant documents were held in a Latin only format and only well educated church officials had the most access to . Those esteemed prelates had already been indoctrinated into a conformity to see only what was predjudicially presented to them as the “truth” of their tradition.

    To analyze the traditions of CHristianity and Buddhism upon common accepted distortions is to walk along a rose strewn path in the one case not realizing that the great deceptions of ego dominance has been at work on a major world religion to render it inneffective and misleading.

    I find that there is no justification for any relgion to hold itself in preminence thinking that to stand inside a belief system is a means to transformation either presently or eventually.

    Isnt that exactly what Jesus said when he spoke of the great surprise awaiting the CHildren of the Kingdom???

    The Kingdom of HEAVEN MUST ALWAYS BE…. WITHIN.

    :^)
    TOMATO MAN

  4. September 21, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    This is a very nice discussion with a lot of good ideas. It’s a complex topic but I think, for some people, practicing both religions is beneficial. Certainly that is what I have found. My thoughts on this topic are on my blog

  5. September 30, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    Thank you for this insightful article and following discussion. Re afterlife, the Buddhists believe in an afterlife – in reincarnation, and at best – being able to go to one of the pure lands – the equivalent of the Christian heavens. I love Jesus Christ because i believe he was a Bodhisattva and I agree that his teachings have been corrupted over the years and manipulated. The easiest way to analyse the level of corruption would be to examine the teachings and if one creates negativity, it must have been misinterpreted.

    While i am a Vajrayana Buddhist, i do believe that Buddha said that there were 84,000 ways to reach Enlightenment – hence Christianity, Islam etc could very well be one of those ways. The important thing is not to judge and simply follow our own chosen path with due respect to other faiths and even different schools within the same faith.

    • Tomato man
      December 7, 2010 at 2:46 am #

      Merging religious thought; Christianity and Buddhism

      Fundamental Christianity would be extremely unlikely to merge itself with Buddhist thought, particularly Catholic theology and Baptist theology because they are especially Excluding Theologies which will only admit people into Heaven who will give their entirety of heart and mind to Jesus of Nazareth…exclusively as “the only way” to reach nirvana or heaven.
      With Buddhists, there is more possibility of investigating the words of Jesus …

      Most spiritual seekers never really get to meet the real Jesus beneath the Christian fundamental religious hype because of the ecclesiastical fabrications orchestrated upon him. He would be precisely what Sharon suggests, a Bodhisattva. His relinquishment of the personal ego is not obvious in the Christian scriptures, PRECISELY because the teachings he delivered were not grasped at their central CORE and hence this CONCEPT of ego submission was not given validity when the interpretation of his words were transcribed much later.
      Jesus said that the miracles were not performed by him and the words provided him were not his own..

      All these are typically Buddhist ideas. “What you sow, you must also harvest”… “He who lives by the sword must die by the sword.”…this is the law of Karma.

      Jesus was a selfless compassionate bodhisattva who had overcome this realm of desire and grasping, revealing the programs of propaganda coming from the priests themselves.

      With the eyes of the past, we are attempting to see clearly what is manifesting in the present, the ever changing. The intellect becomes the sorcerer’s apprentice, the devil’s disciple…. always “yay saying” to the exclusivity of ego; gathering to its breast, a fresh breath of “the NOW;” permitting it to step once more out of its graveyard of the past.

      Perhaps this is why the skeptic counsels ..believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

      Tomato man

      (Tomato man… thank you for your comments. I had to cut them down a bit for space. I hope I still captured the essence of what you were relaying.)

    • December 1, 2011 at 4:04 am #

      Sharon. If I could add just a point of clarification. Pure Land Buddhist believe in the “Pure Lands.” This is not a universal Buddhist concept.

      There are also sects of Buddhism that have statements of kalpas and specific numbers of paths, etc. This is also determined by which tradition of Buddhism you follow.

  6. theresa
    September 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    What a great article! I stumbled upon this when I googled emblems for “Christian-Buddhist”. You see, my father passed away last saturday, and as an Army Vet the US Gov, will only issue one emblem on his marker. I am confused on what to place on it. He lived both as a Christian, teaching religious education in the Church at one time, and as a (Theravadan)American Monk to honor my Thai mom. He practiced both religions with books on meditation, Theravadism, and the bible! I would have to contact the Government if there is a another suitable emblem to use on his marker and I am lost. I am open to ideas. Thanks.

    • December 1, 2011 at 4:05 am #

      Theresa, If you haven’t already, go to http://www.va.gov and look under ceremonies and burials. They should have the ability to offer you markers for your faith as well as service (if memory serves).

  7. Doug
    November 30, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Theresa,
    You might like to consider two facts in your decision on emblems:

    1. Jesus Christ came directly as God in the flesh and completely pure. He makes available to everyone, free of any effort, to have this same Spirit. With this spirit in our heart we can walk in and out of the heavenly realms as we choose. We are accepted as we are –instantly.
    How tightly we hold on to earthly possessions limits the growth of this Pure Spirit in us and relationship we have with God.

    2. Buddha came from man and all man’s corruptness. He abandoned all trust in man’s securities to seek enlightenment, and as teachings profess, achieved it.

    So now we have the two emblems that causes your dilemma. Both man created, and both equivalent to statements or collection of ideas. One a simple cross that depicts Christ in the defeat of fleshly death.
    The other a symbol of guide who showed the pathway.
    I wonder if Buddha met with Jesus on his journey?
    Quite likely as Christ was there at creation. ‘In the beginning was the Word…’
    The holy bible is not the Word of God. Christ is.

    In an earlier post ‘Tomato Man’ states that the [Roman] Catholic church highjacked Christianity. This would appear to be true, but the Christ Spirit, surely, disappeared as soon as they would chisel him to the form they desired. Maybe now makes only brief appearances there, as in most churches.

    So getting back to the choice of emblem.
    Thai people have generally great heart and caring for others, especially family and friends and those who would relate to them. I understand that you would like to see an acknowledgement of your mother’s, as well as your father’s involvement in Buddhist philosophy.

    I’m sure it matters not either way but surely a simple cross would cover both.
    I would think carefully on depicting an image of a human created god unless you consider it depicts a philosophy and not a god.

    • November 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

      Theresa,
      Thank you for your comments.
      1. I respect that you believe that Jesus Christ came directly as God. To you this is a fact, and I will dispute it for you. However, this is your truth and the truth of only 1.9 billion of the planets 7 billion residents.
      2. Buddha was a man, will all of his foibles. He reached a state of enlightenment where we was able to purify himself from the fetters of the world, end is suffering and stop the cycle of rebirth. This is the opinion of 500 million to 1.5 billion global residents (depending on which stats you look at).
      3. In the Christian tradition, Jesus is born for the first time in Nazareth. There is no mention of him in the Old Testament. He is of the father and begotten by him. That would mean that he is a manifestation of God in Flesh. He would not have existed before this point, although God would have. Christ was not at creation– God was; although you could make an argument that since Jesus is part of God he would have some passive claim to his existing, but only so much as my daughter existed in 1972 as an egg in the womb of a newborn baby.
      4. I do not know if I feel comfortable making any claims that any faith is more or less valid than another on my blog. Catholicism, being the first organized version of Christianity on a grand scale I think has as much validity as any other church sect.
      5. I am not sure I understand your last two paragraphs. I hope that you are not stating that the Buddha is believed to be a God. He was a man whom is revered for rediscovering the path to enlightenment (it had always existed). However, as we evolve as a culture and as a people our knowledge comes to understand that the words of the Buddha are proven more and more true every day: in philosophy, science, quantum physics, psychology, etc. That is because the Buddha’s teachings are universally true. They invite open inquiry and scrutiny. To this point, if you are a Christian that can believe in science, then you can be a Buddhist and Christian at the same time too.

  8. jrow
    December 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I have looked at the basic teachings of buddism – and in no way consider myself to be sufficiently knowledgable in its teachings, but i have seen somethings i would like to pursue and while i know i can pursue indepently i wonder – is there an organized religion that is based both on buddist and christian teachings? i feel that i might be happy with the influences of both personally and spiritually. please direct me in any dorection that may help. thanks i will keep plugging along as well but there is a lot to search through.

    • December 8, 2011 at 2:30 am #

      For some Buddhism is a religion. For others it is a way of life. To others it is an enriching practice. There are many “Chris-Bu” practitioners. They find the balance of giving their understanding of the universe to the Christian faith and the understanding of their engagement with the world around them to the teachings of Buddha. How they make that balance is up to the individual to determine. Not all Christians and Buddhists agree that this is possible, and yet there are others that find no conflicts whatsoever. There is no Chris-Bu temple or official tradition. There are only individuals who integrate both into their lives.

    • Ed
      December 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

      jrow,
      you might want to check out the various writings of Dr Murdo MacDonald-Bayne ( Yoga of the Christ, free read online) and Joel Goldsmith’s Oneness of Being ( Joel’s Gems, Infinite Way) Also ACIM, A Course in Miracles.

      As far as anything organized, the UNITY Churches embrace many of the eastern theologies, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. They can provide a meeting ground for further study.

      No matter where you seek, you will never find “your answers” from someone else’s ideas, by placing them into your belief system. That will only lead to becoming conditioned to more elaborate ways of patronizing the cause for Seperation of livingness and engaging ego to uphold more refined belief structures.

      Believing must not become the objective.
      Liberation from the divisiveness of your mental creations must take up its own wings and not merely follow and parrot another’s words through acceptance… or denials. That is where the search calls for a courage to stand completely alone in your own Truth of Being with none other to lean on for affirmation.

      Tomato man

  9. When a modern-day couple decides to discover through past life regression if their lives were linked in the past, a passionate 1930s love story emerges.
    December 12, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    I do believe all of the ideas you’ve introduced on your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief for novices. May you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  10. December 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    This is a very a very useful post. Obviously there are a lot of people interested in this topic. I consider myself to be a Buddhist Christian. I have put my thoughts and rants on this in a blog on Buddhist Christianity along with links to other pages, societies, journals, and books on this topic. My personal view on why it is a good idea to combine religions is here:

    http://buddhistchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/12/enlightenment-hypothesis.html

    and my comments on what I think is the right way to combine religions are here:

    http://buddhistchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/09/restaurant-theory-of-religion.html

  11. Katie
    December 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    So many mistakes cited about Christianity! I will not go into them all, but the basis for Christianity is that we CANNOT earn a spot in heaven (so that is not the goal), but that we can have a personal relationship with God through his son Jesus and that every good thought and deed is made possible by his Holy Spirit living within us. And the good that we do is not for a spot in heaven or any other self benefit, but to point to the greatness and holiness of God. And as for heaven? Heaven is an eternal continuation of the personal relationship we have with God through Jesus but without the brokeness (pain, illness, suffering, evil) of the world as we know it now.

    • December 22, 2011 at 4:00 am #

      Katie,
      Interesting thing about Christianity is how each Christian group holds to certainty of the veracity of their understanding of what it means to be Christian, doctrine, dogma and insight. The Catholic, Protestant, Non-denominational, Mormon, Amish– all are Christian and yet, their understanding of Christianity is varied. To that point, I will respect your understanding of Christianity and ask that you respect that it may not be a universally accepted point of view. To which, there are many Christians who have no problem adopting Buddhist philosophy into their lives while maintaining a very deep Christian faith.

      The purpose of Buddhism is to end suffering here on Earth, while we are living. In this way, Buddhism compliments and enhances the Christian experience.

      • December 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

        My friend, you make a good point that is pretty much lost on ordinary Christian followers and even on many who have merged with eastern beliefs.

        Christianity is an ENTRAINED belief regimen. It has been NURTURED by dramatically exuberant evangelistic preachers and prelates who are kept in infinitely high esteem and unquestioned authority…. no matter the inappropriate directions their doctrines take them and their followers. The ENTRAINMENT of mind is severe and total. THEIR accepted beliefs have become their “spiritual”… REALITY.

        The routine antics of mind and ego and the emotional aspect of those dynamics are not even remotely examined or realized by religious followers who are convinced they are..in the TRUTH.

        Jesus called such individuals..DEAD! LET THE DEAD IN THE GROUND. These have become controlled by their inability to clearly SEE “what” THAT control is, and from where it emanates. The control comes from their bargained TRUST to be saved after death. There is a teaching about having a large blocking item in your eye while trying to remove a speck out of someone else’s eye. The doctrines entertained have become THAT obstruction lodged in the eye of a people held imprisoned under an unmoveable belief.

        The constant reference to Christ is such that Jesus and Christ are considered the very same thing. He will tell you plainly , if you listen….that whenever his words are implied to testify or witness to his own self …that …THEY ARE FALSE! These are people who are intellectually LED, who never investigate what is behind scripture and the ancient origins in that cultural heritage. Most might be surprised that the word EVERLASTING as used to mean… ETERNAL punishment… is a distortion that arose at the instigation of religionists who promoted their binding versions of a punishing Christian doctrine in the era following Constantine.

        The original word was “aionos” if I’m not mistaken, and its true roots were NEVER given a meaning of something being …”unending”or eternal. Only attributes of the supreme Being were ever considered infinite. All else fell into a seperated aspect of being deliniated in time…. with BOUNDARIES!

        The meaning of the written Greek word “aionos” was originally meaning an INDETERMINED or unspecified period of time. The word “aionos” was from “aeon” which meant “age” …..which has different and indefinite lengths in time for different people. A ripe old age was 30 years for people who lived in the Middle ages. For 19th century people it was 50. For us today it is approaching 90 or over. It was a bounded period but one which had a beginning…. and an END.

        The meaning of “everlasting” was not found in early scriptures of the Hebrew people nor was it ever contemplated in that manner by contemporary GREEK authors of the same writing period. It was a Greek word, for heaven’s sake. Plato should have known if it had another meaning ..as unending. It was NEVER used in such a manner until theologians applied their intellectually incorrect everlasting “concept” …upon the Greek… and it eventually ended up being accepted in modern dictionaries according to that theological spin applied to it. Mebn and women by the millions followed ranks afterward and became imprisoned by that theological invention and the fears it planted in their minds. Of course they could not question what was scriptural…especially if they were unaware of the meddling by CHURCH AUTHORITIES who were placing a suggestion into their subconsious mind to remain there for CENTURIES…before any dare AWAKEN by being born into a Buddhist family or a family which had risen above the IMPLANTED deceit.

        This is only one single example of doctrinal error liberally grafted into Christianity.
        My intent is not to expound on errors but to state quite clearly that the mental domination through Christian dogmas is like a state of hypnosis where a depiction by a controlling hypnotist’s suggested words… are taken deeply and ACCEPTED ….not recognizing that the ACCEPTANCE has become their reality… and not ended until they AWAKEN.

        Dont expect that the people who talk of their Christianity will change that deep entrainment of mind to be able to see what else is out there. Belief is the problem , not the anwser. If you accept the picture planted in your mind by a hypnotist, you will be under that reality and experience that reality just as if it was the actual circumstance…even to feel the pain of being burned at that suggestion. The pain will be real. The circumstance will be planted.

        ANd many will come in those last days saying, LORD, my LORD, we have worked miracles in your name. And their master will reply, I NEVER KNEW YOU!

        Tomato man

  12. January 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I found this very interesting. I definitely think that Christians could benefit from some of the Buddhist ways.

  13. May 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I’m finding the podcasts and writing here to be helpful in integrating Buddhism and Christianity, for me. http://www.mercy-center.org/ProgramsEW/EWMeditation.html In particular, Father Thomas Hand’s “Crossing Over Together: Walking the Zen Christian Path” http://www.mercy-center.org/PDFs/EW/CrossingOverTogether.pdf and “Always a Pilgrim: Walking the Zen Christian Path.”

  14. June 23, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    Let me share my humble view. I came from a Buddhist family. Some years ago, my life met with some challenges and as a result, I started really explore the teaching of Buddhism. Performing good merits for better karma becomes a motto for my daily routine. I would do donations to charities, give alms to the sanghas, help in building buddha statues and liberating lives….all these in the wish of accumulating enough merits in achieving Nirvana and also for a happier and prosperous current life (by the way, who said Buddhism does not believe in afterlife??). The only gesture I do not have enough discipline in doing is meditation.

    Anyway, my life does get better and better and you know what, all these seem to bring me towards the thirst for understanding the creator. Thus, into the Bible I go. The trinity that was mentioned in the Bible…Mind, Body and Spirit is analogous to Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Let me share my thoughts. Buddhist strive to find happiness from within, and where could that be? I would think it’s the mind. The trinity’s definition of the body comes in the form of Jesus Christ…the Holy Spirit. God detest the Hebrews from making idols that represent Him because He wants us to find him from within…not worshipping without. And we Buddhist has always been about looking for emptiness from within…mind. Therefore, mortals ultimate aim is to find God from within our mind. For those Christians who cannot comprehend God from within their mind, they can choose to praise Jesus Christ as an object of divinity.

  15. July 29, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Hey I am a Christian, but i would love to get more involved and familiar with practice and beliefs of Buddhism, while still being a christian. Does anyone know any good books on being a Christian-Buddhist? Or any devotionals or practice “plans”?

  16. August 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Thank you so much for your thoughts.

  17. October 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    A careful repeat read of your posting will be required but there is much in Buddhism with which I feel comfortable as an Eastern Orthodox Christian. It has been said that my personal character has much of the old fashioned Quaker as well. I think these are all good things to be cultivated within…as I am also aware of the potential within for all the opposite qualities.

  18. November 28, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    What is your definition of spirituality? I read that you do not believe in a god or an after life and I am assuming that you also don’t believe in a ghost like soul. So where does spirituality come in? Thanks for the message,

    • November 28, 2012 at 3:42 am #

      The etymology of the word spirituality is from the word “spirare” which means “to breathe.” So the answer to the question of what is spirituality is “it is what gives you a universal sense of purpose, and compels you to meaning in this life.” I am not sure that many people clearly see the difference between this and religion. Religion is a word that means “to bind” and to that end, a religion is a faith bound to a theological world view almost always relating to a creator god.

      So it is possible to find meaning in our place in the universe as a spiritual relationship, without being bound to a theologically bound to a God being. So an atheist can be spiritual. However, Buddhism is not an atheistic faith. It is a non-theistic faith. It is a practice of the understanding of the nature of suffering (dukkha) and the cessation of that suffering. It neither negates or confirms the existence of God or a soul, because that is not the focus of the work that must be done now in our spiritual practice to end suffering and live a fully engaged and enlightened life.

      Because of this– those who are of another faith with a belief in God, may take on the practice of Buddhism with no contradictions from the point of view of a Buddhist. In many cases, Christianity or another deist faith would completely compliment each other’s practice if someone was open to integrating the two.

  19. December 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    I have been a Christian since I was 18 (27 yrs to be exact) and have studied many of the world’s religions. I have always enjoyed Buddhist teachings and practices and have always wondered how I could incorporate them into my Christian life. It was only recently that I have ever heard of Christian Buddhism, and I must say I am very interested in learning more. Often I have pondered on human suffering. Where a Christian may be saved from eternal punishment, what about the suffering now? To see you have touched on that point has made me excited to learn more!

  20. December 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Wow!
    Ok…I would love to see the life, love and compassion I know is so foundational to Christianity and Buddhism embodied in these comments. There is a lot of debate but not much speaking of truth in a manner that loves the other into greater understanding. When commenting it should not be a means to set others straight or assert one’s superiority or “rightness.” It is to bring understanding and enlightenment, which relieves suffering and frees us to enter into real solid, tangible joy. It does matter what is true. Not everything is true. We wouldn’t choose one thing over another if we did not think one was the right path and the other is not. There should also be a clear distinction between the teachings and the distortions and obvious perversions of said teachings by those using the faith for their own personal gain (whatever that may look like; be it money, power etc) or those who are clearly misinterpreting and misapplying the teaching. That being said…

    Even in pointing our perceived perversions of either faith it should be to awaken and relieve the other of suffering caused by misunderstanding. It is an aim of bringing together (not by compromise or “giving in” on what we hold to be foundational to life’s purpose) not to distance or alienate. We must honor each other even in how we attempt to instruct or rebuke if necessary.

    For Christians, the path to relief of suffering (not escape or avoidance but a way through suffering) means a relationship with God via Jesus Christ that brings restoration and wholeness to the self that does not end with death but continues in Heaven.

    For Buddhists (I am not AS knowledgeable, please forgive my ignorance if it is displayed here), is also one of relieving suffering. This path does not specifically have a deity that creates a game change but seeks inner transformation guided by the teachings of Buddha to bring peace within himself then to his world, reconsiling pain caused by war, both literal and figurative.

    Let us treat each other’s faiths with weight and respect. There is so much that is foundational in both. We can learn and grow greatly just by listening to each other.

    Thank you

  21. May 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Read the Yoga of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda. He’s got the Sermon on the Mount covered. If you read it a metaphysical way it definitely fits Buddhism and Hinduism. They are not mutually exclusive.

  22. June 26, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    I really liked this article. I think you might’ve missed the mark with this statement though “Buddhism is a faith in the practice of here and now. Christianity is a practice for the afterlife.” depending on what type of Christian you speak to this will be very different and I believe you made too big of a generalization here.

  23. June 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    I very much enjoyed this post, as I am a Christian but very drawn to Buddhism (as is my uncle, who got me interested in it). I have struggled with defining my religion and what it means to me, and am trying to learn all I can with both sides. I was quite excited to read that you are in Pittsburgh! I just moved here – do you have any suggestions as to where or how I may strengthen my knowledge in Buddhism? Thank you! – Ashley

  24. August 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Well said, particularly at the end. I do find myself with beliefs that are Christian and practices that are Buddhist, and one reason I see less hypocrisy or clash between the two than some might think is exactly that mindset, that it’s about the path, rather than the end or “reward” or trying to guess “what’s next.” My greatest concern with the Christian path I see so many walk is the shallowness of a faith or practice based solely in “I’m doing this so I can get into heaven,” or much worse “so I don’t go to hell.” If I could have one wish it would be to talk to every Christian, Jew, and Muslim in the world and convince them of what I am absolutely certain of–that God’s love for us is complete for every single living being, that salvation is a gift of grace from a loving God for every single one of us, and that “hell” or eternal punishment is an entirely man-made fictional myth. I do worship Christ, and I believe that if there were a person so awful that they faced damnation, that Jesus would tear down the walls of heaven to make a way in for them, such is his love for all mankind. The notion of “hell” was created by church “leaders” looking to increase their own power, and that’s why above all else they must “teach” that only those who follow their particular faith or denomination are “saved” and use this ugly threat to try to do something else I find very counter to the real way of Jesus–trying to convert, trying to take people who are genuine and happy with their faith and set of beliefs (so long as they are not harming others) and trying to use this threat to make them convert, the whole thing of “You’re going to hell if you believe that, and not this.” I think it’s really insulting to God. Part of what attracted me to Buddhism from the beginning is the practice of compassion for all living beings, and that would, if one were also to believe the Christian’s message, to pray for their salvation, even above our own. My Christian beliefs were deeply enhanced by the story of Avalokitesvara, a bodhisattva who achieved Nirvana, yet chose to return to earth to help others who had not yet. What a beautiful example and one I’d love to see Chrstians follow, to make our faith about not just “God will save me but not you” but rather to pray for and teach of a God with room for us all and to make this life about just that–love and what Christ called “Hunger and thirst for justice” for all living beings, not just trying to save yourself or those like you.
    The purpose is the journey itself, and how we can help and serve others. May we walk that path, of love for others, seeking truth always but also holding to the great truth that no human has all the answers in this life, to think that your way is absolutely that of God’s and those who disagree are not only wrong but in danger of eternal damnaton are arrogant and foolish. Our search might be best served with a child-like curiousity and wonder about the great questions of the universe rather than thinking we’ve found answers. And when we find comfort, blessings, and truth in the knowledge and thoughts of others…whether from the Bible, or Buddhist meditation, or poetry of the great Sufi Muslims like Hafiz, I think we find the most truth rather than in the conviction that our way is right and those who don’t agree are automatically wrong and have nothing to teach.
    Bright blessings to you all…

  25. October 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    I do not understand the divide between the two faiths. The afterlife is of no import to me: if there is only the Now (as a Christian this is what I believe) then we are within the eternal Now always. We are born again continually in the Now. I see this as an agreement of Christ and Buddha. I do not see them disagreeing. I think where Christians err is in seeing Time as progression, instead of Time as Now. This is natural, since it is in our language; it is in our being to see Time this way. But that does not mean it is true. I am a Christian as I sense, as Buddha taught, that I am not me, but the other; and just as true, the other is me. Everywhere I am God is; everywhere God is, I am. I am that I am, yes? But I do not sense karma; I do not believe in re-birth: if there is the Now, then there is no re-birth within time (since Time is only Now). So the Buddha is in Christ, and in Christ there is the Now.

    • October 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Your view is valid for you, but not so for everyone. My truth is that I am here and so I deal with now. Neither you nor I have the answer as to who created the Universe or what happens after death. To that end, the Buddha holds his hands out with his leaves and states “which is more? the leaves of the forest or the leaves in my hand. I teach the understanding of suffering and the cessation of suffering and nothing more.” The Buddha was asked many times about the after life, the soul and the Creator of the Universe and he never gave a direct answer because it is not what the Buddha was teaching. There is no way of knowing. Thus if you are a Christian and give your confidence to that truth, then put faith in that presumption to be fixed in reality and no one should belittle it if that truth anchors your spiritual understanding. It is not my path, nor my understanding, but I respect it. Many see no conflict in the Buddha’s teachings and Jesus’ religion; however, they are complimentary not the same.

  26. November 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    The last and greatest Command, that Jesus Christ (Issa) gave to us all, is ‘to love one another’, which is very Bhuddist, Gospel – John 13-34; regards, John

  27. December 1, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Reblogged this on Casual Enlightment – everyday ways to attain peace of mind and commented:
    This is a beautifully written piece, good for those who are trying to find a way to find compatibility between different ideas.

  28. January 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    Reblogged this on OmNEtra.

  29. January 14, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on A Charmed Yogi and commented:
    Love this post.

  30. January 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    The way I follow Christianity has a great compatibility with Buddhism. Jesus told us not to worry and to give everything to God. How do we not worry? By not dwelling on the past or stressing about the future. It may not specifically be stated but there is nothing else but now when you really listen to what Jesus said.

    I try to focus on the teachings of Jesus. There is a lot of wisdom there. While I do believe I am saved and will live in heaven some day, we have a purpose here on earth and I try to live a good life so I can fulfill that purpose, whatever it may be.

  31. February 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Can you have both a parent (God) and a teacher (Buddah)? Of course !!! Actually Buddhism is about practicing the teaching of Buddha. Buddhism was originally not a religion but many people have mistaken it as a religion or have turned it into one.Although Buddha is not a god, his teaching is full of widsom.

  32. February 5, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    Such a great article. I personally believe in Christ as MY redeemer for my after life, but I apply teachings from both Buddha and Christ. I don’t say I am one or the other, I simply serve the “creator” and try my best to live a life according to Christ, Buddha and Krishna. I believe that our spirituality is far grander than our own comprehension, and that the creator has NO definition or END or explanation. Kind of like what you feel when you see a picture of a Super Nova, so miraculous that you can’t even begin to explain. God Bless you all, Om mani padme hum.

  33. April 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on freyyong's Blog and commented:
    Enlighted

  34. May 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    So glad to have found this thought-provoking information. I don’t know where I am on my path, but at least I am searching for my way.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. hair down/transparent - May 7, 2011

    [...] a smart rumination of the co-existence of buddhism & christianity [...]

  2. Christian bakers: Wouldnt ANY wedding violate the deadly sin of gluttony? - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum - February 28, 2014

    […] is a faith in the practice of here and now. Christianity is a practice for the afterlife. http://appliedbuddhism.com/2010/08/1…ist-christian/ __________________ "It is easier to find a score of men wise enough to discover the truth […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 476 other followers

%d bloggers like this: