Buddhism vs Christianity.

The title doesn’t adequately describe the blog and is over-simplified a bit but I’m lazy so whatever.  Here is a comment I gave about buddhism and other western religions/philosophies and how they differ from traditional christian teachings which I thought worth sharing:

In eastern religions like buddhism, taoism etc this is nothing unusual, the wisdom of their teachings is esoteric, meaning so subtle it can be learned but cannot be directly taught.  When you go to a zen master they teach by leaving a trail of bread crumbs, not hitting you over the head with some simplistic message – the point is to make you wise not make you conform.  And you can’t become wise by being told what to think any more than you can become a bodybuilder by watching someone lift weights – you have to do the work yourself.  This is why I really like buddhist and taoist teachings, because they’re not dogmatic.  It’s not about believing anything, it’s about using these subtle texts to make you think and to open your mind and make you gain more and more insight over time.  The first time I read the tao te ching every other paragraph I was thinking “um, okay…”  But by the fifth read I was struck by the meaning of passages I found objectionable on their face or thought didn’t make sense.  Which isn’t to say I now understand the “true” meaning of them, there is no true meaning, there is only truth.  And when a doctrine is dogmatic it narrows peoples’ minds, but when it is a riddle it produces open and seeking minds.  One way produces tremendous ignorance and arrogance like what we see in fundamentalism, and the other produces wisdom and open-mindedness and deepens the positive qualities of humanity.


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15 Responses to Buddhism vs Christianity.

  1. jmallory says:

    I believe that one of the cool things about Christianity is exactly how flexible it actually is. It used to be encouraged that people find new and interesting ways to follow Christ. That means that if a Buddhist came to know who Christ is, he or she should practice following Christ in a manner that is comfortable. This is why we’ve seen Christianity adopt so much from paganism. Candles, stained glass windows, holidays, the list can go on and on. Eventually, for some reason it just became dogmatic… but I believe that the reason is because of what Constantine did to the church. Most of the closed-mindedness and terrible things in Christianity can usually be traced back to 2 places- the baby boomer generation or Constantine’s rule. You can probably throw in a half a dozen popes somewhere in there too. 

  2. agnophilo says:

    @jmallory – True dat.  Though as you said the flexibility is often dogmatic, ie you can invoke god’s infallible will to justify pretty much any moral position.

  3. @jmallory – “Most of the closed-mindedness and terrible things in Christianity can usually be traced back to 2 places- the baby boomer generation or Constantine’s rule.”awesome statement.  

  4. cmdr_keen says:

    It’s a fascinating insight.Yet people tend to always usually reject outright that that scares them, confuses them, or makes them think.

  5. tgwiy says:

    Of the Eastern religions, I’m a fan of Jainism.But Buddhism is nice too.

  6. Here are the facts in but a few sentences:1.  The essential teaching of Buddhism is mindfulness. That is, the disciple of Buddhism trains his mind to be at rest so that he can maximize awareness of his life.Spiritual enlightenment for the Buddhist comes after countless lifetimes of suffering.2.  The Christian is given enlightenment immediately upon Baptism and his discipleship is a life of the practice of virtue so as to become ever more aware of God who is the Truth the Way and life.Only God can reveal God. So if you become a Buddhist and want to see God, you’re screwed.If you want to see God, become a Christian.

  7. not sure if this is a comparison between buddhism and christianity as it is a comparison between buddhists and (some) christians. much of jesus’ teachings strike me as this; riddles, parables, which he did not himself interpret in front of crowds. i really liked this guy. 

  8. Aloysius_son says:

    Personally I think Jesus was a Jew who converted to Buddhism. His teachings and style reflect a blend of the Torah and ancient Sanskrit.

  9. PPhilip says:

    There are super believers who forsake a lot in order to follow a teaching. Then there are moderate students who try to grasp as much as possible while doing other things. Then there are hucksters, those that twist belief in order to sort of cheat others.Christians can try to control life. Pro life and no suicides is way different than Buddhists who see things in cycles and believe that suicide can have a purpose.Christians can see poverty in different ways. Some can live on the edge of poverty and some can’t stand those that live on the edge of poverty. In some ways some Buddhists have accepted materialism, economic standing is not a sure way to diffrientiate a Buddhist from a Christian.I think Buddhists are more welcoming to atheists. Will America ever elect an atheist President? Then again it is not well publicized how some Buddhists fight with Islamists and fight among other Buddhists. There are so many types of Buddhist teachings that it could take forever to cover all of them.

  10. Jenny_Wren says:

    But they *do* have a dogma.

  11. Hey, I remember this conversation!

  12. ethansdad54 says:

    my garden is doing great this year…..mother nature and I got along just fine

  13. You make zen buddhism sound to me a lot like operant conditioning with an appetitive stimulus (gaining insight) and christianity like classical conditioning with an aversive stimulus. In zen buddhism, as I’m reading your description, the agent is free to operant behaviors (or thoughts), but is subtly led towards “truth” through rewarding insights developed by the master…. sounds like just as much brain washing to me as Christianity, if only at a MUCH more subtle level….

  14. agnophilo says:

    @nodnarbassoon – As I said the difference is it’s not dogmatic, the point is not to reach a certain conclusion so much as it is to gain wisdom and insight.  You could look at art or humor as brainwashing if you wanted to too.  But it’s not an attempt to manipulate, and it’s not like people are being strapped to a table and taught buddhist principles.Not to mention that they’re told to both question buddhism and to not become attached to it, or become attached to their teachers.

  15. @agnophilo – but my impression is that it’s still rewarding successive approximations to a desired outcome… it may be more abstract, and extremely subtle, but it’s still conforming…”Not to mention that they’re told to both question buddhism and to not become attached to it, or become attached to their teachers.”>>From my POV, Christianity teaches the same thing. How many christians have you heard of saying the slogan “It’s a relationship, not a religion”? I would say that contemporary protestant christianity has an almost repulsion from lukewarm following faith blindly because of parents. I know that in the ministry I’ve been involved in, we try to get people to make their faith their own, not conform to what ever they’ve picked up from their parents or a priest, etc.Some protestant Christianity also works really hard to discourage putting too much value on the preachers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been scolded for having preferences for specific theologians and churches. the bible itself even says:”For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”My conclusion is that while there may be problems in some churches with individuals who have minimal experience outside of cookie-cutter-ism and don’t know how to respond to people with different backgrounds, Christianity itself is not brainwashing. It’s a call to learn about its deity, by peoples’ own operant choices, just like zen buddhism.

Speak yer mind.

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