There’s an old saying, “When Jesus goes East, his name is Buddha. When Buddha comes West, his name is Jesus.”
The idea behind the thought is that the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus and Buddha's notions of mindfulness are much closer to each other than many imagine.
And in recent years, the search for that common ground between the two traditions has intensified.
As science, archaeology and history make inroads into the past, many Christians are looking to take their religion to what they see as a new level.
On the other side, Buddhist writers see the West as a great field of young seekers just waiting to be harvested.
And as an observer, I've been intrigued by writers from both traditions pushing toward each other. They are determined to link up in the middle, like the transcontinental railroad, and drive home a Golden Spike of the soul.
They are determined to prove that East and West can indeed meet.
More than that, they are determined to tug them together.
In short, Buddha is coming West and Jesus is heading East.
See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.
There are a few links in this article referencing newer books out there written by both Christians and Buddhists that strive to bridge the gap between these two mighty religions. I recommend reading the whole article
The Urantia Book contains many teachings about many religions, but one of the most interesting is its teachings about Buddhism. The revelators seem to have understood that the adherents of Buddhism and those who follow Jesus have much in common. They show us the differences and the similarities, and how these two mighty spiritual paths can converge. For starters, we learn that Buddhism and Christianity have both suffered from the errors of centuries of human contact:
94:7.8 Siddhartha taught far more truth than has survived in the modern cults bearing his name. Modern Buddhism is no more the teachings of Gautama Siddhartha than is Christianity the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
103:9.3 Buddhism in its original form is one of the best religions without a God which has arisen throughout all the evolutionary history of Urantia, although, as this faith developed, it did not remain godless. Religion without faith is a contradiction; without God, a philosophic inconsistency and an intellectual absurdity.
Jesus himself taught Gonod and Ganid about Buddhism during the Mediterranean trip:
132:7.3 It was on the visit to Switzerland, up in the mountains, that Jesus had an all-day talk with both father and son about Buddhism. Many times Ganid had asked Jesus direct questions about Buddha, but he had always received more or less evasive replies. Now, in the presence of the son, the father asked Jesus a direct question about Buddha, and he received a direct reply. Said Gonod: “I would really like to know what you think of Buddha.” And Jesus answered:
“Your Buddha was much better than your Buddhism. Buddha was a great man, even a prophet to his people, but he was an orphan prophet; by that I mean that he early lost sight of his spiritual Father, the Father in heaven. His experience was tragic. He tried to live and teach as a messenger of God, but without God. Buddha guided his ship of salvation right up to the safe harbor, right up to the entrance to the haven of mortal salvation and there, because of faulty charts of navigation, the good ship ran aground. There it has rested these many generations, motionless and almost hopelessly stranded. And thereon have many of your people remained all these years. They live within hailing distance of the safe waters of rest, but they refuse to enter because the noble craft of the good Buddha met the misfortune of grounding just outside the harbor. And the Buddhist peoples never will enter this harbor unless they abandon the philosophic craft of their prophet and seize upon his noble spirit. Had your people remained true to the spirit of Buddha, you would have long since entered your haven of spirit tranquillity, soul rest, and assurance of salvation.
“You see, Gonod, Buddha knew God in spirit but failed clearly to discover him in mind; the Jews discovered God in mind but largely failed to know him in spirit. Today, the Buddhists flounder about in a philosophy without God, while my people are piteously enslaved to the fear of a God without a saving philosophy of life and liberty. You have a philosophy without a God; the Jews have a God but are largely without a philosophy of living as related thereto. Buddha, failing to envision God as a spirit and as a Father, failed to provide in his teaching the moral energy and the spiritual driving power which a religion must possess if it is to change a race and exalt a nation.”
In Paper 94, Melchizedek Teachings in the Orient, where we learn about some of the similarities in Buddhism with living the Godly life:
94:8.18 The great truth of Siddhartha’s teaching was his proclamation of a universe of absolute justice. He taught the best godless philosophy ever invented by mortal man; it was the ideal humanism and most effectively removed all grounds for superstition, magical rituals, and fear of ghosts or demons.
94:9.6 Buddhism is a living, growing religion today because it succeeds in conserving many of the highest moral values of its adherents. It promotes calmness and self-control, augments serenity and happiness, and does much to prevent sorrow and mourning. Those who believe this philosophy live better lives than many who do not.
94:11.5 This philosophy also held that the Buddha (divine) nature resided in all men; that man, through his own endeavors, could attain to the realization of this inner divinity. And this teaching is one of the clearest presentations of the truth of the indwelling Adjusters ever to be made by a Urantian religion.
94:12.4 The great strength of Buddhism is that its adherents are free to choose truth from all religion; such freedom of choice has seldom characterized a Urantian faith. In this respect the Shin sect of Japan has become one of the most progressive religious groups in the world; it has revived the ancient missionary spirit of Gautama’s followers and has begun to send teachers to other peoples. This willingness to appropriate truth from any and all sources is indeed a commendable tendency to appear among religious believers during the first half of the twentieth century after Christ.
Buddhism itself is undergoing a twentieth-century renaissance. Through contact with Christianity the social aspects of Buddhism have been greatly enhanced. The desire to learn has been rekindled in the hearts of the monk priests of the brotherhood, and the spread of education throughout this faith will be certainly provocative of new advances in religious evolution.
At the time of this writing, much of Asia rests its hope in Buddhism. Will this noble faith, that has so valiantly carried on through the dark ages of the past, once again receive the truth of expanded cosmic realities even as the disciples of the great teacher in India once listened to his proclamation of new truth? Will this ancient faith respond once more to the invigorating stimulus of the presentation of new concepts of God and the Absolute for which it has so long searched?
All Urantia is waiting for the proclamation of the ennobling message of Michael, unencumbered by the accumulated doctrines and dogmas of nineteen centuries of contact with the religions of evolutionary origin. The hour is striking for presenting to Buddhism, to Christianity, to Hinduism, even to the peoples of all faiths, not the gospel about Jesus, but the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus.
It seems that both Buddhist and Christians could both improve their lives if they would be willing to adopt the best of their respective religions, while also remaining mindful of practicing Jesus' religion of personal spiritual experience, which is certainly compatible with both.
This is a reminder that the teachings of The Urantia Book are for the spiritual uplift of all humanity, and all evolutionary religions. These teachings can refresh and inspire all truthseekers to a new level of spiritual living.