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Jesus, Buddha, and the Religion of the Spirit

buddhism, Christianity, Urantia Book, Jesus,

This is a very nice, short-but-enlightening piece regarding Jesus and Buddha and the similarities of some of their philosophies. It is called: Jesus and Buddha by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. We will blog about this below, and offer other teachings from The Urantia Book about Jesus and Buddhism, but first, here are just one or two snippets from the article - which I recommend:

Jesus says, "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31). The Buddha says, "Consider others as yourself" (Dhammapada 10.1).

Jesus says, "If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also" (Luke 6:29). Buddha says, "If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires [to hurt him] and utter no evil words" (Majjhima Nikaya 21.6).

Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me" (Matthew 25:45). Buddha says, "If you do not tend one another, then who is there to tend you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick" (Vinaya, Mahavagga 8.26.3).

Unfortunately, Christianity became so concerned with making sure everybody believed that Jesus was God (faith in Jesus) that we largely ignored his teachings on detachment, simplicity, nonviolence, and anxiety (the faith of Jesus). Our Buddhist brothers and sisters can help us remember these teachings at the core of our faith; they can help us be better, truer Christians. And we can help them, or at least give them very few reasons to dislike us! Why not try this novel idea?

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Jesus and Buddha lived centuries apart, but in many ways, espouse some similar philosophies, such as those cited above. What the author of this piece is saying about this may be true: that Christians may benefit from the teachings of Buddhism as regards the undivided consciousness of the Spirit-led individual, rather than being concentrated on Jesus' identity alone. .

Jesus of course, was the embodiment of that ideal kind of religious life; and yet, I don't think it is a secondary consideration to remember that Jesus and Buddha were quite different as regards their identities. Jesus truly was the Son of God, and Buddha was but a mere mortal, albeit an exceptional one. But his teachings have survived even longer than Christianity, and have evolved some important elements of a one-God religion over the centuries. Of course, the superior religion of the Spirit that Jesus practiced is the pinnacle of spiritual experience.

Could it be that a synthesis of Buddhism with another great religion - Christianity - could be a successful religious experiment for a believer? Further, might the resulting hybrid be even further refined and advanced by the simple, superior practices of the religion of Jesus?

What does The Urantia Book say about Buddhism?

The Urantia Book authors are very kind towards many religions, but more especially towards Buddhism, it seems.

Here are some passages that you might find interesting; clicking on the link will take you to a greater context for the passage:

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.

94:11.4 The great advance made in Buddhist philosophy consisted in its comprehension of the relativity of all truth. Through the mechanism of this hypothesis Buddhists have been able to reconcile and correlate the divergencies within their own religious scriptures as well as the differences between their own and many others. It was taught that the small truth was for little minds, the large truth for great minds.

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.

94:11.11The Absolute Buddha. By the time the number of Buddhas was approaching infinity, it became necessary for the minds of those days to reunify this unwieldy concept. Accordingly it began to be taught that all Buddhas were but the manifestation of some higher essence, some Eternal One of infinite and unqualified existence, some Absolute Source of all reality. From here on, the Deity concept of Buddhism, in its highest form, becomes divorced from the human person of Gautama Siddhartha and casts off from the anthropomorphic limitations which have held it in leash. This final conception of the Buddha Eternal can well be identified as the Absolute, sometimes even as the infinite I AM.

94:11.12 While this idea of Absolute Deity never found great popular favor with the peoples of Asia, it did enable the intellectuals of these lands to unify their philosophy and to harmonize their cosmology. The concept of the Buddha Absolute is at times quasi-personal, at times wholly impersonal—even an infinite creative force. Such concepts, though helpful to philosophy, are not vital to religious development. Even an anthropomorphic Yahweh is of greater religious value than an infinitely remote Absolute of Buddhism or Brahmanism.

94:11.13 At times the Absolute was even thought of as contained within the infinite I AM. But these speculations were chill comfort to the hungry multitudes who craved to hear words of promise, to hear the simple gospel of Salem, that faith in God would assure divine favor and eternal survival.


Did Jesus ever talk about Buddhism? He did!

It also will be of great interest to both Christians and Buddhists alike to discover how Jesus felt about Buddhism. From The Urantia Book:

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:

132:7.4 "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.

132:7.5 "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."

132:7.6 Then exclaimed Ganid: "Teacher, let's you and I make a new religion, one good enough for India and big enough for Rome, and maybe we can trade it to the Jews for Yahweh." And Jesus replied: "Ganid, religions are not made. The religions of men grow up over long periods of time, while the revelations of God flash upon earth in the lives of the men who reveal God to their fellows." But they did not comprehend the meaning of these prophetic words.

A Hybrid Religion?

These words of Jesus will be new to anyone who is not familiar with the teachings of The Urantia Book. Over the centuries of time since the Master walked the earth, the Urantia Book quotes at the top of this page show how Buddhism has grown and evolved; and also why it is one of the mightiest of the religions of evolution. If one can upstep the philosophy of this religion to include the gospel of the Fatherhood of God along with the resultant brotherhood of all people, one might have a very enjoyable and satisfying religion, indeed!

Over the centuries, the tenets and beliefs of Buddhism have evolved very favorably and the Buddhist religion has grown into a very popular system of belief and way of living. In many ways, the two religions are quite compatible, as long as one can reconcile the addition of the living God into Buddhist philosophy. It is good to find these similarities between Buddhism and Christianity; add the religion of Jesus, and you might have the best of all - a very favorable way of living for any truthseeker.

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