I Remember Now ~ Jesus and Buddha ~ Pastor Tim Tengblad Post 41
A reader of this column wrote to me: “I think the original teachings of Buddha and Jesus have more in common than one might think.”
Oh my friend, what you just sent me is SO important and true! Jesus and Buddha would have a great time together. Add Lao Tzu (writer of the Tao) and it’s party time! Filled with wonderful conversation, laughter, and deep appreciation for one another. They could do so because the Truth they lived and taught from is woven into the fabric of life itself. There is really nothing to argue, or convince each other of, and they knew it. They would just revel in the inherent Truth. Together.
Just as Jesus used nature and the nature of life to teach of God, the Tao uses the flow of life to teach the Tao. The flow of life is the Tao. Life is the Tao. The Tao is life.
Paula D’Arcy wisely wrote, “God comes to you disguised as your life.”
What Jesus, Buddha, and Lao Tzu all observed and taught is a living practice. A way of life. A way of life that is much more than a prescribed set of beliefs. It is a way of life that follows THE WAY of all Life, by living and observing life. It was a knowing. A knowing through experience.
What Christian spiritual teachers call the Christ within, Buddhists call the inner Buddha, or the Buddha nature. Hindus call it the Atman. They’re all talking about the same thing, because there IS only one Truth at our essence and in the essence of all life.
There are tremendous similarities between the teachings of Jesus and Buddha. And I believe there is a perfectly logical explanation for that. In “My Autobiography”, a channeling through Tina Louise Spaulding, Jesus speaks of his 3 year trip to Africa and India. In India he ended up in what we now call Tibet, at the foothills of the Himalayas.
It is here Jesus found what he wanted. He was exposed to a new and different culture and it’s teachings. With Buddha having lived 500 years before Jesus, it is likely that Jesus was exposed to the teachings of Buddha. He was fascinated by what he was taking in. It only makes sense that he took such a trip, given his deep curiosity about God, life, and human nature. And his deep knowing that Truth is so, so BIG. It cannot be contained within one box or human made religious system.
It is this writer’s belief that while Jesus was influenced by what he was experiencing in his travels, what he was taking in was merely stimulating the Divine knowing already within him. In other words, he found himself on the same page. In fact, Jesus says in “My Autobiography” that throughout his travels those three years, the same things kept popping up. Of course it did! The Truth is the Truth is the Truth. No matter the culture, spiritual practice, or time.
Here are just a few of the many examples of the parallels between Jesus and Buddha:
Jesus: Do to others, as you would have them do to you Luke 6:31
Buddha: Consider others as yourself Dhammapada 10:1
Jesus: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15: 12-13
Buddha: Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let your thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world. Sutta Nipata 149-150
Jesus: Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Friend, let me take the speck out of your eye.” when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. Luke 6: 41,42
Buddha: The faults of others are easier to see than one’s own; the faults of others are easily seen, for they are sifted like chaff, but one’s own faults are hard to see. Udanavarga 27:1
Jesus: Your father in heaven makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteousness. Matthew 5:45
Buddha: That great cloud rains down on all whether their nature is superior or inferior. The light of the sun and the moon illuminates the whole world, both him who does well and him who does ill, both him who stands high and him who stands low. Sadharmapundarika Sutra 5
Jesus: Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light…If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays. Luke 11:34-36
Buddha: As a man with eyes who carries a lamp sees all objects, so too with one who has heard the Moral Law. He will become perfectly wise. Udanavarga 22:4
Jesus: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, what you will wear…look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap not gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Buddha: Those who have no accumulation, who eat with perfect knowledge, whose sphere is emptiness…and liberation, are hard to track like birds in the sky. Those whose compulsions are gone, who are not attached to food, whose sphere is emptiness…and liberation, are hard to track, like birds in the sky. Dhammapada 7:3-4
Jesus: Blessed are you who are poor (in spirit), for yours is the kingdom of God, Luke 6:20
Buddha: Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like the radiant gods. Dhammapada 15:4
Jesus: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where rust and moth consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth not rust consumes and where thieves do not break in. Matthew 6: 19,20
Buddha: Let the wise man do righteousness: a treasure that others can not share, where no thief can steal; a treasure which does not pass away. Khuddakapatha 8:9
Jesus: Out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery..theft…These are what defiles a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile. Matthew 15: 19,20
Buddha: One does not become pure by washing, as do the multitude of mortals in the world, he who casts away every sin, great and small, he is a brahmin who has cast off sin. Udanavarga 33:13
Both Jesus and Buddha told simple (often agricultural) stories of the Truth being woven into the very nature of life:
Jesus: The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself…Mark 4: 26-29
Buddha: The yeoman farmer gets his field well ploughing and harrowed. But that farmer has no magic power or authority to say: “Let my crops spring up today. Tomorrow let them ear. On the following day let them ripen.” No! It is just the due season which makes them do this. Anguttara Nikaya 3:91
In “My Autobiography” Jesus says he went on his travels to bring back to his people what he had learned. I believe he did.
You Are Love,
Pastor Tim Tengblad
firstname.lastname@example.org As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and story.
Source for this post: Jesus and Buddha, The Parallel Sayings Marcus Borg and Jack Kornfield
I’d also suggest reading “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh and “Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian” by Paul F. Knitter