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How Buddhism differs from Christianity

 
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26 November 2016 10:03
 

HOW BUDDHISM DIFFERS FROM CHRISTIANITY

Zen master Mian said:

“All people have their own living road to heaven.  Until they walk on this road, they are like drunkards who cannot tell which way is which.  Then when they set foot on this road and lose their confusion, it is up to them which way they shall go - they are no longer subject to the arbitrary directions of others.”

(Mian quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’ - translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

[ Edited: 26 November 2016 10:15 by unsmoked]
 
 
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26 November 2016 15:47
 

I think in a pop culture (in this country in this moment) sense there is some truth to the idea that Buddhism tends to be self-directed and Christianity kinda comes with its own curriculum, but I disagree that this is consistent enough to differentiate Buddhism from Christianity. In some Christian traditions only the individual can know God, some Buddhist monasteries adhere to rather rigid practice schedules.


Quite frankly, I think this stereotype is perpetuated in this country mostly because of people’s more solitary lifestyles. It has pros and cons, like anything (When you get sick of dharma teachers telling you, in so many words, to get lost and figure things out on your own and you’re all huffy like “Ok, you know what, usually when people do that they end up starting some weird cult, that’s why teachings have been systematically organized and adjusted with trial and error over eons”, then you can go to your bossiest, nosiest relative and ask them what Jesus wants you to do, and they will have a friggin’ earful for you and make you miss the days when the spiritual answer was just ‘Go away’.), but I don’t think it represents Buddhism as a tradition in general.

 
 
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28 November 2016 11:21
 
NL. - 26 November 2016 03:47 PM

I think in a pop culture (in this country in this moment) sense there is some truth to the idea that Buddhism tends to be self-directed and Christianity kinda comes with its own curriculum . . .

“. . . buddhahood is the realm of the sacred knowledge found in oneself.”  -  Zen master Dahui

(Dahui quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

 
 
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28 November 2016 13:07
 
unsmoked - 28 November 2016 11:21 AM
NL. - 26 November 2016 03:47 PM

I think in a pop culture (in this country in this moment) sense there is some truth to the idea that Buddhism tends to be self-directed and Christianity kinda comes with its own curriculum . . .

“. . . buddhahood is the realm of the sacred knowledge found in oneself.”  -  Zen master Dahui

(Dahui quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)


Sure, but I think this is a fundamental issue in any field of education. In the end, yes, only an individual can ‘know’ how to read, write, add, subtract, etc. And it makes no sense to frame it any other way. On the other hand, if you let a bunch of preschoolers loose with no particular instruction, odds are good that very, very few of them will happen upon these skills. The degree to which teaching is then student / exploration led vs. teacher / curriculum led is another ‘middle path’ that people have always balanced, to my mind.

 
 
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30 November 2016 12:22
 
NL. - 28 November 2016 01:07 PM
unsmoked - 28 November 2016 11:21 AM
NL. - 26 November 2016 03:47 PM

I think in a pop culture (in this country in this moment) sense there is some truth to the idea that Buddhism tends to be self-directed and Christianity kinda comes with its own curriculum . . .

“. . . buddhahood is the realm of the sacred knowledge found in oneself.”  -  Zen master Dahui

(Dahui quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

Sure, but I think this is a fundamental issue in any field of education. In the end, yes, only an individual can ‘know’ how to read, write, add, subtract, etc. And it makes no sense to frame it any other way. On the other hand, if you let a bunch of preschoolers loose with no particular instruction, odds are good that very, very few of them will happen upon these skills. The degree to which teaching is then student / exploration led vs. teacher / curriculum led is another ‘middle path’ that people have always balanced, to my mind.

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

Zen master Dazhu comments:

“You are luckily all right by yourself, yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison?  You are busy every day claiming to study Zen, learn the Way, and interpret Buddhism, but this alienates you even further.  It is just chasing sound and form.  When will you ever stop?”  (end quote)

Can you imagine the authors of the New Testament, or Joel Osteen, Billy Graham or the Pope saying such things about Christianity to their worldwide audience?

You must have noticed that almost any statement like the title of this topic can be refuted.  A train can be derailed very easily.  Is that the point?  Aren’t we looking to see how Buddhism differs from Christianity?

(Dazhu quoted from the book - ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

 
 
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30 November 2016 13:02
 
unsmoked - 30 November 2016 12:22 PM
NL. - 28 November 2016 01:07 PM
unsmoked - 28 November 2016 11:21 AM
NL. - 26 November 2016 03:47 PM

I think in a pop culture (in this country in this moment) sense there is some truth to the idea that Buddhism tends to be self-directed and Christianity kinda comes with its own curriculum . . .

“. . . buddhahood is the realm of the sacred knowledge found in oneself.”  -  Zen master Dahui

(Dahui quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

Sure, but I think this is a fundamental issue in any field of education. In the end, yes, only an individual can ‘know’ how to read, write, add, subtract, etc. And it makes no sense to frame it any other way. On the other hand, if you let a bunch of preschoolers loose with no particular instruction, odds are good that very, very few of them will happen upon these skills. The degree to which teaching is then student / exploration led vs. teacher / curriculum led is another ‘middle path’ that people have always balanced, to my mind.

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

Zen master Dazhu comments:

“You are luckily all right by yourself, yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison?  You are busy every day claiming to study Zen, learn the Way, and interpret Buddhism, but this alienates you even further.  It is just chasing sound and form.  When will you ever stop?”  (end quote)

Can you imagine the authors of the New Testament, or Joel Osteen, Billy Graham or the Pope saying such things about Christianity to their worldwide audience?

I can’t imagine the Dalai Lama saying this either, though. 

 

You must have noticed that almost any statement like the title of this topic can be refuted.  A train can be derailed very easily.  Is that the point?


I think so, yes. At least part of the point. Taking into account the degree to which a concept can be expressed in (and therefore extrapolated from) in verbal logic. If it can’t be clearly and logically expressed verbally then I think that should be a “caution” sign when it comes to using it as the basis of verbal propositions. If one is alright by themselves, for example, then it doesn’t really make sense to say that they’re struggling. If they really are alright by themselves then they’re already alright and there’s no need to guide them away from struggling. If they need guidance, it’s not actually true that they were alright by themselves. A “this sentence is false” scenario.

 
 
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01 December 2016 08:55
 
NL. - 30 November 2016 01:02 PM
unsmoked - 30 November 2016 12:22 PM
NL. - 28 November 2016 01:07 PM
unsmoked - 28 November 2016 11:21 AM
NL. - 26 November 2016 03:47 PM

I think in a pop culture (in this country in this moment) sense there is some truth to the idea that Buddhism tends to be self-directed and Christianity kinda comes with its own curriculum . . .

“. . . buddhahood is the realm of the sacred knowledge found in oneself.”  -  Zen master Dahui

(Dahui quoted from the book, ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

Sure, but I think this is a fundamental issue in any field of education. In the end, yes, only an individual can ‘know’ how to read, write, add, subtract, etc. And it makes no sense to frame it any other way. On the other hand, if you let a bunch of preschoolers loose with no particular instruction, odds are good that very, very few of them will happen upon these skills. The degree to which teaching is then student / exploration led vs. teacher / curriculum led is another ‘middle path’ that people have always balanced, to my mind.

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

Zen master Dazhu comments:

“You are luckily all right by yourself, yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison?  You are busy every day claiming to study Zen, learn the Way, and interpret Buddhism, but this alienates you even further.  It is just chasing sound and form.  When will you ever stop?”  (end quote)

Can you imagine the authors of the New Testament, or Joel Osteen, Billy Graham or the Pope saying such things about Christianity to their worldwide audience?

I can’t imagine the Dalai Lama saying this either, though. 

 

You must have noticed that almost any statement like the title of this topic can be refuted.  A train can be derailed very easily.  Is that the point?


I think so, yes. At least part of the point. Taking into account the degree to which a concept can be expressed in (and therefore extrapolated from) in verbal logic. If it can’t be clearly and logically expressed verbally then I think that should be a “caution” sign when it comes to using it as the basis of verbal propositions. If one is alright by themselves, for example, then it doesn’t really make sense to say that they’re struggling. If they really are alright by themselves then they’re already alright and there’s no need to guide them away from struggling. If they need guidance, it’s not actually true that they were alright by themselves. A “this sentence is false” scenario.

Are you able to focus on the topic title long enough to argue and say, “It’s not different.”  Or to notice ways Buddhism is different from Christianity?  Or to say, “I’m not interested in the OP question, therefore I’m going to change the subject.”

Zen master Fenyang said, “You should know by yourself what is holy and what is ordinary, what is wrong and what is right - don’t be concerned with others’ judgments.”

In your opinion, is this different from Christianity?  Did Jesus say anything like this?  Have you ever heard anything like this from the Pope or a famous Christian preacher?  Anything like this in the Bible?

I’m not asking if you think Fenyang is correct or mistaken, or whether his remark makes sense or not.  Fenyang is a famous Zen Buddhist.  The topic title is ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity’.

(Fenyang quoted from the book - ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

 

 

 
 
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01 December 2016 11:29
 
unsmoked - 01 December 2016 08:55 AM

Are you able to focus on the topic title long enough to argue and say, “It’s not different.”  Or to notice ways Buddhism is different from Christianity?  Or to say, “I’m not interested in the OP question, therefore I’m going to change the subject.”


Oh, cut the condescending ‘tude. Telling you something you didn’t want to hear is not ‘changing the subject’, it’s ‘raising a counter example’. Besides, given the number of chemicals in my bloodstream right now I am quite proud of the fact that I am 1. Walking in straight lines and (mostly) not walking in to things and 2. Not puking. So if I missed some subtle aspect of your argument that was dear to your heart, you’re just gonna have to spell it out, my Spidey Sense is defunct at the moment.


The argument I did see you spell out is that Buddhism is individual-oriented and Christianity is not. To which I said, sure, if you want to quote an individual Buddhist making statements of that nature, I could also quote you many individual Christians - prominent mystics, like Meister Eckhart - who say similar things. But as large scale traditions, no, my understanding of most Buddhist monasteries is that they are not “do your own thing” kinda places, they seem pretty strict and organized. And when it comes to the founders, both Buddha and Christ were pretty stern about ‘the way to do things’, not really of the “just follow your heart” variety, so I also do not really differentiate them by that measure.

 

Zen master Fenyang said, “You should know by yourself what is holy and what is ordinary, what is wrong and what is right - don’t be concerned with others’ judgments.”

In your opinion, is this different from Christianity?  Did Jesus say anything like this?  Have you ever heard anything like this from the Pope or a famous Christian preacher?  Anything like this in the Bible?

I’m not asking if you think Fenyang is correct or mistaken, or whether his remark makes sense or not.  Fenyang is a famous Zen Buddhist.  The topic title is ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity’.

(Fenyang quoted from the book - ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)


All God wants of man is a peaceful heart. - Meister Eckhart

Nothing is far from God. - Saint Monica

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. - Saint Augustine

No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves. - Francis of Assisi


Then there was the entire Protestant Reformation based on the idea that individuals must know God, well, individually. For me, that’s enough to sway my intuitions that individualism is not a particularly distinctive factor when comparing Buddhism to Christianity.

 
 
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02 December 2016 09:54
 

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

About a thousand years ago Zen master Yuansou wrote:

“The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.  It is just because you miss it right where you are, or avoid it even as you face it, that you are unable to attain actual use of it.  This is why Buddhism came into being, with its many expedients and clever explanations, with temporary and true, immediate and gradual, half and full, partial and complete teachings.  These are all simply means of stopping children from whining.”  (end quote)

Q:  After a sermon, did Jesus, or Billy Graham, or the Pope, ever conclude, “These words are all simply means of stopping children from whining.”

(Yuansou quoted from the book - ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

 
 
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02 December 2016 12:55
 
unsmoked - 02 December 2016 09:54 AM

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

About a thousand years ago Zen master Yuansou wrote:

“The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.  It is just because you miss it right where you are, or avoid it even as you face it, that you are unable to attain actual use of it.  This is why Buddhism came into being, with its many expedients and clever explanations, with temporary and true, immediate and gradual, half and full, partial and complete teachings.  These are all simply means of stopping children from whining.”  (end quote)

Q:  After a sermon, did Jesus, or Billy Graham, or the Pope, ever conclude, “These words are all simply means of stopping children from whining.”


Yes, but if we’re cherry picking a few quotes here and there, I could say that Jesus did in fact say “The kingdom of God is within”, while Buddha compared the average sentient being to a child trapped inside a burning house who required rescuing and conclude that Christianity is based on finding what’s already in your heart while Buddhism threatens with hellfire (I don’t conclude that about Buddhism, btw, just making a point.)


As far as the general theme you seem to be touching on here - the idea that Oneness / Consciousness / God / etc. is already inherent in everything and in some sense doesn’t need to be ‘found’, this features heavily in Christianity as well:


- “Nobody at any time is cut off from God.” - Meister Eckhart

- “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” - Meister Eckhart

- “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” - Ephesians 4:6

- “Where could I go to escape your spirit? Where could I flee from your presence? If I climb the heavens, you are there, there too, if I lie in Sheol. If I flew to the point of sunrise, or westward across the sea your hand would still be guiding me, your right hand holding me.” - Psalm. 139.7-10

- “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” - Corinthians 3:16

- “Find God in all things” - Saint Ignatius


You could call all of the above cherry picking, of course, and I think you’d be right - but that’s my point - we can both cherry pick quotes from this or that particularly mystic or progressive thinker. Zen masters also spent a lot of time clobbering people (including little kids) with sticks, Christians spent plenty of time going to war. I don’t think a few select quotes from a few people speaks to the larger overall structures of either tradition. And on that measure, again, I think Buddhism is pretty strict and in some ways more ‘interdependent, collectivism’ based than Christianity, which has more individualistic western roots. I think the idea of Buddhism as a highly individualistic path comes from confusing notions of ‘insight’ (which are necessarily experienced by a single self) with ‘individual ego’, which is relatively more prominent in the west.

 
 
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03 December 2016 09:52
 
NL. - 02 December 2016 12:55 PM
unsmoked - 02 December 2016 09:54 AM

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

About a thousand years ago Zen master Yuansou wrote:

“The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.  It is just because you miss it right where you are, or avoid it even as you face it, that you are unable to attain actual use of it.  This is why Buddhism came into being, with its many expedients and clever explanations, with temporary and true, immediate and gradual, half and full, partial and complete teachings.  These are all simply means of stopping children from whining.”  (end quote)

Q:  After a sermon, did Jesus, or Billy Graham, or the Pope, ever conclude, “These words are all simply means of stopping children from whining.”


Yes, but if we’re cherry picking a few quotes here and there, I could say that Jesus did in fact say “The kingdom of God is within”, while Buddha compared the average sentient being to a child trapped inside a burning house who required rescuing and conclude that Christianity is based on finding what’s already in your heart while Buddhism threatens with hellfire (I don’t conclude that about Buddhism, btw, just making a point.)


As far as the general theme you seem to be touching on here - the idea that Oneness / Consciousness / God / etc. is already inherent in everything and in some sense doesn’t need to be ‘found’, this features heavily in Christianity as well:


- “Nobody at any time is cut off from God.” - Meister Eckhart

- “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” - Meister Eckhart

- “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” - Ephesians 4:6

- “Where could I go to escape your spirit? Where could I flee from your presence? If I climb the heavens, you are there, there too, if I lie in Sheol. If I flew to the point of sunrise, or westward across the sea your hand would still be guiding me, your right hand holding me.” - Psalm. 139.7-10

- “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” - Corinthians 3:16

- “Find God in all things” - Saint Ignatius


You could call all of the above cherry picking, of course, and I think you’d be right - but that’s my point - we can both cherry pick quotes from this or that particularly mystic or progressive thinker. Zen masters also spent a lot of time clobbering people (including little kids) with sticks, Christians spent plenty of time going to war. I don’t think a few select quotes from a few people speaks to the larger overall structures of either tradition. And on that measure, again, I think Buddhism is pretty strict and in some ways more ‘interdependent, collectivism’ based than Christianity, which has more individualistic western roots. I think the idea of Buddhism as a highly individualistic path comes from confusing notions of ‘insight’ (which are necessarily experienced by a single self) with ‘individual ego’, which is relatively more prominent in the west.

The topic title is, ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity’ not ‘How Buddhism is like Christianity’ -  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ

Zen master Yuanwu commented, “You should refrain from dependence on anything at all, pure or impure.”

 

[ Edited: 03 December 2016 10:50 by unsmoked]
 
 
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03 December 2016 10:45
 
unsmoked - 03 December 2016 09:52 AM

The topic title is, ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity’ not ‘How Buddhism is like Christianity’ -  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ


Yes. So, if I disagree with your proposition, then I am going to have to explain why I disagree using the alternative concept. For example, if you said “Fire is cold!”, and I said “No it’s not, fire is hot!”, would you say “Stay on topic, this thread is about things that are cold, not hot, do you want me to define the word cold for you?”

 

Zen master Yuanwu commented, “You should refrain from dependence on anything at all, pure of impure.”


Should that say ‘of’ or ‘or’? Not sure what this has to do with this thread, but yeah, I was thinking about this recently regarding the Buddhist concept of non-clinging, ‘letting go’. If you let go of everything, do you have to let go of letting go? It was another good illustration in how words can only point and describe, but you can not ‘order’ someone to be spiritual by following any given set of directions - in fact, the minute you ‘let go’ simply because that’s ‘the rule’, you aren’t really engaging in non-clinging at all, you’re clinging to a rule. It really is an interesting case study in how the experiential and the verbal do and don’t intersect.

 
 
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03 December 2016 12:06
 
NL. - 03 December 2016 10:45 AM
unsmoked - 03 December 2016 09:52 AM

The topic title is, ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity’ not ‘How Buddhism is like Christianity’ -  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/differ


Yes. So, if I disagree with your proposition, then I am going to have to explain why I disagree using the alternative concept. For example, if you said “Fire is cold!”, and I said “No it’s not, fire is hot!”, would you say “Stay on topic, this thread is about things that are cold, not hot, do you want me to define the word cold for you?”

 

Zen master Yuanwu commented, “You should refrain from dependence on anything at all, pure or impure.”


Should that say ‘of’ or ‘or’? Not sure what this has to do with this thread, but yeah, I was thinking about this recently regarding the Buddhist concept of non-clinging, ‘letting go’. If you let go of everything, do you have to let go of letting go? It was another good illustration in how words can only point and describe, but you can not ‘order’ someone to be spiritual by following any given set of directions - in fact, the minute you ‘let go’ simply because that’s ‘the rule’, you aren’t really engaging in non-clinging at all, you’re clinging to a rule. It really is an interesting case study in how the experiential and the verbal do and don’t intersect.

Thanks for catching the typo. 

The gist of the topic is that some teachings or comments of prominent Zen Buddhists are unlike teachings or comments of prominent Christians.  For example, I can’t imagine the Pope or a famous Christian preacher, or the Bible for that matter, saying what Yuanwu says here.  Wouldn’t you agree that Christians depend on God?

Zen master Rinzai said, “Trust yourself, there is no one else to trust.”  Referring to Jefferson’s quote in the signature below, should he trust himself on this, or change his mind if practically the whole country and worldwide Christianity rebukes him?

 
 
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03 December 2016 13:00
 

Ok, I think there are probably two points of confusion here regarding intuitions. This is one:

unsmoked - 03 December 2016 12:06 PM

For example, I can’t imagine the Pope or a famous Christian preacher, or the Bible for that matter, saying what Yuanwu says here.


I don’t mean this in a snarky way, but just because you can’t imagine something happening doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I can imagine it happening. I’ve given quotes and examples of where I see this. I think the intuition that this can’t be the case is very strong for you, though.


I think another intuition mismatch is probably here:

Wouldn’t you agree that Christians depend on God?


In that I think the word “God” makes you think of a specific person, whereas many Christians (not all, not even the majority, but many) use and have used this word in a way that is pretty much synonymous with the Buddhist idea of “emptiness”. I agree there would absolutely be a difference here if the Zen masters in question were talking about egoic hedonism - saying “Do whatever you want, anyone who tells you otherwise sucks!”. But clearly they are not. They are in fact pointing to some ‘something’ - and a ‘good’ something, at that - that one comes into contact with. I don’t see this as particularly different than ‘having a personal relationship with God’. Buddhists will say they had an insight, evangelicals will talk about what ‘God put on their heart’. I don’t see a big difference there.

 
 
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06 December 2016 13:24
 
NL. - 03 December 2016 01:00 PM

Buddhists will say they had an insight, evangelicals will talk about what ‘God put on their heart’. I don’t see a big difference there.

“It doesn’t come from outside.”  -  Zen

“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father but by me.”  -  Jesus

 
 
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06 December 2016 17:47
 
unsmoked - 06 December 2016 01:24 PM

“It doesn’t come from outside.”  -  Zen


So the whole eightfold path thing is optional now?


Again, I think quotes like that taken out of context misrepresent Buddhism. It’s not a new age, do whatever the heck you want tradition, at least not the traditional form - and if you want to talk nontraditional, mystic forms, sure, we can talk about Sufism and mysticism in Christianity and so on.


Jesus didn’t say heaven was going to happen to someone else if you believed in him (however you want to interpret that,) clearly he meant salvation was for the individual. Just as Zen says enlightenment is not ‘external’. But neither one of them proposes hedonism or being yanked around by your ego as a way to get there, so I stand by my statement that while there are differences between Christianity and Buddhism, I’d need a lot more evidence that individual-propelled practice is one of them. They both have plenty of rules.

 
 
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