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How Buddhism differs from Christianity

 
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24 December 2016 10:02
 
NL. - 24 December 2016 06:14 AM
Nhoj Morley - 23 December 2016 11:29 PM

I ran into the italics bug once or twice. I forget the solution though it was in my machine. Try deleting your temp files and cookies. The page may be loading with a stray bit of code. I am posting through my hat. Anyone know the fix?


No worries, the italics aren’t bad - kind of like if writing in all caps is screaming, all italics seems like we’re having this conversation in a super dramatic operatic tone where every word is emphasized. I assume unsmoked is wearing one of those funny Viking hats, while I am making dramatic gestures toward the sky. Also Bugs Bunny is involved, because let’s be honest, literally the only opera music I have ever heard has been in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

A Zen master I actually met once said, “What is Zen?  Zen is to laugh.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy5f87-kI8c

 
 
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27 December 2016 17:36
 
unsmoked - 24 December 2016 10:02 AM

A Zen master I actually met once said, “What is Zen?  Zen is to laugh.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy5f87-kI8c


Ha! A classic.


And I will say, while I don’t particularly find the passages you or Harris have chosen here as particularly representative of this (go through 2000 years of Christian theology and you can find plenty of lovey dovey “we are all one” stuff there too,) on the whole I do think Buddhism contains a sort of instruction manual for meditation and psychology that is, at best, much rarer and generally vaguer in Christianity. So they do differ there. The thing is, though, that this is why I have the instinct to hold Buddhism a bit more (not entirely, a bit more) at arm’s length recently. It almost seems as if something is missing in this instruction manual. Granted, when Jesus says “That something is heaven!”, it leaves the door open for all kinds of misinterpretation. But leaving it as a list of instructions only also seems like half the story to me.

 
 
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28 December 2016 06:54
 

I will add to this that I think, again, that Buddhism and Christianity at least hypothetically could be talking about the same thing (Buddhism’s “the ultimate nature of reality” could easily be Christianity’s “God”, but I don’t think there’s enough information to give a definitive yes or no on that - I tend to assume they’re the same thing though). And that they often simply approach it from different angles - Buddhism in a negative (what it isn’t), and Christianity in a positive (what it is).


For example, Buddhism will sometimes use the example of a magic show - reality is like a magic show or illusion - and conclude you should see past the magic show. (Buddhism’s approach sometimes seems to me something like “The purpose of life is Boring, if you find anything even mildly interesting that captures your attention, it’s a vice.” I say that playfully, and understand it’s a misinterpretation, but I do think it can incline the mind that way.) Christianity’s approach - the focus on uplifting moods - reminds me more of trying to get my baby niece to sit for holiday pictures. Tell a baby (or an untrained mind) “sit here”, and, well, see how well that goes. Burst into a moving rendition of “Wheels On The Bus” and watch their face light up at the “magic show” in front of them, and that’s another story. If we raised small children with the idea that “this is all a bunch of boring illusory crap that you shouldn’t get too attached too”, we’d end up with feral children.


Magic shows have their time and place. And seeing past magic shows has its time and place as well. I think the exact same concept can be useful in some situations and should be dispensed with in others. The question is, are those varied approaches being used in the service of the same thing, ultimately? I would say yes.

 
 
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28 December 2016 10:30
 
NL. - 28 December 2016 06:54 AM

Magic shows have their time and place. And seeing past magic shows has its time and place as well.

Would you say that reality is a magic show?  Do you know how it’s done?  Einstein commented, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Zen master Yuanwu writes:  “Yongjia said, “Without leaving wherever you are, there is constant clarity.”  No words come closer to the truth than these.  If you start seeking, then we know that you are unable to see.”

(Yuanwu quoted from the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu’ - translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)

 

[ Edited: 28 December 2016 10:33 by unsmoked]
 
 
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30 December 2016 09:41
 

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

“Zen master Yuanwu (born 1063) was a public spokesman for a tradition of wisdom that he saw coming down from time immemorial.  In Yuanwu’s Zen tradition, the man usually considered the historic founder of Buddhism was seen as just one buddha in a long line of enlightened ones extending back before history as we know it.  In fact, Mahayana Buddhist texts regularly speak of “all the buddhas of the past, present, and future.”  Mahayana sutras like The Flower Ornament Scripture depict a vast universal process of enlightening teaching taking place in all worlds in all times through an infinite variety of forms.”

(quoted from the Translator’s Introduction to the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu’ - translated and edited by J. C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)

 
 
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30 December 2016 15:11
 
unsmoked - 28 December 2016 10:30 AM

Would you say that reality is a magic show?  Do you know how it’s done?  Einstein commented, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”


I think the magic show analogy is incredibly difficult in that it is another “salt doll in the ocean” scenario, so it’s not actually something I can speak to (kinda taking Buddhism’s word on that one). If ‘you’ are anywhere in that picture - thinking “Aha, I see through the magic show!” in some way shape or form, then clearly you are not seeing through the magic show, because that thought and the idea of you thinking it are also part of the ‘illusion’, so if they ring true to you then it seems logical to say you’re not ‘getting it’ in some sense. But if you don’t ‘see’ that as the truth, then it is actually an untrue statement, which I also don’t believe.


It seems to me that unless you are an enlightened being, to make such an assertion you’d have to have had the experience of drifting in and out of ‘samadhi’ (and verbalizing what you did see, once you are no longer 100% seeing it,) which I can’t claim to have experienced.

 
 
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30 December 2016 15:22
 
unsmoked - 30 December 2016 09:41 AM

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

“Zen master Yuanwu (born 1063) was a public spokesman for a tradition of wisdom that he saw coming down from time immemorial.  In Yuanwu’s Zen tradition, the man usually considered the historic founder of Buddhism was seen as just one buddha in a long line of enlightened ones extending back before history as we know it.  In fact, Mahayana Buddhist texts regularly speak of “all the buddhas of the past, present, and future.”  Mahayana sutras like The Flower Ornament Scripture depict a vast universal process of enlightening teaching taking place in all worlds in all times through an infinite variety of forms.”

(quoted from the Translator’s Introduction to the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu’ - translated and edited by J. C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)

 

Here’s a hugely respected Christian teacher, praised by the Pope, saying we are all already God and loved and all One. Aw.


Here and here is the Buddha himself, firsthand, doing his impression of Arthur Brown’s “I Am The God Of Hellfire” and making Cotton Mather look like a party-crazed hedonist in comparison.


We can quote pull all day. I’m happy to do it, because I love talking Buddhism (even though Buddha has already threatened me with hellfire for this desire, apparently,) but I’ve already said I don’t think it proves anything one way or the other.

[ Edited: 30 December 2016 15:25 by sojourner]
 
 
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31 December 2016 12:09
 
NL. - 30 December 2016 03:22 PM
unsmoked - 30 December 2016 09:41 AM

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

“Zen master Yuanwu (born 1063) was a public spokesman for a tradition of wisdom that he saw coming down from time immemorial.  In Yuanwu’s Zen tradition, the man usually considered the historic founder of Buddhism was seen as just one buddha in a long line of enlightened ones extending back before history as we know it.  In fact, Mahayana Buddhist texts regularly speak of “all the buddhas of the past, present, and future.”  Mahayana sutras like The Flower Ornament Scripture depict a vast universal process of enlightening teaching taking place in all worlds in all times through an infinite variety of forms.”

(quoted from the Translator’s Introduction to the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu’ - translated and edited by J. C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)

 

Here’s a hugely respected Christian teacher, praised by the Pope, saying we are all already God and loved and all One. Aw.


Here and here is the Buddha himself, firsthand, doing his impression of Arthur Brown’s “I Am The God Of Hellfire” and making Cotton Mather look like a party-crazed hedonist in comparison.


We can quote pull all day. I’m happy to do it, because I love talking Buddhism (even though Buddha has already threatened me with hellfire for this desire, apparently,) but I’ve already said I don’t think it proves anything one way or the other.

But . . . but . . . but . . . the topic is ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity, not how it’s the same.  It’s like a science topic, ‘How a Cat differs from a Dog’.  Are we then going to point out everything they have in common?  They both have one heart and two kidneys?  Neither of them can ride a bicycle?

 
 
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31 December 2016 12:34
 
unsmoked - 31 December 2016 12:09 PM

But . . . but . . . but . . . the topic is ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity, not how it’s the same.  It’s like a science topic, ‘How a Cat differs from a Dog’.  Are we then going to point out everything they have in common?  They both have one heart and two kidneys?  Neither of them can ride a bicycle?

 


I did not start talking about how they’re the same, I gave an example of Christianity being much kinder and less hell-fire-ish than Buddhism. An example of them being different, not same.

 
 
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01 January 2017 10:52
 
NL. - 31 December 2016 12:34 PM
unsmoked - 31 December 2016 12:09 PM

But . . . but . . . but . . . the topic is ‘How Buddhism differs from Christianity, not how it’s the same.  It’s like a science topic, ‘How a Cat differs from a Dog’.  Are we then going to point out everything they have in common?  They both have one heart and two kidneys?  Neither of them can ride a bicycle?

 


I did not start talking about how they’re the same, I gave an example of Christianity being much kinder and less hell-fire-ish than Buddhism. An example of them being different, not same.

Also, Jesus didn’t tell people that if they didn’t shape up in this life they might be reborn as a katydid.

 
 
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01 January 2017 11:43
 
unsmoked - 01 January 2017 10:52 AM

Also, Jesus didn’t tell people that if they didn’t shape up in this life they might be reborn as a katydid.


True. Buddhism punishes with karma, Christianity punishes with hell. In Buddhism you do not have libertarian free will but you will suffer for actions that are presumably not your fault anyhow, which seems kinda harsh (you may eventually start on the road to enlightenment and try to get out of endless lifetimes of “stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself”, but presumably you didn’t choose this either). In Christianity you do have free will although it’s a “you are free to go to hell if you make bad choices” situation, meaning at a functional level said freedom seems a bit limited.

 
 
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03 January 2017 11:16
 

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

“Be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong.”  -  Zen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-I05YroLQ8  -  Christianity

I think a monk like Friar Tuck used to shave the top of his head so God would have a better view of his thoughts.  After X-rays were discovered, Christians may have decided that hair was not going to obstruct God’s view of their thoughts.

[ Edited: 03 January 2017 11:26 by unsmoked]
 
 
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03 January 2017 12:42
 
unsmoked - 03 January 2017 11:16 AM

How Buddhism differs from Christianity

“Be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong.”  -  Zen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-I05YroLQ8  -  Christianity

I think a monk like Friar Tuck used to shave the top of his head so God would have a better view of his thoughts.  After X-rays were discovered, Christians may have decided that hair was not going to obstruct God’s view of their thoughts.


Hey, you were the one that said we can only talk about how Buddhism and Christianity are different, not the same. That song you linked might as well be a Buddhist song on “guarding the sense doors”, so I’m going to cry foul on that one. Same! Same! No mentioning sameness in this thread, ever, it’s a differences thread!! wink


However, if you would like to continue to examine the perspective that quote-pulling-as-standard delivers, sure. Here you go:


This is Christianity, directly from the source:

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.

Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.


And here’s a Youtube video of some Buddhist practitioners, since you posted a Youtube video of some Christians: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdMWN7SR7qE


What can and should we conclude from Buddhism and Christianity based on this?

 

 
 
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04 January 2017 11:36
 

NL:  As you know, popular Buddhism and popular Christianity have practically nothing to do with the teachings of Buddha or Jesus. 

I think we both know why Sam Harris wrote a book called, ‘LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION’.  I mean, at least, we know why he calls the U.S. a Christian nation.  Look at who the Christian nation just elected to be their president.

[ Edited: 04 January 2017 11:47 by unsmoked]
 
 
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04 January 2017 13:05
 
unsmoked - 04 January 2017 11:36 AM

NL:  As you know, popular Buddhism and popular Christianity have practically nothing to do with the teachings of Buddha or Jesus. 

I think we both know why Sam Harris wrote a book called, ‘LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION’.  I mean, at least, we know why he calls the U.S. a Christian nation.  Look at who the Christian nation just elected to be their president.


I’m not really sure what you’re saying here - if this is the case it seems we should be comparing original texts only, not later teachers from either tradition.


I will grant that I think the more spiritual / mystic themes of religion (vs. the enculturated / social engineering mores, which I think are also important in their own right,) are often more explicitly developed in eastern traditions. And I think there are pros and cons to bringing either theme more fully to the forefront (they both kind of become their opposite, in a way - eastern cultures have often been very totalitarian because I guess if you truly get Zen-ed out to a certain point, you can genuinely be like “sure, whatever, hari-kari, sounds good to me, does it make a difference?; while the attempted authoritarianism in Abrahamic religions often breeds a certain spirit of rebelliousness that has made the west generally more independent, vs. interdependent, minded.) And I think there is something ‘to’ the mind training methods of eastern spirituality (touched on in other religions, but again, with a sort of foreground / background reversal) that create real world changes in people in the same way that exercise creates real world changes in people.

 
 
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