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Buddhism and Christianity are different religions with numerous similarities as well as differences that one might find really interesting to look at in details. These two religions have certain beliefs, values and traditions which are really compatible. On the other hand, some of these values, beliefs and traditional practices are quite contradicting and conflicting. This makes the study of these two religions an inevitable and pleasurable task. Theology historians have raised adequate concerns and issues relating to connections between Buddhism and Christianity. They claim that there is strong resemblance between the characters of Jesus and Buddha, especially their lives and teachings.
First and foremost, I will start by looking at the various similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. Both religions are based on the golden rule which concerns individual wellbeing as well as the interests of other people. Both Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ taught their disciples about the welfare of all human beings. They encouraged their followers to do good to others the same way they would like others do unto them. Jesus and Buddha preached the importance of social values and ethics. Both Buddha and Jesus rejected and highly condemned excessive asceticism and emphasized on self-liberation.
Both Buddhism and Christianity doctrines lay emphasis on equal love for all human beings. According to Buddhism, this love should be extended to human beings as well as other living things. Similarly, Christian doctrines are based on the principle of loving a neighbor as much as one loves him/herself. This special kind of love, usually referred to as Agape by Christians, begins at individual levels and should be extended to all people, including friends and enemies.
Both Buddhism and Christianity entail worships that involve use of rosaries, incense and performance of rituals among other spiritual practices. Buddhists and Christians worship through personal confessions, monasticism, bowing before holy images and mediations. Often, bells are rung to indicate transitions within prayer sessions. Erection of tall towers and use of the Cross is also common among both religions, for example, Roman Catholics.
Additionally, both Christianity and Buddhism have faced reduced influence and number of believers in their countries of origin. Both religions have suffered from decreased number of followers in countries where they first originated, for example, Christianity originated from Egypt which is currently dominated by Islamic religion. Buddhism and Christianity got wiped out of their countries of origin. Today, the two religions are followed majorly by people who do not have direct relation to the races of traditional founders of the religions.
Both Buddhism and Christianity teach about humanity and its desirable virtues. Such virtues include personal tolerance, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, perseverance, humility and helping others. The doctrines of Buddhism and Christianity also teach about persevering sufferings and hardships of life, for example, Christians learn about dealing with suffering through the life of Jesus, especially during his crucifixion.
On the other hand, Buddhism and Christianity have numerous different aspects that make then differ. First, Buddhism and Christianity have different historical backgrounds with regard to dates of inception and places of origin. Buddhism developed at the border of Nepal and India in around 500 BCE, much early before the birth of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Christianity originated from Egypt, Israel and Middle East.
Buddhists take Sankharas as their rituals whereas Christians take Sacraments. Both Sankharas and sacraments serve the similar purposes in both religions. The Buddhism doctrine preaches eternal life after death which is dependent on one’s present life on earth. In contrast, Christianity preaches eternal life after death which does not depend on one’s life on earth. Buddhism does not mentioned where this eternal life is lived whereas Christianity mentions that eternal life is found in Heaven, and it is for those who receive salvation and thus cleansed of their sins before death. In Christianity, the salvation comes as a free gift for accepting Jesus in one’s life.
Traditional doctrines of Buddhism do not mention existence of God or any other supreme being. Buddhists believe in mortal gods who exist peacefully with fellow gods. However, Christians believe in existence of one supreme God who exists in Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is believed that Christian God is jealous and denies co-existence of similar supreme beings. Christianity does not allow existence of other godly figures such as idols. In Buddhism, salvation is an individual initiative. An individual does not have to rely or depend on others for his or her salvation. In Christianity, salvation is not based on an individual’s commitment or initiatives. It is a free gift from God. It is believed that Jesus Christ died on the Cross so that Christians can get saved. An individual thus has to accept Jesus as his or her personal savor in order to receive the salvation. In Christianity, salvation entails accepting Jesus and His teachings in one’s life. However, Buddhism does not have such concepts.
Moreover, Buddhism does not believe that God may love His people. Buddhists believe in existence of many gods who perform various specific duties, for example, the god of love, goddess of fertility and god of harvest. In contrast, Christians believe in one supreme Good who performs a variety of responsibilities such as loving His devotees, taking care of the people as well as providing them with both spiritual and material needs.
In Buddhism, no mentioning of a definite beginning of the world or human existence is found. In Christianity, the Bible says that the world was created by God. This creation was out of nothing. The creation stories are found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Additionally, God created human beings and all other living creatures in the world. Christians believe that they resemble God. No such mentioning is done in Buddhism.
Last but not least, in Buddhism, individuals strive at becoming a Buddha, that is, becoming a supreme and enlightened being. In contrast, Christians do not strive at becoming neither God nor Jesus.
In conclusion, it is inherently impracticable to deny high possibilities of interrelation between Buddhism and Christianity. From historical information, it is evident that Christianity borrowed much of its attributes from Buddhism. Jesus’ teachings were derived from Buddhism. Indeed, Buddhism had considerable direct influence on the development of Christianity.