Buddhism and Christianity were both founded by great Spiritual Masters who sought to offer a path to salvation. The terminology they used was often quite different. Also, given the different circumstances they incarnated in, they taught different paths and emphasised different approaches to spirituality.
Neither the Buddha or Jesus Christ wrote down their own teachings. In both cases, their teachings were written down many years after they had left the world. This gap between their teaching and the written version means there is always a potential for error and misunderstanding of their teachings. Also, as the new religions developed they evolved in different ways.
Some of the Significant Differences Between Buddhism and Christianity
Buddhists do not talk about a Creator God. In Christianity, the concept of God looms large. In the Old Testament, God appears as a dispenser of Divine Justice, this is a concept largely absent in Buddhism
Meditation and mindfulness are at the heart of Buddhism. Christianity places greater stress on prayer.
Grace / Personal Effort
Buddhism places greater emphasis on personal effort, Christianity places greater emphasis on Grace.
Buddhism emphasizes the endless cycle of birth and rebirth and the idea of reincarnation. Christianity teaches we have one life and one chance.
Salvation and liberation
Christianity emphasises the concept of ‘salvation.’ Salvation comes through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the saviour. For those who trust in Jesus Christ, Christians believe they will gain eternal life in heaven. Buddhists have a different emphasis, they believe that an individual has to work for his personal liberation – a discipline that may take several lifetimes. A Buddhist holds that belief in the Buddha is not enough, the seeker has to experience nirvana for himself through transforming is nature and stilling his mind.
Similarities Between Buddhism and Christianity
- Founded by a spiritual Master who accepted disciples.
- Taught through the use of simple parables.
- Both Jesus Christ and the Buddha sought to reform existing social/religious practises which had denigrated into ritualistic forms with no spiritual meaning. Christ criticised the money lenders in the temple. Buddha criticised the caste system and hypocrisy of the Brahmins.
- Both were egalitarians. Buddha accepted all castes into his sangha. Christ taught his philosophy was not just for a small race.
- Shared values. The Five Precepts of Buddhism (abstention from killing, lying, stealing, sexual immorality) would be welcomed by most Christians.
- Both religions stress ethical living, compassion/love to other people.
- Both taught to overcome the forces of hate through the power of love. The Buddha ‘hatred cannot be overcome by hatred.’ The Christ ‘Love your enemy’
- Like Buddhism, Christianity also encourages followers to take steps to improve their well being. Like Christianity, Buddhism has a strong devotional aspect. This is characterised by faith in the Buddha. This is especially marked in traditions such as Pure Land Buddhism, which stresses prayer to the Buddha.
- Both religions encourage their followers to be charitable towards the poor.
- Both religions have both a monastic and lay approach. Though the monastic element is largely absent in contemporary Protestantism.
- Both aspire to greater spiritual perfection. Though they may have different approaches they are both seeking a higher spiritual perfection.
- Both seek to transcend the material world. They believe real happiness is to be gained from spiritual values and spiritual consciousness.
- The Divine Consciousness. It is true the Buddha did not talk about God. He felt the Supreme Consciousness could never be expressed in words. But, Buddha did talk about the infinite peace, infinite light and infinite bliss of nirvana. What is God if not this transcendental consciousness?
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Differences Between Buddhism and Christianity”, Oxford, UK – www.biographyonline.net. Published 8 Jan 2013. Updated 12th Jan. 2018.
The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity
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can you explain what is Nirvana: Some said good people will reborn in heaven. According to Buddhist philosophy, Gautama was known as moral philosopher becuse he didn’t teach any spiritual things but moral conduct. hope you understood what i mean, so can you briefly explain, how Gautama exactly taught spiritual phenomena and life after death.
In #3 you wrote; Both Jesus Christ and the Buddha sought to reform existing social/religious practises which had denigrated into ritualistic forms with no spiritual meaning. Christ criticised the money lenders in the temple. Buddha criticised the caste system and hypocrisy of the Brahmins.
Christ also critisized the hypocrisy of the Jewish temple priests, claiming they lived for themselves and thier bellies, and not the God in which they were made priests to serve and that though he was there to fullfill the prophesies of his coming that they all knew well, becuse of thier lust for power and stardom like celebrities of the people, they refused to accept that he fullfilled those prophesies as thier high society roles would then be abolished. This in turn caused the priests to want Jesus dead, hence they paid off one of his apostles Judas to point him out to the guards so they could apprehend him and ultimately crucify him. But this was all part of Gods divine plan hence the Christ saying; “Father forgive them they know not what they do.” His sacrifice enabling mankind to slip out of the devils curse of being unclean because of the first man’s Adams sin in the garden, and bridges us directly back to God no longer needing an intersessor or priest. We can now pray and have a personal relationship with him.
This was good information, I have a friend who is a follower of Buddhism. Needed to understand because I am a follower of Jesus.
I commend you on what you seek as a Christian in a Buddhist world. Aka Thailand. I pray that Jesus will uphold and bless you in this endeavor.
I am living in Thailand and hope to be teaching at a school that is getting me a work permit! I understand some basic things of Buddism but have been researching to understand more and any fundamental differences with Christian Biblical doctrine! I am a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ am am not seeking information as one who seeks to be Buddhist but as one who walks in the midst of a Buddhist culture with regular contact with monks. Thank you very much!