Buddha vs Jesus
Buddha vs Jesus: Despite occasional comparisons between Buddha (particularly the Buddha of legend) and Jesus Christ, it is also in regards to this issue that we run up against one of the primary differences between Buddhism and the so-called “Western” faith of Christianity. Those who suffered were noticed and addressed in both faiths—but the solutions were very different.
The Buddha Solution
While Buddha very much recognized suffering and showed sympathy for the sufferer, he chose to say that:
a) The suffering is not real, but illusion.
b) You must release all attachments—the sorrows as well as the loves and joys—in order to achieve the ultimate bliss of nirvana.
The Jesus Solution
The Jesus solution was decidedly more personal. But not only does Buddhism deny the personal in God or human, Buddha also denied the reality of suffering, Jesus chose to bear the suffering and sin of the world himself. Although he also experienced times of prayer and fasting in the wilderness, the New Testament of the Christian Bible is filled with moments in which
he stepped into a hurting person’s world and changed him or her forever.
They were forgiven...healed...transformed—set free from their chains of suffering through faith in him. Believers were made new as they received
the grace of his salvation
through faith in the One who was Truth made flesh.
Engaging the Sufferer
Most Buddhist sects, however, choose a more humanistic path to salvation and final bliss. Right conduct (which none of us can truly attain) is the means to that end—meaning we ostensibly “get what we deserve.” Buddhism fails to engage the sufferer and instead asks them to convince themselves there is no suffering:
Ho! ye who suffer! know ye suffer from yourselves. None else compels, none other holds you that ye live and die and whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss its spokes of agony.
Beautiful words of Buddhist thought, yet they would seem to hold very little comfort or transformational power to a five-year-old girl who’s been raped by a diseased druggie or a hard-working man forced to watch his family starve during a famine.
In Mahayana thinking, the faithful may pray to Buddha or one of the many Boddhisattvas of legend—this despite Buddha’s own assertion that there was no deity to be found. Followers were to be their own lamps, their own refuges.
This ethos suits many a modern thinker who embraces Buddhism for like reasons, regardless of any other ideological conflicts with Buddhist doctrine: doubts, lusts, restlessness, anger—these are all “hindrances” to enlightenment in Buddhist thought.
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