We’ve talked a lot about the trouble with the Christian message here. How, based on a lot of misinformation and teachings, the Good News is distorted. One result of this is that Jesus doesn’t get a lot of love. In other words, people will actually frown when his name is mentioned. However, others, like Buddha, get all kinds of praise and accolades.
Buddha does indeed rock. I was thumbing through the Dhammapada recently – a popular book of sayings attributed to the man himself – and there is great stuff in there. Much of it is strikingly similar to the sayings of Jesus. I was going through my old notes and I noticed that I had put a “J” next to any verse or teaching that was similar to Jesus. There were many. There are books on this, if interested.
To be clear, the Dhammapada is way older than the New Testament. It’s something like 3rd century B.C. But what’s concerning is why has Jesus, the greatest teacher ever, who changed the entire world more than anyone, taken a back seat? I’ll toss out a couple of ideas.
The first is that, in the West, Buddhism is viewed in it’s idealistic Eastern sense. That is, all we see is these amazing quotes that resonate so much truth about living. And those Buddhist monks sure do look peaceful in their saffron robes. What we don’t see is the reality of practice, which according to my sources, is quite similar to the hypocrisy we see in Christianity.
With Christianity, we see the ugly reality everyday. It’s right in front of us – on the news, the media, YouTube. Too often Christians are spouting off about this or that. The ideals and message of Jesus are buried under this hypocrisy. And the Christian monks we see, well, let me tell you, their boring brown robes do little to inspire, and one does wonder about the whole “no sex” thing.
Although there are numerous similarities between these two great teachers there is a striking difference in their ultimate sense. In Buddhism, the ultimate is “nothingness” or “emptiness.” Jesus offered a “kingdom” and a “relationship” with a loving and personal God. These should of course be explored further, but it seems many are content to casually subscribe to the former without discovering the latter.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson