Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where Faiths Intersect: Buddhism and Christianity

The Buddha-Dharma is the realization within one’s deepest consciousness of the Oneness of all life. For the attainment of this purpose, Buddha showed his future followers the Eightfold Path. I am exceedingly interested in the Eightfold Path and the 12 Principles of Buddhism, not as a religion, but as a lifestyle or philosophy. Many of the assertions that Ralph Waldo Emerson, the spiritual and philosophical inspiration for this blog, puts forth in Self Reliance seem to fall within the proximities of Buddhist thought. The Oneness Buddha outlined is in fact The Universal Soul that Emerson refers to in his essays, and in Christianity it is The Ten Comandments and the philosophy of living Christ-like.

The Buddhist principles I note below are from the website, and the Christian perspective was added by me.

1. Right Views means to keep ourselves free from prejudice, superstition, and delusion... and to see aright the true nature of life. Christian Perspective: Christ taught us, “Do not judge, lest ye be judged” and, “Do not point out the speck in your brother’s eye until you remove the plank from your own.”

2. Right Thoughts means to turn away from the hypocrisies of this world and to direct our minds toward Truth and Positive Attitudes and Action. Christian Perspective: Christ taught not to be concerned with this world, but to keep our eyes upon heaven and our salvation. The “Truth” is Christ. The “Positive Attitudes” and “Actions” represent our spiritual choices, both in mind and body, to be Christ-like. In Romans we are told, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

3. Right Speech means to refrain from pointless and harmful talk... to speak kindly and courteously to all. Christian Perspective: Again, this path refers to being Christ-like, or at least striving for that type of perfect existence. Also, gossiping is very much discouraged in Christianity. Have you read Proverbs lately?

4. Right Conduct means to see that our deeds are peaceable, benevolent, compassionate and pure... and to live the Teachings daily. Christian Perspective: For me, conduct is how you carry yourself throughout the day. Am I acting out of goodness and selflessness like Christ did? Do I exhibit this in my thoughts, musings, actions, and work?

5. Right Livelihood means to earn our living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences. It means to seek that employment to which can give our complete enthusiasm and devotion. Christian Perspective: Do I earn a living by serving others? Some people earn a living by deceiving, harming, victimizing, or capitalizing on others. Christ warned us to be holy in thoughts and deeds. Making a living on the backs of others is not God’s best for us.

6. Right Effort means to direct our efforts continually to the overcoming of ignorance and craving desires. Christian Perspective: I can’t but to think of dedication and work ethic here. It states in the Bible that, “A man who does not work, will not eat”. Also, slothfulness is considered to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

7. Right Mindfulness means to cherish good and pure thoughts; all that we say and do arise from our thoughts. Christian Perspective: Sinful thoughts turn into sinful deeds. So keep your thoughts clean and directed toward God and Heaven.

8. Right Meditation means to concentrate on the Oneness of all life and the Buddhahood that exists within all beings. Christian Perspective: This highlights the Christian assertion that we are all God's children. No single being is more important to God than the next human being, no matter their lot. Yoga is the perfect way to meditate on the right thoughts.

I find great peace and beauty in the fact that most religions, when left uncorrupted by overzealous men, have the same foundations and messages on righteous, mindful living. And I find the most comfort when I look out into nature and see the patterns of God all over the rolling hills, the colorful foliage, and the ways of animals. Who needs four walls when nature is our sanctuary?

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