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Differences And Similarities Between Pc And Zen Buddhism


mcarans
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My impression from reading posts in this forum and from some resources on the PC website is that a great deal of inspiration comes from Buddha, perhaps even more than from Jesus (or other teachers): many descriptions remind me very much of Zen Buddhism (at least from my knowledge of it my earlier life and particularly from Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen).


For those who are inspired by Buddha, what do you feel are similarities and differences (if any) between Zen Buddhism and progressive Christianity?

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My impression from reading posts in this forum and from some resources on the PC website is that a great deal of inspiration comes from Buddha, perhaps even more than from Jesus (or other teachers): many descriptions remind me very much of Zen Buddhism (at least from my knowledge of it my earlier life and particularly from Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen).
For those who are inspired by Buddha, what do you feel are similarities and differences (if any) between Zen Buddhism and progressive Christianity?

 

Have you considered how much of the New Testament was influenced by Buddhism and what other influence other religions had on the Bible in general?

If these religions do influence one another how surprising is it that certain interpretations of the Bible might look like another religion?

 

Turning it around how much of traditional Christianity today has concretized the Myth of Christ and turned poetry into prose. There are host of traditional Christian world views, each believing they have the truth. Now I suspect Progressive Christians also have their beliefs, it is very difficult no to, but they do seem to be more accepting of other people's world views, even though they might not agree.

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As a starting point for some insight into what people in the past have said, there are a number of threads in the Other Wisdom forums. like

 

Christianity and Buddhism

 

Mysticism Christian and Buddhist

 

 

 

This might help create further questions on the question of this thread and stimulate new ideas and thoughts for entry here in this thread.

Joseph

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Regarding Christianity being influenced by Buddhism, I thought that the Abrahamic religions developed mostly separately from the Eastern religions not least due to geography.

 

This Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_Christianity says "Though some early Christians were aware of Buddhism, which was practiced in the Roman Empire in the early Christian period, the majority of modern Christian scholarship has roundly rejected any historical basis for the travels of Jesus to India or Tibet or direct influences between the teachings of Christianity in the West and Buddhism, and has seen the attempts at parallel symbolism as cases of parallelomania which exaggerate the importance of trifling resemblances...

 

Marcus Borg states "Scholars have pointed out that Buddhist teachers lived in Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast, by the first century. Some have posited that Jesus might have traveled there, or that Buddhist teachings may have reached cities of the Jewish homeland, including Sepphoris, a major city in Galilee only four miles from Nazareth. Popular speculation speaks of Jesus having traveled to India during "the missing years" the decades before he emerged on the stage of history. There, it is suggested, he came in to contact with Buddhist teachings. But both explanations are unlikely and unnecessary. The similarities are not of the kind that suggest cultural borrowing"

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Mcarans,

 

Perhaps we will never know for sure. Even if Christianity had no influence from Buddhism i personally still see similarities even though the words are different. It seems that there will always be similarities among religions and even non religions as long as human seek the same things being love and peace and the deeper questions of meaning and life.

 

Joseph.

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Has anyone read this book?

 

"Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World"

 

I haven't read it (yet), but it seems to echo what Joseph has said about religious similarities. I do like Brian McLaren.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Moses-Buddha-Mohammed-Cross-ebook/dp/B007BGQ9OW

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mcarans

I would tend to agree that Jesus never travelled further east. Though if you would like a interesting and perhaps a slightly irreverent tale about this I can recommend:

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff. Jesus's Childhood Friend. Christopher Moore.

 

But then it is hard argue that the subsequent writer's who put many (if not most) of the words into Jesus's mouth were not influenced by the Eastern traditions. Like Joseph says we will never know for sure.

 

Of course I suspect that the Old Testament would have been influenced by other neighbouring religions, don't you think?

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An approximate way of describing the purpose of life in Eastern religions is that it is to escape the bondage of ignorance and illusion and gain release from the cycle of rebirth. In the case of Buddhism, the individual seeks enlightenment although simultaneously there is no self (an interesting article on this apparent contradiction here: https://philosophynow.org/issues/97/Is_The_Buddhist_No-Self_Doctrine_Compatible_With_Pursuing_Nirvana)

 

It seems to me that one difference between Christianity and Buddhism (and indeed other religions) concerns the the free gift of grace vs the reliance on individual effort. In Buddhism aprson strives for nirvana (and perhaps also follows the "rules" of the eight fold path), whereas in Christianity, grace is given to everyone irrespective of merit or achievement. There's something on the PC website about grace (and also salvation):

http://progressivechristianity.org/resources/affirmations-and-confessions-of-a-progressive-christian-layman-grace-and-salvation/

 

Unfortunately the article doesn't really go into what is a Progressive Christian view of grace.

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although simultaneously there is no self (an interesting article on this apparent contradiction here:

 

I think the phrase not self rather than no self is used. But not of great import.

 

I think they are pointing to the concept there is no intrinsic self, ie a self that is somehow independent of our environment. This I think aligns with the Buddhist concept of dependent origination.

 

For me aligning this with a concept of free will is a bit more tricky.

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Rom,

 

For something to be atta, (self) it needed three components. It had to have complete control over the body, feelings, thoughts, impulses, intentions, consciousness, or perceptions. It had to be permanent. And it had to be blissful. In his discourse, the Buddha makes it clear that nothing in our psycho-physical experience has these three qualities and is therefore fit to be regarded as an atta or self.

 

The Buddha is not recorded saying there is no Self but rather that the self we identify as myself with our thoughts, feelings, consciousness, volition, personal characteristics, or with a sense of continuity is not self (atta). He emphasized the suffering that can come with clinging to anything as belonging to or defining “myself". The Buddha’s path of practice reportedly leads to the ending of this clinging. The Buddha’s teaching points away from looking for the self, or trying to understand or improve the self. Instead it suggests that we pay attention to the fear, desire, ambition, and clinging that motivate the building of self identity.

 

Joseph

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I feel Jesus and Buddha's teaching are similar in that they recognize the exterior and are guiding us inside to an experience beyond the material. We are beautiful on the outside, but have overlooked and failed to see the importance of nurturing the awareness of our inner being as a result there remains a lot of frustration and anger underneath the exterior. Living on the physical plane our personality needs to interact with matter, but we need to awaken from our prejudices and immaturity to recognize our soul or wholeness inside in order to be brought into love or wholeness by way of the present moment or state of grace.

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Rom,

 

For something to be atta, (self) it needed three components. It had to have complete control over the body, feelings, thoughts, impulses, intentions, consciousness, or perceptions. It had to be permanent. And it had to be blissful. In his discourse, the Buddha makes it clear that nothing in our psycho-physical experience has these three qualities and is therefore fit to be regarded as an atta or self.

 

The Buddha is not recorded saying there is no Self but rather that the self we identify as myself with our thoughts, feelings, consciousness, volition, personal characteristics, or with a sense of continuity is not self (atta). He emphasized the suffering that can come with clinging to anything as belonging to or defining “myself". The Buddha’s path of practice reportedly leads to the ending of this clinging. The Buddha’s teaching points away from looking for the self, or trying to understand or improve the self. Instead it suggests that we pay attention to the fear, desire, ambition, and clinging that motivate the building of self identity.

 

Joseph

 

You have the advantage over me Joseph ... the only Buddhism I have been exposed to, at least academically speaking, is Buddhism for Dummies and Joseph Campbell's interpretations.

 

For me there is no self that ends at some arbitrary boundary ... usually the skin or perhaps a brain.

 

I don't think we are disagreeing here, though in reality I only have the vaguest of ideas what of what Buddhism means, at least to others.

 

Buddhism for me is one of those parallel paths.

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