Jesus and Buddha: Two Roads Same Mountain....
My Notes for “Jesus and Buddha: Two Roads, Same Mountain,” The Unitarian Universalist Christian Study Group workshop at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of San Diego, August 15, 2021.
Our sacred stories are what guide us, teach us and show us the way through the dark mystery of humankind’s journey from our beginnings to our destiny, whatever that is. The birth, life, and enlightenment of Siddhartha who became the Buddha is the sacred story of much of Asia. The birth, life, death and Resurrection of Jesus who became the Christ is the sacred story of much of Europe and the Americas. Now there are other stories. Moses and the Torah, Muhamad and the Koran, Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita, the Earth Centered, the list goes on and on. Today we are going to focus on “Jesus and Buddha: Two Paths, Same Mountain.” The mountain is our human journey and how we climb it. This is not about one being more true than the other. That can be discussed somewhere but please, not here. This is about what it is like to be a good Buddhist or to be a good Christian? What can we learn from each other?
The Buddha vision is a path to enlightenment. The Jesus vision is a path to Salvation. Yes, there are both differences and similarities based mostly on cultural history and tradition. The Buddha lived 500 years before Jesus and is rooted in Asian Hinduism. Jesus lived in the First Century and is rooted in the Judaism that survived in a Greco-Roman world. Neither Jesus nor the Buddha had any idea what people would be like in the 21st Century.
Unlike Jesus, the Buddha left his followers with very specific directions on how to walk his path known as the Eight Fold Path. Jesus, on the other hand, left his followers a bunch of parables, aphorisms and a dynamic story that were told and retold for 30 years before they were finally written down in the Gospels.
The Eight Fold Path is very clear. There is much suffering in the world. Much of this suffering is the desire of the mind or self to make the world be what we want it to be. This desire can be transcended and it is possible to obtain the peace of full enlightenment. The steps on this path are proper vision, good intention, right speech, balanced action, right livelihood, right effort, centered mindfulness and quiet meditation.
But what is the practice of following Jesus? He clearly tells you to “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, and that Kingdom is to be found with in you. Then, if you prayerfully meditate and contemplate the Gospels, you can come up with the following seven steps. #1, Compassion (love one another) #2, forgiveness (forgive us our sins) #3, nonviolence, (turn the other cheek) #4, non-possession (treasures in heaven) #5, prayer (Our Father) #6, fasting (you don’t have to do it for 40 days but you must tame the appetites) #7 Feasting (community, you can’t do it alone.) What I love about Jesus is he was quite the party guy. He showed up at all the weddings, funerals, dinner parties and everyone was welcome at this table. No exceptions.