What are the similarities and contrasts between Buddhism and Christianity? To what extent do they make it possible (or not) to practice in and hold the beliefs of both?

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    Have you have looked at other topics tagged christianity? And are you asking about any/all forms of Buddhism (and of Christianity), or are you asking about any specific school?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:12
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    I'm tempted to close this question as "too broad".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:19
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    Also, given that this is a Buddhism.SE site, the main point of comparative-religion topics is to clarify Buddhism (e.g. by contrasting it with Christianity, to help people who know more about Christianity than they do about Buddhism). So questions ought to be phrased such that they ask more about Buddhism than they do about Christianity. This question seems symmetric (50% Buddhism and 50% Christianity) and thus is not really on-topic. Beware that many users of this site know less about Christianity, and you may get inexpert answers if the question asks too much about Christianity.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:25
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    @ChrisW Also, the question title and question body are really completely different questions... It's also a duplicate of other questions. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:29
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    The question is interesting. For a person to be Christian, should Christianity accept them? for it to accept them, should they be following or should they be not doing certain things? Should this question not be asked in Christianity SE instead? I don't think Buddhism puts any restrictions as such. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:40

12 Answers 12


Similarities between Buddhism and Christianity:

  1. The word 'birth' has a psychological meaning (rather than a physical meaning), as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3 and the Buddha explained in SN 12.2; SN 23.2 & SN 5.10. Therefore, 're-birth' happens when living rather than at the termination of life. MN 86 states:

Sister, since I was born in the noble birth, I do not recall intentionally killing a living being.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3)

  1. The word 'death' has a psychological/spiritual meaning (rather than a physical meaning).

Dhammapada 21. Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already

  1. Dependent origination is taught in both, namely, James 1:15:

But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

  1. While the Gospels mostly teach about 'Eternal Life', which is alien to Buddhism, at times Christianity teaches about the 'Deathless', which is the same as Buddhism, such as in the Gospel of Thomas verse 1 and John 21:23.

And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."

Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die.

  1. Craving ('tanha'; lit. 'thirst') as the cause of suffering is taught in both; as is the end of craving being 'Nibbana' or 'Eternal Life'.

What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the passions at war within you? James 4:1

But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life. John 4:14

  1. 'The world' ('loka') is equated to suffering & the 'lokuttara' state of 'beyond the world' is the state of freedom.

John 16:33 - The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!"

John 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world".

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away

Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' SN 35.82

Dhammapada 167. Follow not the vulgar way; live not in heedlessness; hold not false views; linger not long in worldly existence.

Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age....

  1. 'Satan' is the ruler of the world:

The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.

John 12:31

44. Who shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods? Who shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom as an expert garland-maker would his floral design?

45. A striver-on-the path shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods. The striver-on-the-path shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom, as an expert garland-maker would his floral design.

46. Realizing that this body is like froth, penetrating its mirage-like nature, and plucking out Mara's flower-tipped arrows of sensuality, go beyond sight of the King of Death!


  1. Both teach the destruction of kamma.

And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma. AN 6.63

Galatians 2:16 - Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

  1. Both have a Trinity or Triple Gem. Buddha reveals/makes known the Dhamma (Truth & Nibbana), the path to which is represented by the Sangha, who live the Holy Way of Life (Brahmacariyaṃ). Jesus reveals/makes known the Father, of which the Holy Spirit is the way. Both teach a disciple may attain the same realisation as the teacher.

So this holy life, bhikkhus... it is this unshakeable deliverance of mind that is the goal of this holy life, its heartwood, and its end.”

MN 29

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Hasten to be saved without being urged! Instead, be eager of your own accord, and, if possible, arrive even before me; for thus the Father will love you. The Apocryphon of James

  1. Both teach the practise of mental purity & energetic watchfulness.

    Matthew 25 At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.... Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

  2. Both teach 'god is love'. The Brahmans, like the Jews, believed they were Brahma's (God's) chosen people. But Buddha in the Tevijja Sutta taught the Brahmans god is love, i.e., the path to union with Brahma is to radiate boundless love towards all beings. Similarly, Christianity teaches god is love (1 John 4:8), which was contrary to Judaism, in which god was jealous, violent & tribal.

And he lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of Love, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with heart of Love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure. Just, Vāseṭṭha, as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard—and that without difficulty—in all the four directions; even so of all things that have shape or life, there is not one that he passes by or leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and deep-felt love. Verily this, Vāseṭṭha, is the way to a state of union with Brahmā. Tevijja Sutta

Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

  1. In summary, based on many similar core concepts, which use very similar terms, Christianity appeared to be an attempt to transpose Buddhism onto a theist framework; which was fatally flawed because it is impossible to transpose transcendent Nibbanic Buddhism onto worldly creationist Kabbalah Judaism.

It is not possible to be both a Buddhist and a Christian because Buddhism teaches all things without exception are 'anatta' ('not-self') & 'the elements' ('dhatu') as its core & fundamental principle; where as Christianity includes 'self' in the form of Christ & The Father as a core principle.

In other words, Buddhism is strictly 'impersonal' where as Christianity is 'personal', where salvation is based on a personal relationship between the 'small-self' & a personal god (Christ & The Father).

For example, Matthew 16:25 states:

Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Luke 23:42 states:

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”…

Buddhism explains there are many types of liberation/salvation of mind (MN 43), which include liberation via loving-kindness & liberation via emptiness of self, the later being the foremost & unshakeable.

He keeps pervading above, below & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will (loving-kindness): abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will... This is called the immeasurable mind-release.

And what is the emptiness mind-release? There is the case where a monk, having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or into an empty dwelling, considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.'

Now, to the extent that there is immeasurable mind-release, the unprovoked mind-release is declared the foremost. And this unprovoked mind-release is empty of passion, empty of aversion, empty of delusion.

MN 43

Christianity is merely liberation via loving-kindness where as Buddhism is liberation via emptiness of self.

Also, Christianity teaches salvation is 'Eternal Life' where as Buddhism teaches salvation is 'dispassion' that occurs via the realisation of impermanence & not-self. In other words, Christianity is a doctrine of 'Eternalism' (the belief a self exists after death), which is a wrong view in Buddhism; where as Buddhism is a doctrine of impermanence.

In its most esoteric interpretation (which is rejected by most Christians), Christianity is 'mysticism' where as Buddhism is 'straightforward'.

Jesus said he taught using parables to hide teachings & the New Testament is replete with the language of metaphor, which results in most Christians being unable to discern between the literal & metaphorical.

Where as the Buddha taught straightforwardly & plainly, with key terms explicitly defined.

Also, Christianity is fatally connected to the Old Testament of Judaism, which allows killing in many circumstances, such as war & heresy. This is why Christianity has had many Inquisitions.

In conclusion, Buddhism states it is "impossible" for a person of right view to take refuge in another teacher, thus it is not possible to be both a Buddhist and a Christian.

Since Buddhism states: "‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that two Accomplished Ones, Fully Enlightened Ones, could arise contemporaneously in one world-system", the view of Buddhism is those teachings of Jesus that are similar to Buddhism have their source in Buddhism. Therefore, the Buddha is the teacher & Jesus is the student.

He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a person possessing right view could acknowledge another teacher ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that an ordinary person might acknowledge another teacher ― there is such a possibility.’

He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that two Accomplished Ones, Fully Enlightened Ones, could arise contemporaneously in one world-system ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that one Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One, might arise in one world-system ― there is such a possibility.

MN 115

  • What you say is true if we are talking about standard modern Christianity but Christ taught The Dhamma...today's Christianity often is the exact opposite from Christ's true Dhamma teachings. It's not taught in the same way but it is true Dhamma. Trust me on this one.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 2:52
  • Uuu, since Thomas asked his question today, and not back when Christ was teaching, presumably he, Thomas, is referring to what you call "standard modern Christianity". Given that, it sounds kinda sensible that Dhammadhatu would use the same meanings as Thomas did, no? Equivocation is a problem we should all avoid, yes?
    – tkp
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 3:43
  • @Uuu OK. I wrote another answer about similarities. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 5:44

The answer depends on exactly what one means by Buddhism and Christianity since whether we like it or not those things are not precisely defined by anything like a universal authority. Even within each concept, there are huge differences. One could equally well ask if one can follow both Theravada and Mahayana, or both Catholicism and Protestantism.

That said, if we look at the most common uses of the two terms, the most simple, absolutely basic underlying definitions, applicable to lay-folk, might be something like this:

  • Buddhist: someone who accepts the Four Noble Truths, and is attempting to follow the Noble Eightfold Path so as to attain freedom from suffering and Nirvana. We could maybe add something about taking the three refuges and adhering to the five precepts, but those muddy this discussion I think
  • Christian: someone who accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, him being the only source of salvation and without whose intervention one will, after death, suffer eternal torment and separation from God. We could maybe add something about having been baptized, and being willing and able to say "Jesus Christ is Lord" (cf. 1 Cor 12:13), but again I think those just confuse things needlessly.

Given those really basic definitions, and assuming we take them more or less literally (very important; see later) there is simply no way to pursue both approaches. Absolutely front and center of Christianity is the dude Jesus, his death and alleged resurrection, the fact that those constitute atonement for sin, and so on. You cannot be a Christian without regularly getting down on your hands and knees, literally or metaphorically, and worshipping Jesus. Accepting Him, being saved from sin, etc, and absolutely not meditation and resulting insight into the three marks of existence, etc, are what count.

And that is in stark contrast with Buddhism where Jesus doesn't really come into it, and breaking delusion etc are vital. Of course I can't see a problem with a Buddhist believing, just as Muslims do, that Jesus was a spectacularly important and awesome guy. But even if so, that's all he was, and as I said that's not remotely enough for a Christian.

HOWEVER... (there's always a however...)

All of that -- and it's pretty mainline exposition; I didn't make it up -- is only clearly the case if one takes those definitions literally. In particular it's if one interprets the meanings of the various terms in the context of contemporary scientific naturalism (sometimes manifesting as scientism) and essentially discards metaphysics (by which I mean the formal, philosophical type, as opposed to New Age fluffy stuff) or even modern philosophical systems such as phenomenology. With the much more sophisticated conceptual structures that those systems of thought provide, then the question as to exactly what Christianity or Buddhism (or many others) mean by any give concept needs more thought and so has more scope for compatibility.

I reckon that anyone with any degree of openness of mind, and willing to put in the work, cannot fail to see potential connections between what we got from the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Dogen, the neo-Platonists like Plotinus, scholastics like Aquinas, and so on, all the way to the present day.

So given all of that, I'll balance my earlier answer of "simply no way" with an alternative which is, "You're just going to have to try it out and see" :-) And to back that up, I'll offer two quotes (my italic emphasis in both):

  • From Christianity: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling", Phil 2:12
  • From Buddhism: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!" DN 16 PTS: D ii 72 chapters 1-6

I think it is possible to be both anything, as long as you are open and prepared for your definitions of both Buddhist and Christian to change and evolve with time.

If you are stuck in place, then that would not work, even for someone who is "just" Buddhist.

In my experience it is kind of a useless pursuit to find "similarities" between religions. Let's just try to find ways to be good people ... and let the teachings sink in.


As far as I'm concerned you can be whatever you like. You can even create your own religion if you so desire. Orthodox Buddhists and Christians will of course disagree but frankly I don't really care. The Buddha was not Buddhist and Jesus was not Christian. They were just enlightened beings and we all have that potential. Neither of them would have planned on their teachings becoming a massive worldwide cult and I'm pretty sure that if either of them knew what abhorrent acts have been and still are being carried out in their name they would be heartbroken. So follow what works and what resonates as truth for you. If it causes you and others to suffer less and find more peace and happiness stick with it, if not then ditch it. I don't subscribe to any one religion. I believe they all have nuggets of truth within them.

  • I think they are all sort of pointing at the same thing.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 1:39

I am both Buddhist and Christian. This is all just my opinion that follows.

The differences are mere interpretation. Jesus, seems to have been an acetic who spoke that he is God and the son of God and that just means he was one with God or enlightened in some way, I don't really know but it seems this way to me... based on my experience and what I know, bla,bla,bla and so forth.

The reason "Faith" is a big teaching is because a teacher often teaches a student about Faith so they can just know that the path they, the disciples are on, is true without having to intellectualise the teaching away with materialistic doubts. The parables were meant as ascetic teachings not worldly teachings for the family. Jesus was against family when it crushes spiritual progress. Family often is the source of a serious truth seekers encouragement to follow the herd and not be so serious.


To what extent do they make it possible (or not) to practice in and hold the beliefs of both?

Buddhist practice revolves around the 3 trainings which is:

  • be moral and ethical
  • control your mind, impulses and emotions
  • understand and verify the reality of things at the experiential or empirical level

As most religions also must be preaching to be established in morality and ethics. Also no to be impulsive and do bad due to this. Also no religion can be against gaining wisdom.

Hence I think a Christian can practice Buddhism. Anyone practicing any religion can practice buddhism as I do not see any incompatibility.

Every religion worthy of the name calls on its followers to live a moral and ethical way of life, to attain mastery over the mind and to cultivate purity of heart. One tradition tells us, "Love thy neighbor"; another says, Salaam walekum - "May peace be with you"; still another says, Bhavatu sabbamangalam or Sarve bhavantu sukhinah - "May all beings be happy." Whether it is the Bible, the Koran or the Gita, the scriptures call for peace and amity.


S N Goenka addresses UN Peace Summit


Some people says that original teachings of Jesus is similar to Buddha's teachings. Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Living Buddha Living Christ" can be helpful for those who want to reconcile Christianity with Buddhism. Buddhism's methodology is to make people aware of what they are not instead of giving them direct explanations of the nature of the universe. So If Christianity is seen as a non-dualistic religion that also has meditation in it's teachings then people can remain Christians and go towards enlightenment perfectly with the help of the Buddhist teachings. You don't need to be a Buddhist to follow Buddhism's guidance in path of freedom from suffering.

In this answer you can see clearly that belief is certainly not essential in Buddhism: https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/6/700

But If you see the "God" as a seperate entity that have rules and punishes people for their sins and sends them to heaven or hell for eternity, I think that it will be a very problematic thing to follow Buddhism's guidance while beliving in Christianity. The Sufis that lived in the past(not the modern Sufis) were obviously not following the original Islam but they somehow found the way to interpret Islam in such a way that they could go to freedom from suffering/Enlightenment perfectly. I think that Christians who want to apply Buddhist teachings in their daily lives don't need to do that because most likely the original teachings of Jesus was similar to the Buddha's teachings. But it is necessary to become free from the wrong perceptions(especially the seperate sky-god belief) while practising both of these religions.


I've noticed many things found primarily only in early Buddhism also appearing in NT Christianity this leads me to believe that Jesus encountered Greco-Buddhist monks or even that He himself was a Greco-Buddhist monk.

The earliest Buddhist scriptures are written in Gandhari which is from the Indo-Greek kingdoms. The earliest Buddhist statues were made in a Hellenistic Greek style and the NT is written in Greek...is it merely a coincidence?

They found Buddhist relics in Hellenistic Egypt and also certain Hellenistic Jews were rumored to have been Buddhists right before Christianity began.

There are certain concepts that appear primarily only in early Buddhism and not in Judaism that also appear in NT Christianity:

  • Hell

    There is no hell in OT Bible or Judaism at all, only in the NT. Hell is a central concept primarily in early Buddhism mentioned thousands of times in Buddhist suttas seems to have originated in Buddhism but does hell even exist in Christianity at all? Many Christian scholars say there is no hell just mistranslations, others say a temporary hell and still lots of confusion in between.

    The Judeo-Christian idea seems to be that "God created the heaven and the Earth" no hell, that everything is always good, nothing bad happens, and everything always works in the end, it's always a happy ending so hell doesn't really make sense.

    Whereas in Buddhism one of the Noble Truths is acknowledging that pain and suffering exists so hell makes perfect sense and fits in with Buddhism not with Judeo-Christian religions. There is no "Problem of Evil" in Buddhism.

    According to The Buddha the majority of Christians and people in general go to hell, the animal realm, or the realm of ghosts after death. The majority of Christians seem to think of themselves a good person and that they would never go to hell or that it's really easy to go to heaven.

  • The "Evil One"

    Mara the "Evil One" in Buddhism seems to be nearly the exact same figure as the "Evil One" in the NT but where does such a concept originate from? Mara is a central concept in early Buddhism.

  • Miracles such as walking on water as if was land

    It's highlighted in the media that Jesus performed the miracle of walking on water as if it was land but in reality such mentions of things originates in early Buddhism. In Buddhism it is mentioned as a common iddhi power but in Buddhism anyone who develops concentration including even evil unenlightened beings can perform such miracles so it is not really viewed as anything that special though mentioned hundreds of times. The Buddha and many of his disciples allegedly performed many such miracles commonly.

  • Confession, repentance

    Monks and lay followers confessing sins and repenting is a central concept in early Buddhism, there are rules for confession for monks but where does such an idea come from in Christianity?

  • Monks and nuns

    Where does the concept of monks and nuns in early Christianity originate from? In early Buddhism there are all types of detailed rules for monks and nuns.

  • Church Bell/Temple bell Gong

    Where does the Church bell idea come from? Seems very similar to the Buddhist temple bell.

  • God-man concept

    The Buddha is one of the only teachers originally portrayed as a Supreme Being, fully enlightened, all-knowing in certain knowledges with many superhuman abilities.

    Figures like Moses and Muhammad were just like ordinary people who never claimed to know anything with nothing special about them whereas Jesus was more like a God-man.

    It seems like almost every God-man teacher came in post-Buddhist religions indicating that Buddhism originated such ideas.

So what's the explanation for these many concepts appearing in NT Christianity that are found primarily only in early Buddhism and not in Judaism? I see only two possibilities:

  • Just a big coincidence
  • Since early Buddhists were Hellenistic Greeks and the NT is written in Greek it some how came from early Buddhism (either by Jesus encountering Greco-Buddhist monks or even himself being a Greco-Buddhist monk)

The central basis of Jesus' teachings seems to be the practice of metta (loving-kindness) which is also recommended for Buddhists, except The Buddha gives more effective methods of surrounding your consciousness with loving-kindness rather than merely advising people to practice it. I'm sure many people want to be loving and kind but their unconscious impulses cause them not to be that's why there's the mind-exercises.

There are the 11 advantages of developing metta (loving-kindness) (AN 11.15):

  1. You sleep well.
  2. You wake happily.
  3. You don’t have bad dreams.
  4. Humans love you.
  5. Non-humans love you.
  6. Deities protect you.
  7. You can’t be harmed by fire, poison, or weapons.
  8. One’s mind gains concentration quickly.
  9. One’s complexion is bright.
  10. One dies unconfused.
  11. If you don’t penetrate any higher, you’ll be reborn in a Brahmā realm.

So the practice of metta is in accordance with achieving arahantship but in Buddhism there's only two ways to escape suffering:

  1. Gain birth in one of the Five Pure Abodes
  2. Achieve arahantship

So Christianity is more compatible with lay followers of Buddhism rather than for those who desire to achieve enlightenment here and now.

The majority of Christians and people in general of all different faiths are most likely going to hell, the animal realm, or the realm of ghosts after death based on what The Buddha claims seems to be the natural state that people head towards the three lower destinations...Jesus' commandments and teachings were centered around the practice of metta but very few Christians seem to have faith or loving-kindness inside so it's going to be really unlikely that they go above the 3 lower destinations (hell, the animal realm, the realm of ghosts).

The Buddha claimed to be a sammasambuddha which means independently achieving enlightenment without the help of a teacher and also having the qualities of being a supreme teacher so it's expected that sammasambuddhas give rise to arahants, future paccekabuddhas, other religions and dhammas and we see so many things originating in early Buddhism appearing in post-Buddhist religions.

When sammasambuddhas appear they shock the entire universe-system, not only beings on Earth but even beings in heavenly worlds far above the Brahma realms.


To practice most of what is taught in Dhamma, one does not have to be a Christian or Buddhist. For example, there is no need to be a Buddhist or Christian when purifying the mind of defilements, which is key to meditation. Then there is no such thing as Christian or Muslim or Buddhist morality. Morality is universal and comes out naturally on the basis of benevolence, compassion, and wisdom having precedence over greed, hate, and ignorance.

In “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion” (2014), Sam Harris has this to say:

“Spirituality must be distinguished from religion – because of people of every faith, and of none, have had the same sorts of spiritual experiences….Nothing that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Hindu can experience – self-transcending love, ecstasy, bliss, inner light – constitutes evidence in support of their traditional beliefs, because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another. A deeper principle must be at work”.

Having said this, I have to say that where Buddhism and Christianity start to differ is when it comes to the Supra-mundane level. This is the lokottara - beyond this world of 31 realms – or the transcendental level of Dhamma. One can explain it intellectually but the reader will not get it, as it is in the practice that one gets to the supra-mundane levels of realization of such higher truths. So I will bring up just a couple of simple examples to show this.

The standard translation for sati—mindfulness—is probably derived from the passage in the Anglican Prayer Book that says, “Be ever mindful of the needs of others.” In other words keep their needs in mind. Even though the word “mindful” may come from Christianity, it’s the closest we can get in English to what sati means in the Pali Canon. Sati in Dhamma is a “good” mental factor - “a good cetasika”. “Sati” arises only in moral thoughts (kusala citta), and DOES NOT arise in akusala citta. “Good cetasika” do not arise in akusala citta (similarly, “bad cetasika” do not arise in kusala citta). Thus “sati” is much more than “attention” or “mindfulness”. In a ‘Christian’ sense “sati” is the ability to remember or recall past events, but it is the “manasikara” cetasika that does that. When a person stops and contemplates whether an action one is about to take has moral or immoral consequences, and carries out only those actions that have moral consequences, then that person is acting with “sati” as per Dhamma.

In Buddhism the person acting with “sati” of a moral/ kusala citta as per Dhamma does it on ones own accord. In Christianity, the moral and ethical codes were created by Christ himself. The punishment for sinners was meted out by God, as well as by his earthly authorities. However, for those who are prepared to confess and repent for their sins, there is forgiveness, thus placing the relationship between God and Man on a personal basis. One who accepts this dictum / formal pronouncement from an authoritative source, can never be a Buddhist at a true or lokottara level.

It is through total submission to the Will of God that a Christian could ever hope for salvation. For a Buddhist the moral purity is just the beginning to the transcendental, and it is internalized within the mind of each individual and does not require the intervention of a divine external agency or force. Here I should mention that the mundane versions of the PATH are followed by those ‘Buddhists’ who do not comprehend the Tilakkhana (anicca, dukkha, anatta). The mundane versions can be grasped by a normal human who is unaware of the true Tilakkhana or the true nature this world. The transcendental or lokottara versions can be comprehended only with an understanding of anicca, dukkha, anatta. Without an understanding of the anicca nature, we perceive that sense pleasures are good, and are worth striving for. But when one starts comprehending the anicca nature, one realizes that suffering is actually rooted in sense pleasures.

When one realizes that suffering is actually rooted in sense pleasures, then one is no longer a Christian. That is when s/he embraces the Dhamma, and as a Buddhist cultivates the transcendental 37 Factors of Enlightenment with the goal of attaining Nibbana, as s/he realizes that this world of 31 realms has nothing but suffering to offer in the long run.

  • You understand well at least intellectually , 'reality' when it is empty of our labels and borders.-Metta
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 16:53
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    In Buddhism, there are three kinds of defilements: greed, hatred & self-delusion. Christianity does not explicitly teach the self-delusion is a defilement and in fact teaches to transmute the 'self' onto the 'Jesus-self'. It states: "whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25". Also, Christianity states to give up greed/lust but does not really provide a clear & effective methodology. Only vipassana can uproot the defilements, which is why the Lord Buddha said the eightfold path is the ONLY PATH to purify the mind. Sam's experience of selflessness came by taking LSD. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 20:55
  • Jesus said: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” The amount of defilements here is minor compared to Buddhism. Therefore, Christianity cannot purify the mind 100%. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 21:11
  • I agree with what you've said. Now I've got to find some time to add a bit more to what I've posted, and touch on the aspect that you've pointed out. Thanks. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 22:48
  • The 31 realms are all mental state of people (rather than other places). As for 'lokuttara' or 'beyond the world', this simply means to not cling to the world. Here, Jesus taught: "John 16:33 - The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!" and "John 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world". Therefore, the teaching of Jesus is 'lokuttara' however how to reach lokutara is not clearly explained by Jesus, except via forgiveness & non-judging. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 5:05

Practice of Buddhism requires refuge through proper understanding

Practice of Christianity requires refuge through proper faith

Former brings forth understanding that, after death, there is neither eternity (sasvatha) nor nothingness (uccheda). In that context, Christianity is uccheda. Hence there is a contradiction.

Latter beings forth a necessity for unwavering faith beyond reason in a supreme being. In that context, since practicing Buddhism requires a pragmatic view on self and what happens to one self, there is a problem following Buddhism while having a faith beyond reasoning in something or someone else.


Buddhism's ultimate truth is emptiness. Christianity's ultimate truth is God. In Buddhism, God is still in cyclic existence - will die and suffer again and again.

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