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"I feel there is tremendous convergence and a potential for mutual enrichment through dialogue between the Buddhist and Christian traditions, especially in the areas of ethics and spiritual practice, such as the practices of compassion, love, meditation, and the enhancement of tolerance. I feel that this dialogue could go very far and reach a deep level of understanding. But when it comes to a philosophical or metaphysical dialogue, I feel that we must part company. The entire Buddhist worldview is based on a philosophical standpoint in which the central thought is the principle of interdependence, how all things and events come into being purely as a result of interactions between causes and conditions. Within that philosophical worldview it is almost impossible to have any room for an atemporal, eternal, absolute truth. Nor is it possible to accommodate the concept of a divine Creation. Similarly, for a Christian whose entire metaphysical worldview is based on a belief in the Creation and a Divine Creator, the idea that all things and events arise out of mere interaction between causes and conditions has no place within that worldview. So, in the realm of metaphysics, it becomes problematic at a certain point, and the two traditions must diverge (81-82).".

By The Christian Research Institute

  • If and when the two traditions don't diverge, is that necessarily problematic to Buddhism also?

  • If and when the two traditions don't diverge, is that necessarily problematic for all people?

  • Are Christian concepts pointing at the same things that Buddhism is pointing at but with different approaches?

  • How well does the Christian Research Institute understand Buddhism?

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  • The article you're quoting from is here: The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus
    – ChrisW
    Jan 15, 2023 at 7:30
  • The quote itself, i.e. which the article is quoting, is from the book The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by H. H. the Dalai Lama.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 15, 2023 at 8:35
  • Hi Lowbrow, I'm not sure I understand the questions. Perhaps you could add a sentence or two after each question to explain it. For example the first two questions, why or how might non-divergence be "problematic" in your opinion? And in the third question are you asking about e.g. the xenophobic or nationalist rhetoric used by Fascists; and how is that related to the quote, or to Christianity or Buddhism?
    – ChrisW
    Jan 15, 2023 at 9:15
  • OK, thanks for your feedback
    – Lowbrow
    Jan 15, 2023 at 13:24
  • 💚Oops, maybe I took a little too much poetic license? Idk...
    – Lowbrow
    Jan 17, 2023 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

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"Are Christian concepts pointing at the same things that Buddhism is pointing at but with different approaches?"

I'd have to say no, but if one can see God as the personification of idappaccayatā or "this/that conditionality", which (IMO) is the fundamental principle or force of "life, the universe, and everything," then many of the things in the Christian texts start to make sense, and there is some overlap. But these are just my thoughts and I don't thing you'll find a "believer" that will agree with that interpretation of the Gospel (good story), or the so called "Old Testament."

And as far as convergence: Ven.Ṭhānissaro has noted, "All paths do not lead to the top of the mountain."

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Since it's Martin Luther King Day in the US, let me start with one of his more famous quotes: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Had he been living in less politically charged times he'd have probably said that it bends towards 'The Good' (in the classic Platonic sense), but justice was a deep concern at that moment in history.

My point, though, is that when we discuss these issues we need to think about the arc of the moral universe. Every faith and every philosophy has the same trajectory and the same target — as difficult to define as that might be — converging in from different starting points. One who stands stolidly in the middle of a worldview looking out at others will see difference and conflict; one who 'looses the arrow' (so to speak) and follows the arc will find unity and peace. At a certain point constructs like 'Buddhism', 'Christianity', etc, evolve into something that is both, all, neither, and none.

Ritual and dogma are the source of difference and conflict. But ritual and dogma are a cocoon, not an end in themselves. The question is whether one can see past that.

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  • One bit of Christian dogma is, "No one comes to the Father except through me" -- I think that may be the bit I find hardest to translate into Buddhist terms, i.e. what's "the Father"? But apart from that, the lists of sins and of virtues for example are pretty similar in Christianity and in Buddhism.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 16, 2023 at 18:40
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    @ChrisW: The idea that liberation can only be found through the Buddha dharma is cognate to the Christian saying, particularly if were take Jesus to be referring to his teachings (rather than himself), and think of the rest as meaning 'attaining salvation'. But, you know... Hermeneutics is the enemy of dogma. Jan 17, 2023 at 2:27
  • @ChrisW that's why krsna is mara...god is one, and basically useless
    – blue_ego
    Jan 29, 2023 at 15:46
  • @blue_ego I'm not saying it's useless. Given I think that Christian doctrine is theist (with "love God" being the first commandment) I was asking Ted how he could say it has the same target at Buddhism -- and the answer was that in both cases the target is "attaining salvation", so.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 29, 2023 at 15:59

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