Buddha, Jesus and Oneness

How many people have claimed to be God, leaving people wondering for centuries whether the claim is true? The list is short. While many people have claimed to be God or a god, of course, they did not leave people wondering anything other than how crazy they were!

I often recall the World Religion class I took in college and the fact that Buddhism was particularly attractive to me at that time. I entered that class thinking that truth could be found in many places, all around the world, in all the religions, philosophies and cultures. I still think there is some truth to that. After all, truth is truth wherever it is found.

Buddhism is one of the oldest religions. Buddha may or may not have been a real person. Whether he was a real person or a myth, people have followed him or his story for centuries and have tried to be like him. One thing we know about him, however, is that, if he lived, he died. The Christian claim that Jesus died, and then rose from the dead, is a significant difference.

One aspect of Buddhism that lines up with Christianity is the general idea that losing oneself is a goal to be sought and achieved. In Buddhism, losing oneself means losing one’s identity as a whole and melding into a cosmic identity, becoming one with the universe or the forces of the universe.

The concept is facially similar to the idea that Jesus spoke of: becoming one with Jesus and one with the Father.

The two concepts are ultimately very different, however. Losing oneself into the universe or cosmic force is like a creature becoming one with the creation, becoming one with all things without individual distinction. This kind of oneness amounts to reaching a state of sameness, without personality, without individuality, in harmony with the cosmos.

Ravi Zacharias, who was raised Hindu, recounts a discussion he had with a devout female monk. He asked her about her family and her children, and she confided to him that she missed them terribly and struggled to lose that part of herself. Though she tried, she was unable to reconcile that part of losing herself into the oneness that she sought in her spiritual quest.

We are individuals with unique personalities, features, abilities, desires, skills and prospective. Buddhism instructs us to deny those things that make us unique personalities in a somewhat nihilistic, existential approach to losing oneself into the fabric of everything else.

Jesus taught a very different approach. He did not teach us to deny our personalities, our uniqueness or our otherness; He taught us to lose that part of ourselves that asserts self before others, that asserts self over others, and to submit ourselves to the Will of God and the betterment of others.

This kind of losing one’s self (dying to one’s self) respects and affirms the uniqueness and the difference in the individuality of others, and the uniqueness and individuality of ourselves.

In doing this, Jesus did not instruct us to become one with the creation; Jesus taught us to become one with the Creator!

In that oneness, we do not lose the distinctness of ourselves; we allow our selves to come into alignment with God who is so multifaceted that we can all shine in our unique facets of the likeness of God. In each of our uniqueness perfected in God, together, we all reflect our Creator.

In becoming one with God, we become part of the body of Christ, a distinct feature of it, connected to all other members who have chosen to submit to God’s plan and be connected, ultimately, to the Source of life that supplies the body.

Jesus showed us the character of the Creator, of his Father, by emptying Himself of His glory and becoming human, becoming a creature in His creation. (Phil. 2:7) And doing so, He sacrificed Himself, gave Himself up for His creation – for us.

In doing this, He showed us not only the character of the Creator (love that sacrifices self); He also showed us how we are to lose ourselves. We are not to lose our distinct selves, our individuality, our distinct differences, but we are to lose the desire to favor ourselves over the benefit of others who are also unique and individual and distinct.

I believe there is truth to be found throughout the world, in every religion, philosophy and culture, but I only see one source that pulls all of those truths together into a cohesive whole. I see only one source of truth today that makes sense on a cosmic level, on a microcosmic level, on a human level and everywhere in between.

As with the female Buddhist monk, we all struggle with a need for each other, a need to be connected because we were made to be connected. We are made to live in relationship with each other and with God. The female monk’s children needed her, and she needed them.

We are made that way. Losing ourselves into the creation is not our highest calling; losing the superiority of ourselves to align with God and live in harmony with people who are also distinctly made in God’s image, and in harmony with His creation, is our highest calling.

No other figure in the history of the world made the claims that Jesus made and left people wondering for centuries whether those claims are true: He claimed to be God in the flesh (John 1:14). No other person in history has made such claims and had millions of people believe they were true. In Jesus we see the fullness of God. (Col. 2:9)

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2 Comments on “Buddha, Jesus and Oneness”

  1. Wonderful post in the context of Christianity and Buddhism .
    thank you


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