I have written a number of times on the subject of Buddhism as compared to Christianity. Buddhism attracted me as a young college student seeking truth. It lured me with the promise of harmony with the world and oneness with myself and reality. I was searching for meaning and purpose, and Buddhism promised a journey into a much larger universal reality.
Listening to the testimonies of ex-Buddhists is interesting to me. I could have gone down that road. I started tentatively down that road at one point in my life, testing the waters. When I found the Living Water, Jesus Christ, however, I didn’t need anything else to quench my thirst. I found what my soul was looking for.
As I listened to the testimony of a woman identified only as Madelena, I realized that part of the allure of Buddhism for her was just a mirage. She left the Eastern Orthodox Church she knew as a child to become a Buddhist, and she lived it for many years. The promise of losing oneself in some kind of cosmic oneness is the mirage she exposes in her testimony.
Madelena’s father was a priest in the Eastern Orthodox church. She described it as “intense”, but the religiosity turned her off. She knew what it was to fear God, but she didn’t know the love of God.
When her father separated from her mother, she and her mother were left without support from the church, feeling disconnected. A time of searching and experiences with depression and disconnection from family support led her to embrace Buddhism.
I have reflected and written about the fact that I was enamored by Buddhism in college, especially after a world religion class my freshman year but Buddhism is not where I found my enlightenment. I found enlightenment in reading the Bible.
I didn’t find enlightenment in reading what other people said about the Bible. I found enlightenment in reading the Bible myself.
I have written about the facial similarities of Christianity, Buddhism and oneness. They both place some emphasis on losing or denying one’s self and achieving oneness, but that is where the similarities end. In Buddhism, oneness with the cosmic essence of the universe is something we achieve. In Christianity, oneness with God is achieved in us as we submit to God and allow Him to take His rightful place in the center of our lives.
Whereas, Buddhism encouraged me to ignore myself, look past myself and to escape myself and all of my feeling, ambitions and ego into a cosmic forgetfulness of self, the Bible confronted me with myself. Reading the Bible was like having a one-on-one soul-searching conversation with a stern but loving Father who knew me more intimately and fully than I knew myself.
And then I met Jesus in the Gospels. I can only describe him as divine love incarnate. He is a figure like no other. Bold, daring, fearless, loving, brotherly, piercing, healing. He is everything we would expect a God, a father, a brother, a friend to be. (It wasn’t right away that I was introduced to and experienced the person of the Holy Spirit.) Continue reading “Lured by Buddha but Taken by Christ”→
In Finding Jesus Part I (Seeking God: When God Does Not Answer)), we explored the idea that God is near us at all times; that we do not actually “find” God; that we are the problem; that we get in the way of “finding” God; and in order to “find God”, we must get out of the way and do the unthinkable – lose ourselves .
In Finding Jesus Part II (Seeking God: Getting to the End of Self), we explored what it means to be in the way, to lose ourselves and get out of the way, with an anecdotal example from my own life.
But we need to explore that a bit further before getting to the conclusion: finding Jesus. And it may help to contrast what getting to the end of self (losing the self) means in the Christian sense compared to the Buddhist sense because finding the right path is important to getting where you want to go.
How many people have claimed to be God and have people wondering for centuries whether the claim is true? The list is short! While many people have claimed to be God or a god, most of them have only left people wondering what they were smoking or what the diagnosis is!
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 truth to that. After all, truth is truth wherever it is found.
At the same time, I hear people say that all religions are essentially the same or that they are all the same in the essence. I didn’t find that to be true when I studied the word religions in college (though my professor suggested the same sentiment), and I don’t find it to be true now. While there are some similarities and themes that run through many if not most of the world religions, the differences significant and fundamental.
A comparison between Buddhism and Christianity is one example.