If you had to choose between Jesus and Buddha, who would YOU pick to be your spiritual teacher?
It may sound like a strange question... unless you’re like me and an estimated 64 million people in the U.S. alone who identify as “spiritual, not religious.”
The gift of not choosing a particular religion is you can be open to many teachings and glean the truths and guidance which speak most to your soul.
(See below for 7 Common Teachings in Buddhism and Christianity.)
Personally, my parents weren’t religious. We didn’t go to church or temple or the Zendo.
Yet, since about age 4, I’ve just “known” there was more to the world than I could see, hear, touch or smell — a creative force for good, if you will.
Later on in life, the presence of this “Higher Power” has stayed with me.
It’s equally strong inside a church or synagogue, walking a labyrinth or along the beach and sitting on Zen meditation pillow.
Maybe you can relate...
To be sure, it’s wonderful to have the freedom to pick and choose, depending on what you need for this or that junction of the spiritual journey. The risk is you might be only skimming the surface of a deep well of wisdom.
Interestingly, there may be as many similarities among spiritual teachings as there are differences….
For example, Jesus and Buddha taught a number of universal truths, which cross virtually all religious lines — in spite of centuries of violence and conflict over which teachings are superior, or whose God is the “right” God.
This might explain why a lot of “seekers” feel drawn to both traditions, along with other spiritual teachings which which on the surface may seem to contradict one another.
If the similarities aren’t immediately apparent to you, two esteemed scholars have been exploring them.…
Andrew Harvey, a renowned teacher of Christ Consciousness, has been working closely with Robert Thurman, a celebrated writer and academic of Tibetan Buddhism, to uncover the deep truths Jesus AND Buddha’s teachings can illuminate for the modern seeker.
Here here are 7 of the most common teachings by the two enlightened souls, which Andrew and Robert affectionately call “Brothers in Light”:
1. The Cosmos is in Perfect Order
Both Buddha and Christ recognized a divine order in all reality. Christians refer to it as the“kingdom,” inside and outside of us. Jesus fully embodied the kingdom, which can transform suffering in the world. And for Buddhists, deep contemplation reveals that ALL is in perfect order.
2. All Humans Possess the Spark of Divinity
All human beings have within them a spark of divine consciousness with has the potential of absolute unity with the “ONE,” known in the Buddhist tradition as Nirvana and as Christ Consciousness in Christianity. The whole aim of human life for the Buddha as for Jesus, is to realize and embody this divine consciousness.
3. Compassion is the Key to a Spiritual Life
Jesus and Buddha are great teachers of compassion. For the Buddha, compassion is the only possible response to a world in suffering; for Jesus, compassion is a vehicle of expression of divine love that burns in his heart.
4. Forgiveness Heals Suffering
Both Buddha and Jesus teach forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to liberation from the shackles of karma, and in Jesus' case, from the demands and agonies of the ego.
5. Miracles are Natural Occurrences
The Buddha’s presence itself was able to transform human beings, and Jesus' miracles of all kinds are well-known. Through grace and concentrated action, all humans can tap an extraordinary power not previously available to them — and become conduits for miracles.
6. Consciousness Transmutes the Darkness
What Buddhists would call ignorance and Jesus would call evil is the “darkness” that blocks out the light of compassion, justice and harmony. Spiritual discipline illuminates the darkness so that the divine force of love can shine forth.
7. Loving Acts of Service Transform Our World
Buddha and Jesus teach that spiritual discipline and enlightenment are nothing unless we turn our consciousness and actions to serving others, what Andrew Harvey calls “Sacred Activism,” in which love and compassion can heal the world.
After reading this, you can likely see why I have decided to have statues of BOTH Budhha and Jesus on the altar in my home, and books from many spiritual traditions on my nightstand....
I've decided, for now, to stay on the "non-path" path.
And if you're still wondering if the combination of Christianity and Buddhism could benefit your life and spiritual practice, listen to this audio featuring Andrew Harvey on common teachings these two traditions hold:
PS - Inspired by the information included above? If so, you're invited to download a free hour-long recording featuring renowned teachers-scholars Andrew Harvey and Robert Thurman, Rediscovering the Buddha & Jesus.