Jesus and Buddha – – differences far outweigh “similarities”


It seems that it has become quite popular to claim that Buddhism is not a religion per se, but rather a philosophical path or a way of life.
Dalai Lama said “If Buddhism and Science disagree, go with Science.”
Buddha himself said “don’t believe anything I say unless it matches with your experience.”

Jesus and Buddha – – differences far outweight “similarities”

First, the Buddhist view, by Joshua Hudson:



There are many books on the topic of where Buddhism and Christianity agree in philosophy.
The same can be made of most (if not all) religions.
Some of the key factors of what is best of the Bible and Buddhism both converge on the areas of ethics, kindness, giving, and love.
Even the concept of sin, depending on how you interpret the Bible, is the same.
On the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus states many concepts that would agree with many Buddhist traditions:
– Be humble
– Be compassionate (a possible translation of sympathy through mourning)
– Live simply (a possible translation of meek)
– Be ethical (a possible translation of righteous)
– Be merciful
– Be pure of heart
– Be a peacemaker
– Do not live in fear to do what is right
– Be an example to others (“the light of the world”)
– Do not murder (the Buddhist First Precept)
– Do not commit adultery (The Buddhist Third Precept)
– Sin is not only found in action but in intention (the Buddhist concept of volitional action creating karma)
– Keep your promises (The Buddhist Fourth Precept)
– Turn the other cheek (The Buddhist concept of compassion or karuna)
– Do charity because it is in your heart to do so (the concept of dana)
– Do not judge ( The Buddhist concept of the three poisons: hatred, greed and delusion)
– Always be seeking and questioning ( “seek and you will find ..”)
– Beware of false prophets and judge them by the fruit they bare (the sutta of the Kalamas)

In many ways, this seminal talk of Jesus encompasses almost all of the major concepts of Buddhism.


The definitive dividing line for Christianity and Buddhism is also set out in the “Sermon on the Mount.”
While Buddhism is a faith of self-realization, Christianity is a faith of God’s revelation.
In order to be Christian, you must believe that there is a God and that Jesus was his only begotten son who came to Earth.
But the Buddha purposefully did not speak of a creator God.
He also lived 500 years before Jesus and would not have known him (although there is speculation that Jesus would have known Buddha’s teachings).
Buddha not being a theist or atheist left alone the issue of God as irrelevant to his practice.
“I teach only the understanding of suffering,” said Buddha, “and the end of suffering.”
However, if Jesus is the way to salvation, can you believe in the practices of the Buddha and still be Christian?
Isn’t Jesus the only way to the end of suffering?
For those who follow a Christian-Buddhist path, Jesus himself could best present the answer.
“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Jesus, “and unto God what is God’s.”
Buddhism is a faith in the practice of here and now.
Christianity is a practice for the afterlife.


For those Buddhists who practice for an understanding of the afterlife, incorporating Christianity would be almost impossible.
The concept of rebirth precludes the idea of an eternal heaven.
The Christian faith requires the concept of heaven (although not historically a concept of hell).
There is a God, a Heaven, and Jesus.
So Buddhists who embrace the cosmology of certain sects of Buddhism or atheism, could never entertain the idea of Christian-Buddhists: just as Christians who believe God is continually participating in every thought of their life could never believe in a happiness that is caused by their own free will.
But what of God being in every aspect of the world?
Effecting every action?
Christians who consider adding Buddhism to their practice may find others who think that no movements are made in the universe without God’s intervention.

I would direct them to Kings 19:11-13:
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” 

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In this understanding of God, the Creator would be one that does not interfere with the world in which we live, but only touches the heart of man to let him know he is there.
It is up to man to make his volitional choices using his free will, and making his own happiness.
The story of Job tells of the story of a faithful man who is beset by all sorts of misfortune, but he “chooses” to keep his faith.
While Jesus performs miracles and teaches his gospel, he always leaves these parables as tools so that his followers can make their own choices towards happiness.
The Buddha does the same as Jesus, but without the need to exclude the idea of other faiths.
The Buddha said for us to always question and practice and see the truth by the fruits of our efforts.
If a Christian can grow and develop his faith by adding the tools of the Buddha, then I see it as a good


Here is the Christian view, by Douglas R. Groothuis:


“The essential religious truth claims of Jesus and Buddha differ radically from one another.
To think otherwise is to ignore history, logic, and the well-being of one’s soul, since Jesus and Buddha proposed radically different spiritual paths.
Jesus, in fact, warned that the path to life was narrow and that many fail to find it (Matt. 7:13).
Jesus’ followers must not shrink back from the seriousness of His statement, especially in our pluralistic society.

Before comparing the basic teachings of Jesus and Buddha regarding God, humans, and salvation, one should point out to those enamored of the Buddha that the earliest written documents about the life of Buddha (563–483 b.c.) come about five hundred years after his death.
In his edited collection, Buddhist Scriptures, Edward Conze notes that Buddhism has nothing that corresponds to the Christian New Testament, which is an authoritative canon of Scriptures written a short time after the life of Jesus.
Let no one, therefore, take Buddhist records as hard history and then discount the New Testament for being too ancient to be historically credible.

Two Virgin Birth Stories:

Some try to narrow the gap between Jesus and Buddha by saying that both are recorded as having come into the world through spiritual means via a virgin birth.
In their recent book, The Original Jesus, Elman Gruber and Holger Kersten go even further and argue that the story of Jesus’ virgin birth was borrowed from a Buddhist source that claimed the same kind of supernatural origin for Buddha.

This is unlikely.
First, this view overlooks significant differences between the two accounts.
In the Buddhist account, the prehuman Buddha came in the form of a white elephant who entered the side of his mother.
Religious scholar Geoffrey Parrinder notes that it “was not a virgin birth, since she was married, and in this story…it is celestial influence rather than a divine seed that enters her.”
The Gospel’s account of Jesus’ conception and birth differs radically (Luke 1:26–35).
Second, the Buddhist sources are dated long after the gospels of Luke and Matthew.
The Buddhist story comes from a fifth-century a.d. text and is absent from the most ancient Pali canon of Buddhism.
If any borrowing occurred, it is more likely that Buddhists selectively borrowed from the Gospels than vice versa.
The New Testament documents were all written in the middle to the late first century.
According to renowned biblical scholar J. Gresham Machen, the virgin birth material had “been in existence only a few decades from the time when Jesus lived.”
This is quite different from the late emergence of the Buddhist stories.
What about Jesus’ and Buddha’s essential worldviews, that is, their teachings on ultimate reality, the human condition, and spiritual liberation?

Two Views of Ultimate Reality.

Jesus affirmed the existence and unity of a personal and moral God, who is both sovereign over history and involved with it.
He taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9 nasb).
Jesus never challenged the monotheism of His Jewish brethren but affirmed it and intensified its spiritual and moral challenges (Matt. 5–7).
Buddha, however, did not deem theological matters worthy of consideration.
He regarded them as metaphysical speculations, unedifying and irrelevant to attaining spiritual liberation.
He challenged key features of the Brahmanism of his native India but did not embrace belief in a Creator God as fundamental to proper spirituality.
Buddha’s image is worshiped around the globe, but he never considered himself a revelation of God.
He rather considered himself an enlightened teacher (“Buddha” is a title that means “the enlightened one”).

Two Views of the Human Condition.

Human beings, according to Jesus, were created by God (Matt. 19:4) and ought to worship and obey God with their whole beings, as well as to love their neighbors as themselves (Matt. 22:37–39).
Jesus taught that humans possess immaterial souls that persist after death and that will one day be reunited with resurrected bodies (Matt. 12:26–27; John 5:28–29).
Jesus, however, also referred to humans as spiritually “lost” (Luke 19:10) and corrupt at their core (Matt. 9:13; Mark 7:21–23).
Buddha did not speculate about human origins but focused on the human condition as (1) suffused with suffering (2) brought about through unfulfilled desires (the first two of the Four Noble Truths, the essence of Buddhism).
He taught that people cannot satisfy their souls with anything because they do not have souls.
Just as a chariot has no essence, but is only a collection of individual parts, so the human person has no essence or substance; it is only a collection of parts or states called skandas.
There is no personal essence or soul, and there is no personal afterlife.

Buddha did not deny the Hindu doctrines of transmigration and reincarnation, but he denied that there is any individual soul that comes back in another form.

Two Views of Spiritual Liberation.

According to Jesus, salvation is found in Him alone: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10 niv).
Jesus viewed Himself as the only way to restore fellowship with the heavenly Father: “All things have been committed to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27 niv; cf. John 14:6).
He claimed, moreover, to be God incarnate (John 8:58).

In light of this, Jesus beckons us to follow Him (Matt. 11:28–30) and to believe in Him for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life (John 3:16; 6:29).
These claims, however, were not uttered in a vacuum.
Jesus demonstrated Himself to be the divine Messiah through the wisdom of His teaching, His fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy, the unparalleled power of His miracles, His authority over the demonic world, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His own death-shattering resurrection.
Buddha taught that spiritual deliverance was found by letting go of desire and the quest to satisfy the nonexistent soul, and by detaching oneself from impermanent things.
This teaching is the Third Noble Truth.

The Fourth Noble Truth is that salvation is achieved through effort, which Buddha called “the eightfold path.”
It requires wisdom (right understanding and thought), ethical conduct (right speech, action, and livelihood), and mental discipline (right effort, awareness, and meditation).

Those who succeed leave the realm of karma and rebirth and attain nirvana, which is the blowing out of the human personality in a state that supposedly cannot be described in words.
Buddha did not claim to bestow this state upon others, he simply pointed toward it.
He never claimed to be God moreover; nor did he raise the dead, heal the sick, or cast out demons.
At age 80, he died.

According to the New Testament, Jesus came into the world as a supernatural agent of redemption, who accepted suffering at the hands of sinful humans that He might vicariously atone for the sins of a rebellious world estranged from its own Source of goodness and life.
He embraced suffering on the cross in order to rescue those suffering from sin and its effects (Isa. 53). As one poet wrote, “No other God has wounds but thee.”
The risen Jesus presented His wounds to doubting Thomas as proof of the efficacy of His mission (John 20:26–29).
The oldest accounts of the life of Buddha do not depict him as a supernatural figure but as an illuminated sage.
Images of Buddha worldwide show a man sitting in tranquil contemplation with his eyes shut to a world he wants to transcend.
How different from this posture was the defining act of Jesus, who, though nailed to a cross, bruised and bloodied, gazed in love on the world He came to redeem.
Buddha taught the dharma (the way or teaching) to many others, but he never claimed to overcome death through his own death or to offer life through his own life.
He only pointed the way to nirvana whereas Jesus opened the door to heaven.
The essential teachings and ministries of Jesus and Buddha cannot be reconciled or synthesized.
No amount of religious tolerance or pluralism can erase the deep and sharp differences between these two identities, their worldviews, and their actions.
By accurately defining these differences we do justice to both religious leaders while communicating the truth in love to those who would place them on the same plane.”


Click and see the following YouTube video presentation:
Know what you believe and why, by Douglas R. Groothuis:

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3 thoughts on “Jesus and Buddha – – differences far outweigh “similarities”

  1. Why did make a book after Jesus death? I believe they both pointed to not live For the betterment of yourself and others be apart of it and love it, being the best you can be, righteous. Life, this planet doesn’t owe us anything we are free to create boundlessly. The stories behind the Bible of heaven and hell, so forth. Come from the summerian tables.. a lot of missing info to conclude. Remember these things are different stories put together and edited. You own the key to your own happiness and your at free will to choose the man you are. They both tried to teach man to learn and evolve from within. Many blessings


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