Jesus and Buddha

Assignment week 10

Assignment 5-4 Portfolio Question

Question # 1

The lives of Jesus and the Buddha are strikingly similar; each created a movement that bears the founder\'s name. A Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, sees Jesus and Buddha as "brothers" who taught that the highest form of human understanding is "universal love."

There is one great difference in the two religions however: a Christian never becomes Christ, while the aim of every serious Buddhist is to achieve Buddhahood for himself. When Buddhists encounter Christianity, therefore, they depersonalize Jesus who walked this earth and transform him into a figure more like Buddha. However, to see Jesus as a Buddhist is to see him as someone he was not. Jesus, indeed, believed in God, the creator and sustainer of the universe; Buddhists do not. Jesus believed in sin, which is not a Buddhist concept. Nor did Jesus see compassion as a way of removing bad karma, or life as a cycle of death and rebirth as Buddha did.

Nothing reveals the difference between Jesus and Buddha better than the way in which each died. The Buddha\'s death was serene and controlled -- a calm passing out of his final rebirth, like the extinction of a flame. Jesus, on the other hand, suffers an agonizing death on the cross, seemingly abandoned by God, but obedient to his will.

Question #2

The earliest recorded text teaching Christianity has its roots buried deep within Judaism. The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, created a new ideology of worship. The Messiah is the savior for all people and of all sins. Paul carried the message of the Messiah to the Gentiles. His missionary journeys and establishment of churches enabled the spreading of the message throughout the Roman Empire. Christianity grew in acceptance; those that believed in the Messiah separated and began to worship on their own. This marked the beginning of the split of Judaism and Christianity.

Paul modified and developed his \'product\' Christianity over two decades in the mid-1st century. There are two ways that he did this.

Retaining Judaism

Paul retained many of the features that made Judaism a success:

loyalty to the faith and to other believers

religious exclusivity

a benevolent God

marriage only among other believers

a portable scriptural tradition

hope for a future resurrection and salvation

endurance of present bad circumstances, even to the point of martyrdom.

Key modifications

However, Paul also made radical changes that substantially transformed this form of Judaism into a brand-new religion:

He was committed to the expansion and growth of the new faith through the conversion of outsiders - that is, pagans or Gentiles. Early Christianity, unlike Judaism, was open to all comers and actively sought them.

He defined the resulting community as a family. It was originally God\'s and provided direct access to God\'s divine son Christ. Everyone within the family was a \'brother\' or \'sister\' that is, an adopted son or daughter of God. In terms of status, this was almost as good as the deification of emperors found in the imperial cult. It would have transformed the shame and disgust that would have been the standard experiences of the lower classes within paganism. As a result, Christianity particularly appealed to the poorest strata of society.

The new \'family\' ate together and often pooled its financial resources. Concrete help was available to those whose lives were often desperately poor.

Exorcisms and miracles were a part of the new philosophy. And they were free. Compare this to the private medicine that was performed at the shrines of Asclepius, which was very expensive. People felt that they could receive care, support and even deliverance through the new religion, and so threw away their spell books as they converted.

Early Christianity was even more portable than Judaism. It came to rely not on rather cumbersome and expensive scrolls (themselves so much more portable than temples) but on small cheap paperbacks called codexes, which later formed the basis for the New Testament. But even before this, relatively short \'letters\' were enough to spread the word.

There were only two specific rituals: the immersion known as baptism, which could take place in any river, sea, lake or bath house; and