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Has Buddhism influenced Christianity ?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Agnimitra, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Agnimitra

    Agnimitra Member

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    I dont know for sure if "comparitive religion" is where a topic like this belongs...so pardon me if it isn't...


    Over the past few months I have been reading rather extensively into the alleged similarities between the two religions and I found that there is substantive force in the growing sentiment among scholarly circles that there has been an influence from Mahayana Buddhhism in the gospel writing.

    I have myself compared the Parables of Buddha and Jesus, the major events in their lives, the succession of the same and even the words used in some solemn occasions.

    But I am unable, or rather unwilling, to draw any conclusion from the evidences.What I hope for from this forum is for others , if any, who has knowledge of this topic to give me the insights they have imbibed from their own reading. Of course, I will attempt to defend the evidences if possible in the face of arguments against it.

    I would like to humbly emphasize that I am not attempting to convince anyone anything or claiming impeccability or irrefutability of this theory . I merely wish to learn the counter evidences so that I myself can form a solid conclusion from my study.

    Please bear with me.
     
  2. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    Well, this is Comparative Religion, and you are comparing religions, so I don't have a problem with it as long as it remains factual (as factual as can be) and civil discussion. :)

    This is my opinion only... I do not believe Buddhism influenced Christianity or vice versa, to any great extent, if at all. Granted, there was trade and travel from Rome through India to China for several centuries, and ideas could have been exchanged here and there. But I think any similarities between Christianity and Buddhism are either coincidental, or "convergent evolution". Similarities can be found in most of the religions that arose in southwest, south, and east Asia. But those similarities generally stop at the moral codes and compassion injunctions of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Bahá'í, Jains, Shinto, Taoists, etc. ... the "do unto others..." code. Theology varies wildly, so the similarities, imo are actually quite small.
     
  3. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    I don't think so personally.

    Buddhism is directness regarding life and living so to see a religion like Christianity reflecting parallels with Buddhism shouldnt be a surprise in light of the way people think and interpret the world.

    Buddhism dosent invent ideologies like Christianity, and Christianity still deals with people and everyday life albiet there is embellishment and invention by way it's interpreted.
     
  4. idav

    idav Being
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    I believe the gnostic chritian interpretation parralels the mahayanian buddhist school of thought. I believe it is possible for anyone can tap into the source since god is within all and they parallel when it works. Whether people attach needless dogma to the concepts doesnt change what it is at its core.
     
  5. Agnimitra

    Agnimitra Member

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    Well, the reason I baulk at letting this theory bite the dust , is because the similarities do not seem to stop at mere moral codes and ethical injunctions.

    Not only does it not limit to morality, it is also pervasive through the biography of both the men.

    To strictly follow chronology , I would request you to examine the birth of Jesus and Buddha first. I dont want to take too much at a time


    Compare the names of the mothers-- Queen Maya and Ma(r)ya.[FONT=&quot]
    Mâyâ was later regarded as a virgin[/FONT] and King Suddhodhana as a stepfather, just like Joseph.

    Both of them are visited by celestial beings (an angel and a white elephant who foretells the birth of the savior )

    Buddha is born while his mother is in a travel, under a tree. Jesus is also born while in travel.

    Buddha emits a dazzling light and Jesus elicits a blue star.
    Buddha receives homage from Gandharvas and Devas in the Sky. Jesus gets homage from angels in the sky.

    Buddha is called son of God (devaputra), descended from Brahma. Jesus also claims lineage from "Abraham".Compare the names "Abraham" and "Brahma"

    Both are thus of royal descent. Jesus is called son of David and Buddha is of the great Ishkavu dynasty

    Wise men gather in both cases.

    In a text called Nidhanakatha, a noble woman says of the Budhda "[FONT=&quot]Verily, that mother is blessed, who has given birth to a man like this one"[/FONT].
    Luke 11.27 talks of a woman who praises Mary --"[FONT=&quot]Blessed is the womb, that bare thee and the paps which thou hast suckled."[/FONT]


    Of course, there are differences like Maya dying seven days later . But I do think all the above are too protruding from the coincidental.
     
    #5 Agnimitra, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  6. idav

    idav Being
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    There is also the temptations both had to face. The parralels do seem a bit extensive.
     
  7. Agnimitra

    Agnimitra Member

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    The temptation narrative and the passion narrative are the two strongest indications of Buddhist influence.

    The Passion narrative is found in the [FONT=&quot]Sangabhedavastu of the Mahaparinirvanasutra, which is older than the Gospels by a century or probably more.



    [/FONT]
     
  8. CynthiaCypher

    CynthiaCypher Well-Known Member

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    Is this like that game where people point out similarities between Lincoln and JFK?
     
  9. idav

    idav Being
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    It is a pretty strong indicator. Could be that those are fundamental aspects of any mans journey to god. Of course in light of the other similarities its hard to say eastern thought wasnt a major aspect, probably influencing some of the jewish thought of the time with respect to a coming anointed one. One thing is that this path buddha took would be possible by anyone, it happening once would mean it can happen again. With buddha being first, I dont think jesus was trying to be a buddha but he seems to have had an affinity for the teachings but thats cause he was enlightened.
     
  10. idav

    idav Being
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    They also were both born of blessed mothers and died. Uncanny but bringing up antichrists is rather unfair.
     
  11. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Personally, some of Jesus parables only make sense to me when viewed through a Buddhist lens: like his hellfire teaching.

    Matt 5:27-30
    27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery.[l] 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!​

    Now read Buddha's Fire Sermon for the "real" meaning:

    Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon

    Jesus saying all these things begin in the heart/mind parallels the opening words of the Dhammapada, as well.

    The beatitudes at the beginning of the chapter strongly echoes impermanence.

    There are records of King Ashoka sending Buddhist monks out as far as Alexandria to teach Buddhism back in the 3rd C BC.
     
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  12. idav

    idav Being
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    Interesting. Out of curiosity, does it seem like the writers had read buddhists scripts? I ask cause I am not as familiar with the buddhist texts. In my experience buddhism came naturally by following the core percepts of jesus, without having read the buddhist stuff.

    It seems plain as day they were familiar wish jewish scripts as they are mentioned by name in the stories. Perhaps the influence was already growing within some jewish sects, the eastern stuff certainly had time to get absorbed.
     
  13. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Therapeutae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Jewish monastics? Not sure of the origin of their name? (Therevada, perhaps? {Greek language doesn't have the "v" sound.)

    It's hard to tell, but yes, I see a lot of Buddhism in Christianity. It's really difficult for me to believe that it only spread eastward from India, and not westward, as well. Buddhism also incorporated a lot of the local culture from where it spread via Upaya.
     
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  14. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    Consider that I hedged in my comments:

    I can't discern any similarity in the theologies of Buddhism, Christianity, and even Hinduism. So if we strip away theologies, what have we left? We have moral codes of conduct that seem to be universally human.

    I am aware of the claimed similarities, as well as the alleged similarities between the births and early lives of Jesus and Krishna. I'm not saying there was no cross-pollination, but I think there's more than a little pareidolia.

    God-men, god-heroes and demi-gods tend to follow a pattern in their births and early lives, though not necessarily in their teachings. Hercules's mother was impregnated, not by her mortal husband, but by the king of the Olympians, Zeus himself, making Hercules a demi-god. There was an early threat on Hercules's life in the form of two snakes sent by Hera, out of jealousy, to kill baby Hercules. Baby Hercules easily killed the two snakes. Hercules was made to suffer physical and humiliating trials.

    Again, I don't entirely discount similarities. I'm simply skeptical of what influenced what, if anything.

    Here is my point: There are certain truths that are universal, which could have been discerned by enlightened or self-realized beings, in different places at different times.

    Again, these are my opinions and observations.
     
  15. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    Modern Greek does. 'Beta' is now pronounced 'veeta'.
     
  16. Agnimitra

    Agnimitra Member

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    There are two possible scenarios---if the influence is assumed to be true

    1. Either the Gospels were written by Buddhist missionaries trying to sell Buddhism by using a local Jewish hero , amalgamating Jewish and Buddhist cultures .

    2. Or some Greek scholars who were proficient in Sanskrit and had likely visited India felt so bored one day that they set out on a grand scripture writing spree.


    Two things are clear, whoever wrote the Gospels were adept at Sanskrit and had direct access to two Buddhist texts---Mulasarvastivadavinaya(MSV) and SaddharmapundarikA(SDP)

    These two texts are the best candidates for the elusive Q , the name scholars have given the manuscript that the Gospel authors used as a common source.

    MSV and SDP are the original gospels.
     
  17. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Ahh, thanks.
     
  18. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Here's the wiki article on King Ashoka, and his mission to spread Buddhism.

    Ashoka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  19. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    Always glad to show off... um... I mean help. :D
     
  20. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Not claiming to have researched the matter or anything, but ideas have a way of spreading, and Buddhism was originated about six centuries before Jesus was born.

    There is no particular reason why the two thousand miles or so of distance between the origins of both faiths would completely isolate them. On the contrary, one would expect some version of that Dharma to survive, improve and spread to the West, including to Galilea, just as we know that it did to the East.

    How faithful to the original teachings it was, and how different from more native beliefs it would be, though, is a very speculative matter AFAIK.
     
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