Truth and Beauty

Living Buddha, Living Christ

~ a thought-provoking comparison ~ 

Buddha and Christ 

         On the surface, Buddhism and Christianity are poles apart in their thinking. Often adherents of each religion tend to look down on the other while they feel they are right and the other is wrong. Yet, surprisingly, interesting parallels can be seen between the Buddha and Jesus Christ as the following table shows. By considering each other’s views, our perspective can be not only enlarged, but also enriched. We can also grow in tolerance, humility and love, as well as awe at the mysterious working of God in unexpected ways.



The Buddha

Jesus Christ

A historical person (ca 400 BC – exact dates unknown)

A historical person (ca 1 BC – 32 AD)

A transcendent influence within us – “the Buddha of the ultimate reality, the one who transcends space, time and all ideas.”

Personifying Divine Love and nature, Jesus brought eternal life and immortality to life. As the Christ principle, he too transcends time and space and through the Holy Spirit lives in believers (see John 14:20, 23; 2 Cor 13:5; Gal 2:20; Col 1:27).

Born for a special purpose. After his birth, among those who came to pay their respect was an old sage, Asita, who predicted that Prince Sidhartha would become an important world teacher.

Born to be the Messiah (anointed) with a special mission. After his birth, wise men from the East came to honour him as a king. The prophet Simeon in the Jerusalem temple declared under inspiration that Jesus was the expected Messiah (Matt 2:1-11; Luke 2:25-34).

As a royal son, he gave up his comforts after seeing the suffering of his subjects outside the royal palace. After seeking and receiving enlightenment, he devoted the rest of his life in teaching and serving others.

Jesus came to live and teach the way to salvation and divinity through praying for and receiving from the Father Divine Love and nature. He also served humanity by healing and casting out evil spirits.

Buddha was human, but through divine intervention (enlightenment) became an expression of the highest spirit of humanity. His teachings and lifestyle example live on and are followed by many, transforming many lives, making them loving, tolerant, and understanding.

Jesus’ life personified the love of God. His teachings, if followed, are life-transforming. As the fiirst divine son of God, he came to show the way for others to become divine children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:15).

Buddha is regarded as a teacher pointing out a way or door to a life of mindfulness, loving kindness, peace and joy. The practice of a loving life style (mindfulness or Dharma) will help others to minimize suffering in the present and the future.

Jesus referred to himself as the Truth, the Way and the Life (John 14:6). Through Jesus, the Kingdom of God, representing God’s love and planted within us by the Holy Spirit, becomes a reality and God’s witness on earth (Lk 17:20-21). Our mind are renewed, making us more kind and loving (Rom 12:2; Gal. 5:22-25), which in turn will attract others to God's way of love.

According to the Buddha, the Dharma or teachings of Buddhism are living and practiced rather then read or listened to from sacred texts. One’s walking in mindfulness – being kind and loving to others – is easily felt and perceived by others.  

Christ’s teachings, while preserved as sacred texts, are also living and dynamic. Believers are exhorted to walk in the Spirit, not giving way to the negative human impulses. When they do that, the love of God will be unmistakably perceived by others (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:16-25).

According to some, the Buddha taught that each person has a seed of mindfulness within which he described as the “womb” of Buddha.” In that sense, each person is a mother of the Buddha, for all are pregnant with the potential for awakening. Practising mindfulness in daily lives will eventually bring about revelation or enlightenment.

The Bible refers to Christ (or the Holy Spirit / Divine Love) in our hearts giving us hope for eternal life (Rom 8:8-11). Another metaphor is that of Christ being formed in us (Gal 4:19). In that sense, Mary was not the only one that gave birth to Jesus. We are also pregnant with Christ (Divine Love) and thus being transformed into divine likeness and becoming at one with God (Rom 8:29; Eph 4:11-13).

Buddhists see the Buddha as a teacher and a brother, but not a god. They refer to “Perfection of Wisdom” as the mother of all Buddhas.

While Christians see Jesus as their Lord and Master, he is also their teacher, brother and friend (John 13:13-14; 15:14-15; 20:17; Heb 2:10-11; Rom 8:29). (Not all Christians, including myself, view Jesus as God.) The metaphorical heavenly Jerusalem symbolising the church is referred to as the mother (Gal 4:26). The Old Testament Scriptures also refer to a female Wisdom figure whose existence predates all else (Prov 8:22-31).

Buddhists see every human as a potential Buddha – enlightened, blessed, leader, teacher, one who knows the world well (among other qualities).

Christians see every human as a child of God by creation and a potential child of God, heir and co-heir of Christ, immortal and glorified (Rom 8:10-17; John 1:12; Gal 3:29; 4:7; Eph. 3:6)


Reference: Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ (New York, Riverhead Books), 34-47.