Excerpts from Jesus and Buddha -The Parallel Sayings

Excerpts from Jesus and Buddha -The Parallel Sayings

Excerpts from Jesus and Buddha, The Parallel Sayings

By Beth Maire from the book edited by Marcus Borg

Compassion

Most striking of all the parallels between Jesus and Buddha are those dealing with love.  Both teachers invoked the Golden Rule of treating others as you want them to treat you.  Many of Jesus’ most famous sayings—turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, and the idea that one who lives by the sword will die by it—are mirrored in the words of the Buddha.

“The moral teaching of Buddha,” Oxford scholar Burnett Hillman Streeter noted, “has a remarkable resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount.”  A further similarity lies in the fact that Jesus’ words from the Mount represent his most important teachings, just as the Dhammapada, which closely parallels the Sermon, is the central book in Buddihsm.  It was reputedly compiled in the Pali language from an oral tradition that began with Buddha’s initiates just as the Sermon on the Mount and other parts of the four Gospels are attributed to the early followers of Jesus.

 

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Jesus

Consider others as yourself.

Buddha

If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.

Jesus

If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words.

Buddha

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold

Even your shirt.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.

Jesus

Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love; this is an eternal truth…Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good.  Overcome the misery  by giving, overcome the liar by truth.

Buddha

Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.

Jesus

Abandoning the taking of life, the ascetic Gautama dwells refraining from taking life, without stick or sword.

Buddha

Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.

Jesus

If you do not tend one another, then who is there to tend you?  Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick.

Buddha

Wisdom

At the heart of Christianity, which defines much of  Western civilization, and Buddhism, a driving force in Eastern culture, lies the same basic wisdom.  Both Jesus and Buddha focused on the individual, emphasizing that the inner person is more vital than the outer image, and that each of us needs to look at our own life rather than criticizing others.  They use the same imagery of light and darkness, sun and rain, the fruitful and the barren in describing their moral world.

Contemporary scholars searching for the historical Jesus are placing increasing emphasis on his role as a first-century sage.  Many of the aphorisms they cite in portraying him as a wisdom sayer embody the same advice that Buddha provided to his followers five hundred years earlier.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.

Jesus

Do not underestimate good, thinking it will not affect you.  Dripping water can fill a pitcher, drop by drop; one who is wise is filled with good, even if one accumulates it little by little.

Buddha

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Jesus

The faults of others are easier to see than one’s own;  the faults of others are easily seen, for they are sifted like chaff, but one’s own faults are hard to see.  This is like the cheat who hides his dice and shows the dice of his opponent, calling attention to the other’s shortcomings, continually thinking of accusing him.

Buddha

Your eye is the lamp of your body.  If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness.

Therefore cosider whether the light in you is not darkness.  If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you lightwith its rays.

Jesus

As a man with eyes who carries a lamp sees all objects, so too with one who has heard the Moral Law.  He will become perfectly wise.

Buddha

Your father in heaven males his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

Jesus

That great cloud rains down on all whether their nature is superior or inferior.  The light of the sun and the moon illuminates the whole world, both him who does well and him who does ill, both him who stands high and him who stands low.

Buddha

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?

Jesus

Those who have no accumulation, who eat with perfect knowledge, whose sphere is emptiness, signlessness, and liberation, are hard to track, like the birds in the sky.  Those whose compulsions are gone, who are not attached to food, whose sphere is emptiness, signlessness, and liberation, are hard to track, like the birds of the sky.

Buddha

Materialism

Jesus was born to a peasant family in Galilee.  Buddha was a prince, the son of a powerful ruler who held sway over northern India.  One attracted a ragtag following of fisherman and farmers; the other numbered wealthy Brahmins as well as common folk and outcasts among his entourage.

Proceeding along such different paths, each arrived at the same moral destination.

Each realized that wealth not only was not the way to heaven and enlightenment, but that worldly riches interfere with our attempt to lead a good life.  Buddha spoke in terms of detaching ourselves from personal possessions in order to achieve nirvana.  For Jesus, personal enrichment was found in heaven rather than in the marketplaces of the world.  He not only would have agreed with Buddha’s teachings but would also have marveled at the fact that this rick man of royal ancestry had been able to pass like a camel through the eye of a needle.

O slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.

Jesus

One is the way to gain, the other is the way to nirvana; knowing this fact, students of Buddha should not take pleasure in being honored, but should practice detachment.

Buddha

How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus

Riches make most people greedy, and so are like caravans lurching down the road to perdition.  Any possession that increases the sin of selfishness or does nothing to confirm one’s wish to renounce what one has is nothing but a drawback in disguise.

Buddha

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Jesus

Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like the radiant gods.

Buddha

Inner Life

Buddha inhabited an Iron Age world and Jesus lived during the height of the Roman Empire.  But both drew their lessons from the basic imagery of the farmland and rural countryside.  A good person is like a well-built house. Someone clothing himself in the skin of a gentle animal may be hiding a predatory soul.

It is a simple world, but one pocked with pitfalls.  We are surrounded by the misguided and malicious, and in the search for the self there are pathways leading in a confusing welter of directions.

The answer for both masters, the way through this moral maze, lies as much in their imagery as in their message—simplicity.  Homelessness is a gift; be like the birds and leave your nest.  Don’t bother worrying; there is nothing to fear. To save yourself, lose yourself to faith.  Don’t worry about washing your hands, just keep your soul clean.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Jesus

What good is hide clothing?  While your inward state is a tangle, you polish your exterior.

Buddha

Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Jesus

May fear and dread not conquer me.

Buddha

I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.  That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against his house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.

Jesus

As rain leaks into a poorly roofed house, so does passion invade an uncultivated mind.  As no rain leaks into a well-roofed house, passion does not invade a cultivated mind.

Buddha

Salvation

For Jesus it is a narrow gat, for Buddha a lofty mountain, but the message is the same.  To become pure is the ultimate challenge, and there are few to meet it.  Both speak of separating the spiritual from the physical and of following the former while relinquishing the latter.

To do so is simple, but not easy. It is by adhering to truth and overcoming the lure of the world that we can achieve freedom.  Be pure in heart, Jesus says; do good and purify the heart, says Buddha.  The end that each has in mind is a heaven in which we are free from earthly sin or worldly incarnation.

Simply follow “the way” I have taught and have faith, both say.   And each believes not only that his words point the way to freedom, but that by flouting his message you are condemned to spiritual  servitude.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Jesus

One who acts on truth is happy in this world and beyond.

Buddha

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Jesus

Anyone who withdraws into meditation on compassion can see Brahma with his own eyes, talk to him face to face and consult with him.

Buddha

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.  For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who take it.

Jesus

Just as there are few pleasant parks and lakes, but there are many dense thickets and inaccessible mountains, so are there few human beings who will be reborn among men. More numerous are those who will be reborn in purgatory.

Buddha

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Jesus

There are these two gifts, the carnal and the spiritual.

Of these two gifts the spiritual is preeminent.  He who has made the spiritual offering—such a one, the best of mankind, is honored by all beings as one who has gone beyond.

Buddha

 

 

 

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