Jesus, Buddha and You.

“When Jesus said, “ I am the way,” He meant that to have a true relationship with God, you must practice His way. In the Acts of the Apostles, the early Christians always spoke of their faith as “the Way.” To me, “I am the way” is a better statement than “I know the way.” The way is not an asphalt road. But we must distinguish between the “I” spoken by Jesus and the “I” that people usually think of. The “I” in His statement is life itself, His life, which is the way. If you do not really look at His life, you cannot see the way. If you only satisfy yourself with praising a name, even the name of Jesus, it is not practicing the life of Jesus. We must practice living deeply, loving, and acting with charity if we wish to truly honor Jesus. The way is Jesus Himself and not just some idea of Him. A true teaching is not static. It is not mere words but the reality of life. Many who have neither the way nor the life try to impose on others what they believe to be the way. But these are only words that have no connection with real life or a real way. When we understand and practice deeply the life and teachings of Buddha or the life and teachings of Jesus, we penetrate the door and enter the abode of the living Buddha and the living Christ, and the life eternal presents itself to us.”

“The living Christ is the Christ of Love who is always generating love, moment after moment. When the church manifests understanding, tolerance, and loving-kindness, Jesus is there. Christians have to help Jesus Christ be manifested by their way of life, showing those around them that love, understanding, and tolerance are possible. This will not be accomplished just by books and sermons. It has to be realized by the way we live. In Buddhism we also say the living Buddha, the one who teaches love and compassion, must be manifested by the way we live.”

“The living teaching expressed by the lives of the Buddha and Jesus should always be the models for our practice. The sutras are not the living teachings of the Buddha. To receive the true teaching, we must emulate the life and work of the Buddha l himself. The same is true of Christianity. The Gospels in their written or even oral form are not the living teaching of Jesus. The teachings must be practiced as they were lived by Jesus.”

“Are we making Jesus’ presence real in our churches today? Are we making the Buddha’s presence real in our Sanghas? The Buddha and the monks and nuns of his time were in continuous dialogue with those of other religious faiths, especially the Brahmans. Are we in dialogue with other religions? The Buddha made every effort to remove the barriers between classes. He accepted the untouchables and other outcasts into his holy community. Are we doing the same with the poor and oppressed of our day? Are we bringing the service of the Sangha and the church to those who suffer, to those who are discriminated against politically, racially, and economically?”

“The Buddha and his monks and nuns practiced voluntary poverty. They owned only three robes, one bowl, and one water filter. Are we able to live simply, content with just what we need? Or are our religious institutions simply building and acquiring more and more? The Buddha and his monks and nuns went begging every day to practice humility and to remain in contact (italics mine) with people in their society. Jesus in His time did very much the same. He did not own anything. He always made Himself available to people. He reached out and touched others in order to understand, to help, and to heal. The people He touched were mostly those who were suffering. Are the Sangha and the church of today in real touch with people? Are the churches today touching the poor and oppressed, or do they prefer to touch only the wealthy and powerful?

The Buddha always resisted violence and immortality. He withdrew his support from King Ajattasatru when the latter assassinated his father in order to ascend the throne. He tried to stop King Ajattasatru’s efforts to start a war with the neighboring country of Vajji. Are our Sanghas doing the same—-opposing social injustice and violence—-or are we blessing wars and sending priests along with our armies to support the efforts of war? With the utmost courage, Jesus taught a gospel of non-violence. Is the church today practicing the same by it’s presence and behavior? Do the churches practice non-violence and social justice, or do they align themselves with governments that practice violence and hatred?”

⭐️ “For the Buddha to be present in the Sangha, we must practice in a way that keeps his teachings alive, and not confined to sermons and scriptures. The best way a Buddhist can keep the teachings of the Buddha alive is to live mindfully in the way the Buddha and his community lived. For Christians, the way to make the Holy Spirit truly present in the church is to practice thoroughly what Jesus lived and taught. It is not only true that Christians need Jesus, but Jesus needs Christians also for His energy to continue in this world.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh (Living Buddha, Living Christ): A Riverhead Book; 1995. From chapters 4 and 5.

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