Author Topic: Jesus of Nazareth  (Read 748 times)

Offline Reformed1

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Jesus of Nazareth
« on: July 10, 2016, 09:19:05 pm »
In the West there is at least one spiritual consensus view: whether one is an atheist or theist, whether one believes in his literal existence or views him as a good fictional role model, Jesus of Nazareth is almost universally viewed as the pinnacle of wisdom and goodness.

I have quite  the opposite view. I believe that if there is a God, Jesus is a sort of idolatrous replacement: man made into a God. If there is a path to wisdom in this life, Jesus is a distraction: the message is lost, as people merely venerate the man.

Moreover, his message is not quite as inspired as it is depicted. He was a fire and brimstone preacher: hell is at the core of his system. I am comfortable with the Buddhist notion of a temporary hell, I suppose, but the concept of a permanent hell strikes me as disproportionate and degrading. It is an irrational belief.

Jesus is often held as being the originator of morality: somehow it did not exist before him. This is of course absurd even within the Abrahamic narrative; the Ten Commandments, whatever their faults, are a list of ethical imperatives. But it seems to me that the Buddha taught most of what Jesus did in terms of ethical living, but with greater originality and thoroughness. Jesus' central message is seemingly the concept of reciprocal love: love your neighbor, treat your neighbor as yourself, do not judge your neighbor more harshly than you do yourself. But the Buddha espoused such teachings 500 years earlier.

That is putting aside the absurdity of the virgin birth, the miracles, and the resurrection which, granted, are mythological tales typical of most religions (including much of Buddhism.)

In short, Christianity (unlike Theravada) would seem to be the Smaller Vehicle, despite its large number of adherents. But I am curious if there are any Buddhists here who disagree, or who would like add to my list of critiques of Christianity?

Offline stillpointdancer

  • Enlightenment through insight
  • Member
  • Posts: 349
  • Dancing at the Still Point describes my meditation
    • View Profile
    • Enlightenment for Grown Ups
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2016, 04:28:19 am »
I've done a lot of research about great people in the past who have had enlightenment experiences, such as the Buddha and Jesus. My understanding is that the experience is so unlike anything else,that it is almost impossible to communicate. Almost, but not impossible- for those few that managed it. How the experience is understood by each individual is largely determined by the culture and context the person finds themselves in.

Consequently, there need be no contradiction between how the Buddha interpreted what he saw, and that of Jesus. Each is as valid and 'true' a description of enlightenment as the other. Luckily for us, we can choose which works for us. But I feel sorry for the untold millions locked into one particular interpretation, by the society they find themselves in.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Reformed1

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2016, 06:03:15 am »
I'll push back slightly on that.

So of course different people can have different experiences; I certainly agree that inclusiveness should be emphasized over fundamentalism. I agree that there need be no contradiction. But Jesus' views were quite exclusionary per the Gospels; it isn't me saying that there is a conflict, it is the Jesus of the Gospels who says so.

The Buddha was more inclusive, though he could be critical of teachers whom he considered "unskilled." It seems to me that if Jesus existed and taught an approximation of what is attributed to him, that he would at minimum be a lesser teacher than the Buddha. There are some points where I would agree with Jesus/Christianity more than Buddhism, but on most every subject I would view Buddhism as the Greater Vehicle.

Offline stillpointdancer

  • Enlightenment through insight
  • Member
  • Posts: 349
  • Dancing at the Still Point describes my meditation
    • View Profile
    • Enlightenment for Grown Ups
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2016, 03:03:14 am »
I'll push back slightly on that.

So of course different people can have different experiences; I certainly agree that inclusiveness should be emphasized over fundamentalism. I agree that there need be no contradiction. But Jesus' views were quite exclusionary per the Gospels; it isn't me saying that there is a conflict, it is the Jesus of the Gospels who says so.

The Buddha was more inclusive, though he could be critical of teachers whom he considered "unskilled." It seems to me that if Jesus existed and taught an approximation of what is attributed to him, that he would at minimum be a lesser teacher than the Buddha. There are some points where I would agree with Jesus/Christianity more than Buddhism, but on most every subject I would view Buddhism as the Greater Vehicle.
I think I meant that the enlightenment experience is the same, but individuals'  later interpretations of those experiences differ. By 'later' I mean when the person ceases to be 'in' the moment of enlightenment. From a Buddhist perspective we can see elements of the enlightenment experience in Jesus' teachings, but I agree with your view on Buddhism being the Greater Vehicle. Maybe that's why I officially changed from being a Christian to being a Buddhist in a public ceremony.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Reformed1

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2016, 06:24:51 pm »
I see, that makes sense to me, thank you for clearing up that point. I agree with you.

Offline Kenneth Chan

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2016, 12:21:50 am »
I hope this may be helpful to those interested in the teachings of both Jesus and the Buddha. First, we need to realize that there are actually two sets of teachings in the New Testament of the Bible, one by Jesus himself, and one by Paul. These teachings are actually quite different, and this is something that has been noted by scholars. To me, the teachings by Jesus himself are a lot more compatible with the teachings of the Buddha.

Jesus actually taught a message of salvation through a transformation of our being, ideally to one that loves our neighbor as ourselves. His repeated calls for this transformation can be found in the Greek word “metanoia,” which unfortunately has been inadequately translated in the Bible as “repentance.” “Meta” means transformation, and “noia” means being or Mind. So metanoia actually means a transformation of our being. The call to love our neighbor as ourselves is echoed in the Buddha’s teachings on metta and bodhicitta.

Paul unfortunately transformed the message of Jesus to that of a belief system. Paul actually contradicts Jesus on many points, as we can see at these sites:
http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/books/175-pauls-contradictions-of-jesus.html
https://pathseeker101.wordpress.com

What I find particularly disturbing is this page on how Jesus may have actually warned against listening to someone like Paul:
http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/recommendedreading/292-jesus-prophecy-about-who-identified-himself-as-jesus-to-paul.html

I personally find most of the teachings of Jesus himself compatible with that of the Buddha. They both essentially taught us a path of progressive transformation into better and better beings. And actually neither of them taught us to blindly believe in things as a means of salvation. (Can’t say the same about Paul though.)

Offline stillpointdancer

  • Enlightenment through insight
  • Member
  • Posts: 349
  • Dancing at the Still Point describes my meditation
    • View Profile
    • Enlightenment for Grown Ups
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2016, 01:35:29 am »
I hope this may be helpful to those interested in the teachings of both Jesus and the Buddha. First, we need to realize that there are actually two sets of teachings in the New Testament of the Bible, one by Jesus himself, and one by Paul. These teachings are actually quite different, and this is something that has been noted by scholars. To me, the teachings by Jesus himself are a lot more compatible with the teachings of the Buddha.

I personally find most of the teachings of Jesus himself compatible with that of the Buddha. They both essentially taught us a path of progressive transformation into better and better beings. And actually neither of them taught us to blindly believe in things as a means of salvation. (Can’t say the same about Paul though.)
You are right. Jesus had the enlightenment experience, and managed to communicate enough of it for us to understand, as Buddhists. Paul didn't, and could only reinterpret Jesus  through his own unenlightened experiences. People who developed the religion later were even further removed, and this shows in their interpretations.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Reformed1

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2016, 07:03:16 am »
I have similar views about Paul. I view Paul's teachings as distinct from Jesus', I think many people have increasingly held that opinion. Paul of course never met Jesus and claimed Jesus came to him in a vision, which raises obvious red flags.
I do believe that Paul had some redeeming views, in a manner of speaking. He understood that man is flawed, and that if man can attain salvation he can only do so through a higher power. I believe that is an important view, I am sympathetic to that view at any rate, though of course Paul saddles it with the absurdities of human sacrifice, blind faith, as well as his own retrograde social teachings (his views on women, for instance.)
The amazing thing about the Buddha is not only how much more comprehensive a teacher he was than Jesus and Paul, but the fact that by Jesus and Paul's day Buddhism was already an ancient belief. It is a shame that Buddhism did not have a more direct impact on the West, though one wonders if Buddhism in some indirect way didn't influence Jesus and the early Christians (I know some have speculated about Buddhist influence on Christianity, whether that is realistic hypothesis or not I do not know.)
I think we agree that the Buddha's emphasis on finding truth through personal enlightenment as opposed to blind faith and belief in blood sacrifice is the better approach; the Buddha, not Jesus and Paul, was the greatest religious force of the ancient world.

Offline Spiny Norman

  • Member
  • Posts: 4981
  • Cool baby yeah!
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2016, 11:00:34 am »
I admire Jesus' teachings, particularly stuff like the Sermon on the Mount.

On the other hand, what if you remove all the God stuff and miracles?

I used to do "silent worship" with some Quaker friends and met some "non-theist Christians", it quickly became apparent they were now atheist humanists who couldn't quite let go of their original tradition.

Just saying.

Offline Reformed1

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2016, 08:58:39 pm »
So I appreciate the belief in God, and I consider it an important thing to consider, with reservations.
Christianity does not allow that a healthy skepticism of traditional belief in God is an option. It is dogmatic theism, married to the absurdities of divine sonship, and most branches of Christianity are trinitarian. One might presume that some of this is later tradition, but in the Gospels at any rate not only must one believe in God, but in an interventionist God, a God of revelation, an apocalyptic God of judgment, who must be accepted on blind faith; Jesus specifically teaches this God, as well as belief in hell.
Whatever positives can be derived from some versions of 'God' (Spinoza's God, or the Hindu Brahman, or the rational God of Greek philosophy) Jesus' God is largely the opposite. Atheism is not even a possibility.
So much of the Sermon on the Mount could easily be found in Buddhism, had the people in that region been aware of the Buddha's teachings. So much of what is thought of as original teaching on Jesus' part can be found in earlier Jewish thought as well.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 07:18:40 am by Reformed1 »

Offline francis

  • Member
  • Posts: 1378
    • View Profile
Re: Jesus of Nazareth
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2016, 04:56:28 am »
Hi Reformed1,

I believe Jesus was a bodhisattva.

With metta.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal