Buddhism and other religions

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Since first interviewing Buddhist monks in 2007, I have become increasingly aware of the contributions of Buddhist philosophy and practice, not only for Buddhists but also for Christians. (See “What I learned from the Buddhists.” ) Now that I am teaching theological students in Southeast Asia on a regular basis, my interest in benefiting from Buddhism and in learning how to do contextual theology continues to rise as well.

Intellectually, Christianity and Buddhism are largely incompatible, but just as Christians have something most Buddhists do not, Buddhists have something Christians often do not, or need more of. For example, how many Christians know how to effectively practice deep breathing in order to relax the body and reduce anxiety? How many know how to comfortably and confidently access their inner wisdom? How many have an ability to detach themselves from the desires and preoccupations that bring them suffering? How many genuinely value humility, patience, and mutual respect, in ways that actually lead to kinder, more peaceful relationships? Certainly, many Buddhists do not possess these qualities either, but as a well developed, psychologically oriented, practical philosophy, Buddhism offers many helpful tools that are not accessible to most Christians.

Looking to the East is nothing new for occidental thinkers and seekers alike, though a concerted effort by Christian theologians to look to Eastern culture and religion for new insights into God and how God works is relatively recent. Yet, for many Christians, especially in the West, just the suggestion that we might have something to learn from Buddhism makes them feel uneasy, or outright furious. The notion flies in the face of traditional mission philosophy, not to mention (conscious or unconscious, stated or unstated) assumptions about Western cultural, intellectual, or religious superiority. So let’s talk about the issues.

Our first question is: How can devoted Christians beneficially draw on the wisdom, insights, and practices of Buddhism (or any other religion)? I don’t mean, at this point, what are the specific benefits that Christians should seek? (I addressed some of these contributions earlier and will again in the coming articles.) Rather, here, we are focusing on, how should Christians think about encountering another faith? What are the options? What are the issues?

Among those who are truly curious, open, and willing to listen to those whose culture and religion are different than theirs, I see three different groups emerging.

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Pastors Sentenced to Prison for Raising Financial Support  — Charisma News
Bhutan's state religion is Buddhism, and other religions are barely tolerated, so life as a Christian is especially difficult. Church buildings are illegal, and non-Buddhists are not privy to the same benefits such as free education.

Bhutanese Pastors 'Guilty' of Fundraising for Own Gain  — Crossmap
Bhutan's state religion is Buddhism and other religions are barely tolerated, so life as a Christian is especially difficult. Church buildings are illegal and non-Buddhists are not privy to the same benefits such as free education.

Popular Q&A

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What are the equivalents to the Bible in Buddhism and other religions?

There is no "holy" text in Buddhism, but the Torah is read in Judaism, and the Koran is studied in the Islamic religion. !

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Buddhism vs other religions?

For a gr 11 religion course I was given the following thesis question:
"Do Buddhists self-reflection practices get them closer to God than other religions?"
My assignment is to write a 1400 word argumentative essay on this topic. Opinions are allowed, however both sides of the argument must also be shown clearly.
My question is how/where do I start? What information do I need to know to get this done? Any tips and/or resources that will help?
thanks!

Start RESEARCHING what other religions BELIEVE.

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Dose Buddhism accept other religions?

Everyone, everywhere should accept other religions, whether or not they do, I don't know. Buddhism may not accept other religions as a whole, but you should only think about it on a person to person basis.

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