Interfaith Perspectives

Thanks @IanG. I assume that Jesus had his teachings and the Buddha also. And many people now try to investigate what was originally taught by them and what is later added.

I feel this is a sincere attempt. And people want to sincerly not slander Buddha and Jesus. Not distort their teachings and pretent Jesus and Buddha taught something they did not taught.
I feel this thorough study is much more sincere than laying all kinds of ideas in their mouth which have never been theirs. I appreciate this study. I do not appreciate all those people who say things like…‘the buddha said this and that’…without any reference.

Personally i think i am also sincere in this but i am quit sure others feel i am not or they feel like i make big mistakes and wrong judgements about what the Buddha originally taught, while i study the same texts.

For me certaintly texts are very important.

But, in the end I believe Dhamma is what calls, an inner calling. It is hard to grasp what calls. Some call it God, or some the Absolute, the Father, the real Self, Truth, the Pure One. I am not convined it is all very different. But in this sense that i feel Dhamma is a calling, i also feel that real Dhamma lessons are those who do not come from books but from this inner calling.
I also feel here, inside, here is Dhamma spoken. Here is the living Buddha. I do not believe this Buddha can die, nor this Dhamma. Maybe this calling can be shouted down by other inner voices, the voice of our emotions, thoughts, the voice of habits, the voice of ego, but i do not think it can be really absent.

There are lineage who do not start with a sammasambuddha like Gautama who lived on Earth, but start from the eternal Buddha. That is more a lineage of calling in which lessons come from the eternal Buddha. That is more like religion. I am attracted to that and for me it is important not to loose myself to much in all this intellectual stuff.

I also believe that for Gautama the person who lived long ago and attained enlightment, Buddhahood was a calling.

Hi Ian,

Thich Nhat Hanh is very active in interfaith dialogue and he will express his teaching in language that, whether it does or doesn’t I don’t know, certainly attempts to reach out to a Christian view. I have heard him talk about his relationship to dhamma (my simple description for what he was talking about) in terms of love and being lovers. He’s a huge figure. I am not sure I should say that he is Zen, but at any rate, his lineage is Vietnamese Zen.

I don’t know anything about Vietnamese Zen, which is too bad, because one of my professors in undergrad came from some family of Vietnamese royalty, and because of the long anti-colonial strife there, he himself went to Tokyo, and studied at ToDai, and paid his way as a chaiboy, while other members of his family went to the US, some were imprisoned in Vietnam, and some entered the temple. He didn’t talk about it much. I just know some of it, because he was a very close mentor to me, and lived down the street. I used to go for chats and excellent food, because his wife was Korean Japanese.

At any rate, Zen, and there are several branches, is typically defined as Mahayana. Historically, we can say that its beginnings are Chan in China. I think, to take you any further than that would simply be to mislead you.

Not really a school, mostly are scholarly monks and their followers. How many are they? 10k, 100k? Comparing with the vast majority of 7 bln human population who believe otherwise, this number is negligible. Are they the mini minority who bear the truth, or just ones enjoy the challenge of a daring game?

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There is a much, much deeper Compassion to Give that is Higher and more worthwhile than merely the end of suffering.

If you only want to end your suffering you could just become a rock in the Brahma Heaven or something like that. Or Surrender non-regressively to a Teacher that will keep you free from suffering in the 6th Heaven. Or something or such. And yes Nibbana is the best option to end suffering of course.

But Dharma is deep Love of others. Of course Nirvana is involved, but figures like Buddha and Jesus came here to bring us from a simple piece of bread to feeding a whole town, until we all stop suffering, but before that, maybe, Love each other Perfectly.

Thank you. I loved your post. It really captured so well what I experience so often in these conversations.


Good questions, i do not know how many they are. I feel like i am almost the only one here who is concerned if this view of parinibbana as a mere cessation without anything remaining, is really Buddha-Dhamma. I feel there is a huge hush regarding this, especially from monastics, translaters, people who are respected here.

But, i think it is not a minor issue, because, in the end we talk about the goal of Dhamma and what it really means to escape samsara and making an end to suffering.

But answering @IanG , according this interpretation of the goal of the Buddha-Dhamma, a mere cessation without anything remaining, there is no destination for a Buddhist. One does not arrive anywhere.

I believe christians describe a situation in which the mind/heart was originally pure. But from pureness it fel into sinn one time. Buddha does not seem to teach a starting point in the past but it is more like a process of here and now.

Buddha discovered, i believe, this fall into sinn never really happened in some irrevocable or inherent way. We never became really sinners by nature, but sinn is adventitious to the pure nature of mind. Sinn is like bagage we collected over many lives and became more and more heavy, and started to feel like Me and mine.

But our mind/heart is yet still pure but only defiled by incoming adventitious defilements. It is not that we ever lost that original purity but it is overgrown, not seen anymore.

I believe this is an important teachings of the Buddha. Becoming a sinner is more like something that happens here and now. It is more like we have become more and more ignorant about our orignal pure state. What is adventitious has become during all those years more and more heavy. And while that happened it started to feel more and more like me and mine. What is really us is not heavy. Buddha did call this heaviness dukkha. Like a load. Like a burden. That’s what i believe :grinning:

So, there is a proces of blindness. Buddha teaches that all things like greed, conceit, ego, hate are rooted in this blindness. In holding things that are not me and mine as me and mine.

With respect, according to the suttas, at one point, the Buddha was the only one in the world who penetrated the Dhamma and realized nibbāna after his enlightenment. Did that make him wrong and the rest of the world correct?
Is truth dependent on the number of people who believe it?

Again with respect and with goodwill, reducing the sincere Dhamma practices of many people to a “daring game” sounds denigrating and dismissive.
Disagreement can just be disagreement.
You’re certainly entitled to your views and opinions. No need for negative labeling.

The people who take the Buddha’s teachings about cessation as pointing to exactly that, are not doing so to violate the Precepts or to enhance greed, anger, and ignorance. If they were, that would be a basis for direct criticism. But they’re not.
So to label their Dhamma practices as a “game” is not helpful and not convincing.

However, you may wish to cite the suttas to support your view. Then there would be a basis for deeper discussion and reflection – if not agreement. :pray:


Just some random thoughts, no offence. sorry for the inconvenience.


once the much troubled Bhikkhu Bodhi asked his teacher about this self/soul issue, his teacher told him that he disagreed with those sri lankan scholar monks, and held a similar vedantic view. you are definitely not alone, normally people try to stay quiet on such sensitive issue to maintain peace and harmony. You seems to overly active on this and worry too much. With human consciousness keeps expanding, I hope this issue will be settled once for all soon.

when I rediscovered Buddhism in Darwin in the mid-1990s after a health scare I was interested to attend several interfaith dialogue gatherings, one or two organised by the Bahai community and two, I recall, by the Buddhist Society of the NT. As someone who took an interest in this process I was surprised by the absence of other denominations and belief communities and I also wondered what kind of further contact would deepen the earlier dialogue beyond expressions of goodwill.

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well, also in Buddhism there are components with a function similar to what in Christianism is the Grace, Faith, etc.
Rejecting the intellectual stuff is a valid choice for some people and also in some times.

I believe you have a wrong imagination about the cease taught by the Buddha. The cease should be understood in the sense of the cease of atta. Note if we became attached to a non-cease (permanence) then we would be feeding the becoming, and then more birth and more dukkha.

We should aspire to the cease avoiding imaginations of annihilation. When this aspiration sounds fearful it is because one is engaged with his own fabrications (images, thoughts… about what nibbana can be or not).

The Buddha taught to be focused in the experience (how arise the perception? what is contact? what is feeling?). The discernment of the cease of atta should be applied in this ambit, and the consequences of the cease is the supreme happiness and bliss. It was described by the Buddha, arhants and ariyas through a very long History. Nibbana and parinibbana are the same thing, no difference. For this reason the Buddha said nibbana is the end of dukkha, because it goes beyond death. An arhant doesn’t care about these limits because are part of delusion.

One should keep faith in the Buddha. The Buddha was a knower of the rest of higher spiritual states, and his goal was the eradication of dukkha. He was unsatisfied with states without perception. If nibbana and parinibbana would be an ambit of dukkha or annihilation he would have remained in another state or in a brahama-vihara and preaching that like the best option.

The cease taught by the Buddha is not annihilation. The cease should be applied to the ambit of the 6 sense experience as the Buddha taught. No using field of imagination but field of atta experience.

Ian in terms of the part of your initial question about the value of interfaith perspectives, in recent years I ventured down the pathway of chaplaincy training and have qualified as a Buddhist chaplain. Part of my motivation in doing this was to find a way to be of service to others as well as cultivate a way to enhance the practice and the training in a perhaps more tangible way.

I raised this point only to mention that chaplaincy by definition involves a lot of interfaith study and cultivation of mutual respect, largely because at least in the practice of chaplaincy one encounters people where they find them and for the most part it’s not going to be a Buddhist population but at least in the United States probably a Christian population. There is a very strong Christian bias in chaplaincy training in the united states, although more and more there has been an Embrace of true Interfaith training as well as some fairly significant programs such as at Harvard University that has a Buddhist chaplaincy program. The benefit of all of this is exposure to different religions and traditions and allowing myself to dive deeper into the faith practices and non-faith practices of other religions and of people who are not religious.

There’s a lot that can be said about chaplaincy and the way that it is developing in the west, but at least for me one of the benefits that I found is that irrespective of one’s religious or spiritual foundations, there are simply a lot of people in the world that are very caring and compassionate people who truly want to be of positive service to others. For me that’s a common denominator that I truly enjoy and despite some of the afflictions facing chaplaincy practiced in the west, there’s a lot of positive new developments within the Interfaith sphere that I think make chaplaincy training worthwhile


The central tenant of Judaism is that there is one God. The goal is to live a God-focused life, following the 613 mitzvot (commandments, or good deeds). Many of the mitzvot involve praising God throughout the day for everything—it’s focused on being thankful. It’s also about behaving well. Judaism is about living a holy life. It’s also a legal system. There is the belief that the Messiah will come some day. There is extensive ritual. It’s also a historical religion that has grown to include historical events. Technically, it’s a “family,” passed down by the mother, and a culture. It is very family-centered. The 27 types of pride remind me a little of the Al Chet Confession of Sins at Yom Kippur. Besides the importance of good behavior, it’s hard to see similarities with Buddhism on the surface.

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Debra, I have so much respect and admiration for the Jewish traditions and spiritual practices. I do see some similarities, or resonance, with Buddhism, if not for the idea that so many excellent practitioners and teachers in western Buddhism have come from Jewish families and traditions. Judaism seems to me to truly embrace tradition, wisdom, intellectual exploration, and as you point out, ethics and compassion and good conduct; these same qualities are hallmarks of Buddhism, as well.

I can say I was a bit pleased when my 23 and me turned out a small percentage of Ashkenazi Jew DNA, and it turns out on my mother’s paternal Sicilian side the Sicilians were actually the “mattress makers” (“Matricia/Matacia”, my mother’s maiden name), who were Jewish in a northern city in Sicily. Many of these early Jewish families were later forced to convert to Catholicism or be expelled from Sicily.

So many western teachers and scholars from Jewish families that now permeate the highest levels of Buddhist thought and culture in the US and west seems to me to suggest a true compatibility and kinship between Judaism and Buddhism.

If you have trouble cognizing the idea that the “popular ones” tend to follow doesn’t line up to the Middle Way, may this Song of God quote help you:

Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.

Krishna here is speaking, in the quote above, by which the Vaishnavas respect The Buddha Himself as His Wisest Form.

Here is what the Dalai Lama says in a similar jest: