Siddhartha Gautama (historical Buddha) and Jesus teachings similarities

Ayam very interested by knowing the references of Siddhartha Gautama’s teachings that are nearly identical with Jesus teachings.

This is my first time here.
It is possible the subject was already discussed.

Hi @sil20.
Welcome to Discourse. I was browsing through and noticed no one had answered your question. I am now Buddhist but was Christian for many years- perhaps I can help!
I’m not sure what you mean by references, but I am guessing you mean specific passages. I encountered a book a little while ago called ‘Buddha and Jesus: The Parallel Sayings’ which covered this topic in a nice sort of coffee table book kind of way. A link to a brief except is here - http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2000/02/Jesus-And-Buddha-The-Parallel-Sayings.aspx

From what I can remember from quickly thumbing through it was that most of the sayings of Jesus were from the Gospels - which are the Bible books that cover Jesus’ life and what he said and did (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)

The Buddha’s saying were taken from a combination of Nikayas, Dhammapada and Vinaya, so fairly canonical and not ‘fake Buddha quotes’ if that’s reassuring.

Can I say that Jesus or Buddha said any/all those exact specific things? I don’t know if I or anyone can. But it is a nice and interesting book! Made a great consolation gift for my Christian parents!

Perhaps someone knows of something more scholarly?

Metta,
Cara

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For me, when considering whether or not Jesus and the Buddha taught similar things, two issues emerge:

  1. The actual content of the teachings.
  2. Where the teachings lead.

When this question is reduced to the most salient point, I think it comes down to the first and most crucial step in the eightfold path: right view. Right view is the “compass point” which leads to liberation and going in the wrong direction will lead to the samsara of dukkha.

The Buddha was very clear with how he awakened and exactly what he awakened to. Before his full awakening, his entire quest for liberation was coming from the context of a Brahmin perspective. In that tradition, there is a single, permanent, unchanging binding essence of the universe. A person has a connection to that essence; an Atman, a “soul” of sorts that has become separated from it’s source and he or she is stuck in lifetimes of wandering and searching for reconnection. Siddhartha Gautama went as deep as possible into every avenue of the known path to that end.

What he finally discovered was that the root of the problem was the erroneous view that there is a permanent, unchanging self, essence of the universe or anything else for that matter. Everything is impermanent and conditioned. Everything. There isn’t anything behind everything.

Therefore, the plight of mankind does not rest upon rejoining one with God, but that there is no one to unite and nothing to unite with. These are very distinct “compass points” and make all the difference.

Siddhartha Gautama’s teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta were the first people he considered to share his awakening with because they were so very close to realization. All they needed was Right View.

So the messages of Jesus may be beneficial in some ways, but they do not address how to engage with dukkha, how to see it’s cause for arising, how to realize it’s cessation nor how to cultivate a path to prevent it’s future arising.

Then there is the task of determining what Jesus actually said. The Christian scriptures have been handled completely differently than the Pali, Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit records of the sayings of the Buddha. From a strictly academic perspective, I personally have abandoned any value in the integrity of what the bible says Jesus may have said and done.

The question, however, is not whether Jesus’s teachings are beneficial or ‘academically’ sound, but how (or in what way) they parallel the teachings of the Buddha.

It is important to note that Jesus drew greatly upon the Wisdom teachings of the Old Testament, such as the Book of Proverbs, and thus it might be more beneficial to ask which teachings of the Buddha correspond with the scriptural assertions of the Abrahamic religions. This is obviously a massive undertaking, but contributes to the idea that sagacity is not exclusive to one person alone.

As Buddhists we generally hold the Dhamma as exclusively liberating; i.e. that there is no other escape from suffering than the understanding/realization of samsara. And while this is beneficial, I think it’s also important to recognize the comprehension and ‘removal’ of suffering as universal.

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I’m no expert but I have read a study comparing the teachings of Jesus - particularly those from the “Q source” a hypothetical collection of Jesus’ sayings that may have influenced some of the gospels - with buddhist teachings. 'The Original Jesus: Buddhist sources of Christianity ’ sets out these parallels and explores the influence of Buddhist missionaries on the Essenes and other communities contemporary with Jesus eg Qumran. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Original-Jesus-Buddhist-Christianity/dp/1852308354
I’ve found some of the ‘gnostic’ gospels and the role of Mary Magdalene provide interesting parallels, the emphasis on love/agape as another way of understanding Metta and Karuna. Cynthia Bourgeault has written about MM and also on Jesus as a wisdom teacher, incorporating an ‘Eastern-like’ path of transforming awareness.
I feel there is much potential in exploring how contemplative paths of different traditions navigate similar ground, shed light on each other and open new avenues of practice and exploration.
More on Q source here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_source

With best wishes,
River

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As Buddhists we generally hold the Dhamma as exclusively liberating;

Too many “buddhists” are exclusivists.
I think Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus teachings are pointing the same Reality.

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I think Rabbi Yeshua was a Jewish monotheist preaching a return to the Law; this isn’t Dhamma at all.

I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that religion provides morals; in fact, human morals precede religious systematization, and so finding that morality is largely in common across religions is not very surprising.

The differentiation that matters comes in terms of the goals being pursued, and in this sense the Dhamma is unique for its anatta teachings, as well as its conditionality. The concomitant contemplative pursuit is fully oriented around these ideas.

Jesus, on the other hand, believed in a permanent soul and a permanent tri-omni creator deity. The Dhamma says both of these things are not to be found.

I think there’s a lot of Romanticism in the way people approach spirituality in general, which gets in the way; it masks personal preference when one can put together a religion cafeteria-style, it seems to me.

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This is certainly true. I think it’s very hard for any of us to look at our approach to spirituality in an objective way. Keeping in mind that ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ are 2 entirely different things IMO.

I would agree with this, but most religious people are exclusivists, that’s kind of the point of aligning yourself with a religion. I have travelled a lot I find I get along best with other religious people, whether Buddhist, Christian or Muslim. Why? Because we are all striving for goodness and virtue (well, those of us who are). We walk a different path, but up a similar mountain, so we could always do more to encourage one another. Good people of any faith are increasingly hard to find!

I don’t agree with this. The teachings of Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus have parallels, and many similarities, but they don’t point to the same reality.

Let’s summarise both their teachings in a teeny, tiny nutshell (so please forgive me all) -
Buddha taught - There is suffering and the end of suffering.
Jesus taught - There is salvation from the consequences of sin (death), and it is through me.

Boiling the teachings down to these essences, we can see they try to address the same issue, but very differently. Buddha says there is a way, and points us toward it. We must implement the 8 fold path for ourselves to end suffering.
Jesus says “I AM the way”, just put your faith in me". This aligns with Judaic idea of placing your sins on a sacrificial animal who would die for your sins, for you. That is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God.

Now the ‘fuzzy’ bits of the teaching around this, like metta, love thy neighbour, good morality, etc etc are very similar. Which I for one think is nice to share with our Christian companions.

But it’s dangerous to look at religions from afar and say, eh, they all look the same from out here! We have to get in there and see for ourselves.

Metta :pray:

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I agree. It’s necessary to be clear what is the same and what is different. That is true tolerance, not some fuzzy “It’s all the same” feeling.

I’ve always liked the essay Tolerance and Diversity by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_24.html

… To the extent that a religion proposes sound ethical principles and can promote to some degree the development of wholesome qualities such as love, generosity, detachment and compassion, it will merit in this respect the approbation of Buddhists. These principles advocated by outside religious systems will also conduce to rebirth in the realms of bliss — the heavens and the divine abodes. Buddhism by no means claims to have unique access to these realms, but holds that the paths that lead to them have been articulated, with varying degrees of clarity, in many of the great spiritual traditions of humanity. While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha’s Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world.

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The teachings of Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus have parallels, and many similarities, but they don’t point to the same reality.

There is one Reality. Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus indicate it with different words and points of view.

Actually, he almost certainly didn’t. One of the problems in dealing with this issue is that, if we want to compare the Buddha with Jesus, we have to be clear whether we’re talking about the historical people, or about the movement they started.

Most people on this forum know that I’m interested in the historical Buddha, and believe that we can get a good idea what he taught from study of the Suttas. I learned how to do this is by studying the parallel movement in Bible studies. In these areas Bible studies are far more advanced and sophisticated that what we have achieved so far in the Buddhist texts.

The “I am” statements of Jesus are found in the Gospel of John. This is clearly a late text, and there is little likelihood that any of the teachings found there that are unshared with the earlier Gospels (“synoptic”) stem from the historical Jesus. Rather, it’s influenced by neo-Platonist and other Hellenic philosophies, at a time when the historical Jesus was receding from view, and the nascent Christianity was appealing beyond its Jewish roots. (Jesus was, of course, a Jew, not a Christian.)

Another interesting fact that is almost always overlooked is that our earliest witnesses for the life and teachings of Jesus are not in the Gospels. No, I’m not referring to the various Gnostic and other extra-canonical sources, which are late, but to the oft-maligned letters of Paul. Paul was converted, went on his missions, wrote his letters, and died before any of the Gospels were written. That’s not say that the Gospels, at least the synoptics, don’t preserve earlier teachings, but it’s not something you can take for granted.

As for connections between the Gospels and Buddhist texts, I haven’t looked at this for some time, but many years years ago some parallels were argued for. I found the arguments persuasive, but I’m afraid I can’t recall the details. It seems that there are three events/stories in the Gospels that are likely sourced from Buddhist texts:

  1. The widow’s two coins.
  2. The loaves & fishes.
  3. The walking on water.

Each of these has Buddhist counterparts that don’t just mirror the general story, but contain specific corresponding details. Moreover the stories occur in versions of the life of the Buddha which were widely distributed in northern areas before the time of Christ.

However the fact that a few stories are shared is not very significant. There was no copyright in the ancient world. Everyone was borrowing from everyone else all the time.

As for more general ethical or spiritual teachings, while there are certain similarities, it’s difficult to say if there was any direct influence. There are much more striking similarities between the Buddha’s teachings and several of the early Chinese sages (especially Chuang Tzu), yet there can have been no historical influence in these cases.

Certainly none of the serious and distinctive teachings of the Buddha—the aggregates, dependent origination, not-self, the jhānas, Nibbāna, and so on—are found in the teachings of Jesus. Nor is there any meaningful trace of the vast cosmos so central to the Indic philosophies, no notion of samsara, and no system of meditation.

So if there was any influence it was from the more general public dissemination of popular texts like the Dhammapada. But these things are, for the most part, not really Buddhist anyway; they’re just Buddhist versions of general wisdom teachings.

The earliest of the Gospels, Mark, is apocalyptic. It depicts Jesus as foretelling the arrival of the end times within the lifetime of his followers. It’s structured around the gravity of this message and the mystery of Jesus’ person. Whether this constitutes the actual teachings of Jesus is contested—although personally I think it is—but it cannot be simply ignored.

In many important ethical areas there is much overlap between Jesus and the Buddha, a commitment to compassion that is shared with many other spiritual teachers. And it’s important to recognize and emphasize such affinities.

But Jesus, whatever else he might have been, was a theist, and the Buddha wasn’t. Given that they had diametrically opposing views on a critical spiritual question, who are we to say that we know them better than they knew themselves?

And, by the way, happy Good Friday to everyone!

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Thank you for explaining this Bhante :pray:

in the Sermon on the Mountain Jesus reportedly said

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say , Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

(Matthew 5)

and further in the John’s 1 epistle (Ch 3), which looks like a development of this idea

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

that is according to Jesus it’s not only and not so much an action which is sinful, and so will be judged at the Last Judgement, but the very mental attitude forerunning and underpinning such action
in this i find some parallelism with the Buddha’s statement that in his Dhamma kamma is intention

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bird simile

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6

He becomes content with robes to protect his body and with almsfood to maintain his stomach, and wherever he goes, he sets out taking only these with him. Just as a bird, wherever it goes, flies with its wings as its only burden, so too the bhikkhu becomes content with robes to protect his body and with almsfood to maintain his stomach, and wherever he goes, he sets out taking only these with him.

MN 27

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I think evidence needs to be provided for this since the language used in the Gospels is not straightforward. Most references to ‘the soul’ point to the ‘citta’ (that can be corrupted) rather than to a Bhagavad Gita-like-Atman those goes from body to body regardless of khammic deed.

Similarly, there seems to be little real evidence ‘Eternal Life’ refers to ‘Immortality’ because in the Gospel of Thomas the ‘Deathless’ is referred to rather than ‘Eternal Life’ (although both phrases probably point to the same thing based on the Trees of Death & Life found in Genesis).

The Christians were quite cognizant of the dualistic Tree of Knowledge (leading to ‘death’) and the (alternate) Tree of Life from the opening of Genesis. It is a strange fact that the Tree of Life does not appear anywhere in the Old Testament apart from in the Old Testament ‘Proverbs’ and in the New Testament.

Here, the words ‘death’ & ‘life’ appear to not refer to physical death & life, similar to the teaching about being ‘born again’ given to Nicodemus in John 3.

As for Father, Son & Holy Spirit, again, these need to be examined in context. Even Christians cannot agree on the meaning of these concepts (however, as Buddhists, we have some insight into the ‘spirit’ or ‘breath’ or Holy Life).

… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Galatians 5:22

The above said, I agree there is no direct doctrine of anatta in the New Testament because much of the New Testament is only sila & heavenly realms (including immeasurable awareness-release).

I will play the role of Buddhist fundamentalist (Mara) to a student of religion and begin playing the Buddhist card in MN 115 that there can only be one Sammasambuddha in a world system who revealed the ultimate truth about the cessation of suffering (Nibbana). Based on this fundamentalist doctrine, it appears any teachings pointing to Nibbana must be from the Buddha.

[quote=“Brenna, post:4, topic:2566”]
It is important to note that Jesus drew greatly upon the Wisdom teachings of the Old Testament, such as the Book of Proverbs, and thus it might be more beneficial to ask which teachings of the Buddha correspond with the scriptural assertions of the Abrahamic religions…[/quote]
The Book of Proverbs is certainly interesting given it contains themes such as “love covers all wrongs”, Immortality and the tree of life. The proverbs contained within are very Buddhist sounding (eg. Dhammapada; Sigalovada Sutta). It seems, similar to the clumsy attempt at wisdom of Ecclesiastes, Proverbs must have been composed very late.

Is it not strange that the Tree of Death (Knowledge of Good & Evil) and the Tree of Life, from the beginning of Genesis, appear to be not found in the Old Testament, apart from in Proverbs and are also a dominant theme in the New Testament, including the very end of Revelation where the river, water & tree of life are symbols for Nibbana (a state free from suffering)?

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On each side of the river stood the tree of life…the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…Revelation

Based in the Buddhist fundamentalist dogma of only one Sammasambuddha in a world-system, this would point to Proverbs, the clumsy Ecclesiastes, Job (tempted by the 1st Biblical appearance of Mara) and the Garden of Eden being composed after the arising of Buddhism.

The pre-Exilic (i.e. pre-586 BCE) Old Testament allowed no equals to YHWH in heaven, despite the continued existence of an assembly of subordinate servant-deities. The post-Exilic writers of the Wisdom tradition developed the idea that Wisdom existed before creation and was used by God to create the universe

Along with the other examples of the Biblical wisdom tradition – Job and Ecclesiastes and some other writings – Proverbs raises questions of values, moral behavior, the meaning of human life, and righteous conduct.

Job and Ecclesiastes through the boldness of their dissent from received tradition, Proverbs in its worldliness and satiric shrewdness.

it is generally agreed by scholars that the book (of Job) comes from the period between the 7th and 4th centuries BCE, with the 6th century as the most likely date for a variety of reasons.

Ecclesiastes…critical scholars have long rejected the idea of a pre-exilic origin. The presence of Persian loan-words and Aramaisms points to a date no earlier than about 450 BCE, while the latest possible date for its composition is 180 BCE…

Wikipedia

Also, there is one particular dominant Buddhist word or theme throughout the New Testament, namely, ‘the world’, ‘worldlings’ & ‘worldliness’, particularly where Jesus says: "My kingdom is not of this world’ (‘lokuttara’ - ‘above/beyond the world’). While I have not browsed the Bible for many years, I cannot recall this being a theme of the Old Testament since, by its very nature, Judaism is a worldly (moral & political) religion for the world (as culminated in Isaiah).

John 8:23

But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world".

in fact the dogma of trinity was developed and adopted much later amidst heated debates as to the nature of God and denunciation of alternative explanations deemed heretical

Jesus I think stayed more or less within the doctrinal boundaries of the Judaism

Jesus says “I am the Way.” in St. John’s Gospel. All the "I am . . " statements in that Gospel are illustrations referring back to the opening Theme of the Gospel, “In the beginning is/was the Logos.” (=Tao, Order of the Universe, Dharma). One must not read St. John’s Gospel as simple, factual description, but as spiritual meditation, to be meditated on - “philosophizing in symbols” as one of the Early Fathers put it. Best leave it alone, if you can’t do that, or don’t care to.
The Tao IS the way, both grammatically and philosophically, and the Logos is the very logic of the universe. What Jesus says of himself in this way is true of us all, but we must KNOW this. Christianity teaches these things “in a Mystery”.

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Our problem is that we only have Paul’s letters to really get at what Jesus wanted to say; the Gospels are later texts that can also help, but there are more than four gospels… more than paul’s letters… nevermind speculations about Rabbi Yeshua - he only taught for about a year - we have a huge problem with text that we simply don’t have with early Buddhism.

Judaism.

I also note you’re using the Gospel of Thomas. There’s a Gospel of Judas too, isn’t that interesting? All these Gospels… without the same sort of overlap we see in the Nikayas. Very rough going.

It can also let us pick & choose what we want ‘Jesus’ to say. Hmm… Mahayana folk do this with the Buddha, don’t they? Xianity is maybe Jewish Mahayana…

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i agree with synesius. “I am” is the name of the only Reality (God, the Conscience, Tao, etc.) who is the only wan, the Absolute.