Buddhism & Christianity

In the stupa, old pre-Buddhist deities are shown paying respect to the Buddha.  That’s the wonderful thing about Buddhism.  Whenever it goes anyplace, it doesn’t say, “Cut out your gods.”  There is a very easy synthesis of religions where Buddhism goes.  The characteristic of the Muslim and Christian traditions is to annihilate the gods of the country that they enter.  The characteristic of the more gentle Buddhist tradition is that these gods are the local powers of life, which are themselves manifestations of Buddha consciousness.  So there they stand in reverence to the revelation of their own Buddhahood.  TMTT 127

The Christian is phrased in terms of sin and redemption, or atonement; the Buddhist, in terms of ignorance and enlightenment, or awakening.  An essential question to be asked, therefore, in relation to the problem of interpreting these symbolic forms, is that of distinguishing the “vehicle” from the “tenor” of their arguments.  We must ask if an essential identical message (“tenor”) is not implicit in the two, one that underlies the differences in the vocabulary (“vehicles”).  Are ignorance and sin, finally, two ways of pointing to the same spiritual or psychological crisis?  TMD 197

   The tree, the gate, and the cherubim: it is a shared symbolic image that the two religions have inherited.  But their interpretations differ.  Let us ask, specifically, in what way.  And let us begin by considering in Buddhist terms the force or meaning of the two cherubim, those “Thunderbolt Holders,” at the gate. TMD 203