Jesus and Buddha were separated by five hundred years, three thousand miles, and two drastically different cultures. Yet this trade paper edition of the highly acclaimed hardback juxtaposes passages from the New Testament and ancient Buddhist scriptures to illuminate the striking similarity between their lives, deeds, and teachings.
Given the eerie parallels between these two lives, one naturally wonders if their teachings were also similar. In a book that is probably best read as a daily devotional, Borg provides a “Jesus” saying on the left side of each page, and a parallel “Buddha” saying on the right side. Here are some of my favorites:
Jesus: “There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” Buddha: “Stealing, deceiving, adultery; this is defilement. Not the eating of meat.”
Jesus: “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in a steal.” Buddha: “Let the wise man do righteousness: A treasure that others cannot share, which no thief can steal; a treasure which does not pass away.”
Jesus: “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Buddha: “Do not let there be a schism in the order, for this is a serious matter. Whoever splits an order that is united will be boiled in hell for an aeon.”
What is going on, here? Were Jesus and Buddha spiritual masters inspired by a single cosmic source? Is the Christian “very God of very God” one with the Buddhist “God of gods?” You can’t help but be inspired as you contemplate the similarities of these two great religious leaders.
Both were of virgin birth, both healed the sick, were tempted by the devil, ate with prostitutes and taught the way of life, leading their disciples and followers down a path of better living.
I was given this book as a gift by my mother and will forever treasure it. As someone who was raised as a Christian, but came to believe in the teachings of Buddha, this is a wonderful way for someone to see that they are following the right path, no matter if they see themselves as Buddhist or Christian. It also makes a wonderful book for new believers of either faith. Highly recommended and very easy to read-I don't think it is possible to be disappointed.
Several of the compared passages seemed to be stretching overly far to find common ground.