Notes on Understanding Buddhism





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Notes on Understanding Buddhism


The Life of Buddha

  • Queen Mahamaya's Dream
    King Shuddhoma of a kingdom in North India that borders modern day Nepal, did not have an heir to the throne. Queen Mahamaya had a dream that a young white elephant entered into her womb, after which she became pregnant.
  • Prince Siddhatta's Birth
    Queen Mahamaya gave birth to Prince Siddhatta at Lumbini Park on Vesakha Full Moon Day, 80 years before the Buddhist era (380-544 BCE). Shortly after his birth, Asita a hermit came to see the child and burst into tears. If the boy was to leave the palace, he will be the spiritual guidance of the world. King Shuddhoma was determined not to let his son leave until he have brought his kingdom glory.
  • The Prince's marriage
    Prince Siddhattha married Princess Yasodhara or Bimba of the Koliya clan and lived happily in the three castles built for the three seasons.
  • The Four Signs
    On the four royal park tours the Prince saw an old man, a sick man, a dead man and an ascetic respectively which made Him weary of the conditioned things.
  • The Great Renunciation
    Coming from the last tour and learning that his consort was delivered of a son. The Prince then decided to renounce the world that night.
  • The Practice of Austerities
    Dissatisfied with the two ascetics' ideologies and practices the Prince tried to find out the way for himself by practicing austerities with five monks in attendance. Thus began six years of self-denial. After six years he realised that he need to balance self-indulgent and self-denial (a middle path).
  • The Enlightenment
    Sotthiya, the grass-carrier, presented eight bundles of grass to the Prince with which He made a seat at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Sitting facing towards the East, through His spiritual practice the Prince attain to full Enlightenment at dawn of Vesakha
  • Turning the Wheel of the Dhamma
    Going to the forest at Isipatana, the Lord Buddha delivered His First Discourse to the five ascetics who became the first monks.
  • The First Two Lay Followers
    The two merchants, Tapussa and Bhallika, offered the Lord rice and honey cake and declared themselves the Lord's followers - taking the Buddha and His Dhamma as their Path.
  • Passing Away into Parinibbana
    Instructing His last disciple, Subhadda, the Wanderer, the Lord Buddha passed away into Parinibbana on the Vesakha Full Moon day.


Main Traditions of Buddhism

(1) Theravada tradition

The Theravada tradition bases its teachings and practices on the Pali Cannon, a collection of Buddha’s discourses (suttas) that were preserved by memorisation by Buddha disciples, transmitted orally and written down four centuries after Buddha’s death. (sometimes called Southern Buddhism; occasionally spelled Therevada) "has been the dominant school of Buddhism in most of Southeast Asia since the thirteenth century, with the establishment of the monarchies in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos."

It is impossible to specify dates on the early history of Buddhism, because the year of Buddha's death is unknown. Various scholars and traditions have suggested dates ranging from 380 to 544 BCE.

Many unique schools of Buddhism were established in the first century after Buddha's death. Of these, only Theravada Buddhism -- the "Doctrine of the Elders" -- still survives. It later spread from northern India throughout most of Southeast Asia: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand.

The First Council: Consolidation of the Buddha's teaching:

The Buddha passed his teachings to his followers in oral form. Three months after his death, one of his most accomplished students, the Venerable Mahakassapa, assembled 500 senior monks in what was to be called the First Council. It was held in Rajagriha, Magadha in what is now India. Their goal was to give the Buddha's teachings a degree of permanence and consistency by converting them to written form for use by the Sangha (the Community of Buddhists).

The Second Council, and first schism:

The Second Council was held a century after the first, in Vesali. Seven hundred arhats (enlightened followers) were present. The Elders of the council felt that discipline within the Sangha needed tightening. Some monks disagreed.

The fundamental conflict at the Council was whether Buddhism was:

  • To continue as a religion focused on meditation and concentration, to be pursued primarily by monks in monasteries, or
  • To be simplified so that it could be practiced by the "common people."

A group of monks, the Vajjians, argued that the Ten Precepts should be relaxed. They also wanted lay people to have equal representation. The Vajjian monks were outvoted, and left the council to form a different Buddhist tradition: the Mahayana school. It means literally "The Greater Ox-Cart" since many more people could come on board. They referred to the monastic version of Buddhism, Theravada, with the derogatory term "Hinayana," which means "Lesser Vehicle" -- a Buddhism restricted to specialists.

The Third Council and expansion:

During the third century BCE, King Ashoka ruled a large part of India which he had conquered by force. A particularly fierce battle during his eighth year left as many as 100,000 people dead. The king was so shaken by the experience that he became open to a religious conversion. He met a Buddhist monk who convinced him to use his power for good instead of evil. The king organized the Third Council involving 1,000 attendees. Under his leadership, Buddhist monks were sent into neighboring countries; thousands of stupas and monasteries were built. (Stupas are sacred Buddhist shrine-monuments which often containing a relic.)

The Fourth Council and the Pali Canon:

This council was held during the first century BCE in Sri Lanka. The Pali Canon -- the Theravada Buddhist scripture -- was recorded on palm leaves and passed intact to the present day. Its name is derived from the Pali language in which the scriptures were written; previous scriptures were written in Sanskrit. Today, they would fill several thousand pages.

The Canon consists of three parts:

  • Vinaya Pitaka: This contains instructions on how to keep the sangha working harmoniously.
  • Sutta Pitaka: The core teachings of Theravada Buddhism.
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka: A very precise and detailed description of the "principles behind the mental and physical processes of the Buddha's teaching."

"Theravada Buddhists relied on rationality, rules and education...Theravada emphasizes wisdom, scholarship and intellectual training.

There are two main methods by which a monk attempts to become an arhat:

  • Meditation and insight (vipashyana-dhura). This involves "... insight meditation, the practice of tranquility and the quieting of the mind."
  • Study (gantha-dhura). This involves "... the study of the Buddhist canon, the scriptures, and the path to knowledge and wisdom."

Theravada Buddhism initially reserved the practice of meditation to monks. The laity were "... encouraged to engage in merit-making activities to improve their future rebirth status." However, in recent times, the laity have embraced meditation and aspire "to more dramatic progress along the path to nirvana."

(2) Mahayana tradition

(sometimes called Northern Buddhism) is largely found in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia.

 “Just as the most beautiful flower, the lotus, grows in muddy water, so the lay practitioner can find clarity and compassion in the turmoil of daily life.”

The original tradition within Buddhism, Theravadan, continues to flourish even today, but around the First Century BCE, a split began to develop. The Theravadans held fast to the ideas of monastic discipline, scholarly attainment, and strict adherence to the scriptures of the Buddha, while others saw this as being inflexible and difficult for anyone besides a monk to come to terms with. As a result, a movement to bring Buddhism to the "common people" began to gain popularity. This movement would eventually lead to the development of Mayahana Buddhism.

They called their new Buddhism, the "Greater Vehicle" (literally, "The Greater Ox-Cart") or Mahayana, since it could accommodate more people and more believers from all walks of life.

Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism embraced the concept of the Bodhisattva, or "one who achieves perfect attainment." Theravadan Buddhists saw this as merely a guide or a model to the journey of individual enlightenment. Thus any adherent of the Theravadan Tradition who through strict discipline and devotion to scripture became enlightened had lived up to the ideal of the Bodhisattva. But Bodhisattva was seen merely as a teaching tool, only as a part of the individual’s path in reaching Nirvana. It would not reach beyond this until the formation of the Mahayana Tradition.

The Mahayana determined that Bodhisattva was a mandate not for individual perfection, but to save all sentient beings from suffering. Mahayana Buddhists take a vow NOT to enter Nirvana, even though they too strive to reach enlightenment. Instead their vow is to return to the world of suffering and assist all others in reaching Nirvana first, thus casting the role of Buddhists as compassionate protectors and saviors.

    "The bodhisattva is translated literally as 'one whose essence is perfect wisdom' or 'one destined for enlightenment.' The essential characteristics of the bodhisattva in both sects are compassion, selflessness, wisdom, and servitude. The bodhisattva takes a vow: 'I must lead all beings to liberation, I will stay here until the end, even for the sake of one living mortal'. "


Mahayana broke into several sub-types:

In China:

Both would later be transmitted to Japan. Zen migrated to Korea.

  • Cha’an, (more popularly known by its Japanese name, Zen)
  • Pure Land.

Amitabha Buddha  means "Infinite Life"and is the name of the Buddha who created and resides in Sukhavati, the Western Paradise of Eternal Bliss (also known as the Pure Land). In his great compassion Amitabha Buddha vowed that any beings who wish to be reborn there will have their wish fulfilled with his help.


Vajrayana, or Tantric Buddhism which moved North and West, finally taking root in Tibet.

Over time, several schools of the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy evolved, but the main ones today are Pure Land and the Zen, both of which originally developed in China. A third school, the Nirchiren group developed in most recent times and is based on the White Lotus Sutra teaching of the Buddha.

Comparison of the Theravadan & Mahayanan traditions:

Theravada Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism

Intense, dedicated and time-consuming effort required to attain enlightenment.

Enlightenment is achieved through a normal life with varying degrees of spiritual involvement.

Reaching Nirvana is the ultimate goal of the Theravada Buddhist.

Vow to be reborn in order to help all other sentient beings reach Nirvana first.

Strives for wisdom first .

Compassion is the highest virtue.

Centers on meditation, and requires major personal dedication such as being a monk or nun.

Encourages practice in the world and among the general community.

Followed as a teaching or Philosophy.

Followed with reference to higher beings, more like a religion.

Moved primarily South and West covering Indochina and Ceylon (Sri-Lanka).

Moved Primarily North and West, covering China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet.

Early work written in Pali (e.g. kamma, dhamma).

Early texts are in Sanskrit (e.g. karma, dharma)

Emphasizes rules and education

Emphasizes intuition and practice

Politically conservative

Politically liberal



(3) Vajrayana tradition

Some consider this to be a part of Mahayana Buddhism; others view it as a third Buddhist path. Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as  Tantric Buddhism, Tantra, Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Esoteric Buddhism, Diamond Vehicle, Adamantine Vehicle, Completion Vehicle, Thunderbold Vehicle, Indestructable Path, True Words Sect, Short Path, and Lamaism.

Vajrayāna Buddhism currently has perhaps 10 million adherents. It has two main sub-schools:

  • Tibetan Buddhism is found in Bhutan, Southwestern China, Mongolia, Nepal, Northern India, Russia, Tibet,
  • Shingon Buddhism is found in Japan.

Its most common name, Vajrayāna, comes from "vajra" which refers to the thunderbolt of Indra, the Sanskrit name of the god of weather and war. The term "vajra" refers both to the thunderbolt and the indestructible material from which it is made. In the latter sense, it is translated as "adamantine" or "diamond." Thus, Vajrayāna is often referred to as the Adamantine, Diamond or Indestructable Vehicle.

Tantra means  "thread" or "continuity" in Sanskrit. It refers to the "... root scriptures of Vajrayāna Buddhism, which are ascribed to the Buddha in various manifestations." Each usually describes the mandala diagram and practice associated with a particular yidam -- one of the deities, each of whom is a manifestation of the Buddha.

Vajrayāna "developed out of the Mahayana school of teachings sometime between the third and seventh centuries BCE." Followers believed that their path is the purest form of Buddhism, and that it was actually practiced by Buddha. However, they suggest that he did not teach it to his disciples because he considered it too advanced. The first Vajrayāna texts surfaced about the 4th century CE. They were written at the Nalanda University in northern India.

There is no consensus about where this tradition started. Some think that it originated in Bengal in what is now India and Bangladesh; others suggest that it started in Udyana in what is now Pakistan; still others suggest southern India.

Beliefs and practices of Vajrayāna Buddhism:

Many parts of the Mahayana tradition are also recognized in Vajrayāna Buddhism. These include:

  • Most of the important Mahayana sutras (Buddhist scriptures that include teachings by the Buddha)
  • The Mahayana concept of bodhisattvas. That is, one's personal goal is not to achieve Nirvana. It is to almost achieve enlightenment, but to make the decision to return to the world in their next reincarnation in order to help others reach enlightenment.
  • The concept that Buddhism is to be practiced by both monks and the laity.

Unlike Theravada Buddhism in which the practitioner is expected to take many lifetimes before reaching nirvana, Vajrayāna and Mahayana Buddhism teach that one can attain full Buddhahood much quicker -- sometimes in a single lifetime.

According to Wikipedia:

    "Vajrayāna relies partially on various tantric techniques rooted in scriptures known as tantras." A sadhana is the means by which the sadhaka (practitioner) can attain enlightenment. A sadhana may include:"

  • Verbal repetition of mantras (special ritual phrases). These help clear the mind and connect the practitioner to the spiritual. The most famous mantra is "Om mani padme hum."
  • Mani wheels -- prayer wheels -- contain multiple repetitions of the mantra in printed form. Spinning the wheel releases the mantra to the universe.
  • The use of various yoga techniques, including:
    • Pranayama -- breath control,
    • Yantra -- typically a picture consisting of a series of nested geometrical shapes, and
    • Mudras -- a symbolic gesture made with the hand or fingers.
  • Visual aids, such as cosmic mandala diagrams that represent the world in pictorial form. They help the practitioner awaken their spiritual potential.
  • Symbolic tools and musical instruments the use of ritual objects such as the vajra (thunderbolt), ghanta (bell), phurba (ritual dagger), damaru (hand drum), etc.
  • Specialized rituals rooted in Vajrayāna cosmology and beliefs.
  • An esoteric relationship between the chela (student) with a guru (teacher), who gradually releases hidden or inner knowledge to the initiate.
  • Oral teachings given by a tantric master.
  • Meditation on the Yidam.


Tibetan Buddhism.

This developed largely in isolation from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism because of the remoteness of Tibet.


Zen Buddhism.

This developed from within the Chinese Mahayana school known as Chan. Zen Buddhism is becoming increasingly popular in the West.


From The Manual of Zen Buddhism, D.T. Suzuki

By Shubun (15th Century)

1. Undisciplined

With his horns fiercely projected in the air the beast snorts,
Madly running over the mountain paths, farther and farther he goes astray!
A dark cloud is spread across the entrance of the valley,
And who knows how much of the fine fresh herb is trampled under his wild hoofs!

2. Discipline Begun

I am in possession of a straw rope, and I pass it through his nose,
For once he makes a frantic attempt to run away, but he is severely whipped and whipped;
The beast resists the training with all the power there is in a nature wild and ungoverned,
But the rustic oxherd never relaxes his pulling tether and ever-ready whip.

3. In Harness

Gradually getting into harness the beast is now content to be led by the nose,
Crossing the stream, walking along the mountain path, he follows every step of the leader;
The leader holds the rope tightly in his hand never letting it go,
All day long he is on the alert almost unconscious of what fatigue is.

4. Faced Round

After long days of training the result begins to tell and the beast is faced round,
A nature so wild and ungoverned is finally broken, he has become gentler;
But the tender has not yet given him his full confidence,
He still keeps his straw rope with which the ox is now tied to a tree.

5. Tamed

Under the green willow tree and by the ancient mountain stream,
The ox is set at liberty to pursue his own pleasures;
At the eventide when a grey mist descends on the pasture,
The boy wends his homeward way with the animal quietly following.

6. Unimpeded

On the verdant field the beast contentedly lies idling his time away,
No whip is needed now, nor any kind of restraint;
The boy too sits leisurely under the pine tree,
Playing a tune of peace, overflowing with joy.

7. Laissez Faire

The spring stream in the evening sun flows languidly along the willow-lined bank,
In the hazy atmosphere the meadow grass is seen growing thick;
When hungry he grazes, when thirsty he quaffs, as time sweetly slides,
While the boy on the rock dozes for hours not noticing anything that goes on about him.

8. All Forgotten

The beast all in white now is surrounded by the white clouds,
The man is perfectly at his ease and care-free, so is his companion;
The white clouds penetrated by the moon-light cast their white shadows below,
The white clouds and the bright moon-light-each following its course of movement.

9. The Solitary Moon

Nowhere is the beast, and the oxherd is master of his time,
He is a solitary cloud wafting lightly along the mountain peaks;
Clapping his hands he sings joyfully in the moon-light,
But remember a last wall is still left barring his homeward walk.

10. Both Vanished

Both the man and the animal have disappeared, no traces are left,
The bright moon-light is empty and shadowless with all the ten-thousand objects in it;
If anyone should ask the meaning of this,
Behold the lilies of the field and its fresh sweet-scented verdure.



Buddha’s Teachings

(1) The Wheel of Life



Black pig – ignorance

Green Snake – envy and hatred

Red rooster – lust and greed

The Dark Path and the Path of Bliss

Dark Path leads to hell and rebirths

Path of Bliss to better rebirths and liberation

The symbolic Six Worlds

  1. Abode of gods
  2. world of Titansis
  3. world of man
  4. world of animals
  5. greedy ghosts
  6. hot and cold hells

12 links of Dependent Arising

  1. Ignorance
  2. Karmic formations
  3. consciousness
  4. mind-body
  5. six sense spheres
  6. contact
  7. feeling
  8. craving
  9. grasping
  10. becoming
  11. birth
  12. ageing and death

Christian perspective to the Buddhist wheel of life

·        There is permanence: God

·        life journey is linear, not circular. After death come judgment and eternal life

·        no law of karma

·        Great White Throne Judgment

·        One hell

·        God’s grace

·        Jesus’ work on the Cross

·        Presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and transform

·        Fruit of the Holy Spirit


(2) The Four Noble Truths

The four noble truths are:

   1. Suffering.

Acknowledges the widespread experience of duhka (suffering)

   2. Cause for suffering.

All suffering comes from desirous attachment

   3. Cessation of suffering.

The solution is to remove these desirous attachments from your heart and mind.

   4. Eight-fold path leading to the cessation of suffering.


Christian perspective

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

                                                                                                        Philippians 4: 11-13


(3) The Eight-fold Path

   1. Right View- To understand wholesome deeds, unwholesome deeds and comprehend the law of Karma.

   2. Right Intention- The intention of non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion.

   3. Right Speech- Abstaining from false speech, malicious speech, harsh speech and idle chatter.

   4. Right Action- Abstaining from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct.

   5. Right Livelihood- Abstaining from wrong and corrupt means of livelihood.

   6. Right Effort- Awakening zeal for abandoning of unwholesome states and arising & sustaining of wholesome states.

   7. Right Mindfulness- The four foundations of mindfulness (satipattana) namely contemplation on body, contemplation on feelings, contemplation on mind and contemplation on mind-objects.

   8. Right Concentration- Abandoning of five hindrances namely lust, ill-will, sloth-torpor, worry-agitation and doubt through jhanas.


Christian perspective

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 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." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Revelation 21: 3-5


(4) Enlightenment (Nirvana)

Theravada tradition

  • Nirvana (Pali: nibbana) means “blowing out”, referring to the extinguishing of the flames of desire that keeps people in the karmic cycle.
  • Considered to be the absolute truth: everything constantly changes and lacks permanent, everlasting essence or self.
  • When illusion of separate self dissolves, only nibanna remains
  • Four stages on the path to nibbana:
    • Stream-enterer – first direct insight into selflessness, described as “entering the stream” of realisation
    • Once-returner – second experience of no-self, bringing significant reduction in attachment
    • Never-returner – almost all the worst hindrances disappear
    • Arhat – any residual element of self disappear. Compared to falling into a cloud and disappearing. All that needs to be done is done.

Mahayana tradition

  • Sifted the emphasis from no-self to emptiness
  • Madhyamika (Sanskrit for “middle doctrine”) refused to assert anything about ultimate reality – Diamond Sutra “cultivate the mind that dwells nowhere”
  • Yogachara (Sanskrit for “path of yoga”) also called Cittamatra (consciousness) states that everything is only mind, or consciousness

Vajrayana tradition

  • Expands on no-self, understand the true nature of the mind which is pure, vast, luminous, clear, non-locatable, ungraspable, aware, and essential non-dual
  • Practitioners are taught to visualise themselves as embodiment of enlightenment
  • Requires a teacher
  • Direct route by Dzogchen-Mahamudra (Tibetan-great perfection) taught by teacher giving “pointing-out instructions.”
  • Highest level, exhibit “ten million” beneficial qualities, including boundless love and compassion, great wisdom, and able to help others to enlightenment. Also exhibits on their bodies the 32 major and 80 minor marks of the Buddha

Zen tradition

  • Compete enlightenment is available now by sudden insight (kensho or satori in Japanese)
  • See true nature, become Buddha
  • Ox-herding pictures (map to stages of enlightenment)


(5) Buddhist: The Three Jewels of Refuge

    1. Buddha
    2. Dharma The teachings)
    3. Sangha (the Buddhist community)


(6) Buddhist Precepts

There are five precepts commonly observed by Buddhists:

   1. To avoid killing or harming any living being.

   2. To avoid taking that which has not been given.

   3. To avoid committing sexual misconduct.

   4. To avoid using false words.

   5. To avoid taking alcohol and other intoxicants.

Additional precepts apply to monks and nuns and may be taken by laypeople on special occasions:

   1. To eat moderately and only at the appropriate time.

   2. To avoid dancing, singing, music, and bodily adornments.

   3. To abstain from sleeping in luxurious beds.


(7) Buddhism Meditation

Understanding the three fold nature of Buddhist meditation

(a) Mindfulness or mindful awareness

Buddhist metaphor: forest pool

If wind and rain constantly batter the pool, the water will tend to be agitated and cloudy with sediment and organic debris, and you won’t be able to see all the way to the bottom. But you can’t calm the pool by manipulating the water. Any attempts to do so will merely cause more agitation and add to the problem. The only way was to sit patiently, watching the pool, and wait for the sediment to settle by itself.

Buddha taught four foundations of mindfulness

(i) mindfulness of the body

(ii) mindfulness of feelings

(iii) mindfulness of the mind

(iv) mindfulness of mental states

Techniques include breath awareness to choiceless awareness

(b) Concentration

Focussed concentration gives the mind power to penetrate deeply into the object of meditation. Buddha described nine levels of increasing meditative adsorption called the jhanas.

Vajrayana tradition, meditative concentration is called calm abiding (like a calm pool of water) leading to union of calm abiding and insight.

(c) Insight

Theravada (or Vispassana) tradition, reality is impermanence, dissatisfaction, and the absence of an abiding, substantial self.

Vajrayana tradition, insight into the vast, open, and luminous quality of the entire phenomenol world. Developing three wisdom

  • Wisdom gained from listening
  • Wisdom gained from reflection
  • Wisdom gained from meditation

Zen, you awaken to your true nature (true self, no self, the unborn).


Comparison of Buddhism with Christianity:

Beliefs not shared:

Buddhists do not share most of the core beliefs of historical Christianity and many of the less critical beliefs accepted by some Christians.

Buddhism does not teach:

  • An original golden era in the Garden of Eden, and a subsequent fall of humanity.
  • Original sin shared by all present-day humans, derived from Adam and Eve.
  • A world-wide flood in the time of Noah, causing the greatest human genocide in history.
  • The need for a sinless personal savior whose execution enabled individual salvation through atonement.
  • A god-man savior who was born of a virgin, executed, resurrected and ascended to heaven.
  • Salvation achieved through good works (a traditional liberal Christian belief) or through justification by faith (as in conservative Protestant faith groups) and/or sacraments (as in the Roman Catholic Church).
  • Eternal life spent in either a heaven or hell after death.
  • Return of a savior to earth at some time in the future.
  • An end of the world as we know it in the near future.

Some shared beliefs:

Buddhism and Christianity share some features:

  • Ethic of Reciprocity:

Buddhism, Christianity and all of the other major world religions share a basic rule of behavior which governs how they are to treat others.

Two quotations from Buddhist texts which reflect this Ethic are:

"...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" Samyutta NIkaya v. 353.

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5:18.

This compares closely to Christianity's Golden Rule, which is seen in:

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12.

  • Life after death: Almost all religions teach that a person's personality continues after death. In fact, many religious historians believe that this belief was the prime reason that motivated people to originally create religions. Christianity and Buddhism are no exception.

However, they conceive of life after death in very different forms:

Buddhism teaches that humans are trapped in a repetitive cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. One's goal is to escape from this cycle and reach Nirvana. Once this is attained, the mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. Suffering ends because desire and craving -- the causes of suffering -- are no more.

Christianity has historically taught that everyone has only a single life on earth. After death, an eternal life awaits everyone: either in Heaven or Hell. There is no suffering in Heaven; only joy. Torture is eternal without any hope of cessation for the inhabitants of Hell

  • Themes of morality, justice, love:

These themes are found through both the Buddha's teaching and the Hebrew and Christian Bible.

Beliefs shared by some Buddhist traditions and Christianity:

In its original forms, Buddhism did not teach of the existence of transcendent, immanent, or any other type of God, Gods, Goddess, and/or Goddesses. However, many Buddhists -- particularly in Japan -- do believe in a pantheon of deities.

Some traditions within Buddhism believe in the power of prayer; others do not.

Some Buddhists believe in Miroku, the "future Buddha." They expect Buddha to be reborn in our future and spread Buddhism further.





|21 February 2009|


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