Christianity v. Buddhism

I was on a Buddhist forum, and something interesting caught my attention. Buddhism teaches that there is no need for faith, that the teachings of Buddhism can be proven to be self-evident by simply examining them. I know that this is the complete opposite of Christianity, in which faith fundamental, so my question is, if Buddhism is true and provable, has anyone tried it, and can it truly refute Christianity as the path?

The problem with your question is that you don’t enumerate on WHAT type of buddism we’re talking about here.

Zen Buddism isn’t a religious form at all, and actually ALL of the GOOD teachings of zen buddism are reiterations of subtleties of Christian concepts promoted the socio-behavioral suggestions made in the Bible. They are correct, scientific analysis of the behavioral patterns produced by following the bible show why christianity survived and flourished as rome burned. In the same way, the social principles behind zen buddism, such as that selfishness is a/the major cause of suffering is fairly well a given as well, along with many others of the principles.

For OTHER forms of Buddism, however, then we enter again into the religious debate. If you can show me one person who can imperically prove to me beyond any reasonable doubt that they have been reincarnated, then I will personally eat my hat which is sitting on my desk next to me… without salt.

From i heard of Buddism, it is a way of life in which the center is the human, not God with no belief in afterlife but of incarnation till you reach a state of perfection called nirvana. There is no need to comapare Christianity and buddism in a competitive way for even though there are many common moral teachings, yet the goal is different.

I guess that depends on what you mean by goal. Both Christianity and Buddhism claim to offer their followers salvation. There are obvious differences but the same basic goal of saving human beings is the same. I think even rough comparisons can be made, like karma/sin and Heaven/Nirvana.

Well, it depends on which philospher you talk to. Aquinas stated that only 3 things in Christianity needed to be taken on pure faith, 1) the Resurrection, 2) the Trinity, 3) the Virgin Birth.

Everything else can be derived by reason.

Certainly Christianity requires some initial faith, but it is certainly not faith alone, or un-amenable to reason.

God Bless

Some of the teachings of Buddhism might be considered self-evident. These are probably going to be things that most people can agree on. However, many of its claims, like karma, reincarnation, nirvana, etc, are not self-evident.

thank you. Our goal is salvation = be with God. Buddism’s goal is what? there is no salvation in Christian terms but perfection of one’s state. right? i do not think we can compare God to Nirvana since nrivana is a state humans reach, not an entity we look for.

That is true, which is why I feel that only rough comparisons can be made. Perhaps the biggest difference with Christianity is Buddhist versions of salvation involve man’s efforts alone. Still, I think a “competitive comparison” can be made. If memory serves, Nirvana is a permanent state that lasts beyond death, a state of permanent happiness, deathlessness, selflessness, etc. The interesting thing is the lack of a deity in all this and that serves as one of the biggest differences of all.

buddhism is an attractive way of life to those who are looking for “spirituality” against the materialistic world. In this regard it does not refute Christianity which offers great morals for a better spiritual and social life. Yet am not sure Buddhism has the hope and satisfaction and love Christianity gives in addition to the moral codes.

My question though is : what is the maximum a buddist can reach or look for? what is the maximum mental or physical power he can get and what does it enable him to reach?

does it mean that reincarnation stops at a certain time in which the human himself becomes deathless with permanent happiness?where is this achieved? what happened to buddha according to them?

and can these even be proven or are they things taken by “faith”?

Well, I’m no expert on Buddhism but I am pretty sure that Buddhists believe that attaining nirvana ends the cycle of death and rebirth. A quick search turns up a term known as parinirvana, which is apparently the last stage of nirvana, attained only after death.

Though not the best source of information, here is a Wikipedia article about it:

I would imagine everything involving reincarnation and nirvana are based more on faith than anything else.

Most traditions of Buddhism do not require an element of faith as in Christianity. However, if you define faith as simply a belief, then certainly Buddhists have “faith”. If you didn’t have any faith at all, what would be the point of following anything?

In Buddhism, especially in its oldest form, one is encouraged to read Scriptures, meditate and live according to the 8 fold path. If one does so, the truth becomes self-evident to them. That is, peace and happiness become a reality and personal faith in the path is born.

Well, certainly there are many Buddhist teachers and laypeople who have found it true and provable to themselves, but it is impossible for them to give you what they have. You have to experience it for yourself. There is no divine revelation as seen in Christianity.

The goal of Buddhism is not to refute any other religion, but to find the way to peace and happiness and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. So, it’s much less about proving others wrong, but all about proving to yourself whether or not Buddhism is right for you.

Hope that helps. By the way, there is a sect of Buddhism called “Pure Land” in the Japanese traditions (which I followed mainly, along with Zen) that is entirely faith driven and very similar to the faith concept in Christianity.

After following Pure Land and having faith in Amida Buddha, I began to ask myself “if I can have faith that Amida Buddha exists and follow him, why not follow the Christ of my youth”. And my journey back home began.



Karma is reasonable. It’s similar to reap/sow. Do bad things and you see that bad things come. Do good things and you’ll see that good things come your way.

Reincarnation is not self-evident till one becomes enlightened (reaches state of nirvana). Then one’s past lives become evident to them.

Nirvana is a terribly misunderstood term. It really is a “state of mind” rather than a geographical place somewhere. It is the extinguishing of the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance. A person knows when they reach this state because these three poisons are nowhere to be found. It is provable to the practitioner.



Buddhism’s goal is to reach the state of mind of nirvana, extinguishing the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance. Once these are extinguished, one can be said to be enlightened and the cycle of birth and death for them is completed. That’s right. God and Nirvana cannot be compared. Totally different “things”.



This is true. In my study and practice of Buddhism, the biggest difference I saw in the two were the absence of a “Creator God” and the negation of an immortal soul. Buddhism, by and large, does not accept a Creator God, nor does it accept that a human soul is eternal. Life is taught to be a never-ending cycle, like a circle, no beginning and no ending and therefore the idea of a Creator God escapes them.



Not by just examining them, but by following them and seeing that they work. You cannot learn to swim just by examining books about swimming - you actually have to get into the water. At its simplest there are three parts to Buddhism:

  • do good: “Love others as you love yourself”.
  • cease to do evil: follow the ten commandments.
  • meditate: the closest I have found in Christianity is Saying the Jesus Prayer.

If you do take up the last of these, please be aware of Bishop Ware’s warning:“But those who have no personal contact with starets [a teacher] may still practice the Prayer without any fear, so long as they do so only for limited periods - initially, for no more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time - and so long as they make no attempt to interfere with the body’s natural rhythms.”

I know that this is the complete opposite of Christianity, in which faith fundamental, so my question is, if Buddhism is true and provable, has anyone tried it, and can it truly refute Christianity as the path?

Buddhism works for me. That does not mean that Christianity will not work for you.


Yes, Buddhism takes a stance against materialism. And yes, Buddhism doesn’t seek to negate Christianity, but to find common ground. The great Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has a statue of Jesus and Buddha on his altar and has written a few books on the two figures and the two religions. He finds common themes and practices the common values of love, selflessness, compassion, generosity and a host of others. And, he often teaches his followers about Jesus.

The maximum a Buddhist looks for is enlightenment, the extinguishing of greed, hatred and ignorance which brings an end to the cycle of birth and death and brings peace and happiness.



If you want to prove reincarnation for yourself, then go to your library and get a copy of a translation of the Visuddhimagga by Buddhaghosa - the Nyanamoli translation is a good one. Read Chapter 13 from paragraph 22 onwards. That gives instructions for remembering your past lives.

If you want to prove nirvana for yourself then become enlightened. The Buddha attained nirvana when he became enlightened at age 35. He died at age 80 after teaching his methods for 45 years. One of the differences between heaven and nirvana is that you do not have to be dead to attain nirvana.

It is also worth mentioning that enlightenment is not what you probably think it is:People long for big thrills. Peak experiences. Some people come to Zen expecting that Enlightenment will be the Ultimate Peak Experience. The Mother of All Peak Experiences. But real enlightenment is the most ordinary of the ordinary. Once I had an amazing vision. I saw myself transported through time and space. Millions, no, billions, trillions, Godzillions of years passed. Not figuratively, but literally. Whizzed by. I found myself at the very rim of time and space, a vast giant being composed of the living minds and bodies of every thing that ever was. It was an incredibly moving experience. Exhilarating. I was high for weeks. Finally I told Nishijima Sensei about it . He said it was nonsense. Just my imagination. I can’t tell you how that made me feel. Imagination? This was as real an experience as any I’ve ever had. I just about cried. Later on that day I was eating a tangerine. I noticed how incredibly lovely a thing it was. So delicate. So amazingly orange. So very tasty. So I told Nishijima about that. That experience, he said, was enlightenment.

Source: Zen is Boring


I agree that karma is a reasonable idea but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is self-evident. At least not in my experience, where I’ve seen fairly unpleasant people do well for themselves, while I see fairly good people never catch a break.

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