Honest and unflinching, “Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian” narrates how estreemed Catholic theologian, Paul F. Knitter overcame a crisis of faith by looking to Buddhism for inspiration. From prayer to how Christianity views life after death, Knitter argues that a Buddhist standpoint can encourage a more person-centred conception of Christianity, where individual religious experience comes first, and liturgy and tradition second. Moving and revolutionary, this book will inspire Christians everywhere.
Without Christ Jesus I could not be a Christian.
This sounds interesting. What do you mean by “more person-centered”? What sort of life after death views does this book offer?
What i think he means is that the spirituality of the person becomes more for oneself instead of for the good of a whole i.e. The Church
By “person-centered”, he means a Christian life centered upon the personal awareness and experience of God’s living presence. Liturgy and tradition are important, yes, but their importance is a result of your personal experience of God’s presence. One’s personal experience of God is the “fuel” that drives everything else: appreciation of liturgy, respect for tradition, and (last but not least) social justice.
He makes a few points about this. One, he doesn’t deny Catholic teaching on this issue, but he does point out that Buddhist ideas of the afterlife might actually help people better appreciate the Catholic perspective. Two, he draws parallels between the Catholic notion of purgatory and the Buddhist notion of rebirth – both beliefs, for instance, teach that there are some sins (or “unwholesome actions”) that might require more “purification” than one life can give.
Don’t Buddhists believe in reincarnation?
Buddhists believe in “rebirth”, which is different than “reincarnation”. What that difference is, though, is too subtle to get into here. But what I can say is that reincarnation teaches that the “same person” is born again and again. But Buddhists believe in “rebirth”, which teaches that the person who is born again, is both the same, and different, at the same time. If you think of a candle flame, then if you take that flame and use it to light a new candle – is the new flame, the same or different? From the Buddhist perspective, it’s both. Likewise, in any future lives I have, the person will be “me” in some ways, but “not me” in other ways.
I read a book about reincarnation and Christianity. In it, the author said that what happens is your soul and spirit separate at death, unless you are truly with Christ. The soul goes wandering around full of memories but without it’s other half, and the spirit is reborn as a new man, with no memory or it’s old self.
That sounds like an idea I often hear from Christians who believe in reincarnation: if you are not Christian (or not saved), you have to reincarnate; if you are Christian (or saved), you don’t have to reincarnate. (And reincarnation, in this case, is not something you would want to experience:D. Jesus is one who saves you from your karma.)
The author of this book talks about rebirth/reincarnation as an idea that, even if incorrect, can reveal something useful for Christians to think about.
Do you think you could say that the “same but different” concept is similar to the Trinitarian formulation of three persons in one essence? I.e. that when one is reborn, one retains one’s essence but becomes a different person?
I will definitely get a copy of this book and read it. Thanks!
I think one could say that, if one remembers that for Buddhists, one’s “essence” is not a “thing” but a “process”. Like the flame on a candle: is the flame a “thing”, or a “process”? Buddhists would say that the flame is a process, and that likewise your “essence” is a process. This process continues from one “life” to another “life”, and in each life you might be a different “person”. So the “process” is the same, from life to life, but the “person” is different.
The same person/process dichtomy does not just apply between lives, but also during a single life. When I was born I was very different to what I am now. I am still the same “process”, but I an not the same “person”. I speak much better English for one thing, and have put on a lot of weight since then
Not to mention that our cells completely renew themselves every 7 years. But our memories remain. We don’t feel that different than when we were young. But we physically are.
JL: Without Christ Buddha could not be saved.
It sounds like a very worthwhile book. Is there any reason why other religious traditions should not be able to help Christians to become more completely Christian ? If “nothing is without significance for God”, then Buddhism is not “without significance for God”; so why it should not be a means of grace ?
Memories do not remain. Ten days before your third birthday you could remember what you did eleven days before your third birthday. I strongly suspect that now you cannot remember what you did eleven days before your third birthday.
I have also noticed that not all memories are reliable, we do misremember things. Memories can change.
I can’t remember everything - naturally! But I do remember people who have died, like my parents and my brother, and I do remember my 12th birthday very vividly. Even if memories can change, some are very photographic. Smells can bring me back to a place, same with music.
I don’t want to sound narrow-minded but … the basic understanding I have of Buddhism inclines me to think that it and Christianity are mutually incompatible with respect to their fundamental views of God, humanity, the meaning (or non-meaning) of existence, and what awaits us in the afterlife. So I’m skeptical about what good can come of trying to strengthen the one using the other.