The Buddhist connection is a very interesting and wide ranging topic. Holger Kersten has explored this area in both “Jesus Lived in India” and “The Original Jesus: The Buddhist Sources of Christianity”. Of course, Mr. Kersten is not the first individual to suggest a connection between Buddhism and Jesus Christ. Nicholas Notovitch discovered scrolls in a monasrty in Hemis that purported to Jesus having travelled to the east whilst young and studied the scriptures of several faiths, including Buddhism.
Buddhism today is a major religion whose adherents have been numbered between 150 and 300 million people. Many Buddhists would reject the statement that Buddhism is a religion. Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC), known as the Buddha, was the founder of Buddhism. The word Buddha is a title that means “one who is awake,” i.e., one who has become enlightened. Buddha was born in Kapilavastu, near what today is the Indian-Nepal border. He was the son of the ruler of a kingdom, and at the age of 29 he began to realize the emptiness of his life. He had been raised in an environment of sheltered luxury. So he renounced all attachments to the world and began a quest for inner peace and inner enlightenment. For a few years he practiced Yoga and became a strict ascetic. Eventually he abandoned this method as pointless, choosing a middle ground between a life of indulgence and a life of self-denial. Finally, at age 35, he was sitting under a Bo tree, meditating. Through this meditation he finally reached the state of perfect enlightenment by moving through a series of higher states of consciousness.
Numerous scholars have picked up on a strong similarity between events in the life of Jesus Christ and events in the life of Gautama Buddha. How & Why are the two linked?
In “The Original Jesus” Kersten puts forward the thesis that Jesus studied and practised Buddhism
|Buddhist Wise men from the East ?|
Scholars looking at the story of the ‘wise men’ from the east have often speculated that they could have been Buddhists in search of the reincarnation of a lama.
|Saving the Savior|
In chapter 4 of this book, by Abubakr Salahuddin, the author explores at length the Jesus-as-Buddhist as a subset of the larger issue of Christianity contrasted with Eastern religions in general.Click here to download or view an extract from writing by the same author on this topic.
At the centre of the enlightenment that is said to be achieved by the practices of Buddhism lie what are called the Four Noble Truths; (1) Life is suffering; (2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality as well as the attachments that result from this ignorance; (3) Suffering can be overcome by removing ignorance and releasing oneself from attachment; (4) The way to overcoming suffering is through following the Noble Eightfold Path: right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness and right contemplation. These eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path are divided into three categories that form the pillars of Buddhism: morality, wisdom and samadhi.
Buddhism, as it has evolved and as it exists today, does not recognize the existence of a Supreme Being. But some state that this was not the case in the beginning, and that Buddha did acknowledge a Supreme Being. Ashoka, the most famous and most devoted follower of the Buddha and his teachings, carved many inscriptions on rocks called stupas, and some state that these rocks clearly indicate a belief in a Supreme Being. One such rock is located on the bank of a river named Katak, and reads as follows:
“Much longing after the things (of this life) is a disobedience, I again declare; not less so is the laborious ambition of dominion by a prince who would be a proprietor of heaven. Confess and believe in God (Is’ana) who is the worthy object of obedience. For equal to this (belief), I declare unto you, ye shall not find such a means of propitiating heaven. Oh strive ye to obtain this inestimable treasure.”
Jesus and Buddha
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad explained the similarity between the life events of Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha by suggesting that Jesus went to India &was; in contact with Buddhists after surviving the Crucifixion.
Ahmad believed that Jesus was heralded by the Buddhists as the ‘Metteyya Buddha’ as prophecised by Gautama Buddha. Ghulam Ahmad points out the similarity between ‘Metteyya’ and ‘Messiah’. In another place this figure is called ‘Bagwa Metteyya’ (meaning ‘white metteyya’). Ahmad offers the opinion that the prophecy talked about a fair-skinned Buddha and that Jesus, having come from Syria, would have fair skin in comparison to the Indians. and would be seen as fulfilment of these prophecies and accepted.
The events of the life of Jesus thus became known to the Buddhists, and at this point in history the story of the life of Gautama Buddha had not yet been recorded. Ahmad further speculates that when the life of Guatama Buddha was being recorded the events were confussed and mixed up with the events of the life of Jesus Christ. This is his explanation for the similarity between the life stories of the two. Here are some similiarties:
- Both fasted for 40 day
- Both tempted by the devil
- Both refer to themselves as “the light”
- Both teach forgivness and to ‘love thy enemy’