Of Love and Compassion

by Fernando Perfas

“Love, compassion, and kindness are the anchors of life” | Photo by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr/Creative Commons

Two great religious figures whose teachings resonate with each other are the Lord Christ’s and Lord Buddha’s. Although they are essentially teachers who walked the earth and lived what they preached, they differ in one fundamental principle: the path to attaining salvation or liberation. There is no debate regarding their common teaching about morality as the foundation of a righteous life. Both of them advocated renouncing family and other earthly ties to lead a spiritual life dedicated to serving humanity.

The Lord Buddha teaches personal liberation through one’s personal effort as the only path to salvation. There is no God who will deliver us from bondage except ourselves through a personal effort to achieve self-realization. On the other hand, the Lord Christ preaches the importance of faith and salvation through an “act of divine grace,” which means believing and practicing His teachings. As a Christian and a believer, one is already saved when he sacrificed Himself, culminating in His death on the cross for humanity’s sins.

“Both teachers dedicated their lives to the salvation of humanity from earthly bondage and preached compassion and love for others.”

Their earthly lives have interesting parallelisms and contrast. Both have a royal lineage. He traced his familial roots to King David from a humbler station, while the Lord Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, before His Enlightenment. When Jesus started preaching, He left His family and spent the rest of His life moving around doing godly work. Prince Siddhartha left His wife and child and abdicated His royal title as crown prince, searching for enlightenment. He never lived as royalty ever again and spent the rest of His life preaching the path to self-realization. In crucial junctures of their spiritual journey, both were tempted by the devil to renounce their efforts toward liberation from earthly bondage in exchange for a promise of a glittering earthly power.

Before His Enlightenment, Mara, The Evil One, tempted Siddhartha with alluring damsels and promised to make Him the King of kings if He would give up His quest. When Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert, the devil tempted Him with power and dominion over vast kingdoms in return for Jesus’ allegiance. During His years of preaching, the Lord Buddha converted many followers, which included the ruling class and intellectuals. Although He never discriminated against the poor over the wealthy, many of His close disciples came from the upper echelons of society (the Brahmin caste). In contrast, Jesus had an inner circle of disciples who were from ordinary backgrounds.

Both teachers dedicated their lives to the salvation of humanity from earthly bondage and preached compassion and love for others. The Lord Buddha emphasized the same for other beings besides humans. The Christian and Buddhist concepts of heaven are very different, with each based on the teachings of their Masters.

“Both Christianity and Buddhism incorporated in their doctrines the practice of love and compassion towards other beings.”

The Christian’s heaven has anthropomorphic and geocentric qualities grounded on the notion of a human personality existing in a physical dimension of space. Because heaven is a place, it is located somewhere and in time. The Buddhist’s afterlife is more metaphysical than the Christian conception. Its transcendental quality comes from the Buddhist’s view of the physical body as a mere vehicle for earthly existence that one sheds when he dies. Therefore, time and space are inherent qualities of the physical world from which we are liberated when we leave our physical body. It’s a state of non-worldly existence or a void.

Although there is a great metaphysical or philosophical chasm between God’s Christian and Buddhist conceptions and the state of the afterlife, both preach the renunciation of earthly materialism as essential to the path of spirituality. Both Christianity and Buddhism incorporated in their doctrines the practice of love and compassion towards other beings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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