Neo Buddhism synthesizing the differences between Buddhism and Christianity.

仏教 キリスト教 違い

When we talk about Buddhism and Christianity, we tend to emphasize the differences.

Discovering differences is also essential to understanding different civilizations. However, on the other hand, as we enter the space age, I believe that it will be important to explore basic commonalities that transcend differences in order to build a civilization based on the unit of “Earth.”

As we often say on this site (Neo Buddhism), at least if we look at the unit of “earth”, there is only one absolute God.

A single God manifests itself in different ways depending on the region and era. Or, if you look at it from the human side, it’s just a different way of understanding (response).

These ideas are in line with John Hick’s “religious pluralism.”

Problems of Religious Pluralism

Alternatively, it can be viewed as a greatly scaled-up ecumenical (ecclesiastical unity) movement.

In this paper, for the time being, I would like to present a basic theory that synthesizes Christianity and Buddhism by dividing them into ‘God theory, ‘Christ theory’, ‘human theory’, and ‘monastic theory’ in line with Christian theology.


God theory

God theory is the most basic concept to understand the religion.

Here, we will explore the points of contact between “God and Vairocana Buddha / Amida Nyorai” while considering the following three points.

  1. World Creation or Self-Development
  2. Transcendence or Immanence
  3. “Pre-Dharma and Post-Buddha” or “Pre-God and Post-Teachings”

World Creation or Self-Development

First Cause of “Earth” Estimated by Causal Time Series

In Christianity (Semitic monotheism), there is a tendency to emphasize the absoluteness of God from the point that “God created the world.”


Michelangelo’s “Creation” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Buddhism, on the other hand, does not talk about the creation of the world.

This is why it is said that Buddhism and Christianity are completely different.

But is it so fundamental in theology whether the creation of the world is preached? It seems to me that we need to go back to a blank slate and think again.

The basis of generative theory in Buddhism is “dependence”. To put it bluntly, it’s the “Law of Cause and Effect” (in terms of time).

Suppose A is the cause, and B is the effect. Then B becomes one cause, and the next effect, C, is brought about.

B is the “effect” from A’s point of view, but is the “cause” from C’s point of view. That’s how the world unfolds.

If so, no matter how far you go, it seems that you will not be able to hit the first cause of “world creation”.

But what is the “first cause” anyway?

What the Bible talks about is not the creation of the entire universe, but is limited to the creation of the earth and the magnetic field centered on the earth.

So God made the two larger lights, the sun to rule over the day and the moon to rule over the night; he also made the stars.[Genesis 1:16]

Good News Bible-TEV

In this verse, rather than generalizing or holistic the sun, moon, stars, and so on, creation is being talked about in relation to the earth.

So, even though we say “first cause”, it is only the first cause “for the earth”.

First cause means not only the first cause of all roots, but also the first cause in a merkmar. Creation in Genesis is the first cause in the latter.

Even if we say “first cause” in one sentence, if we think about “what is it?”, we can see that it has ambiguity like this.

If so, even though there is an infinite chain of causes and effects, the first cause “as the earth” can be assumed.

If we simplify the present world as C, the first cause A limited to the magnetic field of the earth will surely be assumed at some point.

Therefore, even if the creation of the world is not mentioned in the early Buddhist scriptures, it cannot be asserted that “the Buddha did not create the world.”

It simply means that in the time of the Shakyamuni Buddha he did not preach because there was no need to preach.

“Creation” is just a word.

“Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma.” [Vakkali Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya)]

Samyutta Nikaya

Here “me” refers to Buddha.Therefore, the following equation holds.

Dhamma = Buddha

”Dhamma means ‘being’ in addition to ‘teaching’.

Since the first cause of creation is also “existence”, it is possible here to say that “there was Buddha first.”

Being equal to Buddha means, in other words, “self-developing”.

This “self-development” can be seen as “world creation” from the perspective of “individuals” such as humans, animals and plants.

If we look at generation from the side of the whole, it is self-developing, and if we look at generation from the side of individuals, it will be “world creation”.

In this way, the only difference is “what cross section do you look at from?”

“Buddha’s Creation of the World” Confirmed in “Dainichi Sutra”

Now then, is there no mention of “World Creation” in Buddhist scriptures? That’s not the case. The following is a quote from Dainichi Sutra.

I (Dainichi) gave birth to all people and the world in which they live. And all of the laws, such as their changing appearances and modalities, were created by me in a natural and perpetual manner. [(“Dainichi Sutra” Volume 5, Secret Mandala Part 11)]

world creation

If this script is taken literally, it is exactly the “World Creation” by Dainichi Nyorai.

However, there are two possible objections to this argument.

  1. According to Dainichikyo and Kukai, “the side that creates and the side that is created are one and the same,” so it is different from the world creation.
  2. In the first place, the “Dainichi Sutra” is not a direct teaching of Buddha/Shakyamuni.

Neo Buddhism’s views on these are as follows.

1. About “Creator side and Created side”

“The side that creates and the side that is created are one and the same” means “self-development, self-generation.”

As mentioned above, self-development and world creation are not contradictory. Alternatively, there can be a “contradictory synthesis”.

2. The Dainichi Sutra Concerning Buddhism or Not

Since the early days of Buddhism, Buddhist teachings have had a standard called “hossho(Dharma Nature)”. it is, in short, the idea that “if it conforms to the truth, it is a Buddhist doctrine.”

Buddhism’s “Buddha” has not been limited to Shakyamuni Buddha since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. Buddhism is more than just the teachings of Shakyamuni, it is the Dharma for becoming a Buddha.

Therefore, in Buddhism, which emphasizes “taiki-seppo (the best suitable expression of the teaching for the target audience)” , it is natural that “Buddhist preaching” itself contains dynamism historically, temporally, and regionally.

By the way, it is known that even the current early scriptures have undergone various alterations, and it is no longer possible to claim that they are “just as they were with Shakyamuni’s direct teachings”.

Therefore, the Esoteric Buddhism scripture “Dainichi Sutra” is also labeled as Buddhism, and since it is recorded in the “Great Collection of Sutras (Issaikyo),” it can be said that it is recognized as a “Buddhist preaching.”

transcendence and immanence

Expanding on the “self-development and world creation” so far, we can understand the following.

Traditionally, it has been said that “God in Christianity (Semitic monotheism) is an absolute god, a transcendent god, and is completely different from the Buddhist view of God,” but this is merely a “difference in viewing angle.”

God self-expanded and created an individual being “within” it.

As for why it is “inside”, if it is “outside”, then “a realm other than God” exists, and the absoluteness of God is undermined. So, after all, it makes sense to think of it as “inside”.

An individual existence within God, let’s say Mr. A here. When Mr. A thinks of God, he grasps it in a dualistic way, graphically speaking, as an existence that is separate from himself. In other words, he think of God as an object.

Self (Mr. A) → God

It is a structure of dualism.

The “god” here is not the one god as a whole, but the god within the range that Mr. A can recognize.

In this scheme, the self (Mr. A) and God are recognized as absolutely different entities. This is the Transcendental God in the context of Christianity (Semitic monotheism).

However, in reality, self-consciousness (Mr. A) exists within God, so God does not simply transcend, but exists <as a whole> including us as individual beings.

In other words, God is not separate from us.

In this way, if we think in terms of “internal logic,” we can see that “transcendence” is nothing more than a matter of one convenient way of looking at things, or a matter of viewing angles.

Therefore, Christianity’s (Semitic monotheism) transcendent deity and Buddhism’s so-called pantheism, the idea that “Dharma is the whole,” are not at all contradictory.

Later, I will consider it in “Christology”, but if I take it in advance, it is as follows.

“God is whole” is the ultimate truth. However, the God that appears when humans (individual beings) contemplate God dualistically is either “God the Father” or “Christ the Son” who is the Logos.

“Pre-Dharma and Post-Buddha” or “Pre-God and Post-Teachings”

As for the difference between Buddhism and Christianity, it is sometimes explained that Buddhism is “Pre-Dharma and Post-Buddha” and Christianity is “Pre-God and Post-Teachings”.

Each has the following meanings.

  • Pre-Dharma and Post-Buddha : In Buddhism, the Dharma takes precedence over the Buddha because the Buddha discovered the existing Dharma.
  • Pre-God and Post-Teachings : In Christianity, since the Absolute God existed in the beginning, the teaching is ex post facto.

This is one of the reasons why Buddhism and Christianity are completely different religions.

But is it really so?

Are the two really incompatible? I want to go back to a blank slate and think about it.

As I mentioned earlier, let’s go back to what the Buddha said in “Vakkari”.

“Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma.” [Vakkali Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya)]

“I” here refers to the Shakyamuni Buddha.

This means that “those who see the Dharma see the Buddha.” In other words, Buddha and Dharma are inseparable.

As I will discuss later in the section on “Christology”, in terms of the Trikāya doctrine of Buddhism <Dharmakāya – Saṃbhogakāya – Nirmāṇakāya>, the origin and essence of Shakyamuni as a Nirmāṇakāya is the Dharmakāya. It can be said that the essence of a Buddha is Dharma itself.

Or take a look at the classification “Saṃbhogakāya”. Saṃbhogakāya means ‘became a Buddha as a fruit of practice’, but this is not an essential theory but a mere expedient theory.

Therefore, even if we consider it according to Buddhist theory, we cannot necessarily assert that Buddhism is “Pre-Dharma and Post-Buddha”. This is just a way of looking at it from a cross-section as Saṃbhogakāya or Nirmāṇakāya.

Let’s take a blank slate and think about “Pre-God and Post-Teachings” as well.

God is assumed to be omnipotent and therefore a being who also includes time. If God and time are separate, then there is a flaw in God’s omnipotence that God cannot control time.

Therefore, the passage of time that “there was God and then the teaching was made” runs counter to the definition that “God also includes time”, which is the requirement of the Absolute God.

After all, in the theory of essence, we should regard the Absolute God and teaching as being inseparable.

Thinking in this way, “Pre-Dharma and Post-Buddha” and “Pre-God and Post-Teachings” are nothing more than one classification viewed from the cross-section of phenomenology and expediency theory.

GOD and Vairocana Buddha / Amida Nyorai

(The following is being translated)


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