Buddhism and Christianity are both religions that have a rich history
and millions of devout followers throughout the world. In some ways, the
two religions are similar, being based largely on the teachings of a single
man; the Buddha in the case of Buddhism, and Christ in the case of
Christianity. "How many people have provoked this question - not 'Who are
you''...but 'What are you''...Only two: Jesus and Buddha." (Smith, p82).
There are many differences however, in their interpretations of the world
and the afterlife, that make each religion unique.
Buddhism was founded upon the teachings of the Buddha, who was born
(most likely) in the 5th century BCE, to a noble family in northern India.
"The infant was born in the royal palace in Lummini, according to the
tablet found by the archaeologists in 1896; and there he was named
Siddhartha Gautama." (Gaer, p40). Being of high birth in a Hindu society
with an established caste system, Gautama lived the first decades of his
life in luxury and comfort. A confrontation with an old, sick man left
Gautama disillusioned about the nature of life, and he left his life of
comfort to live as a monk.
In contrast to Christianity, Gautama did not become 'the
When he arose from meditation, Gautama was awakened, and became 'theBuddha'. "Jesus stood in the Jewish tradition of Spirit-filledmediators. In terms of this exile, as well, there are parallels with theBuddha's life. Like Buddhism, the development of Christianity over the centuries hasled to a divergent path of worship and belief for many Christians. Additionally, just as the Buddha was very much a product ofhis Hindu society, so too was Jesus the result of birth into an oppressedJewish state. The Fourth Noble Truth lays out the way toescape from desire, via the Eightfold Path. ThePath of right conduct finds a parallel in the Ten Commandments ofChristianity. The eight areas of concern dealtwith are; right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, rightlivelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Unlike the Buddha, Jesus did not acquire his revered status laterin life, Jesus was born divine. In the short time of his ministry, estimated to be between one andthree years, Jesus drew a following and many supporters. The maindistinction made between Buddhist practitioners is between the GreaterVehicle (Mahayana) and the Lesser Vehicle (Hinanyana or Theravada).