Buddhism and Christianity

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Item Code: IDJ106
Author: J. Estlin Carpenter
Publisher: Pilgrims Publishing
Language: English
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 9788177693423
Pages: 330
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 6.8" X 4.3"
Weight 210 gm
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Book Description


Buddhism and Christianity is a remarkable attempt to discuss the complex doctrines and philosophies of the two great faiths in such a way as to enable comparisons to be made by the reader. J. Estlin Carpenter defines the basic tenets of each religion and casts an inquisitive eye over the different aspects of each.

The intellectual atmosphere in which Buddhism arose was unique. It was born from the ancient Vedic scriptures, from a culture far in advance of its historical time. This was several centuries before Christ was born.

We are confronted with a spectrum of contradictions in both faiths, and none more so than in Christianity. If God is so all knowing, why do his subjects suffer so much, for what reason, and where does this suffering leave the individual?


He who has eyes can see the sickening sight:
Why does not Brahma set his creatures right;
If his wise power no limit can restrain,
Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?

But Buddhism also has its difficulties. It leaves no concrete reason for apparent optimism in its followers; it draws the to Nirvana, which appears from almost all points of approach to be complete annihilation. We seem to be given a choice, heaven or hell, or everlasting peace in total death.

Speaking of the Buddhist notion that a person has all the knowledge within himself and it is only ignorance tha hides it: "To such a power he might look at once with awe and confidence. But it gave him no guidance; it healed no hurt, pardoned no transgression. He walked with no divine helper who first wrought in him than which he could then work out.

But then how satisfactory is the failure in Christianity of its weaker, less moral subjects? "The Buddhist scheme proclaims the ultimate salvation of all beings. Christianity in its most widespread historic form still condemns an uncounted number to endless torment and unceasing sin."

But there are some common themes and much to cherish in the words. One must seek yet greater depths of inspiration and perception in both creeds to find a course in life that offers meaning, direction and purpose. In the final analysis, each must determine his own path, his own God, saviour or teacher; and each will seek his own understanding of life's great truths or unknowns, whether he is a Buddhist or a Christian.

Back of the Book

Buddhism and Christianity are two of the world' great religions. One is a philosophical path for the individual without a higher divinity, and one is a teaching that defines good and evil under the presence of a mightier being. Are there any common threads between the two?

"The Buddha saw clearly that the moral product of one life would be carried on into another. From a very different point of view. Jesus teaches the same lesson."

"Everyone must die and be reborn for his own inequity or his own virtue."

The author has woven a remarkable cloak around the two diverse beliefs. Each has its historical aspects; each has its own set of defined goals, perceptions and higher ideals. Buddhism and Christianity is a riveting analysis, a thought-provoking study of the dilemma of life.

"All beings long for happiness; therefore extend thy compassion to all."

Gautam Buddha

"Oh, Father forgive them, for they know not what they doeth."

Jesus Christ


THE origin of this book is soon told. In 1922 the Committee of the Jowett Lecture, founded by Mrs. Humphry Ward in connexion with the Settlement which now bears her name, did me the honour to invite me to deliver four lectures on "Buddhism and Christianity." No suggestions were made to me as to the treatment of this great theme. With a generous confidence I was left free to shape it as I could. The lectures were given in the latter part of the last winter. As their possible publication had been contemplated from the outset, they are now printed in the expanded form in which they were first written, and from which they' were con- densed for oral delivery.

Within the limits of four discourses much had to be left unsaid. Only the most salient points of likeness or contrast could be presented. Apart from its purely historic interest as a potent influence over immense populations in Eastern Asia since the days of Asoka, more than 2,000 years ago, the religious significance of Buddhism lies in the fact that a scheme of thought which began by rejecting all ontological ideas found it necessary to admit them. Both Gotama and Jesus employed much of the religious language of their time, though they started with widely different attitudes to contemporary institutions. In the course of time each faith adopted a current philosophical conception to interpret the person of its founder. The steps of the process are more obscure in Buddhism than in Chris- tianity, but the results are strangely parallel. Both aim at bringing man into conscious fellow- ship with God. The means may be different, but the purpose is the same. There are varieties of method in Buddhism just as there are in Chris- tianity, and the student who seeks to compare them is constantly struck by the appearance of similar phases of thought and experience under dissimilar dogmatic forms. Each manifested a remarkable power of adaptation to varieties of social environment, of racial character, of philo- sophical reflection. Each produced within itself methods of treating its central facts or its essential ideas. Yet each retained its funda- mental connexion with the source of its develop- ment, and whatever other elements enriched its life upon the way its ethical ideals and the goal of its activities remained the same. In spite of all the resemblances which result from common moral aims, each remains a unity within itself, transcending the elements of inner diversity, and blends their oppositions in a vaster whole. In the sphere of immediate observation they have only just begun to confront each other. What grounds for mutual appreciation or respect will they discover?

A general knowledge of the phases of Chris- tianity may be assumed; those of Buddhism are described at greater length. To illustrate their affinities is the object of these discourses. For the intricate enquiry into their possible historic relations the- limits of four lectures provided no space. The problems presented by the peculiar institutions of Tibet, for example, are left un- touched. Here and there they have been carried farther back, but for their adequate discussion there was no room. Within India itself the reciprocal indebtedness of Buddhism and Hindu- ism, in ethics, philosophy, and religion, has been too little studied, and until further literature from the Maha-Yana schools is made available theories of foreign influence must be held in sus- pense. Doubtless the last word on the reciprocal influences of East and West has not been said. Recent research has opened up new paths in many directions. But before attempting to account for the facts, the facts themselves so far as at present known must be understood. To give some help to those who enter on their study is the aim of these lectures. Their bearing on theories of the Absolute the student himself must decide.



Introduction vii
Chapter I
The World And Its Meaning 11
Chapter II
The Order And The Church 65
Chapter III
The Persons 167
Chapter IV
The Religious Life 233
Epilogue 305
List Of Books on Buddhism 309
Index 313


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