By Ninian Smart
This booklet examines the kinfolk among Buddhism and Christianity within the context
of our rising global civilization. It illuminates specifically the way in which Theravada
Buddhism doesn't healthy favourite theories approximately faith and doesn't match
Christian (or Muslim or Jewish or Hindu) trust in God. The assumptions of the
two faiths are very assorted certainly. How then will we conceive them as touching on?
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Additional resources for Buddhism and Christianity: Rivals and Allies
According to this, a t the earthly level the Buddha a ppears in his so-ca lled Tra nsform a tion Body as the hi storical Buddh a a nd his pred ecessors (not to mention Maitreya the future Buddha, the s ubject of many escha tological hopes a nd new religious movements). As G a uta ma, for instan ce, the Buddha a ppears a t a certain point of history to resto re the Dharma, the T eaching or Law. At a higher level, the Buddha may ma nifest himself as celestial beings, virtu ally deities, like Amita bha whom I have to uched on above.
Or let us think of a typical renaissance cru cifixion scene a nd com pare it to Salvador Da li 's fam ous picture in which the a ngle of vision is above Jesus. The Meditation in the Two Traditions 43 context of the different images of the suffering Christ is alike but their significance varies subtly. In any event it does not seem to me likely that mystics who have devoted themselves to roughly similar practices and are committed to an interior quest which attemptS'to eliminate exterior sense-impressions should have radically diverse experiences on the basis of their cultural conditioning.
You only have to give a positive interpretation of the Empty a nd yo u a re not fa r off from the D eitas of Eckha rt , with Amita bha as the Deus. You a re not very fa r off some Hindu theologies in whi ch n irgu~am brahman or the Divine without a ttributes underli es the persona l C reator God or Lord . I have a lready indi cated a resurgence of the numinous experience in the M a hayana. W e should a lso underline tha t loving d evotiona lism is vita l to the experiential dimension - the perception and a ppropria tion of divine manifesta tions as expressing love.