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DIALOGUE: THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY

By Anthony B. LianThang March 29, 2012

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DIALOGUE: THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Content

Introduction I. What is Dialogue?

II. III. IV.

The Brief History of Buddhism The Concept of God Love and Compassion

V. VI.

The Holy Spirit and Mindfulness The Way of Salvation

VII. Nirvana

Conclusion Bibliography

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INTRODUCTION In Buddhism, there are two main branches today: Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. The researcher of this term paper will focus on Theravada Buddhism, not on Mahayana Buddhism in this paper. This research paper will show what the distinction and similarity is between Buddhism and Christianity. It will focus on a dialogue between Theravada Buddhism and Christianity in this research paper. The purpose of this paper is not to call them to be Christian and to have an argument with their doctrine or belief. The purpose is to explore what the distinction and similarity between Buddhism and Christianity and then to seek the truth of each. It will not illustrate which belief or doctrine is right and good to follow. It is rather to express that there are two ways of thinking, but are expressed by two ways. In both, no one can tell which is true and better but God will also be expressed in this research paper. The main goal of this research paper is a mutual understanding, no argument between Buddhism and Christianity. Christians should grasp their own belief firmly as Buddhism should also hold their own belief firmly. They should have a mutual understanding with each other in dialogue. In the first paragraph, the dialogue will be mention and discussed which gives a brief history of Buddhism. Secondly, it will discuss any similarities between the concept of Buddhism on God and the view of Christianity on God. Thirdly, love and compassion will be illustrated and how love is important both in Buddhism and Christianity. Then what Buddhism as well as Christianity reveals about love will be discussed. Fourthly, the Holy Spirit and mindfulness will be discussed. The Holy Spirit is crucial in Christianity and mindfulness is very important in Buddhism. A connection between the Holy Spirit and mindfulness will be explored. Fifthly, it is very important for both Buddhism and Christianity to know the way of salvation. The researcher will discuss the perspective of Buddhism on salvation as well as Christianitys. Finally, Nirvana and the kingdom of God (Heaven) in

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Christianity will be discussed. A two-ways communication on the similarities is important to have mutual understanding with each other. I. WHAT IS DIALOUGE? Dialogue mentioned in the first paragraph is written for the researchers own country and people. The root word of dialogue comes from two Greek combined in one word; !"# and $%&%' ; !"# means two or through and $%&%' means word, or meaning.1This root word, dialogue, is used as conversation and discussion in the dictionary. Dialogue is also a conversation, a conversation in written form, a discussion. It is also between representatives of two groups, (Revised & Updated Illustrated Oxford Dictionary 2007, 223). The researcher prefers these two statements: Leonard Swidler mentioned in his article, What is Dialogue: Dialogue is a two-way communication between persons who hold significantly differing views on a subject, with the purpose of learning more truth about the subject from the other.2 Thich Nhat Hant who is a rare combination of a mystic, a scholar, and an activist, a Vietnamese monk, and one of the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the West mentioned:
In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change. We have to appreciate that truth can be received from outside of-not only within-our own group. If we do not believe that, entering into dialogue would be a waste of time.3 """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
Introduction to Dialogue, available from: http://courses.umass.edu/plnt397s/Introtodialogue.htm, accessed at February 20, 2012. See the root word of dialogue in Latin and why does dialogue need, what is dialogue, dialogue is conversation and discussion, what true dialogue and how dialogue important is at here; http://anglicanhistory.org/asia/skh/hall/chungchi1955.htm, accessed at February 20, 2012. The dictionary meaning of Dialogue; Della Summers and Penny Stock, eds., Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture ( England: Longman House, 1992), 350. 2 Leonard Swidler, What is Dialogue , available from: Institute.jesdialogue.org/fileadmin/ Bizcourse/Dialogue.pdf, accessed at 8 Fabruary 2012. 3 Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ (New York: Riverhead Books, 1995), 9-10. See the brief History of Hanh, He is a rare combination of mystic, scholar, activist, Vietnamese monk, is one of the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the west. He was a poet, Zen Master, and chairman of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation during the Vietnam War. He was nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Anger and No Death, NO fear. 4 Ibid, 10, this research paper does not focus on about dialogue however the researchers own country and people did not know and understand clearly what dialogue is. Hopefully if it is known and understood clearly the meaning of dialogue, it will be very-very meaningful and helpful for his countrymen. Dialogue is crucial to understand. In modern times, many fundamental or conservative Christians extremely oppose the term dialogue, but actually the term dialogue and Christianity cannot be separated, it is always a counterpart.
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It is said that we have to broadly allow what is good, beautiful, and meaningful in the others tradition to transform us. We have to first accept our selves, the conflicting elements that are within us. If we have peace within us, we can have real dialogue with others.4 II. THE BRIEF HISTORY OF BUDDHISM IN MYANMAR Buddhism religions brief history is important to understand. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), son of Suddhodana and Mahamaya. The term Buddha came from budh,and is interpreted as the perfect wisdom, the self-awakening, and the perfect unity of awakening and ultimate truth.5 It is believed that Buddha was born in northeastern India in the town of Lumbini inside the border of Nepal around 560 B.C.E. Seven days after he was born, his mother Mahayana died, so his mothers sister continuously nursed him. Buddhas father, who was described as the king of that region in that time, was informed by the Brahmin that his son would become either a great king or a
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Dialogue is a special conversation among people with different points of view on issues of mutual concern or between two persons or between one religion and the other religion, for example Buddhism and Christianity. Semantically, dialogue is to have a conversation, discussion or negotiation with others. However, today we mean something quite definite; namely, a two-way communication between persons. One-way lecturing or speaking is obviously not meant when we speak of dialogue between religions or ideologies. When we say twoway communication, we clearly know that there are many different kinds of two-way communication: e.g., fighting, wrangling, debating, etc. It is clear that none of these are meant by dialogue. The one who is extreme on his/her own side and will not allow different kinds of thinking is the term of dialogue. Many Christians think that dialogue is to call them to be Christian and to tell the good news or the doctrine of Christianity. This is especially true when they have dialogue with another religion, especially Buddhism. This is absolutely missing the goal or focus of a dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity. If our intention is for them to become Christian when we dialogue with Buddhists, this is the worst type of dialogue. It is an assumption in dialogue that neither side has a total grasp of the truth of the subject, but that both need to seek further. When we have dialogue with another religion, we must have mutual trust between the partners. This can be established and developed. Clearly without mutual trust, there will be no dialogue. This means to say that each partner must come to the dialogue with total sincerity and honesty. If we have doubt of our partner in dialogue, our dialogue may seem waste of our time. The primary purpose of dialogue is to learn something from our partner. Properly, we come to the dialogue as a Buddhist, as a Christian, as a Muslim, etc., with sincerity, honesty and integrity. Without trust in the partner in dialogue there will be no dialogue. The main goal of dialogue is that both partners will not tell our beliefs and doctrines of our own religion, but to come to the conversation to discuss one thing. It is rather to have a correct understanding of dialogue, which is a two-way communication so that both partners can learn from each other, and change accordingly. The author wants to say deeply in conclusion that Dialogue is seeking the truth and an open mutual understanding of each other, not doing evangelism and wanting them to become a Christian. The one reason is that true dialogue bears fruits. (Swidler, what is dialogue) and (Hanh 1995, 9-10) 5 An Encyclopedia of Religion Contributing, 1943 ed., s.v. Buddhism.

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great religious leader. He was growing up under his father. He married his cousin named Yasodhara and they had a son, called Rahula. When his age was 29, he asked acharioteer to show him around the city.6 When he went out, he saw different people who were suffering from old age, disease, hunger and death. From that time, he was interested in religion. After he said good bye to his lovely wife and beloved son who was sleeping soundly, he went into isolation where he meditated under a Bodhi tree. The religion of Buddhism is based on his teaching, philosophy and the movement of his teaching. There are followers of him all over the world. Buddhism became a universally recognized religion in 543 B.C.7. It is said in the book of Buddhism, written by Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrich, that Asoka the king of India, sent missionaries, Theras Sona and Uttara into the Land of Gold to disseminate the Buddhist religion around 200 BC.8 At that time the Pyu existed. The real Burmese or Mranma (called Myanmar, today) are related to the Pyu, who stayed around the Irrawaddy Sea. Actually the presence of Buddhism in Myanmar was founded in the fifth century AD. The original Buddhism in Myanmar is Theravada Buddhism.9 There is a distinction between the two breaches:Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada Buddhism originated in India about four century B.C. They emphasize individual liberation through the self-effort of meditative discipline and the respect the four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path. They focus on the original teaching of Buddha, (Pali canon).10 Theravada
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Bradley K. Hawkins, Religions of the World Buddhism (London: Routledge, 1999), 35-37. M.L. Manich Jumsai, Understanding Thai Buddhism (Bangkok: CHALERMNIT, 2000), 5-6. 8 Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrich, The World of Buddhism (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991), 149-50. 9 Ibid, 150. See details of how Buddhism came to Myanmar, and the history of Buddhism in Myanmar. it is said that to be a Burmese is to be Buddhist. The government made Myanmar a Buddhist Country, especially When U Nu became governor on April 4, 1960. It is mentioned about the structure of the Burmese Sangha, Monks, Laymen, Temples and monasteries, in this book, The World of Buddhism: Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Society and Culture, Eds. By Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrich (London: Thames and Hudson, 1984), 14457, and Takeuchi Yoshinori, Buddhist Spirituality: India, Southeast Asian, Tibetan, and Early Chinese (New York: Crossroad, 1993), 112-8.The population of Buddhists of Myanmar mentioned in this book, Paul Hattaway, People of the Buddhist World; A Christian Prayer Guide (Singapore: William Carey Library: 2004), 27. 10 Alfredo P. Co, Philosophy of the Compassionate Buddha (Manila: University of Santo Tomas, 2003), 83-4. Professor of Asian Religion, Dr. Lee San Yong, Academic Dean of Asia-Pacific Nazarene
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Buddhism is now mainly found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Kampuchea, Laos, and partly Vietnam.11 Mahayana Buddhism, which is made two words, maha (greater) and yana (path or vehicle), meaning the Greater Vehicle, started in the first century B.C.12 Mahayana Buddhism does not neglect the basic tenets of Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths, Eight-Fold Path and the original teaching (Pali canon) of Buddha but they go beyond the core teachings of the Theravada Buddhism in several important respects.13 Their attitude toward Buddhist teaching is in part a consequence of their view of the Buddha. Today Mahayana Buddhism is mainly found in China, Korea and Japan.14 III. THE CONCEPT OF GOD The Christians God and Buddhists God will explain to show how God is different between two religions. It is a difficult concept to explain, the Absolute God to the Buddhist people because they do not believe that there is an absolute God.15 There are three religions based on the idea of an absolute God: Yahweh in Judaism, God the Father in Christianity and Allah in Islam.
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These three religions, all believe that God is a personal God who is

essentially transcendent to human beings; however, His will is revealed to human beings through prophets. Buddhism, however, does not talk about one Absolute God who is
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Theological Seminary, Rizal, Philippines says in her lecture during the Asian Religion class Theravada, if you follow the eight paths, you will be enlightenedteaching is more importantMahayana: they create many Buddha and divideif you pray to Buddha, he will giveif you need help, he will help youjust believe in him, you could not be enlighten. (At final class and lecture, March 22, 2012). 11 Ibid. 83. 12 Ibid. 86. 13 Ibid. 87. 14 Ibid. 87. Buddhism history is related to the early history of Buddha, the early biography, Buddhas Enlightenment, the death of Buddha, the four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold path, the veneration of the Buddha, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism See Handbook of Todays Religions, by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, eds. (London: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983),304-8 and study the history of Buddha and Buddhism perfectly see Religious Traditions of the World, by H. Byron Earhart, ed. (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), 853-971, and John R. Hinnells, ed., A New Dictionary of Religions, ( Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 81-85. 15 Steven Heine, ed., Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue (Honolulu: University of Hawai I Press, 1995), 7-9. 16 Ibid. 7. 17 Ibid. 8. 18 Ibid. 8.

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essentially transcendent to human beings. In Christianity, it is believed that God is not simply transcendent, but is deeply immanent in humankind as the incarnation of the Logos in human form, namely in the form of Jesus Christ. Christianity believes that God is the self-existing deity. In regard to these points, Buddhists may ask how God can have a self-sufficient existence. The bible addresses this in Heb. 11:1; faith is that which is unseen.17In Buddhism, Nichts is love is accepted.18 In Christianity, it is also said that God is love (I John 4: 7-19, NET). Based on this we may say that God is love and love is God because Nichts is an unconditional, self-negating love. It is defined that Nichts is the absolute interior of Gods mystery which is its absolute exterior at one and the same time. In fact, it can be said that God is love because God is Nichts and Nichts is God because Nichts is love.19 It is inconceivable to Buddhists that the Christian God, the self-existent One, is personal, existing outside of the universe and all things that He created. It is believed that the Buddha can exist only where his body is located and is bound by natural law. Buddhist belief in God is in the book of (world religion) like this:
The Buddha is an omnipresent and eternal being who guides humans into truth, while the latter says the Buddha was only a mortal who possessed knowledge of who to achieve peace and happiness.20

To Christians, God is also an omnipresent and eternal being, who leads humans into the truth. It may be said that the Christian God possesses full knowledge and has real peace and happiness, so those who are with Him will have peace and happiness. In the creation account of Genesis1-3, Israels God called Elohim is presented as the universal and transcendent Creator. God is the subject at the beginning of the Christian Bible. He created all things which are seen today with his word:

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Ibid. 9. H. Wayne House, Charts of World Religions (Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2006), 67.

*" " Let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night, and there was evening and there was morning the first day (Gen. 1:3-5), NIV.

It seems to be an introduction of a supreme creator God and absolute God who is above creation. (Christian Bible, Genesis 1: 3-5, NIV). As it has already been mentioned, the existence of God and God as the creator of the universe is the most fundamental difference between Christianity and Buddhism. Paul William, the president of the UK Association for Buddhist studies and Professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy at University of Bristol, described Buddhism in this way:
Buddhists do not believe in the existence of God. There needs to be no debating about this. In practicing Buddhism one never finds talk of God, there is no role for God and it is not difficult to find in Buddhist texts attacks on the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, allgood Creator of the universe.21

In Buddhism, there is no mention about God as creator or about creation of the universe. They prefer that everything in the universe is reality which is characterized by impermanence. Eventually it is believed that everything in the world perishes.22 There are so many gods among others religions like (devas) but none of these are seen as the Supreme Being, the Creator God, is presented in the biblical revelation. It may be helpful in our dialogue with Buddhism which ultimately will have to grapple with the inescapable truth that all nations were created from the first Adam and that all nations will be judged by the last Adam, said Paul De Neui, who is an associate Professor of Mission and Director of the Center for World Christian Studies at North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago. It is a challenge to discuss with Buddhists this truth which is the most crucial issue in Christian Missiology in the Buddhist context. Hopefully, in a Christian-Buddhist encounter, sooner or later those in dialogue will discover that central to their different system of beliefs is the polarity between theism and atheism, found in the Communicating Christ in the Buddhist
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Paul De Neui and David Lim, eds., Communicating Christ in the Buddhist World (California: William Carey, 2006), 33-4. 22 (House 2006,67)
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World.23 As noted above, Buddhism has no God to whom it can refer to as Creator, Lord, or Savior, that can be expressed with such words as omniscient and omnipotent. It may seem too difficult for Buddhists who deny the existence of God to clearly understand that God is an existent God. It is illustrated as the Fear God in Sharing Jesus Holistically with the Buddhist World. The Bible (Proverb 1: 7; 9: 10) says to fear God is the beginning of wisdom. This may be meaningful to Buddhists since they absolutely prefer wisdom in their present lives.24 For this reason, it is said that the wisdom of a human being is meaningless however the wisdom of God is absolutely needed for human beings to enjoy a meaningful life. Regarding the concept of God in Buddhism, Stephen Spaulding, who has worked with DAWN Ministries in Southeast Asia for over eight years, has focused almost exclusively on the Buddhist people said, Christians must show Buddhists that human beings are in need of Gods wisdom (I Cor. 1: 16-21).25 IV. LOVE AND COMPASSION If the term of love in Christian perspective is stdied, it is very important for Christians to see it in the Bible again and again. Love is described as the nature of God in the Bible. Jesus gave the greatest commandment to us, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind and with all your strength. The second is this; love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31, NIV). The Christian bible speaks to us that if you do not have love in your heart, you are not the children of God, Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This
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(Neu 2006, 34-57) David Lim and Steve Spaulding, eds., Sharing Jesus Holistically with the Buddhist World (California: William Carey Library, 2005), 162. 25 Ibid, 162. See discussion about love and compassion, it is question and answer, regarding love and compassion, many audiences ask question professor Dalai Lama, he is the religious and political leader of Tibet, and is the author of many books, is a professor of Buddhist or monk, and then he answers their question which are written in this book, Worlds in Harmony: Dialogues on Compassionate Action (Barkeley: Parallax Press, 1992),65-74.
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is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him (I John 4: 7-19 NET). In fact, love is valuable for Christians. Even in Buddhism, love is very important; they do not want to kill anything, including the ant because of love. Regarding love, Thinch Hnat Hanh explains the meaning of love in his book, Teachings on Love, like this:
The first aspect of true love is matre, the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness. To develop the capacity, we have to practice looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy. If you offer your loved one something she does not need, that is not matre. You have to see her real situation or what you offer might bring her unhappiness.26

The root word of love (matre) is taken from mitra, which means friend.27 In fact, the primary meaning of love in Buddhism is making friendship or just friendship. It is said that love is really needed in Buddhism becasue it brings joy and well-being.28 An other word, compassion, is also really crucial in Buddhism. Buddhas term Karuna which usually is translated as compassion, means to relieve and transform suffering and to lighten sorrows. The word compassion is composed of com (together with), and passion (to suffer).29 It is defined as how love is important in Buddhism in Buddhism and the Claims of Christ:
Only love can give true perspective to life and can lead us into a life of costly service, will keep us rejoicing and shedding joy when service brings suffering in it train. Buddhism keeps love will not go from us like this way, this should be our constant meditation, our jhana that it is his love which dissolves our dukkhs, our sorrow, that it is his love which is our sarana, our refuge, that without him we can keep no sila, no virtue, and that in the remembrance of his love is our true samadhji our rest.30

The similarity with this statement can also be seen in the Christian Bible, Luke 22: 19-20:
Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood, (NET). """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
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Thich Nhat Hanh, Teaching on Love (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1998), 4-5. Ibid, 5. 28 Ibid, 5. 29 Ibid, 5. 30 D.T Niles, Buddhism and the Claims of Christ (Virginia: John Knox Press, 1952), 60-1.

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While the Christian speaks much about love, a Buddhist stresses compassion. Compassion is the Buddhist equivalent of the Christian notion of love. In Christianity, love is always accompanied by justice. In Buddhism, compassion always goes with wisdom. In fact, Buddhism and Christianity are similar in their concept of love and compassion; therefore they can have a mutual understanding on love and compassion. In Christianity, love and justice are necessary and very important as compassion and wisdom are necessary and crucial in Buddhism. V. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND MINDFULNESS The distinction and similarity between the Holy Spirit in Christianity and mindfulness in Buddhism should be defined to find a way in which a Buddhist and a Christian could embrace having a mutual understanding of each others beliefs. Mindfulness, a Buddhist term called Sati, is one of the most important steps to be taken in the effort to achieve liberation.31 Even today, it is the main teaching of Buddhism and is very important for their daily lives. They try hard to have mindfulness in Theravada Buddhism. Anthony Fernando, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes of Paris, taught Buddhism to Christians and Christianity to Buddhists for a number of years. Currently, he is the Chairperson of the Department of Classical and Christian Cultures at the Kelaniya University of Sri Lanka. Regarding the nature of mindfulness, he explains:
Mindfulness alone makes that clear. This is the only way, monks, to purify beings, surmount sorrow and lamentation, destroy pain and grief, reach the right paths, and realize nirvana; it is the way of mindfulness.32

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Anthony Fernando, Buddhism Made Plain: An Introduction for Christians and Jews (New York: Orbis Books, 1986), 86-7. 32 Ibid, 84.
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Mindfulness is also referred to as insight or right understanding. Gautamas own words concerning the teaching of mindfulness are quoted in Buddhism Made Plan: An Introduction for Christians and Jews:
And how does a monk practice mind-contemplation? Herein the monk knows the mind with lust as being with lust, the mind without lust as being without lust, the mind without lust as being without lust, the mind with hate as being with hate, the mind without hate as being without hate, the mind with delusion as being with delusion, the mind without delusion as being without delusion.33

Buddha recommended mindfulness to his disciples from his deathbed. His words were emotional life is transient. Strive ahead with attentiveness (vayadhamma samkhara appamadena sampadeta). Attentiveness is also insisted by Jesus in Matt. 25:1-5. It is clear that the Holy Spirit is the energy sent by God. In Buddhism, the effort is to practice mindfulness all the time and to know what is going on within us and around us.34 In his teaching, Buddha really wanted all of his followers, especially the monks to practice mindfulness and to know what mindfulness is. He explained it with three common words: sit, walk and eat. It is said that when we have mindfulness, we really know and understand what we are doing. When we eat foot, we clearly know that we are eating foot, when we walk on the way, we clearly understand we are walking and when we sit somewhere, we really know we are sitting. Most of time, we are lost in the past when we are seeing the future and what concerning thinking about future projects. We are mindful, touching deeply the present moment because we can clearly see and listen deeply. It is beautifully expressed that understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy to ourselves and others are the fruits of practicing mindfulness.35 The nature of
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Ibid, 86. Ibid, 87. See about mindfulness in Buddhism. (Mindfulness of Death: it is said that Buddhist people do meditative practice to reinforce the sense of impermanence (anicca) in all things, including ones own brief appearance. It is to realize that there is nothing in the body to which one would wish to cling, if one understands its true nature and composition, found in John Bowker, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 643. 35 (Hanh 1995, 13)
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mindfulness in Buddhism and the Holy Spirit in Christianity may seem similar because both are agents of healing. When there is mindfulness within us, we have love and understanding, and clearly see the future. It can heal the wounds in our own mind. Buddha was called the king of healers due to his mindfulness.36 According to the Christian Bible, Jesus is the healer and many people were healed by Him because of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. There is a connection between mindfulness in Buddhism and the Holy Spirit in Christianity. The notion of God as love, wisdom, and mindfulness is known, and even Buddha was known to be like this. If a man is in love with a beautiful woman, but when I ask him what the color of her eyes are, what her name is and what the name of her town is, if he cannot tell the answer , then I will not believe that he is really in love with something real. In fact, whenever someone is seen who is loving, compassionate, mindful, caring, and understanding, it can be deeply known and said that the Holy Spirit is there. In Buddhism, to have mindfulness, they have to practice or meditate silently and then after they have mindfulness, they can clearly see what is going on within and around them. They become healer. For this reason mindfulness seems akin to the Holy Spirit.37 VI. THE WAY OF SALVATION The concept of salvation from sin is essential for all, but the term of salvation may cut-off other religions. Every religion tries to free or liberate people from where they are. In fact, the concept of salvation is to release from present suffering and move from the old life to a new life. It is hoped that many religions could encounter each others belief concerning the concept of salvation. Actually, salvation is meaningful to Buddhists because it tries to deliver from samsara and suffering. It is probably more fruitful to use the concept of being released from the cycle of karma and sin (lutponjaakkamlaebaab). Another option would be
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Ibid, 14. Ibid, 13-14.

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to use the term vimutti in order to talk about salvation. Wan Petchsongkram noted in Sharing Jesus Holistically with the Buddhist World, this Pali word vimutti which means to liberate or free and it is appropriately used for Christian salvation. This term is widely known. The term kwamrawt (salvation) does not mush significant and in the realm of Buddhism.38 All there is needed to discuss about the death of Jesus is to emphasize the free and voluntary nature of His sacrifice (John 10: 18). It is necessary to tell about the victory of Jesus to Buddhists in this way; all of these aspects must be given in order to show that the victory Christ has purchased for us through his shed blood touches every area of our daily lives.39 When trying to explain about salvation by grace through faith and not through works; the Buddhist will associate it with merit (bun). Buddhists try to make bun to free them from bad karma, in order to get salvation. The law of karma and merit is that the person is given back according to what work is done: good for good and evil for evil. When Buddhists ask question Why do you make merit?, the answer is simply that the concept of trying is to gain merit for a better life both now and in the future. In Christianity, Jesus, who committed no sin, was a perfect sacrifice and has become bun for us. He has wiped out karma and delivered us from death and made us pure in Gods eyes. It is not by works, but by trusting him. The primary task for all Buddhists is to practice self-salvation. In regards to this, Professor Dhammananda mentions in Sharing Jesus in the Buddhist World that each and every person must make the effort to train and purify himself toward attaining his own salvation by following the guidance given by Buddha.40 Reaching nirvana is only through personal effort, because Buddhists feel that both the present life and the future life depend completely on the person. There is no existence of God and a savior, even Buddha was not a savior. Karma alone can set us free, there is nothing else. There is, however, one hope which Buddha
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(Lim 2005, 205-7) Ibid, 6. 40 (Lin 2003, 47-8)

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mentioned. He was not the first Buddha to come on earth, and nor shall he be the last; however, one day the savior will come. Davin Lin talks about that in his book, Sharing Jesus in the Buddhist World, in this way:
In due time, another Buddha will arise in this world, a holy one, a supremely Enlightened one, endowed with wisdom, in conduct auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of devas and men. He will reveal to you the same Eternal Truths, which I have taught you. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure; such as I now proclaim41

This concept is a significant point of contact with Buddhism. It is necessary to refer to universal salvation when reaching those following Buddhism. If we believe that Christians alone are saved, it is extremely focused on our side. Buddhism is rejected by many Christians because of the concept of salvation. It is important to know that no one knows who are saved and will be saved but only God knows who is saved; it means to deliver from their sins. Sharing that ones Christian faith is primarily through service, humility, and openness is helpful in dialogue. It means that Christians and Buddhists could be in dialogue on all possible levels with a view toward mutual understanding and mutual commitment to social service.42 To receive salvation, it is necessary to have karma, to do good in the present which earns merit (bun) in Buddhism. In Christianity, salvation is not by doing or working in the present world but by trusting Him and having faith and belief in Him. Alfredo P. Co, current full Professor of Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas (U.S.T.), frankly says:
It is at this precise moment that you find liberation of the spirit, and then you fiChrist in you as you find others attain Enlightenment. You become one with God and he becomes a Buddha.43

Mutual understanding is the main goal of our dialogue and the real truth will follow.
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Ibid, 48. Daniel J. Adams, Universal Salvation? A Study In Myanmar Christian Theology, Asian Journal of Theology, 2,10. (Note: no date) 43 (Alfredo 2003, 161), see about salvation in Theravada Buddhism, It is mentioned that the performance of rituals is not central, though chanting certain sacred texts is thought to be helpful in attaining liberation. No distinction is made between the nirvana attained by an arhat and that of a pratyeka Buddha. Devotees rely solely on themselves to get rid of their defilements (Self-liberation), in the book of Charts of World Religions, written by House, H. Wayne. ( Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2006), 68.
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VII. NIRVANA With the concept that there is no God, there is no creation or last judgment, there is no history beginning and ending in Buddhism, but rather Emptiness, means the idea of nirvana was already there. This perspective of history is derived from the deep realization of the karma of human beings. It is said that it is the universal law, takes karma as moral power, emphasizing the possibility of final release from the round of transmigration through a free decision of the will.44 The total realization of karma, personal and universal, past, present, and future, causes one to be liberated from karma and awakened to nirvana.45 This calling is what every Buddhist aspires to the total liberation from illusion, detachment from desire, and cessation of suffering. This is a called nirvana. The term nirvana is a Sanskrit term that literally means to extinguish or, more loosely interpreted, to be freed from desire, and other sources of suffering. Regarding about nirvana, Jim Hanson illustrated in his article, The Buddha equated nirvana with the cessation of all formations, the refection of the base of existence, the extinction of desire, the absence of passion, and peace of mind.46 When it is practiced as a meditative-supported consciousness, It ends all conceptual formations, loss of self, desire, anger, anxiousness and strife. The real freedom, bliss and the resting of volition will perfectly be known after the experience of nirvana and Buddha-hood. Nirvana is

associated with Kamma-ruradha, which means cessation of action. It is even connected with kamma-narida, which means requiring repeated practice and action. It is discussed by Hanson in this way: There is no nirvana outside our practice, Nirvana must occur with a real world that is constantly arising, abiding, and ceasing. Willful action is needed.47 From the Christian perspective concerning nirvana, the term of Heaven appears so many times in the
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(Heine 1998, 83-4) Ibid, 84. 46 Jim Hanson, Searching for the Power-I: Nietzsche and Nirvana, Asian Philosophy, vol. 18, No. 3, November 2008. 2-3. 46 Ibid, 3.
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bible both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word Heaven is found 276 times in the New Testament alone. It is mentioned that heaven possesses the glory of God (Revelation 21: 11). It is the very presence of God, because where there is no night and the Lord Himself is the light, the sun and moon are also no longer needed (Revelation 22:5). It is said that heaven is a place of no mores, which means that it is a place where there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow (Revelation 21:4). In addition, there will be no more separation, due to death being conquered (Revelation 20:6). At that place, everything will be enjoyed in the presence of God in heaven for eternity.48 Esse or being, which Christians have also identified as God, is closer to Nirvana. It was believed that being, like Nirvana is uncreated and indestructible. The kingdom of God, however, is not identified as much with being.49 For Buddhism, Nirvana (Two ways of Perfection Buddhist and Christian uses the term Nibbana) and Dhamma represent the Eternal and Transcendent. As for Christians, God and the kingdom are the Eternal and Transcendent. In fact, both Buddhism and Christianity agree that there is eternal reality, but the nature of this Reality differs. Likewise, there are proper similarities between Nirvana and the Kingdom of God. Both in Nirvana and in the kingdom of God there is freedom from suffering and every kind of evil forever. In both, there is eternal peace and eternal happiness. There is one thing to careful of Buddha revealed Nirvana is unmade, no matter whether anyone attains it or not. The kingdom of God is established by God and governed by God himself. As noted above, there is no suffering and no cycle or rebirth in Nirvana, and then there is no return to a fallen condition for those whom God admits to the kingdom.50 Shanta Ratnayaka talks about nirvana in his book, Two Ways of Perfection: Buddhist and Christian, like this:The whole
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What is Heaven Like, available from: http://www.gotquestions.org/heaven-like.html, accessed at March 28, 2012. 49 John B. Cobb, Jr, Beyond Dialogue: Toward a Mutual Transformation of Christianity and Buddhism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 86-8. 50 Shanta Ratnayaka, Two ways of Perfection Buddhist and Christian (Colombo 2: Lake House Investments, 1978), 169.
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state of confusion and misery in ones existence comes to an end with the attainment of either Nirvana or the Kingdom.51 Nirvana is the cessation of becoming and stopping the Wheel of Rebirth due to the motivation power of its revolution; the desire within the person has stopped. John Lewis, a lecture in philosophy at Morley College, London, England, restated what professor Radakrishna has said: It is the goal of perfection, and not the abyss of annihilation.52 Buddha himself says that nirvana alone is what we ought to strive for. In fact, it seems that nirvana is akin to the philosophical notion of the Absolute or even more the mystical conception of God.53 It is illustrated by H.Wayne House, distinguished professor of biblical studies and apologetics at Faith Seminary, Tacoma, Washington and others schools, and is the author of so many books, in this way: Until nirvana is attained, rebirth immediately follows death; Nirvana is the blowing out of all cravings, a state of nothingness.54 In the concept of Buddhism, enlightenment can break this cycle of desires that mean suffering within lives and can lead us to Nirvana where there will be no violence and a place of genuine compassion for all beings. Likewise, in the concept of Christianity, there is only one life, and at the end of times, our souls and bodies will be raised and judged by God.55

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Ibid, 69. John Lewis, The Religions of the World Made Simple (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1958),43. 53 Ibid, 43. 54 (House 2006, 68) 55 (Alfredo 2003, 161) See how to relate to Nirvana and Moksha; it is mentioned that they deliver one from samsaric existence, and moves one beyond the inexorable grip of the law of karma. Once Buddhahood has been attained, there is no more rebirths in any realm. You can study the Buddhist terms and meanings in this book by Thomas A. Robinson & Hillary Rodrigues, eds., World Religions: A Guide to the Essentials (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006), 199-216. The goal of Buddhist lives are nirvana which is clear. It is not annihilation of the self. Nirvana is a transformed mode of human consciousness, and is also an independent reality with dynamism of its own. It is radically different than the materialistic world. It is the eternal realm, the utterly dependable, the true refuge says R. Pierce Beaver, and others, Eerdmanss Handbook to the Worlds Religions (Grand Rapid, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 231.
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CONCLUSION Between Buddhism and Christianity, mutual understanding of each other is needed. Buddhism cannot make itself to be religion but by Christianity; even though Christianity id made by Buddhism. Both seem to be brothers and need to help each other as has already been discussed. Dialogue should be between Buddhism and Christianity because of needing to understand each other. Dialogue is not a conversation, discussion, or negotiation with other but a two-way communication between two religions or persons. In this research paper, dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism is not an argument with each other about their own perspective, but rather it is to have a mutual understanding with each other. Christianity should try to understand what the Buddhists want to say and the Buddhists should try to understand what the Christians want to know and say. They should not oppose each other in dialogue. Dialogue is not to understand our side, but to understand the other side. When Buddhists talk about God, Christians need to understand what the Buddhist is saying concerning God. The Buddhist as well should understand the perspective of the Christian. In Buddhism, there is no existence of God or a creator God and the history of creation. Christians believe that there is one God who is the creator of everything by His word according to the Christian Bible. Both Buddhism and Christianity reveal about love and compassion in their own view. Christians deeply express about love, because love is one of the characteristics of God. Love can do everything and is important for Christians. In Buddhism, compassion is very important to them, because it is also the characteristic of Buddha. The structure of love and compassion is similar, but each from their own perspective. The Holy Spirit is very important for Christians as well as mindfulness is crucial for Buddhists. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot clearly see the future and find what is going within us and around us. In Buddhism, they try to have mindfulness by meditation. If

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they do not have mindfulness, they cannot clearly see what will come and go in the future. In this way, the Holy Spirit and mindfulness is really akin, but different expression with the same meaning. In Buddhism, salvation is working on the earth to be returned good for good and evil for evil. In Christianity, salvation is through the grace and love of God, trusting and believing in Him who is the Son of God. Salvation means libration from suffering. In Christianity, salvation is also free from the bondage of Satan and sin. In this way, it can be said that Buddhism and Christianity are akin their concept of salvation. Nirvana is the safest place where there is no suffering, trouble, pain, rebirth and cycle again and again, but eternal joy and eternal happiness. Nirvana and the kingdom of God are similar in this way. Both Nirvana and the kingdom of God are to help solve the problem of man and give freedom from suffering and the bondage of Satan and sin. In Buddhism, to get nirvana, Enlightenment which will lead to nirvana is needed. In Christianity, to be in the kingdom of God, we have to trust His love and salvation and believe in Him. In fact, it can be mentioned openly, that Buddhism and Christianity are similar, but use different using term. A mutual understanding of each religion will be when the different concepts and beliefs of each of the doctrines are recognized. This would be dialogue between the two religions. Dialogue is having a mutual understanding of each other. The main goal of this research paper is that Christian should try to understand what the Buddhists say and the Buddhists should also try to understand what the Christians say. Buddhism and Christianity can agree on many concepts by mutual understanding. If one side extremely holds their own belief, mutual understanding will not occur. Mutual understanding is really crucial for all religions to gather and share our religious beliefs and doctrines to build the incoming era of the new world.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adams, Daniel J. Universal Salvation? A Study in Myanmar Christian Theology. Asian Journal of Theology.1-19. Beaver, R. Pierce, Dr. Jan Bergman and others, Eerdmanss Handbook to the Worlds Religions. Grand Rapid,MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994. Bowker, John. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Cobb, Jr. John B. Beyond Dialogue: Toward a Mutual Transformation of Christianity and Buddhism Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982. Co, Alfredo P. Philosophy of the Compassionate Buddha. Manila: University of Santo Tomas, 2003. Dei, Paul., and David Lim.eds. Communicating Christ in the Buddhist World. California: William Carey, 2006. Fernando, Anthony. Buddhism Made Plain: An Introduction for Christians and Jews.New York: Orbis Books, 1986. Hanh, Thich Nhat. Living Buddha, Living Christ. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995. Hanh, Thich Nhat. Teaching on Love. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1998 Hanson, Jim. Searching for the Power-I: Nietzsche and Nirvana. Asian Philosophy, vol. 18, No. 3, November 2008. 1-15. Hattaway, Paul, People of the Buddhist World; A Christian Prayer Guide. Singapore: William CareyLibrary: 2004. Heine, Steven. ed. Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995. Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrich, eds., The World of Buddhism: Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Society andCulture.London: Thames and Hudson, 1984. House, H. Wayne. Charts of World Religions. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2006. Lama, Dalai. Worlds in Harmony: Dialogues on Compassionate Action. Barkeley: Parallax Press, 1992. Lim, David., and Steve Spaulding. eds. Sharing Jesus Holistically with the Buddhist World. California: William Carey Library, 2005. Niles, D.T. Buddhism and the Claims of Christ.Virginia: John Knox Press, 1952. Swidler,Leonard.WhatisDialogue. Availablefrom:Institute.jesdialogue.org/fileadmin/bizcourse/Dialogue.pdf, Accessed at 8 February, 2012. Ratnayaka, Shanta. Two Ways of Perfection Buddhist and Christian. Colombo 2: Lake House Investments, 1978. Robinson, Thomas A. & Hillary Rodrigues, eds., World Religions: A Guide to the Essentials. Peabody:Hendrickson Publishers, 2006. Takeuchi, Yoshinori, Buddhist Spirituality: India, Southeast Asian, Tibetan, and Early Chinese.New York: Crossroads, 1993.