Living Buddha, Living Christ Book Summary - Living Buddha, Living Christ Book explained in key points
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Living Buddha, Living Christ summary

Thich Nhat Hanh

Explore the common ground of Christianity and Buddhism

4.2 (243 ratings)
25 mins
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    Living Buddha, Living Christ
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    Interfaith dialogue can open paths toward peace and spiritual fulfillment.

    There’s no single Buddhism. It’s just the opposite, in fact – there are many forms of this spiritual tradition. Just 100 years after the death of Gautama Buddha, the faith’s founding teacher, the tradition split into two distinct schools. A few hundred years later, there were more than 20 different sects.

    Yet these schisms aren’t cause for strife. Each faction is but a single flower in the overall garden of Buddhism. Each is beautiful on its own, but together they form a vibrant ecosystem. Moreover, outside the Buddhist garden are other gardens of other faiths, each with its own flourishing flowerbeds.

    To become spiritually whole, it’s important to recognize the beauty in all of these blooms.

    The key message here is: Interfaith dialogue can open paths toward peace and spiritual fulfillment.

    There’s an unfortunate tendency for people of different faiths to regard each other with suspicion or even animosity. Sometimes these tensions come from unfamiliarity. In other instances, they’re fostered by political or social strife. For instance, during the French colonization of Vietnam, Catholic missionaries worked to suppress Buddhism; this pressure drove the two faiths apart needlessly.

    Yet if we look beyond these artificial divides, it's clear that both faiths share profound similarities – there are Buddhist elements in Christianity, and Christian elements within Buddhism. This state of deep, mutual connection is called interbeing. By looking closely and studying this interbeing between the two faiths, it’s possible to enrich our experience of both.

    In fact, both faiths encourage this type of contemplation. The Christian Psalms urge the faithful to “Be still,” in order to know God’s love. This means practitioners should be tranquil and concentrate on the world around them. In the same vein, Buddhists practice vipasyana, or “looking deeply.” With practice, Buddhists also come to know love by cultivating a calm, relaxed, and contemplative disposition toward the world.

    This isn’t the only similarity between these two religions. The teachings of Buddha and Christ convey similar themes of love, acceptance, and understanding, and both offer valuable advice on how to find joy and overcome suffering. Investigating these overlaps helps practitioners of either faith gain a deeper understanding of their own religion. And, even more importantly, fostering a rich interfaith dialogue, one in which both sides truly listen to one another, can go a long way toward healing the divisions that exist in everyday life.

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    What is Living Buddha, Living Christ about?

    Living Buddha, Living Christ (1995) is a meditation on the surprising intersections between Buddhism and Christianity. This thoughtful text shows the common ground shared by two of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders.

    Who should read Living Buddha, Living Christ?

    • Christians seeking a new perspective on Christ
    • Buddhists looking to enrich their practice
    • Anyone wanting to cultivate a deeper spiritual life

    About the Author

    Thich Nhat Hanh was a Buddhist monk, peace activist, and world-renowned spiritual leader. The author of more than 70 books, he was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

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