Living Buddha, Living Christby Published 06 Mar 2007
|Living Buddha, Living Christ.pdf|
10th anniversary edition of the classic text, updated, revised, and featuring a Mindful Living Journal.
Buddha and Christ, perhaps the two most pivotal figures in the history of humankind, each left behind a legacy of teachings and practices that have shaped the lives of billions of people over two millennia. If they were to meet on the road today, what would each think of the other's spiritual views and practices? In this classic text for spiritual seekers, Thich Nhat Hanh explores the crossroads of compassion and holiness at which the two traditions meet, and he reawakens our understanding of both.
"Living Buddha, Living Christ" Reviews
Some reviewers seem to think Hanh doesn't understand Christianity. I think they're missing the point; this wasn't meant as an in depth dissection of that. So far, the book is just as I expected, a look at the similarities between faiths. And in that, I believe Hanh does an excellent job.
As the book title clearly states, it is not just about Christianity, so if you'd like to read primarily about that, go back and note the Buddha part of the title and take a clue from it. I suspect the Christians who didn't care for the depiction might be harboring an agenda in favor of their own faith. If you are truly okay with the concept that other faiths don't discount your own, you should be fine with this book. If you are unsteady in your beliefs, or rigid in your opinions, or simply not interested in Buddhism, you should pass it over.
It is a mistake to read this book as comparing Buddha with Christ because Buddha is Buddha and Christ is Christ. Each came for different reasons. However, we as Christians can take some good tips from Thich in how he tries to establish dialog between the two sides and the good tips we can like learn from Buddhism such as living mindfully. I wish the book didn't have the introduction of THAT woman! Yes, what is Elaine Pagel doing in a book like this? She needs to go back to her gospel of Thomas and leave such work alone. I loved what Thich had to say on dialogue on p. 9, in that in a true dialogue both sides are willing to change. We in the Middle East are still learning the ABC of human dialogue and Thich is the best master here on topics like that of human communication.
It is a mistake to judge Buddhism and Thich from the outside. You would have to get inside that person and look "deeply" and get beyond rigid structured forms. I adore Thich. I can read all his books over and over and never get bored ever. It would be nice to own all these books and read them for a dose of serenity and inner refreshment. He does speak to my heart.
One of the biggest problems I have with organized religion is the amount of time it spends trying to foist its ideals on you while trying to convince you that anything you believed before you came to them is wrong. Rest assured, I have no intention of doing that here. I was raised a Baptist, and baptized a Catholic. Yet I tend to find the most comfort in books centered around Buddhism. This is not to say that I am a Buddhist. I am spiritual, if a label must be assigned. I can see the benefit of both belief systems, without surrendering to their dogma. Thich Nhat Hanh is fine with that. And that may be why I enjoy reading his material so much.
If anything, Hanh stresses the importance of not giving into "religious imperialism," or as I like to call it, "my God is better than your God." Hanh shows how one can make both belief systems work for you, and bring about peace of mind.
Nothing else I say about this book will do it justice. The best thing you can do is read it for yourself, and see where it takes you.
"The Gospels in their written or even oral form are not the living teaching of Jesus. The teachings must be practiced as they were lived by Jesus."
-Thich Nhat Hanh
I didn't want this book to end. Just reading it made me feel mindful and peaceful. Even the physicality of the book with its narrow pages and clean typesetting made me feel a depth I hadn't experienced in a long while.
I knew halfway through Living Buddha, Living Christ that I would reread it.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a way of revealing truth in simple prose. While this one book contained many truths, one in particular jumped off the page repeatedly in my reading: Practice.
Many of my doubts in the past five years have arisen from an inability to see Christianity as a religion of practice. So much of what I had been taught from an early age was about belief. "Faith alone." I observed other religions and grew curious and even jealous of their practice; Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and other Christian traditions, mainly Catholicism, value holy rituals, practices, and prayers that guide daily life, not just Sunday worship. I felt that was missing from my roots and tradition.
TNH's emphasis is so much on the LIVING Christ, in that Christ's life is the teaching, the important thing that we emulate. He believes that Christianity is about keeping Jesus' life, his practice alive through our practice as a community of Christians.
For me personally, this thought rings true. In some ways, Thich Nhat Hanh is more relatable to me than even teachers of my own tradition because I know he's not selling theology or salvation as a belief, but salvation meaning love, understanding, and freedom as the result of practice, particularly mindfulness.
A Buddhist monk is suggesting in such simple language that we emulate the living Christ.
That's a practice, a faith, a church, a spirituality, a religion I can back--emulating Christ. And in that emulation, it doesn't even matter what my personal beliefs are about the divinity of Jesus. What matters most is my belief in his life and its ability to teach me how to practice love, understanding, and liberation and to show compassion for others.
I will go forward from these pages with an aim to practice the life of Christ and learn from the Buddha.
This book changed my traditional thinking of Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God, to more of an example and teacher, which makes more sense to me. The book is written with such a passive sense that it doesn't trigger religious defenses like most other church-related literature. I loved everything about it.