Christianity and Buddhism
Buddhism and Christianity are two major religions that are compared and contrasted by scholars, with parallels between the two revolving around perceived similarities in the teachings and in the spiritual intent and practices. Given these correspondences, questions arise as to their origins, influences, and interaction. Scholars remain divided on whether the religious parallels are coincidental, or arising from separate but similar developments, or the result of a direct or indirect influence of Buddhism on early Christianity.
Pre-Christian interactions between Greece and Buddhism
The philosophical systems of Buddhism and Christianity evolved in different ways, but the moral precepts advocated by Buddhism from the time of Ashoka the Great through his edicts as well as the Pali Canon share some similarities with the Christian moral precepts developed more than two centuries later, particularly: respect for life; respect for the weak and disenfranchised; rejection of violence; confession; and emphasis on charity and good deeds. The prominent historian and writer,Will Durant, notes that the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka “sent Buddhist missionaries to all parts of India and Ceylon, even to Syria, Egypt and Greece, where, perhaps, they helped prepare for the ethics of Christ.” One theory is that these similarities indicate the propagation of Buddhist ideals into the Western world, with the Greeks acting as intermediaries and religious syncretists.
Early academic research centers around Buddhist influence in Palestine and Greece during the two centuries prior to the birth of Christ. According to American historian Kenneth Scott Latourette, by the time that Jesus was born, "Buddhism had already spread through much of India and Ceylon and had penetrated into Central Asia and China."
The interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures operated over several centuries until it ended in the 5th century CE with the invasions of the White Huns, and later, the expansion of Islam.
In India, around 270 BCE, Ashoka the Great ascended the throne. After his conversion to Buddhism, Ashoka sent missionaries around the world to preach the word of the Buddha. Ashoka left records that indicate that "his missions were favorably received" in countries to the West.
Ptolemy II Philadelphus, one of the Kings mentioned by Ashoka in his edicts, is recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court at Pataliputra in India:
"But [India] has been treated of by several other Greek writers who resided at the courts of Indian kings, such, for instance, as Megasthenes, and by Dionysius, who was sent thither by Philadelphus, expressly for the purpose: all of whom have enlarged upon the power and vast resources of these nations." Pliny the Elder, "The Natural History", Chap. 21 
There are also records from Alexandria, which was at the crossroads of commerce and ideas, pointing to a steady stream of Buddhist monks and philosophers who influenced the philosophical currents of the time. This is evidenced centuries later in Roman accounts of Buddhist monks traveling to countries in these regions. Roman historical accounts describe an embassy sent by the "Indian king Pandion (Pandya?), also named Porus," to Caesar Augustus around 13 CE. The embassy was travelling with a diplomatic letter in Greek, and one of its members was a sramana who burned himself alive in Athens to demonstrate his faith. The event made a sensation and was described by Nicolaus of Damascus, who met the embassy at Antioch, and related by Strabo (XV,1,73 ) and Dio Cassius (liv, 9). A tomb was made to the sramana, still visible in the time of Plutarch, which bore the mention:
"ΖΑΡΜΑΝΟΧΗΓΑΣ ΙΝΔΟΣ ΑΠΟ ΒΑΡΓΟΣΗΣ"
("The sramana master from Barygaza in India")
These accounts at least indicate that Indian religious men (Sramanas, to which the Buddhists belonged, as opposed to Hindu Brahmanas) were circulating in the Levant during the time of Jesus.
Western expansion of Buddhism
Buddhism expanded to some extent towards the northwest into Parthian territory. Achaeological remain of Buddhist stupas have been identified as far as Merv. Soviet archeological teams have excavated in Giaur Kala, near Merv, a Buddhist chapel, a gigantic Buddha statue, as well as a monastery. Also Parthian nobles such as An Shih Kao adopted the faith and were even some of the key actors of its expansion towards China.
Christian awareness of Buddhism
Evidence suggests that the Church Fathers were acquainted with Buddhist beliefs and practices, but it is unclear as to the extent to which these may have influenced the formation of Christian doctrine, or if there was any influence at all.
In the 2nd century AD, the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria recognized Bactrian Buddhists (Sramanas) and Indian Gymnosophists for their influence on Greek thought:
"Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations. And afterwards it came to Greece. First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Sramanas among the Bactrians ("Σαρμαναίοι Βάκτρων"); and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persians, who foretold the Saviour's birth, and came into the land of Judaea guided by a star. The Indian gymnosophists are also in the number, and the other barbarian philosophers. And of these there are two classes, some of them called Sramanas ("Σαρμάναι"), and others Brahmins (Βραφμαναι)."
—Clement of Alexandria "The Stromata, or Miscellanies" Book I, Chapter XV
About the Buddha, Clement wrote:
"Among the Indians are those philosophers also who follow the precepts of Boutta, whom they honour as a god on account of his extraordinary sanctity."
— Clement of Alexandria, Stromata (Miscellanies), Book I, Chapter XV
Also in the 2nd century AD, Origen stated that Buddhists co-existed with Druids in pre-Christian Britain:
"The island (Britain) has long been predisposed to it (Christianity) through the doctrines of the Druids and Buddhists, who had already inculcated the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead"
— Origen, Commentary on Ezekiel 
Origen himself was a proponent of the doctrine of Apokatastasis, which seems to have involved reincarnation  The doctrines of Origen were repeatedly rejected and finally condemned by Second Council of Constantinople in 553.
Early 3rd-4th century Christian writers such as Hippolytus and Epiphanius wrote about a Scythianus, who visited India around 50 AD from where he brought "the doctrine of the Two Principles". According to these writers, Scythianus' pupil Terebinthus presented himself as a “Buddha” ("he called himself Buddas" Cyril of Jerusalem) and became well known in Judaea. According to the same author, his books and knowledge were taken over by Mani, and became the foundation of the Manichean doctrine.
"Terebinthus, his disciple in this wicked error, inherited his money and books and heresy, and came to Palestine, and becoming known and condemned in Judaea he resolved to pass into Persia: but lest he should be recognised there also by his name he changed it and called himself Buddas."
—Cyril of Jerusalem, Sixth Catechetical Lecture Chapter 22-24 
Hippolytus, who was a Greek speaking Christian in Rome (c. 225), knew of the Indian Brahmins--and includes their tradition among the sources of heresy:
There is ... among the Indians a heresy of those who philosophize among the Brahmins, who live a self-sufficient life, abstaining from (eating) living creatures and all cooked food . . . They say that God is light, not like the light one sees, nor like the sun nor fire, but to them God is discourse, not that which finds expression in articulate sounds, but that of knowledge (gnosis) through which the secret mysteries of nature are perceived by the wise.
In the 3rd century, the Syrian writer and Christian Gnostic theologian Bar Daisan described his exchanges with the religious missions of holy men from India (Greek: Σαρμαναίοι, Sramanas), passing through Syria on their way to Elagabalus or another Severan dynasty Roman Emperor. His accounts were quoted by Porphyry (De abstin., iv, 17 ) and Stobaeus (Eccles., iii, 56, 141).
Barlaam and Josaphat
The Greek legend of "Barlaam and Ioasaph", sometimes mistakenly attributed to the 7th century John of Damascus but actually written by the Georgian monk Euthymios in the 11th century, was ultimately derived, through a variety of intermediate versions (Arabic and Georgian) from the life story of the Buddha. The king-turned-monk Ioasaph (Georgian Iodasaph, Arabic Yūdhasaf or Būdhasaf) also obtains his name from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva, the name used in Buddhist accounts for Gautama before he became a Buddha. Barlaam and Ioasaph were placed in the Greek calendar of saints on 26 August, and in the West they were canonized (as "Barlaam and Josaphat") in the Roman Martyrology on the date of 27 November.
The story was translated into Hebrew in the Middle Ages as "Ben-Hamelekh Vehanazir" ("The Prince and the Nazirite").
Some scholars believe that Jesus may have been inspired by Buddhism, and that the Gospel of Thomas and the Nag Hammadi texts reflect this influence. These theories have been popularized in books such as Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels (1979) and Beyond Belief (2003), and Elmar R. Gruber and Holger Kersten's The Original Jesus (1995).
One of the earliest and most prominent scholars of early comparative religions,Max Mueller, noted in his book, India: What it can teach us, published from England in 1883, "That there are startling coincidences between Buddhism and Christianity cannot be denied, and it must likewise be admitted that Buddhism existed at least 400 years before Christianity. I go even further, and should feel extremely grateful if anybody would point out to me the historical channels through which Buddhism had influenced early Christianity." A stronger case was made by Rudolf Seydel, Professor in the University of Leipzig (Germany), whose first book, The Gospel of Jesus in relation to the Buddha Legend, published in 1882, was followed by, The Buddha Legend and the Life of Jesus, published in 1897. In his books, he noted atleast 50 analogous parallels between the Buddhist and Christian stories.
Yale University Professor, E. Washburn Hopkins in his book, History of Religions wrote, "Finally, the life, temptation, miracles, parables, and even the disciples of Jesus have been derived directly from Buddhism." 
Historian Jerry H. Bentley considers "the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity". Bentley observes that scholars "have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha and Jesus".
Iqbal Singh in the Buddhism Omnibus  acknowledges the early historical interactions and influence of Buddhism on the formation of early Christianity.
Thomas Tweed, Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reports that, between 1879 and 1907, there were a "number of impassioned discussions about parallels and possible historical influence between Buddhism and Christianity in ... a variety of periodicals". But by 1906, this interest had waned. In the end, Albert Schweitzer's conclusion was favored: that although some indirect influence through the wider culture was "not inherently impossible", the hypothesis that Jesus' novel ideas were borrowed directly from Buddhism was "unproved, unprovable and unthinkable."
Burkhard Scherer, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University believes that the "massive" Buddhist influence in the gospels has been well known among scholars. Scherer states: "...it is very important to draw attention on the fact that there is (massive) Buddhist influence in the Gospels....Since more than hundred years Buddhist influence in the Gospels has been known and acknowledged by scholars from both sides. Just recently, Duncan McDerret published his excellent The Bible and the Buddhist (Sardini, Bornato [Italy] 2001). With McDerret, I am convinced that there are many Buddhist narratives in the Gospels."
Buddhism and Gnosticism
Queen Maya with the infant Buddha. Gandhara, 2nd century CE.Edward Conze and Elaine Pagels have suggested that gnosticism blends teachings like those attributed to Jesus Christ with teachings found in Eastern traditions.
Philip Jenkins writes that, since the mid-nineteenth century, new and fringe religious movements have often created images of Jesus, presenting him as a sage, philosopher and occult teacher, whose teachings are very similar to those of Asian religions. He asserts that the images generated by these religious movements share much in common with the images that increasingly dominate the mainstream critical scholarship of the New Testament, especially following the rediscovery of the Gnostic Gospels found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. He alleges that, in modern scholarly writing, Jesus has become more of a Gnostic, Cynic or even a crypto-Buddhist than the traditional notion of the reformist Jewish rabbi. 
Jenkins acknowledges that "the Jesus of the hidden gospels has many points of contact with the great spiritual traditions of Asia." Pagels has written that "one need only listen to the words of the Gospel of Thomas to hear how it resonates with the Buddhist tradition... these ancient gospels tend to point beyond faith toward a path of solitary searching to find understanding, or gnosis." She suggests that there is an explicitly Indian influence in the Gospel of Thomas, perhaps via the Christian communities in southern India, the so-called Thomas Christians.
Of all of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Gospel of Thomas has the most similarities with Pure Land Buddhism within it. Edward Conze has suggested that Hindu or Buddhist tradition may well have influenced Gnosticism. He points out that Buddhists were in contact with the Thomas Christians. 
Elaine Pagels notes that the similarities between Gnosticism and Buddhism have prompted some scholars to question their interdependence and to wonder whether "...if the names were changed, the 'living Buddha' appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus. " However, she concludes that, although intriguing, the evidence is inconclusive, since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence. 
The followers of the Buddha in Alexandria during the decades either side of Jesus' birth, if there were any, certainly did not call themselves Buddhists. Instead, they probably would have used the name adopted by their brothers in India: the followers of the Dharma (the Universal Law and the teaching of Buddha). In Greek, the word Dharma may be translated as Logos...The most sacred authority in Buddhism is the Triple Gem represented by Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Christian theology has the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, of whom the Son, the second Person, is equated with the Logos (that is to say the Dharma), and the third Person, the Holy Spirit, is active in the community of the faithful (the Sangha).
The Buddhist Triple Gem is directly related as father and son in what can be called a far more closer parallel to the Christian trinity in the Buddhist text, Ittivuttaka:100 as well as some suttas in the Tipitika contain references to Buddha as having spiritual sons. Major disciples (Sariputta, Ananda, Mahakashyapa) are referred to as "son of Buddha" ("putto Buddhassa" as in Therigata 4.1) or "son of God" ("bhagavato putto" in MN 111) throughout the oldest Pali Canon. These sons are also directly related to being born of the Dhamma or the law from Buddha's speech. Similarly in the Gospel of John, Jesus is the "word".
In reference to finding equivalence in Buddhism to the "Holy Spirit", Buddha is called "brahmabhūto" where Bhuto is used as "ghost or spirit" or holy spirit in MN18, this is almost always in conjunction "dhammabhūto brahmabhūto" i.e. the holy spirit is directly related to the Dhamma and Buddha. In the Tipitika, the Triple Gem of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are directly related to as Father, Son or Holy Spirit in several discourses.
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According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spent his early childhood in Egypt which was at the end of the Silk Road. As a result of its role in trade with the East, Egypt was prosperous and enriched with religious diversity.
The Therapeutae (known only from Philo) were mystics and ascetics who lived especially in the area around Alexandria,  Philo described the Therapeutae in the beginning of the 1st century CE in De vita contemplativa ("On the contemplative life"), written ca. 10 CE. By that time, the origins of the Therapeutae were already lost in the past, and Philo was even unsure about the etymology of their name.
Philonian monachism has been seen as the forerunner of and the model for the Christian ascetic life. It has even been considered as the earliest description of Christian monasticism. This view was first espoused by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History.
According to the linguist Zacharias P. Thundy the name "Therapeutae" is simply an Hellenisation of the Pali term for the traditional Buddhist faith, "Theravada". The similarities between the monastic practices of the Therapeutae and Buddhist monastic practices have led to suggestions that the Therapeutae were in fact Buddhist monks who had reached Alexandria, descendants of Ashoka's emissaries to the West, and who influenced the early formation of Christianity. The evidence for this argument rests solely on the similarity of practices and the purported derivation of the name. There is no evidence from antiquity that supports this argument.
In their book The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy argue that the Therapeutae are possible candidates for the origin of what they characterize as "the legend of Jesus Christ".
Elmar R. Gruber, a psychologist, and Holger Kersten, a specialist in religious history argue that Buddhism had a substantial influence on the life and teachings of Jesus. Gruber and Kersten claim that Jesus was brought up by the Therapeutae, teachers of the Buddhist Theravada school then living in the Bible lands. They assert that Jesus lived the life of a Buddhist and taught Buddhist ideals to his disciples; their work follows in the footsteps of the Oxford New Testament scholar' Barnett Hillman Streeter, who established as early as the 1930s that the, moral teaching of the Buddha has four remarkable resemblances to the Sermon on the Mount."
Ascetism can be seen as a common point between Buddhism and Christianity, and is in contrast to the absence of asceticism in Judaism:
"Asceticism is indigenous to the religions which posit as fundamental the wickedness of this life and the corruption under sin of the flesh. Buddhism, therefore, as well as Christianity, leads to ascetic practices. Monasteries are institutions of Buddhism no less than of Catholic Christianity. The assumption, found in the views of the Montanists and others, that concessions made to the natural appetites may be pardoned in those that are of a lower degree of holiness, while the perfectly holy will refuse to yield in the least to carnal needs and desires, is easily detected also in some of the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The ideal of holiness of both the Buddhist and the Christian saint culminates in poverty and chastity; i.e., celibacy. Fasting and other disciplinary methods are resorted to to curb the flesh"
—The Jewish Encyclopedia 
The lost years of Jesus
Very little is known about the time between Jesus' childhood and the beginning of his ministry as recorded in the New Testament.
Elmar R. Gruber, a psychologist, and Holger Kersten, a specialist in religious history argue that Buddhism had a substantial influence on the life and teachings of Jesus. Gruber and Kersten claim that Jesus was brought up by the Therapeutae, teachers of the Buddhist Theravada school then living in the Bible lands. They assert that Jesus lived the life of a Buddhist and taught Buddhist ideals to his disciples; their work follows in the footsteps of the Oxford New Testament scholar' Barnett Hillman Streeter, who established as early as the 1930s that the moral teaching of the Buddha has four remarkable resemblances to the Sermon on the Mount."
There are local traditions of Jesus' presence in Afghanistan, Iran, and even Pakistan and India. However there is no way to know when these traditions arose. Some stories go so far as to claim that Jesus survived crucifixion and returned to the East, dying in Kashmir many years later. However, all of these stories are based on little or no real evidence.
One tradition claims that Jesus traveled to India and Tibet during the "lost years" before the beginning of his public ministry. In 1887 a Russian war correspondent, Nicolas Notovitch, visited India and Tibet. He claimed that, at the lamasery or monastery of Hemis in Ladakh, he learned of the "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men." His story, with a translated text of the "Life of Saint Issa," was published in French in 1894 as La vie inconnue de Jesus Christ. It was subsequently translated into English, German, Spanish, and Italian.
The "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men" purportedly recounts the travels of one known in the East as Saint Issa, whom Notovitch identified as Jesus. After initially doubting Notovitch, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda, journeyed to Tibet, investigated his claim, helped translate part of the document, and later championed his views..
Notovitch's writings were immediately controversial. The German orientalist Max Mueller corresponded with the Hemis monastery that Notovitch claimed to have visited and Archibald Douglas visited Hemis Monastery. Neither found any evidence that Notovich (much less Jesus) had even been there himself, so they rejected his claims. The head of the Hemis community signed a document that denounced Notovitch as a liar.
Despite this contradictory evidence, a number of New Age or spiritualist authors have taken this information and have incorporated it into their own works. For example, in her book The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus' 17-Year Journey to the East, Elizabeth Clare Prophet asserts that Buddhist manuscripts provide evidence that Jesus traveled to India, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet.
The further sayings of Prophet Muhammed mention that Jesus died in Kashmir at the age of one hundred twenty. Muslim and Persia sources purport to trace the sojourn of Jesus, known as Isa, or Yuz Asaf ("leader of the healed") along the old Silk Road to the orient. The books, Christ in Kashmir by Aziz Kashmiri, and Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten, list scores of documents and articles in support of this view.
There are also Hindu and Tibetan accounts. According to Kersten, the Bhavishyat Maha Purana asserts that Israelites settled in India, and, in verses 17-32, describes the arrival of Jesus in Ladakh.
There is a temple in the state of Kashmir that is dedicated to Saint Issa. The priests of this temple assert that Jesus traveled there two thousand years ago. Acccording to Kersten, over twenty-one historical documents bear witness to Jesus having lived in Kashmir. Many places there, as well as along the Silk Road, include versions of his name(s) and also versions of the name of Moses. A tomb bearing the name of Yuz Asaf exists in Srinigar to this day, and eighty kilometers away is a tombstone of Moses, which has been tended by Rishis, according to the grave watchman, for over 2700 years. A tomb called Mai Mari da Asthan, "The Final Resting Place of Mother Mary", is situated in a small town named Mari on the Pakistan-Kashmir border.
According to Jerry Bentley, "Scholars have often considered the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity. They have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha and Jesus" .
The administrative structures formed by Buddhism share the following similarities with those formed by Christianity:
* initiation into a holy trinity.
* monasticism and communal living for spiritual adherents which adhered to principals of practicing poverty and chastity.
* early Christian Councils reminiscent in organization to the Buddhist councils.
* missionaries and missions which were first organized and established by Buddhists, all predate the early Christian organizations in the same areas where Christianity was first established (Antioch, etc.).
Buddha and Jesus
It has been asserted that the story of the birth of the Buddha was well known in the West, and possibly influenced the story of the birth of Jesus.
Saint Jerome (4th century CE) mentions the birth of the Buddha, who he says "was born from the side of a virgin" (the Buddha was, according to Buddhist tradition, born from the hip of his mother). The story of the birth of the Buddha was also known: a fragment of Archelaos of Carrha (278 CE) mentions the Buddha's virgin-birth.
Queen Maya came to bear the Buddha after receiving a prophetic dream in which she saw the descent of the Bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) from the Tuṣita heaven into her womb, in the shape of a small white elephant. This story has some parallels with the story of Jesus being conceived in connection with the visitation of the Holy Spirit to the Virgin Mary.
The classical scene of the Virgin Mary being supported by two attendants at her side, may have been influenced by earlier iconography, such as the rather similar Buddhist theme of Queen Maya giving birth.
The iconography of Mary breastfeeding the child Jesus, unknown in the West until the 5-6th century (probable date of a frieze excavated in Saqqara), has also been connected to the much more ancient iconography of the goddess Hariti, also breastfeeding her child, and wearing Hellenistic clothes in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara.
"There are many moral precepts equally commanded and enforced in common by both creeds. It will not be rash to assert that most of the moral truths prescribed in the gospel are to be met with in the Buddhistic scriptures." Paul Ambroise Bigandet, Catholic Bishop of Ramatha
"He [Buddha] requires humility, disregard of worldly wealth, patience and resignation in adversity, love to enemies ... non-resistance to evil, confession of sins and conversion." Bishop Jean Paul Hilaire
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Scholars see strong parallels in both the myth and life of Buddha and Jesus. Buddha and his disciples traveling preachers going into homes and preaching gospels to those who hear, is one obvious parallel of a literary motif not found in other traditions. Jesus too pursues this form of preaching and teaching.
Ernest De Bunsen states, "With the remarkable exception of the death of Jesus on the cross, and of the doctrine of atonement by vicarious suffering, which is absolutely excluded by Buddhism, the most ancient of the Buddhistic records known to us contain statements about the life and the doctrines of Gautama Buddha which correspond in a remarkable manner, and impossibly by mere chance, with the traditions recorded in the Gospels about the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ...." 
Buddha the new born prince is adored and predicted by seer Asita and gods celebrate his birth.(SN 3.11 Nalaka Sutta) Jesus the new born prince is adored and predicted by seers "from the east" who celebrate his birth. (Matthew 2)
Buddhist Trinity (Tiratna) and Baptism:
"I take refuge, Lord, in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha." (DN 31) "Enough, I say, with this external bath. I am satisfied with this internal bath: confidence in the Blessed One." (SN 55.30 Licchavi Sutta)
Jesus Trinity and Baptism:
"baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
Buddha is Sinless:
"stainless, you illuminate all the worlds." Sn 2.14 Dhammika Sutta
Jesus is Sinless:
"And in him is no sin." (1 John 3:5)
Buddha: Nirvana is Deathless" (Dhammapada 2:21-23) Jesus: Everlasting Life:
that God gave us everlasting life. (1 John 5:11)
Buddha holds nothing back:
there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. (Digha Nikaya, Mahaparinibbana Sutta,32)
Jesus holds nothing back:
because a slave doesn't know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. (John 15:15)
Chosen ones of Buddha
the Blessed One saw beings with little dust in their eyes (Samyutta Nikaya 6.1 Ayacana Sutta) He has long had little dust in his eyes. What if I were to teach him the Dhamma first? (MN 26 Ariyapariyesana Sutta)
Chosen ones of Jesus
You did not choose Me, but I chose you. (John 15:16) (Matthew 9: 35 - 10: 8, Mark 3: 13 - 19, Luke 6: 12 - 18)
MARA AND BUDDHA Then Mara, the Evil One, knowing with his awareness the train of thought in the Blessed One's awareness, went to him and on arrival said to him: "Exercise rulership, Blessed One! Exercise rulership, O One Well-gone!
Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, "The Blessed One knows me; the One Well-gone knows me" — vanished right there. (Samyutta Nikaya 4.20 Rajja Sutta)
SATAN AND JESUS: And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8
13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:1)
Buddha is the Truth and the Law: "He who sees the Dhamma, he sees me; he who sees me, sees the Dhamma."Kindred Sayings (III, Khandhaa-vagga, Middle Fifty, Ch 4, 87, Vakkali Sutta) Jesus is the Truth and the Law:Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
Buddha tells us to "come and see" the Dhamma or truth, which is the Buddha...In the Six Characteristics of the Dharma or the "law", the fourth one is "Ehipashyaka" or, "Come and See". Jesus tells us "come and see" his true dwelling, Jesus is the truth:
"They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour."John 1:35-39,John 1:43-46.
Buddha lectures priest on bloodless sacrifice:
"But, Reverend Gotama, is there any sacrifice that is more profitable than these four?" "There is, Brahmin."
"What is it, Reverend Gotama?" "Brahmin, if anyone with a pure heart undertakes the precepts - to refrain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from sexual immorality, from lying speech and from taking strong drink and sloth-producing drugs - that constitutes a sacrifice more profitable than any of these four."(Kutadanta Sutta)
Jesus lectures priest (Sadducees) on bloodless sacrifice:
33And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Mark 12:33)
Buddha calls priests blind
O Vasettha, those brahmins who know the three Vedas are just like a line of blind men tied together where the first sees nothing, the middle man nothing, and the last sees nothing (Tevijja-Sutta, Dighanikaya, 13:15).
Jesus calls priests (Pharisees) blind
Can the blind lead the blind? Won't they both fall into a pit? (Matthew 15:14).
Buddha sends missionaries"Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter.[Mahavagga Ch 5, Vinaya Pitaka]" Jesus sends missionariesTherefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19).
Buddha helps outcastes (Thag 12.2), lepers (Ud 5.3) and the courtesan like Ambapali (Digha Nikaya 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta) Jesus helps outcaste lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and "sinful women" like Mary Magdalene or Mary of Bethany (Luke 7:36-50)
God appoints Buddha:God the creator: "Throw open the door to the Deathless! Let them hear the Dhamma realized by the Stainless One![Ariyapariyesana Sutta] Christ says he has been anointed by God: 18He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,21And He began to say unto them, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:21)
Open are the doors to the Deathless to those with ears. Let them show their conviction.[Ariyapariyesana Sutta]
Christ declares after defeating Satan:
Repent! for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. —Matthew 4:17
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear."(Mark 4:23)
Buddha can walk on water and walk through walls:
He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. (Digha Nikaya 11:Kevatta Sutta)
Jesus can walk on water and walk through walls:
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. Mat 14:25 "Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them." (John 20:26)
Buddha and the Cross:
"This, monks, is called a monk whose cross-bar is thrown off, 10 whose moat is filled in, whose pillar is pulled out, whose bolt is withdrawn, a noble one with banner lowered, burden placed down, unfettered. (Majjhima Nikaya 22:Alagaddupama Sutta I 139-140)
Jesus and the Cross:
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)
Buddha and the Sacrifice:
This Purusa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be; (Rig Veda Purusha Sukta)
Buddha is known as the MAHA PURUSHA. This Purusha is a human sacrifice or Purushamedha, from which all creation comes forth. "Maha -Purusha" in the Pali canon, the Digha Nikaya, in the discourse titled "Sutra of the Marks" (Pali: Lakkhana Sutta).Griffith (1899)
:"man, the noblest victim, being actually or symbolically sacrificed ... and men and women of various tribes, figures, complexions, characters, and professions being attached to the sacrificial stakes in place of the tame and wild animals enumerated in Book XXIV [VS 24]. These nominal victims were afterwards released uninjured, and, so far as the text of the White Yajurveda goes, the whole ceremony was merely emblematical."
The ceremony evokes the mythical sacrifice of Purusha, the "Cosmic Man", and the officiating Brahman recites the Purusha sukta to the assembled human victims (RV 10.90 = AVS 5.19.6 = VS 31.1–16).
From the body of the Purusha all things come forth.
In this human sacrifice, the Purusha is tied to a stake and symbolically killed.
Jesus and the Sacrifice:
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1)
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1)
12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. (1cor 12:12)
more than a fortuitous convergence of universal folkloric motifs simply because nowhere else do we see such a convergence of literary motifs
One approach has used the theologically derived Q document of the possible original words of Jesus as a basis of comparison with the supposed earliest words of the Buddha. The process is useful insofar as it highlights direct parallels in words, albeit in modern languages. Other studies of parallels include learned analyses, most of them recent although some date back to the time of the early Church, which may have suppressed historical linkages between the ancient Middle-East/Greece and India. 
"Consider others as yourself." (Dhammapada 10:1) "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Gospel of Luke 6:31)
"If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words." (Majjhima Nikaya 21:6) "If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also." (Luke 6:29)
"Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love: this is an eternal truth. Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good ... Overcome the miser by giving, overcome the liar by truth." (Dhammapada 1.5 & 17.3) "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them back." (Luke 6:27-30)
"If you do not tend one another, then who is there to tend to you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick." (Vinaya, Mahavagga 8:26:3)
"Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." (Gospel of Matthew 25:45)
"Abandoning the taking of life, the ascetic Gautama dwells refraining from taking life, without stick or sword." (Digha Nikaya 1:1:8) "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take the sword shall perish by the sword." (Matt. 26:52)
... all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving kindness. The liberation of mind by loving kindness surpasses them all and shines forth, bright and brilliant. (Itivuttaka 27;19-2)
Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let your thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world." (Metta Sutta)
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friend." (John 15:12-13)
Just as rain penetrates a badly-covered house, so passion enters a dispersed mind. Just as rain does not penetrate a well-covered house, so too does passion not enter a well-developed mind (Dh 1:13-14). Everyone who hears my words and does them is like a man who built a house on rock. The rain fell, a torrent broke against the house, and it did not fall, for it had a rock foundation.
But everyone who hears my words and does not do them is like a man who built a house on sand. The rain came, the torrent broke against it, and it collapsed. The ruin of that house was great (QS 14).
It's easy to see the errors of others, but hard to see your own. You winnow like chaff the errors of others, but conceal your own — like a cheat, an unlucky throw. If you focus on the errors of others,
constantly finding fault, your effluents flourish. You're far from their ending. (Dhammapada Mahavagga 252-253)
"Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, "Friend, let me take the speck out of your eye," when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye." (Luke 6:41-42)
"Do not look at the faults of others, or what others have done or not done; observe what you yourself have done and have not done." (Dhammapada 4:7)
He said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:4-7)
But these three things, monks, shine openly, not in secret. What three? The moon, the sun, and the Dhamma and Discipline... (Anguttara Nikaya 3:129)
"That great cloud rains down on all whether their nature is superior or inferior. The light of the sun and the moon illuminates the whole world, both him who does well and him who does ill, both him who stands high and him who stands low." (Sadharmapundarika Sutra 5)
"Your father in heaven makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." (Matt. 5:45)
"Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like the radiant gods." (Dhammapada 15:4)) "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20)
"The avaricious do not go to heaven, the foolish do not extol charity. The wise one, however, rejoicing in charity, becomes thereby happy in the beyond." (Dhammapada 13:11) "If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." (Matt.19:21)
...when a tathagatha arises in the world,.. then there is the manifestation of great light and radiance: then no blinding darkness prevails. (Samyutta Nikaya 56:38; V442) Jesus is the light of the world - John 8:12
Those who do the truth come to the light - John 3:17-21
Plucking out her lovely eye, with mind unattached she felt no regret.
'Here, take this eye. It's yours.' Straightaway she gave it to him. Straightaway his passion faded right there, and he begged her forgiveness. (Therigata 14.1 Subha and the Libertine)
"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29–30).
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"Lamaism with its shaven priests, its bells and rosaries, its images and holy water, its popes and bishops, its abbots and monks of many grades, its processions and feast days, its confessional and purgatory, and its worship of the double Virgin, so strongly resembles Romanism that the first Catholic missionaries thought it must be an imitation by the devil of the religion of Christ." 
The use of rosaries spread from India to Europe during the Crusades through the Islamic versions. 
According to Sir Charles Eliot in Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch Vol 3, " Yet when all allowance is made for similar causes and coincidences, it is hard to believe that a collection of such practices as clerical celibacy, confession, the veneration of relics, the use of the rosary and bells can have originated independently in both religions."
Prayer with both the palms touching one another is called the "Anjali Mudra" in Indian spiritual traditions, and is a common greeting and prayer posture in all Indian spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, but is absent in Jewish traditions, whose scriptures mention raised or clasped hands. However, we find this prayer position found in Christian art from the Middle Ages, considered a common prayer posture of Christianity
Christian art only emerged relatively late, and the first known Christian images are known from about 200 CE. This early rejection of images, although never proclaimed by theologians, leaves us with little archaological records regarding early Christianity and its evolution. The oldest Christian painting are from the Roman Catacombs, dated to about 200, and the oldest Christian sculptures are from sarcophagi, dating to the beginning of the 3rd century. Buddhist art predates Christian art by about 400 years.
This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.
There are a number of resemblances between Buddhism and Christianity...
The Buddhist order of monks and nuns offers points of similarity with Christian monastic systems, particularly the mendicant orders.
There are moral aphorisms ascribed to Buddha that are not unlike some of the sayings of Christ.
Most of all, in the legendary life of Buddha, which in its complete form is the outcome of many centuries of accretion, there are many parallelisms, some more, some less striking, to the Gospel stories of Christ.
A few scholars, taking for granted that resemblance indicates contact, or even dependence, have tried to show that Christian monasticism is of Buddhist origin, and that Buddhist thought and legend have been freely incorporated into the Gospels. To support this theory they point to the common ground held by Buddhism and Christianity, but do so without adequately accounting for instances of disparity between the two traditions. They ignore, for instance, the utter lack of atheist themes in Jesus' teachings. Were he truly schooled by Buddhists, there would likely be at least some indication of an awareness of atheism of the Buddhist type in Jesus' sayings. Furthermore, atheism and the associated Buddhist sensibilities would no doubt have been found by Jesus to be both incomprehensible and repellent. These scholars also fail to note Jesus' indebtedness to Jewish mysticism, and by championing a theory with virtually no historical evidence, fail to account for actual identifiable commonality between Jesus and those Jewish mystics of his own culture, of whom he would certainly be aware.
There is little historical basis for the assertion that Buddhist influence was a factor in the formation of Christianity and of the Christian Gospels. The rock-inscriptions of Asoka may bear witness to the spread of Buddhism over the Greek-speaking world as early as the third century BCE, since they mention the flourishing existence of Buddhism among the Yavanas, i.e. Greeks within the dominion of Antiochus. The Yavanas who received such Buddhist emissaries may only be the Greek-speaking peoples on the extreme frontier next to India, namely, Bactria and the Kabul valley, although Greek rulers as far as the Mediterranean are mentioned in the inscriptions. Also, the statement in the late Buddhist chronicle, Mahavansa, that among the Buddhists who came to the dedication of a great Stupa in Ceylon in the second century BCE, "were over thirty thousand monks from the vicinity of Alassada, the capital of the Yona country" is sometimes taken to suggest that long before the time of Christ, Alexandria in Egypt was the centre of flourishing Buddhist communities. It is true that Alassada is the Pali for Alexandria; but it is usually thought that the city here meant is not the ancient capital of Egypt, but as the text indicates, the chief city of the Yona country, the Yavana country of the rock-inscriptions, namely, Bactria and vicinity. And so, the city referred to is most likely Alexandria ad Caucasum.
There is nothing in Buddhist records that may be taken as reliable evidence for the spread of Buddhism westward to the Greek world as early as the foundation of the Christian religion. That Buddhist institutions were at that time unknown in the West may be safely inferred from the fact that Buddhism is absolutely ignored in the literary and archaeological remains of Palestine, Egypt, and Greece. There are no ruins of Buddhist monastery or stupa in any of these countries; not a single Greek translation of a Buddhist book; not a single reference in all Greek literature to the existence of a Buddhist community in the Greek world with the possible exception of the Therapeutae. The very name of Buddha is mentioned for the first time only in the second century writings of Clement of Alexandria.
Finally, there is little consensus on the origin (either of the time or the place) for much of modern Buddhist teachings, especially that of Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Sutras started to appear after 100 BCE, and most did not reach their final form until much later. It is therefore impossible to tell whether the philosophical similarities between Buddhism and Christianity was a result of coincidence, Buddhist influence, or some other sources that may have affected both religions. By the same token it is equally difficult to say the myth and life of Buddha affected the account of Jesus's life, instead of vice versa.
Barlaam and Josaphat
The exception is the story of Buddha's conversion from the worldly life of a prince to the life of an ascetic, which was transformed by some Oriental Christian of the seventh century into the popular medieval tale of "Barlaam and Josaphat". Here is historic evidence of the turning of a Buddhist into a Christian legend just as, on the other hand, the fifth-century sculptures of Gospel scenes on the ruined Buddhist monasteries of Jamalgiri, in Northern Panjab, described in the scholarly work of Fergusson and Burgess, "The Cave Temples of India", offer reliable evidence that the Buddhists of that time did not scruple to embellish the Buddha legend with adaptations from Christian sources.
Buddhist views of Jesus
Buddhist views of Jesus differ, since Jesus is not mentioned in any Buddhist text. Some Buddhists, including Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama regard Jesus as a bodhisattva who dedicated his life to the welfare of human beings. Both Jesus and Buddha advocated radical alterations in the common religious practices of the day. There are occasional similarities in language, such as the use of the common metaphor of a line of blind men to refer to religious authorities with whom they disagreed (DN 13.15, Matthew 15:14). Some believe there is a particularly close affinity between Buddhism (or Eastern spiritual thought generally) and the doctrine of Gnostic texts such as The Gospel of Thomas
Christian influences on Buddhism
Thomas the Apostle
Eusebius of Caesarea (Historia Ecclesiastica, III.1) quotes Origen (died mid-3rd century) as having stated that Thomas was the apostle to the Parthians, but Thomas is better known as the missionary to India through the Acts of Thomas, written ca 200. In Edessa, where his remains were venerated, the poet Ephrem the Syrian (died 373) wrote a hymn in which the Devil cries,
...Into what land shall I fly from the just?
I stirred up Death the Apostles to slay, that by their death I might escape their blows.
But harder still am I now stricken: the Apostle I slew in India has overtaken me in Edessa; here and there he is all himself.
There went I, and there was he: here and there to my grief I find him. —quoted in Medlycott 1905, ch. ii.
A very long public tradition in the church at Edessa honoring Thomas as the Apostle of India resulted in several surviving hymns that are attributed to Ephrem, copied in codices of the 8th and 9th centuries. References in the hymns preserve the tradition that Thomas' bones were brought from India to Edessa by a merchant, and that the relics worked miracles both in India and at Edessa. A pontiff assigned his feast day and a king erected his shrine. The Thomas traditions became embodied in Syriac liturgy, thus they were universally credited by the Christian community there. There is also a legend that Thomas had met the Biblical Magi on his way to India.
It is believed that St. Thomas had come to Kerala, India to spread Christianity. Even today people flock to the Church at Malayatoor. He further moved towards north by coast and reached a small village called Palayur ,near Guruvayoor which was a priestly class settlement at that time. Here he conversed with priestly class community of Aryan worship system .Convinced by the Divine power possessed by this foreign monk of new faith , four prominent rich and priestly class families accepted the Christian faith and were baptised by St.Thomas himself.The four prominent high class priestly Hindu families who accepted the new faith were Kali , Kalikavu(Kaliyankal) , Pakalomattom & Sankarapuri .
The various denominations of modern Saint Thomas Christians ascribe their unwritten tradition to the end of the 2nd century and believe that Thomas landed at Maliankara near Moothakunnam village in Paravoor Thaluk in 52 CE. This village located 5 kilometers from Kodungallur in Kerala (state), India in 52 CE and founded (St. Thomas) the churches popularly known as 'Ezharappallikal', meaning Seven and Half churches. These churches are at Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkayal (Paravoor), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithamkode — the half church. (See also Saint Thomas of Mylapur).
Visit to Gondophares in Northwestern India
The 1st century Periplus of the Erythraean Sea testifies to the numerous exchanges between East and West at the beginning of our era.The Acts of Thomas describes in chapter 17 Thomas' visit to king Gondophares in northern India; chapters 2 and 3 depict him as embarking on a sea voyage to India, thus connecting Thomas to the west coast of India. Though the Acts are usually considered to be moral entertainments of a legendary nature, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is a surviving roughly contemporary guide to the routes commonly being used for navigating the Arabian Sea. At the times the Acts were being composed, and until the discovery of his coins in the region of Kabul and the Punjab, there was no reason to suppose that a king named "Gondophares" had ever really existed. The reign of Gondophares, established by a votive inscription of his 26th regnal year that was unknown until 1872, commenced in 21 CE, so he was in fact reigning as late as 47 CE.
Return of the relics
In 232 the relics of the Apostle Thomas are said to have been returned by an Indian king and brought back from India to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written. The Indian king is named as "Mazdai" in Syriac sources, "Misdeos" and "Misdeus" in Greek and Latin sources respectively, which has been connected to the "Bazdeo" on the Kushan coinage of Vasudeva I, the transition between "M" and "B" being a current one in Classical sources for Indian names. The martyrologist Rabban Sliba dedicated a special day to both the Indian king, his family, and St Thomas:
"Coronatio Thomae apostoli et Misdeus rex Indiae, Johannes eus filius huisque mater Tertia" ("Coronation of Thomas the Apostole, and Misdeus king of India, together with his son Johannes (thought to be a latinization of Vizan) and his mother Tertia") Rabban Sliba
Guanyin and the Virgin Mary
Some Christian observers have commented on the similarity between Guan Yin and the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Tzu-Chi Foundation, a Taiwanese Buddhist organization, also noticing the similarity, commissioned a portrait of Guan Yin and a baby that resembles the typical Madonna and Child painting.
Some Chinese of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Philippines, in an act of syncretism, have identified Guan Yin with the Virgin Mary.
During the Edo Period in Japan, when Christianity was banned and punishable by death, some underground Christian groups venerated the Virgin Mary disguised as a statue of Kannon; such statues are known as Maria Kannon. Many had a cross hidden in an inconspicuous location.
I know it's a long read, but it's a good read. I edited to add the link.
[Edited 11/16/07 19:04pm]
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my gosh, you are hardcore. Are you in divinity school or something?
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very interesting Benni....
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my gosh, you are hardcore. Are you in divinity school or something?
Nah, a simple search online and copy and paste.
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very interesting Benni....
I didn't know most of this stuff and found it interesting too! I enjoy seeing the similarities between religions, because I've always felt it was in the similarities where the Truth is.
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