In a previous essay I provide some differentiation between the Eastern and Western faiths – to summarize: the former focusing on compassion and suffering and the latter focusing more (though compassion is extolled) on obedience and sin. I however would like to make another remark that very-well might have slipped my mind in writing it.
Namely that the virtue of the Buddha is attempting to teach us how to reach salvation – rather than offering it through mindless devotion to him. There are of course Buddhists who wrongly worship the Buddha, but that does not change the fact that there is a difference ‘tween the two, just as someone praising Epicurus as a god doesn’t change the fact there’s a difference between him and Joseph Smith or Muhammad.
Jesus of Nazareth offers us salvation from sin through him. It is not a practical concern, not how to live our lives first and foremost, nor necessarily how to treat other people, it is rather salvation offered through obedience and faith rather than wisdom and compassion. Compassion is encouraged, but seemingly only because God wants it, not because suffering is bad. If suffering was always bad for the Christian, he would acknowledge that God is evil (as he would be if he existed) for creating Hell. More than that – for creating the world as it is. I’m not a Theologian, and am not incredibly familiar with the intricate components of Christ’s reasoning for compassion; I remember a passage however where he says that people should treat others as if they were acting that way to Christ – another egotistical remark that is frankly insane, saying that he is the standard of all morality and the greatest of all beings. If he said that type of piffle today he would be locked up and medicated. We shouldn’t be good to each other because it’s right, not because people shouldn’t suffer, but because it would be wrong to treat Jesus a certain way, and Jesus doesn’t want us to do it (treat people badly).
The Buddha despite his mysticism is far more sensible in his moral pronouncements. Here was clearly a sound mind that was trying to figure out the world and help others; not a lunatic who suffered a god-complex and was more concerned with people’s souls than with the real suffering of this world. The Buddha is humble where Jesus is egotistical. He provides merely advice and reports on his own reflections and experience; offering to guide us to what he has discovered as a way to alleviate the sufferings of this life. Jesus demands we worship him or suffer forever. Not even the worst tyrants of history have had the gull to make such a claim.