Both stayed in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights and were tempted by evil, Jesus by Satan and the Buddha by Mara and his daughters.
Jesus's original teachings promoted peace and turning the other cheek, passive resistance rather than aggression or armed insurrection. Marcus Borg, a Christian and Jesus scholar, focuses on this basic aspect of Christianity by selecting a range of quotations from the gospels and pairing them with parallel sayings by the Buddha.
For example, whereas Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God," the Buddha says, "Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like the radiant devas."
It is surprising for readers familiar only with the Bible to find how similar the words of the two religious teachers actually are. When one compares two ancient spiritual traditions like Buddhism and Christianity, what one finds is a striking similarity between the narratives of the founders.
One very important parallel is in the lives of the founders as the essence of their teachings demonstrates. For example, the essence of the Buddha's teaching boils down to the Four Noble Truths:
- There is suffering (disappointment).
- It has an origin, a cause.
- It can be brought to a complete end.
- There is a path leading to its end.
In both lives it is through commitment and dedication in the face of hardship, standing firmly on principle, that one grows spiritually and attains liberation from suffering. The Buddha did not consider rebirth in heaven "salvation" as other religions do because those worlds also fall away and are not actually permanent, even though they are incredibly long lived. Nirvana is permanent, but it is not a heaven, not a rebirth, not a conditioned state. It is the unconditioned.
In addition to apart living a simple life, there are other similarities. The Buddha searched for a way that all living beings might bring about the end of suffering. Centuries later Jesus later sought it as well, but his followers made him the way.
The Buddha went on an epic quest for truth. Jesus went on one as well, but his followers made him the truth. Interestingly, they went from west to east, from the mountainous Afghan/Kashmir area into the thriving spirituality of ancient, ancient India
The Buddha searched for the "deathless state." Jesus sought it as well, but his followers made him the life and added that no one comes before Brahma, the celestial father, except through this one son (devaputra). Deva-putra means (literally god-son), "one reborn among the devas," that is, reborn in heaven, in the presence of Brahma, as a radiant being. It is a common designation in India.
There is even a Mara Devaputra (Cupid), a misguided being who lives in a high heaven atop the Sensual Sphere who considers himself supreme, quite like the early Lucifer.
The Buddha was of royal descent; Jesus's followers found a way to make him part of a royal bloodline and attributed to him the claim that he was King of the Jews. (Interesting research recasts the entire story as one of pharaohs exiting Egypt and fighting).
In fact, they came to the same place (India), and Jesus met the Buddha's teachings. Of course, what is written documentary evidence in the face of clinging to views out of bias with the help of corrupt church histories?
Celestial beings announced their human births. Both were tempted by devil figures. Both experienced supernatural events. Both knew the thoughts/hearts of others. Both healed others and claimed that many afflictions were due to previous unprofitable karma, which Jesus used an archery metaphor, "sin," to explain. The word means "miss the mark."
Both suggested to their disciples the value of renouncing worldly possessions. The Buddha may have had 80,000 monastic followers over the 45 years of his teaching the multitudes. Jesus had at least 14 dedicated apostles (some replaced others, so the number is definitely not 12). Both had a disciple who walked on water and themselves could walk on water, a common feat among yogis in India, which both were.