Christians and Zen Buddhists?

Dο уου tһіחk tһаt Christians саח аƖѕο bе Zen Buddhists?

Aѕ I understand іt, mοѕt Zen Buddhists ԁο חοt worship Buddha аѕ a god. Tһе practice οf Buddhist meditation іѕ exactly Ɩіkе ѕοmе οf tһе mοѕt spiritual Christians’ description οf prayer without words. Breath prayer һаѕ bееח аח ancient practice fοr Christians.

Hοw many passages іח tһе Bible speak οf mindfulness, οf staying awake аחԁ aware? Hοw many tools ԁοеѕ modern Christianity аѕ practiced bу mοѕt protestants іח America really given υѕ tο bе аbƖе tο ԁο tһаt?

Zen Buddhists, ԁο уου tһіחk tһаt Christians belief іח a God bу necessity means tһаt tһеу (wе) саח′t аƖѕο practice Zen Buddhism?

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14 Responses to “Christians and Zen Buddhists?”

  • Christine P says:

    Buddhist practice can be valuable to a Christian interested at going deeper into their spirituality, but therein lays the problem. Christians turn to eastern religions for their inner spiritual component. I did the same thing. UNTIL, I discovered for myself the heart of Christianity, contemplative meditation and centring prayer. Both have the same purpose as Zen meditation, but the difference is: Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God, so while they may reach Nirvana (de-attachment from the material world and thus material suffering), which Christians too can attain (Kingdom of Heaven, same idea but slightly different concept, different name), they cannot see or unite with the inside of the face of God, and thus they miss out on the treasure of a personal God, that our Christian God, is.

    Catholicism, the religion I left after being spiritually dissatisfied, ended up being the religion I came back to when I considered its ways of uniting with God: purgative, illumative and unitive, and re-discovered its purpose of uniting with God, thus satisfying strongly the inner spiritual yearning.

  • Phoenix says:

    Christianity and Buddhism fundamentally conflict, but you can still be a Christian with the philosophical outlook of a Buddhist.

  • Yeow Teng K says:

    A buddhist can be a christian, but a christian cannot be a buddhist.

  • Vicarious Cynic ((Hug Brigand)) says:

    I think that Christians can (and many do) practice zazen.

  • Cheffy D says:

    Practice whatever you want, and whatever combination of what makes sense to you.

    People get too uptight about this “religion” thing.

    God is real (to me at least.)
    God has a plan. (In my humble opinion.)
    You are part of it.

    Religion is control, pure and simple.

  • FearEmbodied says:

    Buddhism is an education that anyone can be versed in. I know Christians who practice Buddhism.

  • Mona C says:

    Christians worship Jesus as God
    Zen Buddhist only knew Jesus as a good teacher

  • Quincy S says:

    No, at least not in any technical sort of way. You see, within Zen Buddhism the ultimate goal is to achieve nirvana. One cannot do that without detaching themselves to the needs (suffering) of the world (both this world and the metaphysical one). If you are a Christian then you are constantly in need of god and various dogma that accompanies that. Therefore, you would never be able to achieve the “goal” (although it is inappropriate to refer to them as such) of Zen Buddhism.

    Additionally, within Zen Buddhism you would also BE god. You are to reach oneness with the universe, this includes god. This would be contrary to the teachings within Christianity; namely “there is only one god, and Jehovah is his name.” The two religions are not compatible, which is a fairly normal quality of a religion.

    This is not to say that you could not use some of the methods that Zen Buddhists practice to achieve closeness to god. I think that is more of a personal choice, however you cannot maintain the dogmas by accepting both ways of life.

  • Michelle says:

    (I’m christian, btw) I’m sure we can benefit from meditating on God, but I’d rather call it meditation or prayer, personally. I wouldn’t (personally) like to attribute something I’m doing to worship God to Buddah. Also, I think there’s a difference between praying to God and meditating on God’s word and listening to God and meditating on yourself for yourself.

  • wb says:

    Major differences

    There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day.

    Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.

    No saviour concept in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a saviour who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others

    The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

    Dharma (the teachings in Buddhism) exists regardless whether there is a Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha (as the historical Buddha) discovered and shared the teachings/ universal truths with all sentient beings. He is neither the creator of such teachings nor the prophet of an almighty God to transmit such teachings to others.

    Buddhist teachings expound no beginning and no end to one’s existence or life. There is virtually no recognition of a first cause — e.g. how does human existence first come about?

    The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism are relatively important and strong. While all religions teach some forms or variations of stabilising/single-pointedness meditation, only Buddhism emphazises Vipassana (Insight) meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment.

  • mehereintheeast says:


    as you stated in your question, Zen Buddhism is NOT about god, gods, devils, sprits or anything beyond the self. Having once been a christen I can tell you that many Christians have a problem accepting Buddha’s lessons because one of the fundamental Christen beliefs is that everything worth learning is found in the bible and since Buddha and his teachings are not in the bible, it must be sacrilege to study. However, this perception is slowing going away. In fact, many Christians groups, including Priests and monks from around the world have invited various Zen teachers and masters to instruct them in their studies of meditation and mindfulness. Many

    Buddha instructed his followers to questions everything he taught and use that which was useful. This is why there are many different types of Buddhist practice ranging from Chanting and Madras practice to silent seated meditation and tai-chi like physical exercises even sutra study and recitation. Some people find meditation to be extremely helpful others find chanting to be helpful. In one class, we explained the usefulness of chanting to a group of Christians. To demonstrate, we used the lords prayer. We explained it’s not WHAT you chant so much as your mindfulness while you cant.


    Can a Christian practice Zen? ABSOLUTELY!Yes! Zen means to sit and refers to sitting mediation. Anyone can practice Zen.
    Can a Christian practice Zen Buddhism? From a philosophical point of view, absolutely. Just as a Christian can study Socrates, Berkeley, Marx, Camus or the works of any other Philosopher. From a religious perspective, meaning the notion of reincarnations, the existence of hungry ghosts, divas, gods and the ilk, then no. Buit it is VERY important to remember that when asked if gods, divas, daemons, ghosts, hell and the other supernatural things that go with Buddhism really exited, many greatest Zen masters would reply by saying they didn’t know and it wasn’t important.
    Does a Christians belief in a god restrict their ability to study Zen? Absolutely NOT! Zen is not about god or no god. Zen is about calming the mind, centering the self and being in the moment…being here…now!

    I hope this helps.

  • Teaim says:

    I have read bible passages that are great parables of how drama works. Another words, the stories in the bible represent a certain truth.

    As a Zen Buddhist, you realize that these representations are REPRESENTATIONS of the truth and not the whole truth in itself.
    There are many holy books that represent truth, a lot of great novels do too.

    Humanizing the source of all creation is a Christian BELIEF. In Zen, beliefs are considered delusions/illusions. Some things we just can’[t know. The closest word for God in Eastern thought is Tao. However, Tao is beyond our senses and has no reference to think about it from. Its just the source.

  • bodhidave says:

    There are Christians who are also Zen Buddhists. One that comes immediately to my mind is Ruben Habito in Texas, founder of “Maria Kannon Zen Center” (the name itself connects Mary and Kannon). Habito is a Jesuit who is also a Zen teacher.

    Speaking generally, Christianity is often understood as a tradition of beliefs, and Buddhism as a tradition of practices. Buddhists typically do not say there is no God, it’s just that they focus directly on their prayer experience.

    And you are right, there are forms of Christian contemplative prayer (e.g. The Cloud of Unknowing and “Centering Prayer:) that are identical in their essential features to Zen meditative practice.

    One Bible passage often used by Christian contemplatives is the Psalms verse that says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).

    There have been Protestant contemplatives, though Protestant denominations have tended not to develop prayer tools as extensively as the Catholic and Orthodox monastic traditions. One exception to this are the Quakers, whose entire worship service is contemplative meditation.

    I am a Zen Buddhist who was raised Christian and went to a Christian seminary. And, no, I do not feel belief in a God means you cannot practice Zen … especially when you understand that there are no words created by the human mind that can contain God. God, to me, is only approachable in our most fundamental, core of our being, direct experience … where there are no words.

    When you have that experience, it becomes so much more beautifully easy to see immediately that the Christian contemplatives and the Zen Buddhists have known the same reality. The words are different, but who cares about the differences in mere words when you know the Living Truth that is their Ground?

    People who argue that those traditions are incompatible because the beliefs are different are, I am afraid, experiencing only a shallow form of religion. This stuff is very matter of factly real. “Belief” needs to be something that opens your heart onto immediate, self-authenticating and profound experience … not a mere mind-closing, dogmatic and idolatrously self-righteous collection of ideas.


  • NBM says:

    Read Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Thomas and you’ll think you are encountering a Zen master. He was a Jewish adept, but Christianity – for the most part – has degenerated into religious moralism and worship of him as deity, misunderstanding his psychological symbolism. Few people are able to understand Christianity’s mystical core – ego death and restoration of authentic being, the nature of the relationship between being/reality which it shares with every other religious tradition.

    They are compatible at that deeper level.

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