Common Threads in Christian
and Buddhist Spirituality
At first glance, Buddhism seems vastly different from Christianity. Christianity is a religion about God, while the Absolute in Buddhism is never personalized, and seldom described, except as being beyond description. Most Christian denominations see the Bible as being of paramount importance (particularly in conservative Protestantism), while the vastly larger collection of Buddhist scriptures are seldom considered as an infallible authority except for a handful of smaller sects.
But delving deeper, the differences become much smaller. For instance, many of the early Church Fathers taught that in his true essence, God is unknowable and unfathomable, beyond all words and all descriptions. This inability to speak of the divine nature is known as apophatic (unspeakable) mysticism, which recognizes God is beyond all words and concepts, and anything we use to say what God is falls short. God’s essence (ousia), is within all things, but ever beyond all. Similarly, the Buddhist scriptures refer to the ultimate reality as “the Uncreated,” or “the Unmanifest,” an absolute Reality which is everywhere present, but beyond this perceived world, resulting from no cause, and limited by no conditions.