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Document Details :
Title: Buddhism and Christianity
Subtitle: Can we learn from each other?
Author(s): ANBEEK, Christa W.
Volume: 66 Issue: 1 Date: 2005
In this article the question is asked if Buddhism and Christianity can learn from each other. The investigation starts with a short historical overview of the meeting of Buddhists and Christians in Japan. Although the first encounters in the sixteenth century were friendly and hopeful, shortly afterwards a totally different atmosphere arose. Christianity was forbidden and Christians were persecuted and tortured. The novel Silence from Shusaku Endo, gives an impression of the severe oppression. Christians had to endure. Endo’s book, which was published in 1966, gives not only a historical description, but contains a message as well. According to him, East and West are worlds apart and do not go well together. A vivid discussion resulted from this statement of Endo’s. Many did not agree with him and argued that Buddhists and Christians can learn valuable things from each other (1).
From Endo’ book we go back to the period after the opening of Japan in 1853 and describe some of the major factors in the developing of the exchange between Buddhism and Christianity (2).
Moreover, attention is paid to the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, an initiative which started in 1979 and has been going on up until now. Some arguments are given as to why everybody involved in interreligious dialogue has something to learn from this existential interfaith dialogue (3).
Then the attention shifts from monks and nuns to lay people interested in the spiritual exchange with the East. Nowadays many Westerners, Christians and non-Christians are interested in Eastern religious ideas and practices. Some results of a research among Zen practitioners in the Netherlands and Belgium are summarized. This research analyzed why Zen is attractive to some people. Finally, an attempt is made to formulate what other religious communities could learn from the attractiveness of Eastern spirituality (4).