Miracles of Buddha and Christ: Differences

When looking at the miracles of Buddha and Christ, distinct areas of difference come to light.

In the Digha Nikaya: The Long Discourses are descriptions of miracles that Buddha performed. He defined three types of miracles,
    Kevatta, there are these three miracles that I have declared, having directly known and realized them for myself. Which three? The miracle of psychic power, the miracle of telepathy, and the miracle of instruction.[1]
Further in the discourse he expressed his abhorrence for miracles,
    Seeing this drawback to the miracle of psychic power, Kevatta, I feel horrified, humiliated, and disgusted with the miracle of psychic power.[2]
And he repeated the same thing about the miracle of telepathy. The only miracle of value that he found was the ability to direct a student in instruction. However, further in the text his definition of the miracle of instruction extends to other powers, such as vanishing, traveling through walls and space, diving in and out of the earth, hearing divine sounds, mind reading, recollection of past lives, etc.[3]

When confronted, Jesus refused to say under whose authority he was doing miracles.[4] However, he did them to bring glory to God and to help people.
    As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

    "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."[5]
When Lazarus had died and Jesus heard about it he said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."[6] He said that in reference to the fact that he would raise him from the dead.

In a future blog, I'll discuss some of the similarities, but in this blog, I'll point out two major differences. Jesus fed and healed people. I know of no legends where Buddha did that.

Jesus fed people miraculously. On two occasions, he was moved with compassion on the crowds that came to hear him teach. He fed 5,000 people on five loaves of bread and two fish,[7] and He fed 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few fish.[8] On both occasions there were baskets full of leftover food, far more than they started with.

In the Gospels, 37 instances of healing are documented, and the Apostle John noted that there were many other things that Jesus did that weren't written down. Jesus healed:

The Blind (5)
  1. Two blind men at Galilee[9]
  2. Blind man of Bethsaida[10]
  3. The Blind man at birth[11]
  4. Blind near Jericho[12]

Lepers (11)
  1. One leper[13]
  2. Ten lepers[14]

Paralytics (2)
  1. The Centurion's Servant[15]
  2. At Capernaum[16]

Women (3)
  1. Peter's mother-in-law (fever)[17]
  2. Woman with 12 years of bleeding[18]
  3. Infirm woman[19]

Men (6)
  1. With withered hand[20]
  2. Deaf-mute of Decapolis[21]
  3. Man with dropsy[22]
  4. At Gennesaret (many men)[23]
  5. Healing the ear of the servant of the High Priest in the Garden of Gethsemane[24]
  6. Invalid at Pool of Bethesda[25]

Exorcisms (7 major episodes)
  1. At Synagogue in Capernaum[26]
  2. A mute[27]
  3. At sunset (many)[28]
  4. Gerasenes demonic[29]
  5. Blind and mute man[30]
  6. Canaanites woman's daughter[31]
  7. Boy possessed by a demon[32]

Resurrection of the dead (3) plus his own (1)
  1. Son of the Widow of Nain[33]
  2. Daughter of Jairus [34]
  3. Lazarus[35]
  4. Jesus[36]

Plus a reference to miracles not written about . . . [37]

When you add in His own resurrection, that is a total of 38 documented healings.

In general, Buddha's miracles were pure demonstrations of power, and his teachings turn a person inward. Jesus' miracles and teachings are demonstrations of miraculous compassion, meetings people's needs and healing their bodies.

[1]Digha Nikaya: The Long Discourses (1997-2012), DN11 Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta PTS: D i 211, translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, from www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html, retrieved December 17, 2012.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Matthew 21:23-27.

[5] John 9:1-3 (NIV).

[6] John 11:4b (NKJV).

[7] Matthew 14:31-21, Mark 6:31-34, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:5-15.

[8] Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-9.

[9] Matthew 9:27-31.

[10] Mark 8:22-26.

[11] John 9:1-12.

[12] Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43.

[13] Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16.

[14] Luke 17:11-19.

[15] Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10, John 4:46-54.

[16] Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26.

[17] Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41.

[18] Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:24-34, Luke 8:43-48.

[19] Luke 13:10-17.

[20] Matthew 12:9-13, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11.

[21] Mark 7:31-37.

[22] Luke 14:1-6.

[23] Matthew 14:34-36, Mark 6:53-56.

[24] Luke 22:49-51.

[25] John 5:1-18.

[26] Mark 1:21-18 and Luke 4:37-37.

[27] Matthew 9:32-34.

[28] Matthew 8:16-17, Mark 1:32-34, Luke 4:40-41.

[29] Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39.

[30] Matthew 12:22-28, Mark 3:20-30, Luke 11:14-23.

[31] Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30.

[32] Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-49.

[33] Young man from Nain: Luke 7:11-17.

[34] Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56.

[35] John 11:1-44.

[36] Matthew 28:1-10, 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18.

[37] John 20:30 and 21:25.
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