Miracles of Buddha and Christ: Similarities


In my previous blog, I pointed out some of the differences between Buddha's and Jesus' miracles. In this blog, I will discuss some of the similarities. Buddha and Jesus are both known for miracles involving power over nature, over their own bodies, and the power of divine sight. In general, however, the miracles Buddha performed were not cited as benefiting anyone, or only a few people, particularly in comparison to similar miracles performed by Jesus (or Moses).


Power Over Nature

Power to Transform Water


The Buddha asked one of his disciples to get him some water, but when the disciple went to the well it was filled with grass and chaff. The Buddha asked him several times, and the answer was always that the water was not drinkable. Eventually the disciple went to the well one last time, and all the grass and chaff had been expelled by the Buddha, so the water was drinkable.[1]

Rather than making water drinkable, Jesus, while attending a wedding, turned water into wine, much to the relief of the wedding host who had run out of wine for his many guests.[2]


Dominion Over Water

The Buddha, when faced with a flood, commanded the flood waters to stand back, and he walked between them on dry ground.[3] No one was cited as being helped.

In contrast, many centuries before Buddha lived, Moses parted the Red Sea so that over two million Israelites could escape from Egypt and slavery under the Pharaoh.[4]

When the disciples were at sea with Jesus and a terrible storm hit, the disciples feared for their lives. Just by speaking Jesus calmed the storm.[5]

Buddha walked on water.[6] When Jesus walked on water, it was a faith-building exercise for Peter and the disciples.[7]


Power Over Their Bodies

Known as the Twin Miracle, Buddha transformed the top half of his body into flames and the lower half into streams of water. He alternated this from the top and bottom and left and right.[8] I could not find any reference to anyone being influenced by these miracles.

In the Gospels, Jesus' transfiguration is described,
    After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.[9]
And in John's vision in Revelation:
    And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.[10]
The Buddha passed through solid objects as if through space (intangibility). He rose and sank in the ground as if in the water. He walked through mountains, dove in and out of earth.[11] The Buddha was said to travel to other worlds, like the world of Brahma, with or without his body, and traveled to the heavens to school the gods and returned.[12]

After his resurrection, the Apostles were hiding in fear and gathered in a room with the doors shut. Jesus entered the sealed room by passing through the walls or a closed door.[13] To calm their fears, he twice said "Peace to you." After being seen by a great number of people (approximately 500[14]), he blessed his disciples and ascended into heaven.[15]


Power of Divine Sight

The Buddha was said to have the gift of Divine seeing: telepathy, the ability to see past lives, and knowing a person's past, their present thoughts, and future events. I was unable to find any references to Buddha's exercise of these powers affecting or influencing anyone.[16]

When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, he knew her history, that she had had five husbands and was currently living with a man that was not her husband. The woman marveled at his knowledge of her life, and told many in her village. As a result, many people in her village became followers of Jesus.[17]


Documentation

Because the documentation for the Buddha's miracles comes from manuscripts written 400-500 years after he lived (the Pali Canon was an oral tradition until it was committed to paper in 29 CE[18]), we may consider them as legends. In contrast, documentation for the miracles of Jesus were written down by people who knew him and they wrote about them during their lifetimes. In other words, they were eyewitness accounts.


[1] "The Clean Water." Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#The_clean_water, retrieved December 12, 2012.

[2] John 2:1-11

[3] "Power Over Nature." Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#Power_over_nature, retrieved December 12, 2012.

[4] Exodus 14:1-31.

[5] Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25.

[6] "Miraculous Powers," Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#Miraculous_Powers, retrieved December 24, 2012.

[7] Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21.

[8] "Twin Miracle." Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#Twin_miracle, retrieved on December 12, 2012.

[9] Matthew 17:1-2 (NIV). Full passages on the transfiguration are found in Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36.

[10] Revelation 1:13-16 (NKJV).

[11] "Miraculous Powers." Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#Miraculous_Powers, retrieved on December 12, 2012.

[12] "Miraculous Powers." Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#Miraculous_Powers, retrieved on December 12, 2012.

[13] John 20:19.

[14] 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

[15] Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:9-11

[16] "Other Miracles." Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha#Other_miracles, retrieved on December 12, 2012.

[17] John 4:1-30.

[18] "Pali Canon," Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81li_Canon, retrieved on December 24, 2012.
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