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Living Buddha, Living Christ Paperback – September 1, 1997

289 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1573225687 ISBN-10: 1573225681

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If you have always assumed that Christianity and Buddhism are as far apart philosophically as their respective founders were geographically, you may be in for a bit of a surprise. In this national bestseller, Zen monk and social activist Thich Nhat Hanh draws parallels between these two traditions that have them walking, hand in hand, down the same path to salvation. In Christianity, he finds mindfulness in the Holy Spirit as an agent of healing. In Buddhism, he finds unqualified love in the form of compassion for all living things. And in both he finds an emphasis on living practice and community spirit.

The thread that binds the book is the same theme that draws many Christians toward Buddhism: mindfulness. Through anecdotes, scripture references, and teachings from both traditions, Nhat Hanh points out that mindfulness is an integral part of all religious practice and teaches us how to cultivate it in our own lives. Nhat Hanh has no desire to downplay the venerable theological and ritual teachings that distinguish Buddhism and Christianity, but he does cause one to consider that beyond the letter of doctrine lies a unity of truth.

From Library Journal

In this popular work Hahn, a Vietnamese Zen monk, offers some parallels between Eastern and Western spiritual practice in an accessible style that will please general readers.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573225681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573225687
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and is the author of many books, including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Frederick M. Segrest on October 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
When you begin to read it you can see it is written by a Zen master because Thich Nhat Hanh is able to say much with few words. I am a Christian and this book introduced me to Buddhism. Nearly every sentence would cause me to stop in my tracks and think. I was introduced to many completely new ideas and philosophies through the course of this book. Although I will never be a Buddhist and I do not agree with everything Thich Nhat Hanh believes, I have a great respect for their beliefs as well as others. It also helped me to understand Christianity and Christ's message, and shaped my own beliefs. You will gain a lot of cultural and philosophical insight if you read this book.
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138 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Shona on April 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
In this short and effectual book, Thich Nat Hahn draws substantial paralells between two completely different religions from different spheres. He is asking us to look at the similarities rather than the differences. He is asking for inter-faith cooperation and communication. And, he is asking for tolerance and compassion, which Buddhism and Christianity, Hahn supposes, ask of us.
He also seems to be asking the narrowness and exclusivity that can be in Christianity, to create a space and a tolerance for other religions. But he says this on subtle levels, and with a consciousness that both religions are equally vital. At one point he states "It is not only true that Christians need Jesus, but Jesus needs Christians also for His energy to continue in this world" (p.73).
He is speaking of an aliveness that is dynamic in the practice of ones' faith. It is directly experiential. It is about bringing the presence of our minds, hearts, Holy Spirit, or however one chooses to frame it, directly into a practice such as a prayer or meditation.
He states this from a spiritual standpoint, not an intellectual one. He states it within a context of a mystic, not orthodox.
The reader may complain that he reframes Christianity in Buddhist terms. However, this is what is to be expected from a devout Buddhist.
He has opened his mind to creating a dialogue between two religions which seem to be at odds with each other, to effectively create peace, love, compassion, and harmony in the world. I believe this is what both Buddha and Jesus came here to teach.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By M. de Plume on January 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book for thinking about the shared spiritual essence of Buddhism and Christianity. When those of different faiths disagree, they do so on points of dogma. About charity, compassion, or love, there is no disagreement, especially when these are manifest qualities of a spiritual life. Thus "the letter kills, but the spirit gives life". This is a book primarily about the spiritual life, and the unity thereof, although it also discusses the similarities and differences of specific teachings of Buddha and Christ.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By M. Sullivan on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't always like Thich Nhat Hanh's way of looking at Buddhism--he's sometimes too touchy-feely for me, and he gets a little repetitious with what I think can be interpreted as an over-emphasis on mindfulness at the apparent expense of the other seven parts of the eightfold path. Also, I'm not particularly interested in Christianity.

That said, this is a great book! By focusing on similarities and relationships between the dharma and Christian practice, to which most westerners will relate, he makes Buddhist concepts like emptiness much more "graspable" to the western mind. I imagine there are Christians who will object to some of his interpretations of Christian doctrine, but overall, it's a good study.

I facilitate a Buddhist meditation practice group in Florida, and know there are many Christians who are interested in Buddhism, meditation, etc., but don't want to give up their Christian beliefs. This book provides a good framework for integrating the two practices. I highly recommend it, and also the companion work, "Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers."
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97 of 104 people found the following review helpful By W DUANE WESLEY on July 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book for anyone whose mind is open and not mired in dogma. No book can convince anyone who insists on being stubbornly dogmatic. I am a Christian. I practice meditation. The objective of meditation, Christian or Buddhist, is not to empty your mind of everything. The objective is to learn to see.
Hahn does view Christ as a living person and a historical figure. In fact, he very pointedly remarks that most Christians seem to be more interested in Christian dogma than in what Christ actually did-the example he lived for all of us. By the way, "Living Christ" is part of the title.
"Traditional" Christianity has much in common with the Pharisees of Jesus' day. Now that Hanh is living and speaking in a Christ-like way, it's not surprising that he's encountering resistance, misunderstanding, and intolerance.
"Traditional" Christianity is what it is, not because of being true to itself, but because of being true to Western Civilization's ethos of valuing material things, exploiting nature, and controlling the masses for political gain. Christianity and Science (the modern religion) both struggle with the problems that arise from the presumed existence of an objective world. "Traditional" Christianity diverged from the teachings of Christ within the very first century of the Church. Hanh exposes this quite convincingly, as long as you're not afraid to see it. Some reviewers have suggested that a Buddhist such as Hanh has no authority in defining what Christianity is or what it means to be a Christian. Who does? The very labels "Buddhist" vs. "Christian" cause a divisiveness that is as unfortunate as it is unnecessary. Each one of us is a human being on a spiritual journey.
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