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Compassion and Meditation

The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity

A profound reflection on how complementary themes in Buddhism and Christianity could serve as the basis for a truly ecumenical faith

• Compares Zen meditation with the Greek Orthodox practice of Hesychasm (prayer of the heart)

• Shows how Buddha and Jesus represent the distinct yet complementary values of meditation and compassion

In Asian spiritual traditions the mountain traditionally symbolizes meditation while the ocean signifies compassion. Jean-Yves Leloup uses this metaphor to compare Buddhist and Christian approaches to meditation and compassion to reveal the similarities and divergences of these profound practices. Emphasizing their complementary nature, Leloup describes how Jesus and Buddha are necessary to one another and how together they form a complete system: Jesus as awakening through love, and Buddha as awakening through meditation. Where Buddha represents the forests, Jesus represents the trees. Buddha is brother to the universe, whereas Jesus is brother to humanity.

Nevertheless, these two religious traditions have a profound common ground. Compassion is central to Buddhism, and meditation practices have been central to many Christian traditions. Both view murder, theft, and the destructive use of sexuality as great barriers to realizing our essential being, and both agree on the need to rise above them. Here, however, Leloup suggests that both faiths could benefit from the precepts of the other. The complementary aspects of Christianity and Buddhism offer the possibility for a truly profound ecumenical religion whose interfaith relations are based on deep understanding of the true meaning and practice of meditation and compassion and not merely shared goodwill.

Jean-Yves Leloup is a theologian and founder of the Institute of Other Civilization Studies and the International College of Therapists. His books include Jesus and Judas, The Sacred Embrace of Jesus and Mary, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Gospel of Philip, and The Gospel of Thomas. He lives in France.

“Jean-Yves Leloup is that rare Christian who has mined the spiritual depths and mysteries of Christianity. His Christianity is neither staid nor boring, but alive and deep, fresh and ancient. Buddhism takes on new meaning in this context so that we learn how the wisdom of each tradition, East and West, allows the Great Mystery to become grounded in our own being and from there into active compassion to our broken world.”

– Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing, A New Reformation, and One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Sprin

". . . worth consideration for an interfaith readership . . . "

– Library Journal, Oct 2009

"If one wishes to make sense of the world, French Orthodox priest Jean Yves Leloup believes the tools are to be found in the Christian and Buddhist camps equally."

– ForeWord Reviews, Sept 2009

" . . . [Leloup's] perspective on Buddhism is unique. . . . meditation practitioners interested in comparative religions may gain something from Leloup's perspective."

– Publishers Weekly Religion Bookline, Sept 2009

"New age and spiritual libraries on both sides need this."

– The Midwest Book Review, Nov 2009

" . . . worthwhile challenge for anyone wishing to learn more about meditative practices and comparative religion."

– William J. Kanallery, MultiCultural Review, Vol. 19, No. 1, Spring 2010

"This book was a refreshing read. Too often when a book discusses two religious systems it tries to put one above the other, or tries too hard to erase any differences. Leloup takes the middle path and discusses two faiths without making one out to be superior, and without making them into one practice. Christianity and Buddhism are both revered, and kept distinct, complimenting each other like Mind and Heart; Compassion and Meditation."

– Spiral Nature, September 2010

“Every great prophet or guru brings with him or her a central message, and Buddha and Jesus are no exceptions. Buddha brought the wave of compassion and Jesus, in my humble opinion, brought the healing energy of love. Unfortunately, in the process of ego personalities’ organizing of these messages for mass consumption, the messages are lost and often end up polarized with other systems. In no other time in history has it been so imperative to bring the world’s traditions into balance. This book dives into the commonality of both systems by revitalizing the original messages of compassion and meditation.”

– Rahasya Poe, Lotus Guide, October 2012

More books from this author: Jean-Yves Leloup