Christian and Buddhist Spiritualities: Their Differences and Complementarities

In: Crossroad Discourses between Christianity and Culture

Throughout the centuries Buddhist-Christian dialogue has been characterized by many different attitudes, such as mutual interest, enmity, feeling a common challenge. In this essay four approaches to Buddhist-Christian dialogue are discussed, in which interest in the other is a common attitude: the philosophical-theological, the practical-spiritual, the narrative-existential and the ecosophical. A survey of a Buddhist-Christian initiative on the practical-spiritual level is then presented. Seventeen Dutch and Belgian monks and nuns involved in the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue programme were interviewed. The main focus of the survey was the question in what way this twenty-five-year ongoing exchange programme has influenced the experience of spirituality in the participating Christian communities. After going into some details of this research, the conclusion is drawn that the four approaches of interreligious dialogue mentioned above complement and need one another. All should be involved in attaining the final goal of interreligious dialogue: a more peaceful and just world.

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