From the film Little Buddha, what similarities do you see between the story of Little Buddha and the story of Jesus?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator


The film shows several similarities between Little Buddha in the story told of him and Jesus in the story told in Christianity about Him. The film, Little Buddha, is a modern day quest for the reincarnated great Lama teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. In this quest, the present Lama gives the story of Siddhartha's life to a boy in Seattle who might be the reincarnation. As he reads, we learn the story of Siddhartha who became Buddha. We can compare it to what is commonly know in Western countries of the story of Jesus.

One similarity is that both are acknowledged to be prophets with wisdom to share. Both dedicate themselves to sharing their teachings, though they pick very different routes of doing so. Both are dedicated to enlightenment on how to avoid a life of futility: Jesus, avoid damnation: "The truth shall set you free."; Buddha, avoid reincarnation: "Then I will break the curse ... I am doing this for everyone. I am seeking freedom."

Each had compassion for the afflicted and the suffering ones of humanity. Both led away from a path of self-abjection (i.e., self-humiliation) to a path of self-love. Both experienced signs and miracles: Buddha witnessed them; Jesus performed them. Each had a path of life to teach. Jesus taught the path of love and forgiveness and of honoring others as equally worthy of love as yourself: "love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34b). Buddha taught the path of enlightenment: "the path to enlightenment is the middle way. It is the line between all opposite extremes" ..., for Buddha, "the middle way was the great truth ...."

Both claim love as the conquering force, though, for each, this force of love had very different appearances: for Buddha, deep, solitary meditation for years on end; for Jesus, three years of feasting, drinking, and teaching. There are some important differences also, chief among which is that Buddha's followers do not claim him as God, "No, he was not God. He was a man ...", whereas Jesus's followers do claim Him as God.