Justin Whitaker recently wrote a thoughtful review of Jesus & Buddha for Patheos.com. He noted, “the documentary proves to be a welcome entrée into not only Buddhist-Christian dialogue, but also the discussion of the Ultimate or Absolute in general – a conversation that could go well beyond these two traditions [emphasis his]”.
As Whitaker points out, Jesus & Buddha offers a focused discussion. The film is not an exhaustive treatment of the question of practicing across traditions; rather it expresses the unique points of view of three practitioners, Chung Hyung Kyung, Fr. Robert Kennedy, SJ, and Paul Knitter. Whitaker writes, “these practitioners. . . use the teachings and practices of each tradition to more fully inform their own self-understanding and their own practice.”
We especially appreciate his remarks on the value of learning about other religions:
“For those still asking ‘why’ we should care about interfaith/comparative religious thought, the answer should be found in the world around you. You interact with people of different traditions all the time, and if you want greater understanding and perhaps for them to better understand you, these kinds of dialogues must take place. Not to be too political, but it should be obvious that a lack of cultural and religious understanding has been disastrous in our shared human history.
And not to be too anti-traditional, but every living tradition and every living culture is an open one and is already a product of this kind of dialogue(early Buddhism is a dialogue between the Buddha and Brahmins, Jains, and others; Chan is a product of Buddhism meeting Taoism and Confucianism; Zen is a product of Chan meeting Shintoism; and yes, Western/Modern Buddhism is a product of all of this meeting with Christianity, science, etc.). Christianity, too, has thrived on its ability to incorporate Platonism and the Stoics, and later Aristotle by way of Muslim philosophers.” [emphasis his]