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Jesus & Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions



Robert Kennedy, Chung Hyun Kyung and Paul Knitter — three “modern mystics” — lead us on an adventure through spiritually nourishing terrain where Christian and Buddhist paths meet.

Each of the teachers in this film was called by the Buddha to a deeper understanding of God, rediscovering the heart of Christianity through Buddhist practice. Their spellbinding personal stories transmit Buddhist-Christian wisdom in fresh, surprising ways that leave the viewer full of wonder. The film shows how inter-religious learning and practice is reinvigorating the meaning of faith in our time.

John Makransky, Assoc. Professor of Buddhism & Comparative Theology, Boston College

Duration: 44 Min.

Release Date : 2012

Discussion Guide available



Maybe we don’t need to enter a monastery or go to the desert, but some form of discipline may be necessary if we are to move beyond the self as the center of identity and into the liberating vastness of the “Buddha-field” or the nourishing wholeness of the “Christ-reality.

Robert Kennedy, Chung Hyun Kyung and Paul Knitter lead us on an adventure through the spiritually rich terrain where Buddhist and Christian paths meet. As they share their experiences, we realize that the questions and struggles that motivate them are our own. And their reflections throw the light back on us. We can see better the prison of our ceaseless preoccupations, our obsessions, our animosities. Perhaps our own notions of the spiritual path have been limited by our need for answers and our desire for comfort?

In the end it becomes clear from these witnesses that this is not a journey that depends on concepts and abstractions; rather, this journey is experiential, guided by meditation practice and the growing insight that arises from it. We see that for these travelers, the path they are pointing us to is infinitely spacious and ultimately fulfilling — it can hold all of our contradictions and questions as it leads us further and deeper into the “incomprehensible mystery” that is this life.


Father Robert Kennedy, SJ is a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage. He taught theology for many years at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and as a young man studied with Yamada Roshi in Kamakura, Japan, with Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles, and later with Glassman Roshi in New York. Glassman Roshi installed Fr. Kennedy as sensei in 1991 and conferred Inka (his final seal of approval) in 1997, making him a roshi (master).

The words of Jesus that we must “die to our very self” — when we first hear that it sounds almost impossible or cruel. It is only later that we realize that it is mercy itself, because the “self” that we cling to doesn’t exist. That’s what zen meditation is all about. Yamada Roshi said to me, ‘I’m not trying to make you a Buddhist, I am trying to empty you in imitation of your Lord Jesus Christ who emptied himself’.– Fr. Robert Kennedy, SJ

Chung Hyun Kyung is Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Interfaith Engagement at Union Theological Seminary and a Buddhist Dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen She trained with Seung Sahn Sunim and Thich Nhat Hanh. She is a peace activist and an author of many articles and books on eco-feminist theologies and peoples’ movements, all based on her extensive research in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It is very difficult for young Western students to understand emptiness. They think emptiness is feeling lonely or unloved, but Buddhist emptiness is not meaningless or nihilistic – it is really fullness, a vortex of life energy where everything is interconnected and everything comes out of it. You’re wide open and you say, “Ah, wow! This is new, how interesting.” That is emptiness! — Chung Hyun Kyung

Paul Knitter is Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary and has for many years been a guiding light in the development of a socially engaged interfaith dialogue that focuses both on peace making and on addressing “the realities of suffering due to oppression.” He is author of many books, including most recently, Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: A Personal Journey of Passing Over and Passing Back.

Gautama became Buddha because he woke up.  Jesus, the son of Mary, became Christ, the Son of God,  because he woke up to the divine spirit that was given to him in his very being. What it means to be human is to wake up to, to be open to, the spirit of God that is given to us in our very beings. Our problem is we don’t know it. We don’t trust it.  But when we realize it, it becomes power, energy, transformative, or what Christians call ‘grace’!– Paul Knitter



Additional information

Weight .25 lbs
Dimensions 5.25 x .5 x 7.5 in
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Jesus & Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions


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