A Christian/Catholic Buddhist?

This is something I found intriguing, and a bit confounding. That is, a friend of mine’s mother considers herself to be a Catholic/Buddhist. That is, she’s both Catholic and Buddhist simultaneously. I find this odd since Buddha discounts both the idea of self/soul (anatta) and God (at least in relation to the conception of God at the time, which fits at least more or less with the Christian notion of God). I don’t see how the two can possibly coincide without one contradicting the other.

Can someone help me out with this? I’m just confused as to how one would somehow reconcile the two religions.

Maybe, like some samurai of feudal Japan, she applies the practical from both ideologies, and simply disregards the conflicts. I would assume that she uses the label of Catholic/Buddhist for lack of a better description of her own unique understanding and for the sake of some communication. Its quite interesting to adopt two religions, especially East/West. I wonder if she is on the way to the Perennial Philosophy. BTW, I was raised catholic, rejected that denomination after getting confirmed only for my grandparents’ peace of mind, read into Buddhism via Thich Nhat Hanh, am now re-evaluating Christianity via CS Lewis (for now).

I would consider myself someone who believes in the buddhist doctrine and I have read a few books on the subject. One book which your question definately applies to is by the buddhist monk and christian Thich Nhat Hanh. He has been praised by many as one of the most moving and profound religious figures of our time and lives what some believe to be a religious double-life. In his book Living Buddha, Living Christ, he outlines the importance of taking the words of both these figures and attempting to live your life true to them, to be the living imbodiment of these qualities.
In different sects of buddhism different practices are encouraged, while I do not consider myself to be a true authority on the subject, I have found many similarities between buddhism and christianity. These similarities lay within the fundimental belief structures of the doctrins and I have not determined any true conflict between the belief systems’ messages.
As far as the rule of idol worship within the two religions I can understand them fitting together in such a way: Buddha did not encourage the worship of him as a god, indeed he never claimed any powers beyond the reach of the average individual, all he did encourage was the growth of self through techniques and experience. He also gave his followers the advice of using common sense, that if something works for you then you should use that bit of teaching, and if it doesn’t then to leave it. While i acknowledge his explination of it was more thorough you get the just. With all this taken into account there is no reason that a lay buddhist cannot practice other religious rites and ceremonies with full belief, as so long as the practitioner has a belief in the system and it is working for them towards greater happiness and personal betterment then it is a good thing. Here too you can understand how, since there is no idol worship, but more a longing for a goal and further understanding of the teachings, and so does not interfere with belief and personal identification with jesus christ.
I hope this has been helpful.
-Steven Scott.

for the record, you are not a buddhist unles you take the five refuges - in the Buddha, in the scriptures, etc. before a buddhist religious person, usually some type of monk. Otherwise you simply like Buddhism. Pardon me for the lack of specifics, I am relating information that was told to me by a high school friend who quit the Catholic Church to become a Mahayana buddhist and now lives in Nepal

The difficulty I find is primarily from the Christian perspective. That is, you just completely dismissed a basic accepted belief: Jesus was the Son of God. And what’s more, he was the living embodiment of God. I’m not sure how one manages that in this instance.

Also, I’m not questioning the actual practices. I think Buddha (in practice) and Christ (in practice) work together quite well. I’m going at this from a “generic Christian/Catholic #12” perspective. Thich Nhat Hanh does not fit that mold.

I apologize in that my original post wasn’t as precise as it should’ve been. So, while yes, I understand what you’re saying, you didn’t actually answer my question. Instead you just sort of bypassed it.

sorry about that. I guess the misunderstanding from my perspective was simply that I don’t see where buddha himself dismisses jesus as being the son of god. from what I know there is no mention of god within buddhist works, and therefore no way to dismiss or make anybody his/her son.
From the catholic prespective I do not see how buddhist teachings or the religion itself contradict the idea that Jesus is the son of god.

I hope this is of some help, and if I am misunderstanding something please let me know. thank you.