There are many examples of the words of Buddha (and of Christ) echoing the writings of Solomon. Often, the similarities are so striking that one can only wonder whether Solomon’s influence was direct. Here are two more examples:
Solomon (950 B.C.)
“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”[i]
“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, righteousness and honor.”[ii]
Buddha (525 B.C.)
“Hard it is to understand: By giving away our food, we get more strength; by bestowing clothing on others, we gain more beauty.”[iii]
“With generosity and kind words, always doing to others what is good, he treats all people as the same. His compassion for the world is like the hub that makes the wheel go round.”[iv]
Christ (A.D. 30)
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[v]
“. . . you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”[vi]
Buddha’s words here carry the same essence as Solomon’s two verses, as do the words of Jesus. Again, there is no reason to posit a direct relationship between Buddha and Jesus, because Jesus clearly was echoing Solomon, and Buddha may well have been echoing Solomon as well.
Further, the following excerpt from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is reminiscent of Solomon’s teachings on generosity:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.[vii]
In this passage Jesus even mentions Solomon by name, providing further evidence that he had Solomon in mind as he was speaking. Solomon, too, taught the great importance of pursuing, or “treasuring,” righteousness and love.
Solomon (950 B.C.)
“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”[viii]
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.”[ix]
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”[x]
Buddha (525 B.C.)
“The greatest reward in the world is to provide for others.”[xi]
“Because he gives a gift at the right time, wherever the result of that gift ripens he becomes rich, affluent, and wealthy, and benefits come to him at the right time, in abundant measure.”[xii]
Christ (A.D. 30)
“. . . you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”[xiii]
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[xiv]
Buddha’s quote draws an analogy from farming—the planting of trees that will “ripen” to provide shade, flowers, and fruit. His imagery is similar to Solomon’s third quotation, which refers to fruits, crops, and vats of wine. As usual, Buddha leaves out any reference to God, implying that the universe (via karma) will naturally bring blessings to those who are generous toward the needy. In contrast, Solomon and Jesus saw a personal God as the one who provided blessings to those who were charitable toward others in need.
[i] Proverbs 11:24–25 (NIV).
[ii] Proverbs 21:21 (NIV).
[iii] Nitin Kumar “Buddha and Christ: Two Gods on the Path to Humanity,” Exotic India, November 2003, www.exoticindiaart.com/article/buddhaandchrist, retrieved February 3, 2011.
[iv] Richard Hooper, Jesus Buddha Krishna Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings (Sedona, AZ: Sanctuary Publications, 2007), 117.
[v] Luke 6:38 (NIV).
[vi] Acts 20:35b (NASB).
[vii] Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV) (emphasis added).
[viii] Proverbs 13:7 (NKJV).
[ix] Ecclesiastes 11:1–2 (NKJV).
[x] Proverbs 3:9–10 (NIV).
[xi] Hooper, Jesus Buddha Krishna Lao Tzu, 120.
[xii] Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005), 170–171.
[xiii] Acts 20:35b (NASB).
[xiv] Luke 6:38 (NIV).