Dan74 wrote:So let me get this straight - a Buddhist who is inspired by stories about Jesus's life and some teachings which help him cultivate kindness, forbearance and compassion, is wasting his time and getting further away from liberation?
I see plenty of potential for people to be inspired by all sorts of stories, teachings, day-to-day occurrences. There is Dharma in all sorts of places if one knows how to see.
Dan, what is the topic of the thread? "Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices"
So, essentially, we are not talking about whether Jesus is an inspiring character for someone, our warm feelings about St,. Francis of Assisi and so on.
We are talking about a technical issues, e.g, for example, whether one ought to sincerely attend a Catholic Mass, looking for redemption, as a Buddhist. In other words, we are discussing the appropriateness of someone who claims to follow Buddhadharma who also asserts that Jesus Christ is their lord and savior.
Someone who has taken refuge in the Three Jewels cannot at the same time take Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. They may imagine that they can, but all they succeed in doing is ignorantly destroying their refuge in the Three Jewels.
This is also the case with teachings such as emptiness and dependent origination. For example, I heard HH Dalai Lama, that bastion of ecumenicalism, state in 2005 in Tucson, AZ, that emptiness was not the business of Christians and that he generally felt that Christians ought to mind their own business. Emptiness, he said, was the business of followers of Buddhadharma, and that is was inappropriate for Christians to be interested in it. Why? Because Christians believe in ex nihilo creation, souls, and so on. Ex nihilo creation and dependent origination are mutually incompatible. One does not need to be a Buddhist to see this, as Lucretius said, ex nihilo nihil fit, "nothing comes from nothing" (but we leave all similarity with epicurean materialism here).
It's a little different with Hinduism and Buddhadharma. There are many mundane rites Buddhists can avail themselves of from Hinduism, and have done so for millennia. Even so, it is inappropriate for those who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels to take refuge in Brahma, Shiva or Vishnu and so on because the latter are mundane gods who have not realized the nature of reality and are themselves trapped in samsara, like Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, etc.
We cannot allow our warm and fuzzy feelings obscure the fact that Buddhadharma is something very precise and specific. It is not a method of "becoming a better person", nor is it a method of "resolving our unresolved issues", nor is it a practice of "mindfulness", nor is it a method of "becoming more compassionate", and so on. All of these things reduce Buddhadharma to the level of pop self-help manuals.
If someone from outside the Dharma wants to enter the Dharma he or she must leave their previous refuge behind. You cannot have two feet in two boats (try it, it is really, really difficult), you cannot serve two masters, etc.