In Buddhism, we personify traits we aspire toward, such as mindfulness (Shakyamuni Buddha), understanding (Manjursri Bodhisattva), and love (Maitreya Buddha), but even if Shakyamuni, Manjusri, and Maitreya are not there, it is still possible to touch mindfulness, understanding and love. Students of the Buddha are themselves a continuation of the Buddha. It is possible to manifest mindfulness, understanding and love through people of our own time, even ourselves. We do not need to believe in the resurrection of Buddhas and bodhisattvas as much as in producing mindfulness, understanding and love in ourselves.
The living Christ is the Christ of Love who is always generating love, moment after moment. When the church manifests understanding, tolerance and love-kindness, Jesus is there. Christians have to help Jesus Christ be manifested by their way of life, showing those around them that love, understanding and tolerance are possible. This will not be accomplished just by books and sermons. It has to be realized by the way we live. In Buddhism we also say the living Buddha, the one who teaches love and compassion, must be manifested by the way we live.
Thanks to the practice of many generations of Buddhists and Christians, the energy of the Buddha and the energy of Jesus Christ have come to us. We can touch the living Buddha and the living Christ. We know that our body is the continuation of the Buddha’s body and is a member of the mystical body of Christ. We have a wonderful opportunity to help the Buddha and Jesus Christ continue. Thanks to our bodies and lives, the practice is possible. If you hate your body and think that it is only a source of affliction, that it contains only the roots of anger, hatred and craving, you do not understand that your body is the body of the Buddha; your body is a member of the body of Christ.
SOURCE: Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ, Rider, London, 1996