Buddhism Dukkha Christianity Sin Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2909 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion


Christianity is the most followed religion in the world. Islam is second and several other religions bring up the rear. Buddhism is followed by probably the fewest number of people all over the world. Jainism and Sikhism, two religions that are primarily followed in India are possibly rarer. Indeed, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated in India, though strictly speaking, Buddhism arose from what is modern day Nepal. Several smaller religions which border on being cults certainly exist, but they are not considered outside the immediate circles of followers, nor do they espouse grand philosophies that would draw the number of people towards them as some of the major religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. (Bowker 1997)

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Each of the religions has various sects. Among the Christian religions are the Protestants, a sect which arose in Europe, specifically in Germany under the purveyorship of Martin Luther. From there, Protestantism spread through England and Europe. It is very interesting to note that Protestantism first came to England because King Henry the Eighth espoused it so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon -- the Catholic Church having not allowed divorce. Christianity, before Protestantism came along, was synonymous with Roman Catholicism or the followers of the Pope. There are several Protestants sects today: the Baptists, Methodists, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, etc. Mormonism and Jehovah's witnesses are also Christians, though their beliefs vary from each other and other Christian sects. Even though Buddhism has perhaps one of the smaller followings, it has several sects with different sets of variances in their beliefs. These are Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism and a modern variant.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Buddhism Dukkha Christianity Sin Assignment

This essay is not however, about a comparison of the variations among Christian or Buddhist sects. This essay is, first, about identifying the basic differences between the Christianity and Buddhism. The second portion of This essay will be devoted to exploring the issues of completion for these religions. After all, most religions preach good living and arose out of a need for people to identify with the good and disavow the bad. The evolution of man from primitive constructs to today's modern societies is based on religio-moral precepts. Atheists espouse good civic and familial living; believers attribute their sense of goodness and it's consequences to a deity. Human life is considered full of trials and tribulations and human failings or sin. The variant of sin, thought not exactly the same in meaning, is a concept in Buddhism, called dukkha.

All religious humans aspire to be good, struggling against evil so that one day they might attain salvation. Buddhists call this enlightenment. Indeed, even the followers of Mohammed believe that the travails of the world lead to the path of salvation, where the entrant into heaven is greeted unimaginable pleasure. In the biblical New Testament, a passage occurs at the beginning of one of the Gospels: "God became man (Jesus), so that one day, man might become God."

The fundamental difference between Christianity and Buddhism is that Buddhism, in the strict definition of a religion, cannot be considered one. Consider Christianity. Christians believe that God is an all powerful, all knowing, good entity, who created heaven and earth (and everything in them) and who gave his son so that man might be free of sin -- salvation. Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah (this is where the Jewish thought deviates from the Christian one). And Christians believe in the Blessed Trinity -- God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Among the Christians, the Roman Catholics and Protestants disagree on whether Mary, the human mother of Jesus, ought to be deified. Catholics, and some Protestant sects, also believe in Saints, who they believe are interceders (because of their good works) to God on behalf of mere mortal souls. Most Christian precepts are firmly rooted in faith. There are no tangibles. In fact, one of the most powerful Christian Prayers, the Magnificat, has a line: "Senses cannot grasp this marvel. Faith must serve to compensate."

In Buddhism, there is no deity. Though the beacon for Buddhists is Gautam Buddha, who achieved enlightenment, under a Bodhi tree in a place called Bodh Gaya, in modern India. Buddhism is mostly about good, decent living. This can be achieved by following the four Noble truths of dukkha and the eight-pronged path to enlightenment. Gautam Buddha was born Siddhartha, in Lumbini, current Nepal. He was a prince. He wanted for nothing and was not allowed to experience any of the ills that befall humans. His palace and courtyard were surrounded by high walls. But one day, Siddhartha and his friend stole away from the palace because of curiosity as to what lay beyond those high walls.

His experiences when removed from that cocoon of protection and wealth were revealing. He saw rampant poverty and human struggles -- to him, it was unimaginable. He saw and old person; he saw a disease-ridden person; and finally, he saw a funeral procession. This was a waking moment in his life. That is when he decided, perhaps naively, that he wanted to attain a sort of bliss that would allow mere mortals to gain ascendancy over the despairing issues of age, disease and death. He left his home, gave up all his riches and spent the rest of his life exploring ways that would give him enlightenment, which he finally achieved. It was Man struggling against the ills that befell Man -- no deity was looked up to.

Even if one considers a parallel between the ministry of Jesus and that of Gautama Buddha, the parallelism ends with the fundamental difference, that Christ always looked up to his father -- God, for divine guidance, before starting a ministry and even as a supplicant just before he was arrested and crucified. In all things, Jesus proclaimed that he represented his father and he had come on earth to establish his father's kingdom. Jesus spoke of bringing his kingdom here on earth, where the taint of original sin would be removed.

Original sin is the sin of disobedience that got Adam and Eve removed from the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve had been created, God expressly forbade them to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. But Eve was tempted and ate the fruit. The temptation was the attainment of knowledge. Eve was tempted with the achievement of God like status; the same status that Christ came on earth to bestow on mankind -- the inspiration to achieve God-like status.

And here, even from a historical sense if Christ (who is tangible because he became man in flesh and blood) can be compared to Buddha, they both showed that to achieve enlightenment or salvation, a certain amount of self-discovery, societal comity and human struggles are necessary. The temptation is to take the easy way out, but true knowledge comes from suffering, at least that is what Jesus and Buddha preached. In fact, for several years, Buddha practiced austerity. He is said to have eaten a single grain of rice per day and then ate nothing for four years -- spending all his time in meditation. But this practice did not grant him enlightenment. Even Christ had to go through the turmoil of suffering, temptations of the flesh, fear and then the pain of scourging, the crowning with thorns and the pain of crucifixion.

Followers of Buddhism believe in the tangibility of that which the senses experience and that goodness can be found in human beings (though not stated, it is implied that divine inspiration is unnecessary). On the other hand, Christians believe that everything started with a state of perfection and bliss, which was the Garden of Eden. And from then on, everything deteriorated. And the deterioration cannot be stopped or reversed without the acceptance of Christ as the ultimate redeemer. Likewise, the Buddhists will not believe in (or nothing of the sort lies in their doctrine) that virgin birth is possible. Whether metaphysically or really, Buddhists do not believe in a heaven or a hell as realms separate from the earth. (Bernstein 1993) the Buddhists also do not believe that an intermediary (Christ for the Christians) is needed for the attainment of enlightenment.

The Buddhists do not believe that the true test of salvation will come at the end of time. This is the basic premise of the Christian apocalypse as written in the last book of the Bible, Revelations.

Clearly the message in the Revelations, is designed to leave the true believer awestruck, this is where God will judge the righteous and cast those not worthy (by their deeds on earth) into the fires of hell. And at this judgment, Christ will be seated at the right hand of God. While Christ's first coming was in the form of a man, the Apocalypse is also a point when Christ will come back -- also known as the Second coming -- but in divine… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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