Buddhism Hinduism Taoism Term Paper

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Buddhism, Hinduism & Taoism

Comparative Analysis of Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism in the Context of Other Major World Religions and of the African-American Race

Humanity is characterized by its diverse and dynamic nature. With the presence of different cultures and societies in different nations, there also exist various beliefs and philosophies. Religion is one particular aspect of a society's culture that has a discriminating and unique character when compared among each other. Because it has specific sets of belief and value systems and traditions, religion ultimately determines the character of the society or nation in which it thrives and is dominantly practiced.

This paper looks into three major world religions, discussing and analyzing these religions in the context of other religions. The religions discussed are Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, analyzed with other major world religions, like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. In addition to the comparative analysis of the religions mentioned, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism are also analyzed in the context of the African-American race, specifically among black American males, aged 17 to 30 years, and belong to either in the low, middle, or high economic social class.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Buddhism Hinduism Taoism Assignment

The paper's discussion and analysis posits that comparing the polytheistic religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism) against the monotheistic ones (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism), the prevailing trend is looking at religious diversity with a pluralistic perspective. That is, though these religions cannot be combined to create a 'hybrid,' unified form of religion, each religion complete one another in that there are aspects of each that are, even though unique, complementary to each other. This research, then, demonstrates that with the increased diversity in the existence of religions in the world today, humanity copes by either subsisting exclusively to one religion or by adopting one aspect of a religion and another aspect from another religion. In illustrating the African-American male experience of these religions, it was found out that individually and collectively, the religious experience is the same for all individuals (except for the caste-based Hinduism), whether he is from the lower, middle, or higher class of the society, and whether this is in the context of the Buddhist, Hindu, or Taoist religious philosophy and traditions.

The text that follows is divided into three parts. The first part discusses Buddhism in the context of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as African-American males. The second and third parts, Hinduism and Taoism, respectively, discuss the religions vis-a-vis the three religions as well, in addition to the analysis on how each religion applies in relation to the African-American male experience.

Discussion and Analysis

Buddhism

Buddhism as a religion is primarily experiential, wherein the ultimate goal is to be able to achieve enlightenment, called "nirvana," and to experience a sense of non-materialism and -worldliness, whether these are negative or positive in nature. Though the concept of enlightenment is non-definitive, further analysis of Buddhism's religious philosophy is demonstrated through a description of how the individual subsisting to the religion achieves a state of duality, wherein the individual has both the "real" and "non-real" (unreal) selves.

Kantor (2006) explicated further on the concept of duality within the Buddhist individual. In his analysis of the religion, he asserted how the duality concept is one of the religion's crucial characteristics, allowing the individual to adopt 'multiple existences' in order to cope with the reality (i.e., worldly and materialistic) he experiences (50):

Diversification of existence into discrete entities is basically illusory but nonetheless necessary for making manifest the relevance of the sacred as the ultimate value of existence based on its significance for instructional inversion...It hints at the necessity of diversity among discrete but unreal entities, while simultaneously pointing to the sacred as the real side of existence...the sacred is understood as the ultimate value of existence diversified into the profane world.

Taking into account the dual nature of Buddhism -- adopting both real and unreal existence within the individual -- is a characteristic of the religion that is unique and at the same time, different, from the monotheistic religions Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Buddhism and its concept of duality are unique because Christianity, Judaism, and Islam does not explicitly illustrate this state or experience. The duality experience, then, is a unique Buddhism characteristic because the three religions illustrate the second 'religious experience' after death, shown through the symbols or states of heaven and hell.

Chappell (2005) described the difference between Christianity and Buddhism, which he also considered complementary to each other. In Buddhism, the individual has "many levels of reality," brought about by the fact that it has a well-defined description of religious realities experienced by the individual (13). While in Christianity, religious states are only divided into two, and radically different realms, achieved initially while one is alive, and the other religious state experienced in death. Thus, the state of "nirvana" within the individual in Christian terms is achieved once the individual is in the "next life," that is, experienced death.

However, despite these differences between Buddhism and Christianity, a similarity that both religions share is that both believed in the existence of a soul -- "soul" in Christian terms, "karma" in Buddhism's. Although the concept of the soul is the same for both religions, it differs in its function for each. In Christianity, the soul represents the individual as he reaches the next stage, the eternal life, after death. In Buddhism, the soul functions as part of the "karma" cycle, in which the individual becomes another entity in the next stage of his life, and the kind of entity the karma will take is dependent on the kind of life the individual lived while he was still a human (Fair, 2005:73).

With these similarities and differences between Christianity and Buddhism in mind, it can be said, then, that Buddhism will be receptive to particular aspects of Christianity, specifically the existence of an afterlife and the achievement of enlightenment through a different religious state or experience.

And because Judaism and Christianity have the same religious origin and basically adopts the same religious principles, particularly on the aspect of afterlife and concepts of heaven and hell, Judaism would then be also receptive of the Buddhist religious philosophy. That is, it is likened to Buddhism in that it also believes in the state of religious enlightenment experience; only, Jews experience this in the afterlife, not unlike the Christian experience. However, like Christianity, the idea of enlightenment does not correspond to Buddhist duality, since Jews also believe that enlightenment will only be achieved in the afterlife. For Christianity and Judaism, then, the enlightened religious experience cannot be experienced while the individual is living, and can only be achieved when one is at the death state (in this case, the soul experiences the enlightened religious state, and not the human, physical form of the individual).

Compared against Judaism and Christianity, Islam has greater parallelism in its concept of enlightenment with Buddhism. This is because Islam teachings posit the possibility of achieving enlightenment while the individual is alive and not at the dead state. Muslims believe that they will eventually achieve enlightenment while alive, but this will only become possible once the individual and his society learns the "truth" about God (Allah) and His message to humankind. It is in the illustration of enlightenment that Buddhism and Islam differs. In Buddhism, enlightenment is experienced individually, while Muslims believed that enlightenment can be experienced collectively and concretely. For the latter, enlightenment is said to happen when human society is able to progress in its ultimate modern state, a society so progressive it has achieved enlightenment not just in its religious experience, but in its existence in the world, most importantly (Jeffrey, 2005:55).

In relation to the African-American male experience, Buddhism will be receptive to the African-American experience because the religion is not race-specific, unlike Christianity and Judaism wherein specific peoples are considered the "chosen" individuals who will be saved from humankind's annihilation at the time the world ends. Moreover, it is sympathetic to the African-American male, whatever his socio-economic level is, because Buddhism primarily teaches the individual to deprive himself of worldliness in ideals and materialism, two criteria that makes the African-American male more oppressed when compared to the white American or the non-African-American male. It is through Buddhism that the black American male realizes the triviality of the world he lives in, and achieves satisfaction and anticipation of enlightenment by becoming contented of what he is -- being an African-American male discriminated against or prejudiced because of his race or status in the society (Elmore, 2006).

Hinduism

Hinduism analyzed in the context of the three monotheistic religions has more distinct characteristics than Buddhism. It differs from Buddhism itself, as well as Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in that Hinduism has a similar concept of enlightenment, achieved only in a different manner. That is, in Hinduism, enlightenment can be achieved by any individual, by whatever means or manner in which this enlightenment can be achieved. The distinction between the Hinduism and the three religions analyzed, then, is that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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