Christian and Buddhist Views Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1685 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Christianity, Confucianism, And Buddhism

Religious Dialogue -- Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism

Confucian: Christian! What I do not understand about your creed is how can call yourself holy, yet you are so disrespectful to your ancestors, to the law of your society, and to your family!

Christian: The whole of humanity is my family, all are one! Christ preaches the common nature of all individuals on earth.

Confucian: So you are like the followers of the Buddha, then, Christian! You say that there are no national or familial distinctions and it is better to live apart, in meditation and chastity, rather than to sully one's self with the deeds of the world. At least my teacher Confucius gives me a practical way to live in honorable relation with my ancestors and family.

Christian: I do not follow Siddratha Gautama, the Buddha. I follow Jesus Christ and His words and teachings. But it is true that Jesus admitted no hierarchical distinction in religious authority, based upon worldly offices. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, / for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," He said in Matthew's Gospel of his life, in the Beatitudes. (5:3) He said to separate religion from politics, and to render what was Caesar's unto Caesar, and unto God what was accorded to God. But he was never disrespectful to those who came before Him or to the traditions of the prophets. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." (5:17)

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Confucian: How else to show merit and respect to one's ancestors and to the Emperor, than to honor hierarchies of intellect and distinction? True, all humans have their own anointed way to show their piety to God, their ancestors and heaven. But this differs from person to person. Everyone has a different path and set of rules that they ought to follow, depending on their sex, status, and designated role in society. For every person to follow these rules is good, but it is not good for everyone to obey the same rules without distinctions.

Term Paper on Christian and Buddhist Views Assignment

Christian: There are different distinctions in the soul, true -- for example, Christ told the son of a rich man to follow the commandments and treat all according to the Golden Rule, to honor others as he would be honored. Then, when pressed, Christ told the man if he wished to be perfect, then the rich man would have to sell all he owned and follow Christ like a pauper. Moreover, Christ counseled obedience. "Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (5:19)

Confucian: Such democratic obedience towards all still strikes me as Buddhist in nature.

Christian: No, for Buddha said there is no self or soul. The Buddha said that the self exists only in reaction to others and one must meditate to let go of this false notion of the self. But Christians believe in a perfectible soul, a soul made perfect through humility to the will of God on earth. The earth is good, not a world of suffering, as the Buddhists say it is in their tradition. But one must submit to the will of God on the earth to transcend the evils that exist.

Confucian: It is said the disciple Yen Yuan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, an under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue from a man himself, or is it from others?" (The Analects, 3:12) And indeed, Confucius said that one should always govern one's self for the good of society, with a mind upon good relations towards his fellows, superiors, and subordinates.

Christian: Christ said:" But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna." (5:22) So Christ thus knew and counseled the importance of good and ethical relations with fellow human beings. But Christ stressed that such motives for altruism come from within, and not by rules and laws alone. If one is a good person, he or she will do good deeds, like the Samaritan.

Confucian: Good deeds come from good and well thought-out laws, and good laws create a good person.

Christian: Here is where we disagree as to what constitutes an idea or good person. Good rules do not make a good person. When one leaves one's society and one's rules, how will one be good? How to create a universal rule is what Christ asked of his followers. Govern yourself according to Christ, and create a universal religion of good people who are considerate of others.

Confucian: To make a universal rule that transcends nations and therefore the bonds of one's ancestors and Emperor is foolish.

Christian: What do Confucians do when they are abroad and outside of the law of the Emperor?

Confucian: Well, the master said "It is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the country, and none in the family." (The Analects, 3:12) In other words, simply follow the Golden Rule.

Interpretation

Christianity stresses the perfectibility of the spirit. This spirit will result in good works or deeds upon the earth. However this does not mean that Jesus disdains the need for a code of conduct. Jesus stresses the need to forgive one's brother, and not to act with anger or strife, even when one is oppressed. Confucian ideology, however, stressed the need to formally follow a code of conduct, and good acts would follow -- hence, the stress upon the Golden Rule. If one performed good acts, then one was a good person.

Christ acknowledged the need to follow the commandments, and to thus keep a tradition of continuity with the ancient history of his people, a history and religion he hoped his mission would fulfill, not cause a break with, although this eventually was the case in history. Confucius stressed continuity with his own teachings between his thoughts and the thoughts of ancestors, and the need for filial pity on the part of all humans.

In Christianity, the meek shall inherit the earth. In Confucian thought, the lower social classes must show deference to their social betters, but are rewarded for their show of appropriate piety, in accordance with the order of heaven.

Some Western scholars have delineated the fundamental difference between Christianity and Confucianism in that "Confucianism is very much a religion for the purposes of the Chinese," in other words located in the Chinese sense of social order. (Hoad, 2005) However, Christianity began as a nationalistic tradition, a splinter radical group that broke away from the Pharisees and Sadducees of Israel. Christ's reference to the commandments would make no sense to an audience unfamiliar with the religious tradition of Israel. Also, although Christianity may now exist as a theistic rather than a humanistic religion like Confucianism, that is a religion focused on the relationship between God and humans, rather than human interrelationships, Christ explicitly sets out a code of conduct for individuals to obey, and an ideal to uphold in terms of personal piety that is in relation to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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