Essay: Religion Qualifications of the Divine

Pages: 8 (2413 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Buddhism is a religion that challenges the mind to contemplate existential paradoxes. There is no Absolute Reality, but everything is Absolute Reality at the same time. Absolute Reality is Nothingness, but it remains possible to be conscious of nothingness while still being alive and in the world. Buddhism suggests that Absolute Reality is qualified by consciousness, which is why meditation offers the key to achieving the Absolute Reality. Absolute Reality is liberation from suffering, as explained in the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. Life is suffering, meaning that human beings typically contend with anxiety, anger, and anguish. These types of suffering are a direct product of desire, or craving. To eliminate suffering and achieve a divine state of mind, one must eliminate desire by following the basic tenets of Buddhist practice and morality.

Differences Between Hinduism and Buddhism

The historical Buddha was raised and trained as a Hindu who later rejected the teachings of the Veda and Upanishads. Although they share some elements in common, there are some core differences between Hinduism and Buddhism with regards to concepts of the divine and absolute reality. Whereas Hinduism presumes the existence of a Creator God, Buddhism does not. Hinduism is a religion replete with deities; Buddhism is not. This is the most fundamental difference between the theologies of the two religions.

Another major difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is that Buddhism rejects the Hindu concept of the Atman, or personal Soul. There is no self in Buddhism; there is no soul. The concept of self or soul is nothing but illusions that prevent the individual from achieving enlightenment. There is a personal Soul in Hinduism, and that Soul shares a spark of the divine with the Brahman. In fact, a Hindu believes that enlightenment must result from the unity of the personal soul with the divine. A Buddhist believes that enlightenment is a state of mind achieved by recognizing the divine nothingness underlying all existence. There is no self to begin with in Buddhism; whereas a Hindu conceives of a Higher Self.

Absolute reality for a Buddhist can be conceptualized in many different ways, largely depending on the school of thought and the texts used to substantiate the philosophical claims. However, Buddhism can always be distilled to an essential doctrine revealing two simultaneous and only seemingly contradictory epistemological truths: Absolute Reality is Nothingness or Emptiness; and Absolute Reality is Nirvana or Enlightenment. A state of consciousness (enlightenment) is Absolute Reality in the sense that it represents liberation from attachments, ego, desire, and the wheel of birth, death, and rebirth exemplified by karma. From a cosmological standpoint, though, Buddhism has no Absolute Reality other than Nothingness. Hindu concepts of Absolute Reality are within the domain of Brahman. Human existence is illusory and transitory, and Absolute Reality is not. Brahman is Absolute Reality, for the Hindu.

Similarities Between Hinduism and Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism share core beliefs, values, and practices in common, many of which relate to their similar views on the nature of Absolute Reality and the Divine. Like Buddhists, Hindus value the state of consciousness known as Nirvana or Samadhi (enlightenment). This state of mind is Absolutely Real, in that it transcends illusory human suffering that is brought about by craving and desire. Both Hinduism and Buddhism conceive of birth, death, and rebirth as parts of the cycle of life to which human beings become enslaved, and from which they can achieve liberation via spiritual practices like meditation and yoga. In fact, it is Hinduism that gave rise to the concept of the wheel of birth, death, and rebirth; as well as to the related concept of karma. Both Hinduism and Buddhism suggest that Absolute Reality is a state of mind transcends the trappings of time and ego. Just as Absolute Reality is Nothingness for a Buddhist, the Hindu also acknowledges that mundane reality is only an illusion that constitutes nothingness. Absolute reality can be achieved via the dissolution of the simple self into the cosmic consciousness.

Conclusions

The Gautama Sakyamuni Buddha achieved a state of mind known as nirvana while meditating. Buddha had been well-versed in formal Sanskrit teachings and in the Hindu holy texts like the Vedas and the Upanishads. These Hindu texts provided the foundation upon which the Gautama Buddha would sit, and rest his complex philosophies. Therefore, a common ground exists between Hinduism and Buddhism in spite of their having vastly different cosmologies. Hinduism and Buddhism both share in common elements related to the achievement of enlightenment as a goal of religious practice. The fact that Hinduism is a deific religion and Buddhism is not seems irrelevant in light of their commonalities.

Reference

Cline, Austin. "Hinduism: Origins, Beliefs, Practices, Holy Texts, Sacred Places." About.com. Retrieved online: http://atheism.about.com/od/bookreviews/fr/Hinduism_2.htm

"Basics of Buddhism." Retrieved online: http://www.letusreason.org/Buddh1.htm

Freeman, Richard. Interview data received February 21, 2013.

The Heart Sutra. Translated by Kumarajiva and Pevahouse. Retrieved online: http://www4.bayarea.net/~mtlee/heart.txt

Iyengar, Vivek. Interview data received March 1, 2013.

"Religions and Religious Thoughts of India." Cultureopedia. Retrieved online: http://www.culturopedia.com/Religions/Hinduism.html

Samraj, Adi Da. "Hinduism and Buddhism." Retrieved online: http://www.adidam.org/teaching/gnosticon/hinduism-buddhism.aspx

"Sutra of the Buddha's Teaching on Amitabha Buddha." Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. Retrieved online: http://www.drba.org/dharma/amitabhasutra.asp

Tiwary, Birendra Nirmal. "What is Hinduism?" Retrieved online: http://myads.org/nirmal/hti/hinduism/whathindu1.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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