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Compare and Contrast of Buddhism and Christianity

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Honestly, I didn’t want to take this class. It was said that I needed to take it graduate but I didn’t understand why. I now realize that studying world religions helps one gain not only knowledge but also awareness of other practices and traditions. So far, I’ve learned so many new things in class and got to explore many different religions. The religion that stood out to me the most was Buddhism. When I would hear the word Buddha or Buddhism the first thing that comes in my mind is the statue of a fat man laughing. Taking this class has opened my eyes and made me realize that its way more to it than that. I was interested in the way of life and the teachings that the religion had.

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Buddhism is described as a nontheistic religion. Meaning that it doesn’t involve a belief in a deity or many deities. In Buddhism there is no personal god and nothing was created by an eternal being. The start of the religion can be traced back to one man named Siddhartha Gautama also known as the Buddha (a term that means the awakened one). The legend of Siddhartha is still told today, being passed down from generation to generation and was written by storyteller poets. According to the legend, Siddhartha was born near the border of India and Nepal. He grew up in a very wealthy household and was shielded by society from his father because he didn’t want his son to grow up ascetic. Siddhartha was kept in his home and only knew luxury and he was completely oblivious to the outside world but he didn’t value this lifestyle. The legend continues on Siddhartha left the palace to see the sufferings of the real world and went to a park. While he was in the park, he saw four sights. He seen an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a holy monk. Seeing the first three sights had no effect on Siddhartha but when he seen the holy man his insight changed and he wanted to explore his own spiritual truth. At the age of 29 he left his wife and new born son and set on a path of enlightenment. He tried traditional methods and sought out brahmins- spiritual teachers- to help him expand his mental state. The traditional methods were no help so he underwent extreme asceticism training for six years but was unsatisfied with the findings on his journey. One night while he was meditating Siddhartha had an awakening and realized what karma was along with, the cause of pain and suffering, and the means to end it. After this ultimate awakening Siddhartha became radiant with light and he began to walk around for decades teaching others from all backgrounds and religions. He taught guidelines for achieving liberation of suffering. His teachings became known as the Dharma. The Dharma was encompassed of the noble eightfold path, the three marks of existence and the four truths, which was the foundation for all his later teachings and many other guidelines. Siddhartha’s teachings his presence alone became so compelling to those he met, he became known as the “Shakyamuni Buddha”. It is believed that the Buddha passed away at the age of eighty and his last words to his disciples were “The true Buddha is not a human body – it is Enlightenment. A human body must die, but the Western of Enlightenment will exist forever in the truth of the Dharma, and the practice of the Dharma.” His body was cremated and his bones and teeth were collected used to makes stupas (Shrines) to commemorate the final liberation of the Buddha.

Throughout his life The Buddha traveled around India teaching his way of life and passing knowledge on to others. Today his teachings and practices are being carried out in many countries all over the world. The Buddhist practice of reaching nirvana guides an individual to to liberation from mental afflictions, suffering, and rebirth. The Buddha would say “rather than one trying to speculate the nature of nirvana, one should focus on things that lead to it”. Meditation is a practice that explains how nirvana can be achieved. Meditation is defined as the action or practice of meditating. This means that we are taking charge of our mind and engaging in mental exercise. Meditation is why the Buddha became aware of the way to end suffering. Many Buddhists today still meditate as way to purify their mind. After an exercise we did in class I became heavily interested in this calm, peaceful state of mind. It truly was an experience because I was able to follow along with my mind as the professor spoke and found myself slightly at peace with the person who wronged me. Another practice the Buddha would teach about was the noble eight fold path. These are eight practices are a systematic approach offers a way to purify ones mind and ultimately live a happy life and escape the cycle of death and rebirth. What does each practice on the circle mean or represent?

All eight of these practices begin with the word right because path is seen as the correct way to end one’s dukkha (the Buddhist term for suffering) and help them acquire true happiness.

Buddhism clearly is a worldwide/world known religion. But the question is how did one man’s teachings get into the minds of millions today? About 200 years after the death of Buddha a powerful Indian king named Ashoka started sending out military troops to invade other places because he wanted to extend his empire. Because he caused war, there were many lives lost and the king began to feel remorse and he decided to start practicing the ways of the Buddha and preached nonviolence. Under his leadership the kingdom began to adapt the same beliefs the king had and pillars and rocks were placed throughout the empire and the Dharma was taught in schools. Other countries began developing the same beliefs as the Ashoka empire and the teaching of Buddhism spread like wildfire.

Buddhism is similar to my own religion. I consider myself a Christian. Buddhism is a is the dominant tradition in many Asian countries and Christianity is the most dominant religion in my country. Christianity and Buddhism both can be traced back to one person who spread the word and teachings of the religion. In Christianity Jesus was the spread practices/teachings and in Buddhism Siddhartha also known as Buddha was the one taught spread out his practices. Many people who practiced these religions faced persecution from society just because their religious beliefs were different. Buddhists monasteries were demolished or burned down and many Buddhists were killed or tortured. Jesus himself was persecuted by being tortured and killed. Believers were subjected to this harsh treatment just because they practiced a different religion from others. Compare and Contrast Of Buddhism and Christianity shows that they have scriptures that followers of each religion refer to. For Christianity, Christians refer to the bible and Buddhists refer to the Tripitaka. Lastly, the goals of these religions differ. The goal of Buddhism is to ultimately end suffering and the goal of Christianity is to worship god

Though Buddhism is very similar to Christianity, it is also very different. Christians believe that in God and believe he is the creator of all life, while Buddhists on the other hand believe in no god. The goal of marriage is also different because Buddhists believe don’t have a religious duty to marriage and monks and nuns don’t partake in marriage and they remain celibate. Christians believe marriage is a holy sacrament and that one has to be celibate up until they are married or it is a sin. Another difference between these two religions is that atheists tend to adhere to Buddhism practices but not with Christianity because they don’t believe in a god.

I can say that taking this course has definitely opened my eyes and allowed me to learn so much about Buddhism. I actually would recommend others to learn about Buddhism and Buddhist traditions because it can actually give them insight on what they don’t know. In my opinion I believe Buddhists are more spiritual than religious because they don’t focus on worshiping a deity. The ultimate goal of a Buddhist is to reach nirvana and end one’s suffering to achieve self-awakening. Their way of life definitely is very peaceful and fascinating. If we allow ourselves to be open and mindful, we will have a better understanding of religions different from our own.   

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