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Contrasting Buddhism to Christianity

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By berenice15
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CRITICAL THINKING ASSIGNMENT

I. Part One: Buddhism

i. The Question of Origin – Buddhists believe that the world has no beginning, and not everything that exists has to have one. As the famous quote by Bertrand Russell says: “There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts.” (Thera, 2002)

ii. The Question of Identity – Buddhism teaches that there is no self, but instead there are separate, ever-changing components that make up who we are. Defining one’s “self” would mean adhering to whatever our role or composition is today, which will certainly change in due time. This dependency followed by change would inflict suffering - what Buddhists live to avoid. (Silver, 2012)

iii. The Question of Meaning/Purpose – Buddhists believe that their main goal is life is to end suffering by ending desire. According to this religion, humans suffer because they desire and hold on to things that are temporary and will eventually vanish. The purpose in life of the Buddhist is to follow the Eightfold Path – as directed by the fourth of the Four Noble Truths – to end suffering and attain enlightment. (Religion Facts, 2005)

iv. The Question of Morality – Buddhism answers the question of morality with the term sila, which is the natural condition of goodness that we were born with. They attempt to preserve their sila and avoid being altered by worldly influences. Buddhists follow the five precepts as a moral guide: abstaining from the destruction of life, from taking that which is not given, from sexual misconduct, from falsehood, and from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness. (Plamintr)

v. The Question of Destiny – Buddhists work towards reaching the state of Nirvana as their ultimate destiny. They believe in practicing good deeds to attain good karma as a means to Nirvana, a state in which they feel no desire, nor love or hate, and their rebirth chain reaches an end. (Weider & Gutierrez, 2012)

II. Part Two: Contrasting Buddhism to Christianity

i. The Question of Origin –
Buddhism and Christianity differ completely when asked the question of origin. Christians believe that God is the Creator of the universe, the Earth, and everything in it, and He did this in seven days (Genesis 1:1). As mentioned above, Buddhists do not agree with this belief. Their explanation for the creation of the universe is that it has no beginning nor creator; it has always existed.

ii. The Question of Identity –
In regards to the question of identity, Buddhism and Christianity are also very different. While Buddhists do not have a very clear and concise definition of what it means to be human, Christians are certain that their humanity means to be creatures created by God in God’s image to be superior rulers of the world (Genesis 1:26). We have been granted with intelligence and reason, which allows us to surpass all other creatures in ability and coherence.

iii. The Question of Meaning/Purpose –
Christianity and Buddhism also have contrasting views about the meaning and purpose of life. In Buddhism, the ultimate goal in life is to end suffering and attain enlightment, and they attempt to do this basically by eliminating desire. On the other hand, Christians live life with the purpose of having a relationship with God and carrying our His will. We believe that only He knows what is best for us, and we should trust his guidance (Proverbs 3:5-6)

iv. The Question of Morality –
Christian and Buddhist thoughts when it comes to the question of morality have some similarities. Buddhists follow the five precepts as a moral guideline, which are a bit similar to a Christian’s Ten Commandments. They differ in that Christianity’s ultimate commandment is to love one another as God has loved us (John 13:34), and the Buddhists desire to feel neither love nor hate.

v. The Question of Destiny –
Although they both aim to reach an ultimate state of being, Buddhist and Christian teachings have different beliefs about their ultimate destiny. Buddhists call it Nirvana: a state of absolutely no desire, which will end their chain of rebirth. Christians call it Heaven: reaching the presence of God after death, and attaining salvation as a pre-requisite to get there.

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