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Buddhism / Christianity

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Buddhism / Christianity

In this paper, we will be exploring the differences and similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. We will research the ways in which Buddhism and Christianity address existential questions and the afterlife within the different religions.

Christianity began in Palestine and Israel in the mid first century, AD and has grown into approximately 2.14 billion followers throughout the world (Robinson). All Christians should believe that God exists as a holy being. Early Christians studied the Old Testament and the Old Testament spoke of the son of God coming, which Christians believe Jesus Christ is the son of God. Jesus lived on the earth for 33 years before being tortured and crucified under the orders of Pontius Pilot. Jesus had 12 disciples that wrote the majority of the New Testament which speaks of life and death of Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity, Jesus dying for our sins and the blood of Jesus washing away our sins.

Buddhism began in Northern India during the fifth century BCE and has approximately 350 million followers throughout the world (Robinson). Buddhist’s rebut the concept of God and believe in an enlightened being that promises to save conscious beings from suffering. This Enlightenment is related with a vision to disillusion the illusions of a world bound by greed. The Buddhists believe that one may become enlightened by living with a certain display of conduct and a level of mental discipline, and this is also how the path of redemption is decided.

As freedom to decide is given to us by God one could question, when Christianity and free will are put in the same sentence, is there such a thing as free will within the Christian religion? There are a couple points posed such as, if we accept God when we pass away we spend our eternal lives in paradise, however if we refuse God when we pass away we spend our eternal lives damned. So, the question remains, is that freedom of choice or free will? However, playing devil’s advocate, we are supposed to be our brother’s keeper and take care of each other. The way we go about doing that and the creations we invent is completely under our control. Christians are to worship God by His word; though free will we may or may not decide to do this by creating good or reject Him by doing evil. God had given Christians the fundamentals; however depending on what we choose to do with it is the determining factor.

While studying these two religions, I asked myself “What position free will would take on the Buddhist faith?” Unlike Christianity where there is one God and the vast differences in the purpose for life, free will is a refinement of freedom within oneself, which is a crucial part of meditation in the Buddhist teachings (Wallace). The Buddhism faith understands beyond any other religion about free will. The pallor of faith that the Buddhist has describes that we are allowed of free to make our own decisions. They take this onto another level by explaining that knowledge is the basis of free will and this is rejected in many other religions, such as Christianity. The Buddhist describes is accurately because not having the freedom of knowledge, free will is a farce.

What exactly is existentialism? Put simply, existentialism is our essence and why we exist. Existential questions make us ask hard questions such as who am I? What is the purpose of life? Why do I exist? The only way to understand and answer these questions would be to find out about our true selves and what our essence truly is. One focus of existentialism is the uniqueness of humanism and focuses that the “self” is autonomous and eliminates good and evil or right and wrong. The only rule of existentialism is to remain honest to one’s essence of their true self. Existentialism is comparable to the solipsism, in that the only verifiable entity that exists is one’s “self” and there is nothing else tangible.

Christians believe that the purpose in life lays directly in the bible “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43:7). The bible states that God’s glory and to praise and worship him as well as accomplishing His will is the purpose of our existence. In this case, God gave us the reason for our purpose in life and our existence (Roberts).

Buddhist’s believe that the purpose in life is to end all suffering. Buddha’s teachings displayed human suffering due to material and greed, this continuous search for things that do not produce happiness will also cause suffering (Teo). In the Buddhist faith, which differs from Christianity, Muslim, and other religions, Buddha does not recommend worshiping one or more deities. However, the teachings of Buddha focus on living a life with ethics, reflecting on life as to explore and cultivate meaning of one’s existence and obtain compassion for others as well as pursuing peace within oneself via meditation and reflection.

Christians believe that in the afterlife believers go to heaven to be in the presence of God where they are delivered from sin and suffering. They also believe that nonbelievers and sinners will go to hell for punishment and condemned to eternal suffering. Other Christian denominations believe in purgatory where those who have sins not yet confessed stay in limbo until they are completely cleansed and welcomed into the Kingdom (Roberts). Christian followers believe in God that sets them in judgment and sends nonbelievers and sinners to Hell and those who live by God’s laws will be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven. The path of redemption is sought through prayer, atonement and confessions. Jesus Christ would not tell one how to solve a problem, but teach them through parables and allow them to see the truth on their own.

Buddhists believe that the afterlife consists of reincarnation, or transmigration of the soul, is the belief that they drift among several physical lifetimes and undergoes rebirth through different mutations, i.e. animal, human or supernatural until it finally reaches its ultimate end. The goal of every Buddhist is to free themselves from this cycle, or samsara. The final phase in the Buddhist’s reincarnation cycle is Nirvana, which will end all suffering and one will become a truly enlightened being, or a Buddha. Nirvana was not spoken about too much by Buddha as he believed that lessening the suffering needed to be the primary focus and teaching about salvation would turn people more materialistic and greedy and, ultimately, cause even more suffering (Taylor). Knowing that one had the ability to cleanse their spirit, Buddha inspired people to help themselves so they may be enlightened; similar to Jesus and His parables.

There are many similarities in the stories of Buddha and Jesus Christ, interestingly



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