Mr Essay Research Paper Buddhism over JainismHinduism

Mr Essay, Research Paper

Buddhism over Jainism

Hinduism offers little hope for salvation. Although salvation is possible in

Hinduism, the margin for error is so small, that it is almost impossible to ever be released

from the wheel and achieve moksha. With that in mind the hunt for a new religion begins.

The two options laid before me are Jainism and Buddhism. Both religions will be

compared and a the better of the two religion will prevail. Although both religions have

many followers, it is necessary when confronting an issue as large and expansive as

religion beliefs to go into grave detail when examining and comparing the available

options. Jainism and Buddhism both have many great aspects that make each religion a

worthy candidate. Although both religions have great aspects, one religion is clearly the

winner in my heart. For many factors that will be discussed later, Buddhism is my new

choice for spiritualism.

Hinduism offers little hope to it?s followers. It is based on a rigid caste

classification system of which people are born into. The caste system offers little to no

upward mobility and an even smaller amount of hope for the people to ascent through the

caste system. Hinduism relies heavily upon it?s traditions and rituals as a means of

worship and salvation. These duties and places in the caste system are described in detail

in the law of Manu. ?The Law of Manu is more explicit concerning the duties of the four

varna. It specifies particular occupations for each of the four social groups, which are

seen as being divinely ordained. For the growth of the worlds, (Brahman) created

Brahmanas (Brahmins or priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (traders) and Shudras

(manual workers) from his face, arms, thighs, and feet respectively?(Hopfe, 84). These

caste assignments are non-negotiable and are engraved in the fabric of Indian culture. If a

person leads an exemplary life in their given section of the caste system, the best that

person has to look forward to is to be re-incarnated into a higher section of the caste

system. That very rarely happens, if ever. With that in mind the search for a new religion


Both of the religions have great qualities that make up a desirable religion. ?Both

Jainism and Buddhism rejected the sacrifice system taught in the Vedas. Both taught that

one achieved release from life not by offering sacrifices to the gods or by any form of

worship but through accomplishments in one?s own life. Both rejected the Vedas as

sacred scripture, and both taught that anyone of any caste who lived properly might find

release.?(Hopfe, 87) Both Jainism and Buddhism taught that all forms of life were sacred

and were to be loved and preserved whenever possible (ahisma). This belief contradicted

the ritualistic sacrifices to the gods of Hinduism. The most important aspect in the

transition from Hinduism to either Jainism or Buddhism is the belief that salvation and

release is not achieved from ritualistic practices or other forms of worship, it is achieved

through personal accomplishment and hard work and dedication. Anyone who lived a

good moral life and who was focused and dedicated could achieve moksha, the release

from re-incarnation, regardless of caste position. Jainism and Buddhism offer hope for

members of the lower castes. This is a reason for the increased popularity and the easily

spread word of Buddhism and Jainism. Both religions have great aspects. The

foundations of practice of the two religions are very different.

Jainism is is a religion born out of suffrage. ?Jainism taught that one found release

from life through asceticism. The more one denied pleasures and satisfactions to the body,

the more likely that person was to achieve freedom from the endless cycle of birth and

rebirth.?(Hopfe, 87) Jainists believe the body is evil and to deny the body to the realm of

pleasure is the primary means for salvation. This is the most important aspect of Jainism

and consequently, the most prominent aspect of Jainism that led me to Buddhism.

The foundation for Jainism is extreme asceticism. To deny the body of all

pleasures is looked upon as a means for salvation. Asceticism for me is not a means for

salvation. It was tried by Siddhartha Gautama and did not yield any benefit. The trials of

Gautama will be discussed later. My own conclusion is asceticism hurts the body without

yielding any spiritual benefits. Without the right frame of mind, it can be seen as just a

way of torturing the body. Asceticism is not a means of salvation. It is a slow and painful

way to die.

The perfect life for a Jain might be to do nothing all day long while depriving the

body of all pleasure. ?All living beings owe their present form of existence to their own

Karma; timid, wicked, suffering latent misery, they err about (in the circle of births),

subject to birth, old age and death.?(Hopfe, 117) Jainists believe like most other South

east Asian religions that karma is the source of re-incarnation. The way to increase a

chance for moksha was to decrease the negative karma. Doing as little as possible, leads

to little margin for error, which in turn leads to little negative karma. ?Thus, the ideal life

for a Jain might simply be to do as little as possible and thereby escape karma and be freed

from life.?(Hopfe, 117)

Jainism has some great religious beliefs attributed to the religion. Ahisma is very

important in my mind. Another belief that is held dear to my heart is the belief that anyone

can achieve salvation, regardless of class or caste. A universal salvation can be achieved.

A negative side of Jainism is the practice of asceticism which is so deeply entrenched in

the inner workings of Jainism that it is hard for me to look past the asceticism to the

lighter aspects of the religion. Buddhism is the means for salvation for me.

One reason in which Buddhism appeals to me more than Jainism is, Siddhartha

Gautama tried asceticism. For all intents and purposes, he was practicing an early form of

Jainism. ?Gautama joined five other monks and with them began a life of severe

asceticism that lasted six years. The ascetic measures Gautama took were as severe as any

recorded in the history of religion. According to legend, he became something of a

champion ascetic.?(Hopfe, 128) Gautama tortured himself for six years. His body

became very frail and brittle. His health was in jeopardy. According to legend, he was so

frail, he went to take a drink from the river and due to his weakened physical state, passed

out face down in the river. The cold water revived him and revived his state of awareness

and from that point on, Gautama was no longer an ascetic. He tried it for six years and

didn?t find the path to enlightenment or a release from the wheel of birth and re-birth.

After he put asceticism behind him, he meditated for a period of weeks under a Bo tree

until he was enlightened. Jainism believes in asceticism as a means of salvation. It did not

work for Gautama. The simple fact that the asceticism associated with Jainism did not

yield salvation for Gautama is enough for me to disagree with the whole notion of


?Shortly after his Awakening, the Buddha (”the Awakened One”) delivered his first

sermon, in which he laid out the essential framework upon which all his later teachings

were based. This framework consists of the Four Noble Truths, four fundamental

principles of nature (Dhamma) that emerged from the Buddha’s honest and penetrating

assessment of the human condition and that serve to define the entire scope of Buddhist

practice. These truths are not statements of belief. Rather, they are categories by which we

can frame our direct experience in a way that is conducive to Awakening?

( Buddha has given instructions of how to live a good life

to his followers. He asks that these truths are not beliefs. Beliefs come and go. These

truths are categories in which one can receive salvation. A pathway to be freed from the


All Buddhists believe in the four noble truths. ?The Four Noble Truths: The truth

of Dukkha (suffering, unsatisfactoriness, discontent, stress); The truth of arising of

Dukkha (the cause of this dissatisfaction is craving (tanha) for sensuality, for states of

becoming, and states of no becoming); The truth of the cessation of Dukkha (the

relinquishment of that craving); The truth of the path which leads to the cessation of

Dukkha.?(Lester,25) This is a great system of beliefs. Human beings are miserable and

unsatisfactory due to stress and other suffering. The cause for this dissatisfaction is

craving (Tanha). We as human beings can relinquish the craving. Buddha even gives us

guidelines, a path, to lead us to the cessation of all dissatisfaction in life. The eightfold

path. All Buddhists believe in the four noble truths and the eightfold path.

Although fundamentally, both types of Buddhism are the same, there are

differences in ways of salvation and rituals performed by the two schools of thought:

Therevada (teaching of elders) also known as the lesser vehicle and Mahayana (The Great

Vehicle). In the Greater vehicle, Mahayana, Buddhists not only look for salvation inward,

but also get help to stop Dukkha. The practice of Yoga is one example. One contrast

from Therevada and Mahayana Buddhism is ?In contrast to the teachings of early

Buddhism and those of the Theravada school, the Mahayanists began to teach that the

Buddha was really a compassionate, eternal, and almost divine begin who came to earth in

the form of a man because he loved humankind and wished to be of

assistance.?(Hopfe,136) This belief that Buddha was more than a man, even a demi-god

is, in my opinion, contrary to Buddha?s early teachings. He taught that he was just a man.

And his new religion is not anything more than a pathway to find enlightenment but that

every man could find enlightenment just as he did. This belief of Gautama as more than a

man is clearly contradictory to his earlier work. Theravada Buddhism is the religion of

choice for this scenario. It is the older, more conservative Buddhism. It?s teaching are

very straightforward. Look for salvation though meditation. ?The teaching of the Buddha

according to this school is very plain. He asks us to ?abstain from all kinds of evil, to

accumulate all that is good and to purify our mind?.?(

People must find enlightenment for themselves, without relying on anything else. That is

the fundamental basis for Theravada Buddhism. ?We admit that in different countries

there are differences with regard to the life of Buddhist monks, popular Buddhist beliefs

and practices, rites and ceremonies, customs and habits. These external forms and

expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of the

Buddha.?(Rahula,1138) Although the external forms and expressions of Mahayana

Buddhism are acceptable, it might be easy for one to confuse the rituals with the religion.

Hinduism offers the common people no hope of moksha. Asceticism as proven

through Gautama?s six year effort, does not lead to moksha. The divisions between

Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism are subtle but noticeable in my mind. The

religion of choice for all of it?s positive aspects and limited negative aspects is Theravada

Buddhism. It is the more conservative Buddhism that is founded on obtaining salvation

through meditation and personal experiences rather than relying on others and rituals to

help you obtain salvation. This is the closest to Buddha?s early teachings.



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