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Eastern Religion Comparison Essay Research Paper Brandon

Eastern Religion Comparison Essay, Research Paper Brandon Carson History and Philosophy of Religion Final Exam May 3, 1999 Over the past several thousand years, many faiths have arisen and developed all

Eastern Religion Comparison Essay, Research Paper

Brandon Carson

History and

Philosophy of

Religion

Final Exam

May 3, 1999

Over the past several thousand years, many faiths have arisen and developed all

over the globe. All of these faiths are unique and seem to be quite different from each

other, at least on the surface. However, when one starts to investigate more closely he

realizes that there are oftentimes some startling similarities. A good example of this would

be the religious traditions of the Middle East and Asia. Buddhism, Hinduism, and

Confucianism, for example, have very similar philosophies and practices while they all

have different origins. Upon examination of these faiths one will be able to more clearly

see the relationship between the traditions of the Middle East.

In Christianity, we bind our selves to the truth unveiled through scripture, myths,

tradition, and the church?s teachings. Hinduism, however has a much different

interpretation of the idea of binding oneself to the truth. Like many religions Hindus have

the basic belief that we all came from God and we must return to God. According to the

Hindu faith, the way to accomplishing this is through freeing oneself from the material

possessions and pleasures and thus obtaining Moksha. Moksha, for Hindus, would be the

point of freedom and the attachment to Brahman. The goal of a Hindu is to release

themselves, but also to gain a complete understanding of life. By doing this, they are freed

from the continuous cycle of reincarnation. The yogas are the specific direction taken to

unleash the human potential of Moksha. The goal of the yogas is to come in to and remain

in touch with Brahman. The first way to God is through knowledge. The three steps taken

on this path is learning, thinking, and the third, a little more complex, consists of

separating one?s material ego form one?s Atman. The second way to God is through love.

The love we show to others can be translated into a love for God. The third path to

God is though work. Through a devotion to one?s work, God can be seen through the

highest rewards if done so wisely. The final Hindu path to God is through Psychophysical

Exercises. In this way, a Hindu experiments with mental exercises and observing their

effects. Not all Hindus take the same path to God, but the goal is identical.

The Buddha made much reform to the path to God. Well, not so much a reform

as perhaps an alternate route. He called this the Middle Path. A way between sensuality

and asceticism, the Middle Path lay through intelligence. All forms of life, according to the

Buddha, can be shown to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering,

and an absence of permanent soul which separates us from other forms of life. The

Buddha also pointed out that nothing is the same as is was only a moment ago. Everything

is changing. Even the hills are being worn away, and every human particle is being

replaced every seven years. There is no finality or rest within the universe, only a ceaseless

becoming and never-ending change. Buddhism denies that man has an immortal soul. The

Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to one form of life. Man is always

changing and entirely mortal. In addition, Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not

violate either mind or body. The Buddha became aware that men are born and die

according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma — the

consequences of good or evil deeds. Even though there are several different forms of

Buddhism that have come into existence since Buddha?s death, there is still a basic essence

that all Buddhists agree with. All Buddhists recognize these. In all, there are four basic

noble truths. The first noble truth of the world according to Buddha is dhukka, or

suffering. The second truth is tanha, or desire, which is the cause of suffering. The third

truth is that in order to free oneself from suffering, one must overcome desire. The fourth

truth tells us how this can be accomplished through the eight-fold path. According to

Buddha, the eight-fold path is the means to achieve liberation from suffering. It helps one

weed out cravings and ignorance, to overcome rebirth, old age, disease, death, sorrows,

lamentation, grief and despair. It helps to end mass misery and aids people in attaining

Nirvana, or salvation. Specifically, this path includes: 1. Right View 2. Right Thought 3.

Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8.

Right Concentration The most simple teaching of the Buddha was to do good, to avoid

evil and to purify the heart. The main revolutionary idea behind the Buddha?s teachings

was that he rejected asceticism, which at that time had been a popular belief and a socially

approved route to salvation. Not only did he reject self-denial, but the worship of gods. In

his Eightfold Path, there is never any mention of worship. Also, he refuted the idea that

one had to pass through countless rebirths to reach the Brahmin caste before being able to

obtain salvation. For this very reason, Buddhism ultimately failed in India, because of the

widespread control by the Brahmins. The most challenging concept for the Hindus to

except was that the Buddha taught that the soul did not exist. Hindus thought that the

Atman, or soul, was actually God. The Buddha reasoned that if the soul is purely God,

then it is not individual and therefore is an An-Atman, or no soul. The achievement of

liberation then for Buddhist takes form in Nirvana. Nirvana occurs when people release

their yearning for a false selfhood, which is similar to Hinduism. Paradoxically, as with

Hinduism, the act of extinguishing this yearning occurs simultaneously with an

enlightenment.

As one can see, there is quite a strong relationship between Buddhism and

Hinduism. They are very different in many aspects yet they have many similarities upon

closer examination. Another religion which one can relate Hinduism and Buddhism to is

Confucianism. Although Confucianism originated from Asia rather than India, some very

interesting comparisons can be made. The premise of Confucian teachings are centered

around the idea of Jen or the virtue of humanity. To accomplish this divinity, five

relationships must be honored: ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder

and younger brother, and friend and friend. These relationships led a push for a revolution

of the political system to adopt the methods of Jen. Confucius sought to revive the

ancient Chinese culture by redefining the importance of society and government. He

described a society governed by reasonable, humane, and just sensibilities, not by the

passions of individuals arbitrarily empowered by hereditary status. He felt that this could

be achieved through education and the unification of cultural beliefs. He believed that a

nation would be benefited by citizens that were cultivated people whose intellects and

emotions had been developed and matured by conscious people. He felt that those born

into the feudal system had a personal duty to excel socially by means of power. Those

who were of lesser class should also seek out education to better themselves. All

purposes for betterment of man and society as one whole is known as Li. Li means the

rationalized social order. Confucius felt that love and respect for authority was a key to a

perfect society; this strict respect was practiced through rituals and magic. The Confucius

traditions have caused a tradition to set within its institution and is extremely active. It

has, unfortunately, allowed the political institution to manipulate the Confucius system.

On the surface, the practices and philosophies of confucianism appear to differ

greatly from those of its Indian counterparts. Confucianism is much more politically

oriented while Hinduism and Buddhism are more self oriented. However, The main

connection behind all three different beliefs is their striving for order and balance.

Confucianism strives for order and balance through Jen and Li, while Hinduism and

Buddhism use Yogas and the eight fold path. This balance and order brought about these

different practices extends to a greater purpose which all three of these religions have in

common, to achieve a higher form of enlightenment.

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