Essay, Research Paper: Buddhism Details

Religion

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The most devoted followers of the Buddha were organized into a sangha. Its
members were identified by their shaved heads and robes made of un-sewn orange
cloth. The early Buddhist monks, or bhikkus, wandered from place to place,
settling down in communities only during the rainy season when travel was
difficult. Theravadan monks and nuns were humble and obtained their food in the
form of offering on a daily round of the homes of ‘Lay’ devotees. Among the
traditional functions of the Buddhist monks are the performance of funerals and
memorial services in honor of the dead. Major elements of such services include
the chanting of scripture and transfer of merit for the benefit of the deceased.
(1, 3) Lay worship in Buddhism is primarily done individual rather than
congregational. Although technically the Buddha is not worshipped through
Theravada, worship is done through the stupa. A stupa is a dome-like structure
containing a relic. Devotees walk around the dome in a clockwise direction,
carrying flowers and incense as a sign of respect. The relic is the Buddha’s
tooth in Sri Lanka. It is the focus of a popular festival on the Buddha’s
birthday. The Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in every Buddhist country. In
Theravada this celebration is known as Vaisakha, the month after the Buddha was
born. Popular in Theravada cultures is a ceremony known as pirit, or protection,
in which readings from a collection of protective charms from the Pali canon are
conducted to exorcise evil spirits, cure illness, bless new buildings, and
achieve other benefits. This was a popular practice that practitioners of
Buddhism, monks, did to help them reach Nirvana. (1, 3, 4, 5) In Mahayana
cultures, ritual is more important than in Theravada cultures. Images of the
Buddhas and bodhisattvas on temple altars and in the homes of devotees serve as
a focus for worship. Prayer and chanting are common acts of devotion, as are
offerings of fruit, flowers, and incense. One of the most popular festivals in
China and Japan is the Ullambana Festival, in which offerings are made to the
spirits of the dead and to ghosts. It is said that during this celebration the
gates to the other world are open so that departed spirits can return to earth
for a brief time. (1, 3, 4, 5) In the Christian faith, people may practice
several methods to bring them closer to God or ‘Heaven. One way has been
around for many centuries, called baptisms. Baptism is an initiation into the
religion. Jesus was among the first to be baptized. He was baptized by John at
the beginning of his public ministry (Mark 1:9-11). Another practice that is
used among the Christian religion would be prayer. A Prayer may be individual or
done as a group, formal or spontaneous, silent or spoken. Christian prayer
normally includes gospel, praise, thanksgiving, confession, and an appeal for
forgiveness. Another ritual that is very similar to ‘Lay Worship’ would be
Christmas. People often celebrate this holiday as Jesus Christ’s birth-date,
even though it was not because of many biblical references, but despite that,
People celebrate this with carols. The carols could be the equivalent of
chanting holy scripts in Buddhism. (1, 2, 4) The Christian religion is not that
similar to Buddhism for many reasons. One reason is that Buddhism does not have
a God. In Buddhism, people do not worship anybody, since that divine being was
also just human. The goal is to achieve Nirvana, like the Buddha did.
Christianity has a God and Jesus as his son. We worship God and Jesus. People
strive to be noble and good. In Christianity, there is pursuit of happiness and
morality, but not through greed. Although the goal is not Nirvana, one goal is
through prayer is to be truthful with yourself and God. Achieving Nirvana is
very similar to achieving Heaven. In Christianity, there is one god, and in
Buddhism there is no God. (1, 3, 4) To me, Christianity is more appealing to me,
just because I have lived as a Christian, my whole life. If I had not, I believe
I still would find Christianity more appealing, since there is a God to worship.
There is also a story of how the much of the world began. Also it is more
comforting, since in Buddhism, one should sacrifice them self, like everything
else is more important than you. Logically Christianity is better to me since
people can about their daily lives with out having to chant everyday. In
Christianity, it is more logical that there is someone watching over you at all
times. In Buddhism, no-one watches you, it is your conscience that knows what
you do. (3, 4) In General, I believe that Christianity has some similar aspects
but the path/direction is not the same. God the Father, Jesus Christ the son,
and the holy spirit are essentially one Gold. This is very different from
Buddhism, since there is no God at all, just models to be like. In Christianity,
there are many goals in life, for example, follow the ten commandments. Be
truthful to yourself and God. Also in the Christian religion, there is no
concept of reincarnation, there is incarnation of Jesus but no reincarnation. In
Buddhism, followers want to become enlightened and become a Buddha. The goal in
Christianity is to be truthful with yourself and one day you will go to Heaven.
(1, 3, 4, 5) Buddhism Sources: World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery (1) The
Bible (2) Encarta Encyclopedia 99 (3) Compton’s Encyclopedia Deluxe (4)
Buddhist Cultures in America (5)
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