Essay, Research Paper: Hinduism And Buddhism


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Religion, what is religion? Religion is a way of life, a life style, it should
dictate how you live your life. However why follow a religious belief, to go to
heaven, avoid the condemnation to hell, to live forever? We in western society
consider ourselves a not so religious society, we say "I am Christian"
or "I am Jew" or "I am an Atheist I don't believe". Keep in
mind religion is a life style, it should dictate how you live your life. Sadly
in western society, money and our compulsive cravings for material objects
dictate our life. We are far from the highly evolved forms of religions of
Hinduism and Buddhism over in the east. What are these religions? Buddhism is
offshoot/reform of Hinduism. They are looked at in the same way as Judaism and
Christianity are looked at (very far apart). Through this essay, I will prove -
by using some of their differences as similarities - that they are very much -
if not essentially the same - alike. "As an off shoot of Hinduism, Buddhism
accepted the notions of karma, dharma, samsara, and moksha. It differed in its
understanding ot these terms and how to achieve spiritual liberation. As
Buddhism spread through south and east Asia, these differences became
greater." Samsara, the "upholstered hell" , it is known in
Hinduism as the endless cycle of death and rebirth, and Moksha being the supreme
enlightenment, the realization of Atman the one's true self, and the liberation
from samsara. Despite the fact that Moksha means Something different in
Buddhism, words are meaningless but their meanings aren't. Explanation:
"The ultimate goal of the Buddhist path is release from the round of
phenomenal existence with its inherent suffering. To achieve this goal is to
attain nirvana an enlightened state in which the fires of greed, hatred, and
ignorance have been quenched." This is the essence of both religions,
freedom from the ignorance of what I call "Blam"Ď. The central core
of Buddhist teachings is the Four Noble Truths, which are: 1. All life is
suffering and pain. This is more than a mere recognition of the presence of
suffering in existence. It is a statement that, in its very nature, human
existence is essentially painful from the moment of birth to the moment of
death. Even death brings no relief. 1. Desire is the root of suffering.
"People become attached to relationships or things they have, and suffer
when they experience their impermanence. This impermanence leads to
disappointment, which in turn leads to new cravings." My interpretation of
this Noble Truth is that we suffer not because we desire but because we desire
the wrong things. Meaning that what we should desire is enlightenment. 2.
"Suffering and desire can be extinguished with enlightenment. The noble
truth of cessation of suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of that
very thirst , giving it up, renouncing it, emancipating oneself from it
detaching oneself from it. 3. The way to enlightenment is to follow the Noble
Eightfold Path. The Noble Truth of the path leading to the cessation of
suffering is this: it is simply the Noble Eightfold path, namely right view;
right thought; right speech; right action; right livelihood; right effort; right
mindfulness; right concentration." These concepts are nothing pertaining to
Buddhism alone, maybe they haven't listed and categorized as four noble truths
but all the idea's are encompassed in Hinduism's philosophy. "Buddhism
analyzes human existence as made up of five aggregates or "bundles" (skandhas):
the material body, feelings, perceptions, predispositions or karmic tendencies,
and consciousness. A person is only a temporary combination of these aggregates,
which are subject to continual change. No one remains the same for any two
consecutive moments. Buddhists deny that the aggregates individually or in
combination may be considered a permanent, independently existing self or soul
(atman). Indeed, they regard it as a mistake to conceive of any lasting unity
behind the elements that constitute an individual. The Buddha held that belief
in such a self results in egoism, craving, and hence in suffering. Thus he
taught the doctrine of anatman, or the denial of a permanent soul. He felt that
all existence is characterized by the three marks of anatman (no soul), anitya
(impermanence), and dukkha (suffering). The doctrine of anatman made it
necessary for the Buddha to reinterpret the Indian idea of repeated rebirth in
the cycle of phenomenal existence known as samsara." "Atman: the one's
true self, "the individual self, held by upanisic and Vedatin thought to be
identical to Brahman, the world soul" After reading the above paragraph one
could concur that the two terms atman and anatman are two very different things
- actually opposites. However one must keep in mind they are different
interpretations of one's true self. Every thing we do every thought or sight or
touch, every calculation in our mind is mathematical, therefor if you add these
to concepts as if like 1+2 the two terms similarities will become evident. 1. If
Hindus believe in Brahman as the supreme and ultimate God or reality (because
communion or oneness with Brahman is the main goal) and according to Hinduism
our true self is thought to be like Brahman. 2. If Buddhist believe in the
impermanence of all things including the soul(as stated above), then if
everything is impermanent the only thing that is permanent is the impermanence
of everything or better stated " The Nothing" is permanent. This means
that "The Nothing" is the impermanence in all things. 3. Concept 1+
Concept 2 = Concept 3. One must take into consideration that neither concept is
wrong, simply fuse both concepts together and what seems opposite will become
the same. Therefor Brahman is "The Nothing", therefor making atman,
anatman. The caste system now almost non-existent in Hindu society but it was
part of Hindu society and therefor it sticks out as something that separates
Hinduism from Buddhism. However, what happens if we delve into the history of
the caste system. Throughout my research I was unable to find any information
regarding the origin of the caste system only finding the knowledge of what it
is. But I came up with a hypothesis of how the caste system came about.
Thousands of years ago near the beginning of Hinduism I am sure that just like
today people were probably complaining with regards to why they where born -
doomed - into the life they where in, and so by using karmic they developed the
caste system to explained it. Over the years, people in - higher ranks -
probably took advantage of this system and doomed people to a specific caste
using this mere explanation as their defense. Over the years it grew name to
what it is known as today. What does this have to do with Buddhism? Like
Hinduism, Buddhism holds the belief of karma and also understands why certain
people are born into certain levels of society. What about Dharma? According to
the texts I have studied on Hinduism and Buddhism, I have been taught that they
both share the word Dharma but it has a different meaning in each religion. In
Hinduism, it is our life purpose, in Buddhism it is the path of the Buddha,
which is enlightenment. I can see these two as if they have the same meaning.
Explanation: one of the major things Hinduism and Buddhism share a like is their
goal, which is enlightenment. Also as previously stated they share the same
concept of the endless cycles of death and rebirth, which both religions believe
is part of soul's development to eventually in - some life or other - gain
enlightenment. Therefore you could say that in both Hinduism and Buddhism the
purpose of life or our "Dharma" is the "Dharma", the path to
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