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Write an essay on Buddha and Christ: A Comparative Approach

Teachings of Buddha

As opined by Dennis (2017), religion forms an integral part of the lives of the human beings and it is seen that the actions of the human beings are dictated to a great extent by the kind of religion that they practice or follow. Papaconstantinou and Schwartz (2016) are of the viewpoint that the notion of religion contributes in a substantial manner towards the identity of the human beings and the customs, beliefs, traditions and other attributes of their life are dependent of this aspect. More importantly, it is seen that the primary purpose of the plethora of religions is offer to the much needed hope as well as inner peace to the individuals regardless of the religion to which they subscribe (Winichakul 2015).

Wijesinghe and Brewer (2018) have argued that the machinery of religion has undergone a substantial amount of change in the recent times in synchronicity with the changing needs of the people or the followers of the concerned religion. For example, in the earlier times at the very beginning of the human civilization it was seen that the machinery of religion was used to civilize the human beings and also to make them leave behind their animalistic tendencies (Waikakul and Waikakul 2016). However, in the recent times, it is seen that the emphasis is more on inner peace and solace rather than the earlier purpose that religion served (Thera 2017). In this regard, it needs to be said that two traditional religions which is being adopted as well as followed much by the contemporary people are Buddhism and Christianity. Both these religions have played a vital role in offering the much needed mental peace as well as emotional solace to the individuals which is a prerequisite for the human beings especially in the light of the current turbulent times. This essay will undertake an analysis of Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ on the basis of the religion that they propounded.

The lines “Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity” not only forms the central fulcrum of the life of Lord Buddha but at the same time of the religion which was founded by him (Winichakul 2015). Lord Buddha’s life is a tale of human transformation and also the tale of a life that has been led for the improvement of the lives of the other individuals not only of his own time but at the same time of the future generations to come. As stated by Thera (2017), Lord Buddha (c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE), the founder of one of the earliest religions of the world, was born as Siddh?rtha Gautama. However, latter on the titles like Buddha, Gotama, Shakyamuni and others were given to him because of the life of saint that he led for the major part of his life (Tweed 2015). It is pertinent to note that although Buddha was born into a well-off rich family and had a happy family with wife, children, father and mother yet he was moved by the suffering as well as the pain of the common people (Beckwith 2015). Waikakul and Waikakul (2016) have stated that one of the most important incidents which perhaps changed the entire course of his life was the one when on one of his usual rounds of the city which his father owned he saw a poor suffering person lying on the corner of the street. This incident made a lasting impression on his impressionable mind and within a very short time after this incident he left his home and family and went out in search of peace. Furthermore, he also wanted to find a way through which he could relieve the pain as well as the suffering experienced by the people, which inadvertently formed a major part of their life.

Impact of Buddha's Teachings

Buddha roamed through the entire nation in search of divine peace and also to find a means through which the lives of the people can be improved. As opined by Beckwith (2015), it was during this time that he realized the fact that attachment is the root cause of all the major problems faced by the human beings. As a matter of fact, this hypothesis forms the major precept of the religion of Buddha which was to found in the latter years of his life. More importantly, the major teachings of Buddha are ingrained in the “Noble Eightfold Path” which is often regarded as the first major discourse of Buddha (French 2016). In this context, mention also needs be made of the concept of Middle Path, which was propounded by Buddha which warned the people against the evils of self-indulgence and also self-mortification (Thera 2017). As per Buddha these two entities were major causes of the plethora of problems faced by the individuals and which also made them unhappy regarding their current state of life (Dennis 2017).

Wijesinghe and Brewer (2018) are of the viewpoint that one of the most important which Buddha propounded in the latter part of his life was that of renunciation. It is pertinent to note that he himself practiced this doctrine and as a matter of fact urged all his followed to practice this doctrine. He claimed that the human beings can attain moksha or “unity with God” only after they had renounced the most important things in their life. As stated by Tweed (2015), Buddha believed that the human beings had to undergone through a repeated process of life, death and rebirth in order to attain communion or union with God. According to Buddha, one of the major reasons why the human beings had to undergo through the cycle of life, death and rebirth was the sins that they committed during their life (Papaconstantinou and Schwartz 2016). Thus, purification of sins and atonement forms the cruix of the majority of his teachings. For example, he himself followed the method of starvation to purify his sins and also to attain union with God, the divine being (French 2016).

Wijesinghe and Brewer (2018) have stated that the religion of Buddhism founded by Buddha in India is currently being followed in different nations of the world like Bhutan, Nepal, China and others because of the emphasis of the concerned religion on the aspects of inner peace, mediation and others which the contemporary human beings need significantly in the turbulent lives that they lead. Moreover, after the death of Buddha, two major sects of this religion gained prominence, namely, Hinayana and Mahayana, on the basis of the fact whether they should worship Buddha as a God or not (Dennis 2017). More importantly, it is seen that Buddha never wanted himself to be worshipped as a God or for that matter wanted his followers to indulge in any kind of offerings or prayers which currently forms an integral part of the religion of Buddhism (French 2016).        

Teachings of Christ

The religion of Christianity is not only one of the oldest ones of the world but also one of the fastest growing ones of the world (Channing 2018). Jesus Christ is often ascribed as the founder of this religion and also the formulator of the major teachings which still dominates the religion under discussion here (Scott 2015). This religion is being widely followed by the people of the various western nations like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and others (Ratzinger 2018). More importantly, in the recent times, it is seen that the religion under discussion here is widely being embraced by the people belonging to the various Third World Nations of the world because of its emphasis on the equality of men before God, the much needed inner peace, solace, comfort, hope and other entities that it offers to the people (Kyle 2017). However, just like the religion of Buddhism, this religion as well has undergone a substantial amount of change in the recent times and because of the conflicting views of people and also their changing needs various sects or forms of this religion has gained prominence in the contemporary times like Protestantism, Catholicism and others (Smith 2014). Furthermore, the major aspects of this religion are being controlled by the Pope or the sovereign of this religion, who resides in the Vatican City, which is often considered to be the headquarters of this religion (Stott 2017).        

Jesus Christ (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33) or commonly called by the name of “Jesus of Nazareth” or simply Jesus was a “first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader” who sought to remove the pagan religion which was practiced by the people at that point of time (Martin 2018). Rutledge (2015) is of the viewpoint that The Holy Bible and other religious texts related to the religion of Christianity refer to Him as the Son of God, who was sent to earth to redeem for the sins of man. In this regard, it needs to be said that The Bible states that Adam and Eve, the first human beings initially inhabited the Paradise however because of the disobedience of Eve they were cast away from Paradise and made to repent for their sins on earth (Zahniser 2017) . However, soon God sent his only Son to earth so as to purge them of their sins and as a matter of fact it is said that He died for the sake of the human beings so that they can go to Heaven after their death. The net result of this is the fact that repentance as well as purity forms the integral components of the religion of Christianity (Stott 2017).

Impact of Christ's Teachings

Martin (2018) hold mixed viewpoints regarding the foundation of the religion under discussion here and also regarding the true identity of Christ Himself. For example, some of the religious texts have stated that Jesus was just a peasant who used to offer spiritual preaching to the people and because of this he gained extreme popularity not only among the common folks but also among the ruling class of people (Zahniser 2017). However, the authorities of the state soon realized that this might pose as a threat to them and thus he was executed. On the other hand, there are other set of people who are of the viewpoint that he was the Holy Spirit or the Son of God and was sent on earth to purge the sin of Eve which she had committed by eating the forbidden fruit. However, regardless of the history or the religion or of Christ Himself one thing which cannot be denied is the fact that the primary focus of the religion of Christianity is on the improvement of the lives of the common people who are its followers (Channing 2018). For example, since the traditional times and even in the 21st century it is seen that the majority of the saints, priests and other religious people who are associated with this form of religious they emphasis the manner in which the human beings can lead a virtuous life (Scott 2015). This is important from the perspective that the religion since the ancient times had preached the doctrine that that human beings go to Heaven or Hell depending on the kind of life as well as activities that they have done in their time span on earth (Ratzinger 2018). The net result of this is the fact that the saints, priests and others related to this religion try to show the path to the people through which they can attain Heaven after their death.

The followers of the religion of Christianity are required to repent for the sins committed not only by Eve, by themselves but also by the other people of the world (Smith 2014). The net result of this is the fact that they are required to indulge in various kinds of activities like prayers, masses, religious offerings and others for the attainment of the same end (Channing 2018). More importantly, the followers of this religion are required to lead their as per certain conventions outlined by The Bible, the religious book of Christianity like the Ten Commandments and others (Zahniser 2017) . Furthermore, the primary objective of this religion is to teach the people the manner in which they could lead an effective life even in the contemporary turbulent times.

Comparative Analysis

Stott (2017) is of the viewpoint that the two religions of Buddhism and Christianity although founded in two different time periods, nations and by two different people show certain kinds of similarities amongst them. For example, it is seen that the primary focus of both of these religions is to not only improve the quality of lives of the common people but at the same time to reduce the pain as well as the suffering of the common people (Rutledge 2015). In this regard, it needs to be said that one of the major reasons for the extensive success that these two religions have been able to gain over the years is because of the inner peace, hope, solace and other aspects that they aspire to offer to the people even in the midst of the contemporary turbulent times. More important, one of the major similarities between the two religions lies in the fact that neither Buddha nor Christ wanted their followers to worship them as Gods after their death (Martin 2018). It has been seen after the death of both of these religious leaders, the religions that they founded was segregated into various smaller sects because of the disputes regarding the kind of practices that the people needed to follow in the absence of their religious leaders (Stott 2017).

As opined by Papaconstantinou and Schwartz (2016), the similarities between the two religions notwithstanding there are some inherent differences between the two religions as well. For example, in the 21st century it is seen that the religion of Buddhism is being followed only by a smaller section of people in the nations of Bhutan, Nepal, China and others whereas the religion of Christianity is being followed on a global basis (Dennis 2017). More importantly, in the recent times, it is seen that the religion of Buddhism has embraced within its fold the notion of spirituality whereas the religion of Christianity still focuses on God and Christ (French 2016). In addition to this, Christianity with its headquarters in the Vatican City is seen as a much more channelized religion and the authorities take active initiatives for the extensive spread of this religion (Channing 2018). On the other hand, the religion of Buddhism is not such a channelized one and this is one of the major reasons for the major why this religion is not being followed by a vast majority of people like Christianity (Tweed 2015).

Conclusion

To conclude, the construct of religion has been in existence since the dawn of human civilization and to a great extent have dictated the course of the human civilization. More importantly, it is seen that the machinery of religion not only forms an integral part of the identity of the human beings but at the same time to a large extent dictates their identity as well. Moreover, the major reason why the majority of people turn towards the machinery of religion is because of the inner peace, hope, solace and other aspects that these religions offer to their followers. In this regard, mention needs to be made of two of the most ancient religions of the world, namely, Christianity and Buddhism. It is pertinent to note that these two religions were founded by two different people in two different time periods and in two different nations yet there are some inherent similarities between the two. For example, both of these religions aspire to reduce the pain as well as suffering of human beings and thereby improve the quality of their lives.

References

Beckwith, C.I., 2015. Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. Princeton University Press.

Channing, W.E., 2018. Unitarian Christianity. Charles River Editors via PublishDrive.

Dennis, D., 2017. 12 Mediating claims to Buddha’s birthplace and Nepali national identity. Media as Politics in South Asia, p.176.

French, R.R., 2016. Daughters of the Buddha: The Sakyadhita Movement, Buddhist Law and the. Feminism, Law, and Religion, p.371.

Kyle, R., 2017. Evangelicalism: An Americanized Christianity. Routledge.

Martin, R., 2018. The elusive Messiah: A philosophical overview of the quest for the historical Jesus. Routledge.

Olcott, H.S., 2016. The Golden Rules of Buddhism. FV Éditions.

Papaconstantinou, A. and Schwartz, D.L., 2016. From Constantine the Great to Emperor Wu of the Liang:: The Rhetoric of Imperial Conversion and the Divisive Emergence of Religious Identities in Late Antique Eurasia. In Conversion in Late Antiquity: Christianity, Islam, and Beyond (pp. 133-160). Routledge.

Ratzinger, J.C., 2018. The God of Jesus Christ: meditations on the triune God. Ignatius Press.

Rutledge, F., 2015. The crucifixion: understanding the death of Jesus Christ. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Scott, W., 2015. Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Irving Risch.

Smith, H., 2014. The Soul of Christianity. HarperCollins e-Books.

Stott, J.R., 2017. Basic Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Thera, V.N., 2017. Buddha and His Teachings. Pariyatti Publishing.

Tweed, T.A., 2015. Toward a Translocative History of Occult Buddhism: Flows and Confluences, 1881–1912. History of Religions, 54(4), pp.423-433.

Waikakul, W. and Waikakul, S., 2016. Pain perception in Buddhism perspective. Journal of religion and health, 55(4), pp.1336-1344.

Wijesinghe, S.L. and Brewer, J.D., 2018. Peace Religiosity and Forgiveness Among War Victims in Sri Lanka. In The Sociology of Compromise after Conflict (pp. 129-155). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Winichakul, T., 2015. Buddhist Apologetics and a Genealogy of Comparative Religion in Siam. Numen, 62(1), pp.76-99.

Zahniser, A.M., 2017. The mission and death of Jesus in Islam and Christianity. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

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