Buddhism: Religion and Philosophy

Introduction

Although Buddhism is taken as religion, it is more of philosophy than religion. It is the philosophy that is taken to mean love of wisdom and Buddhism is guided by leading a moral life, being mindful and aware of actions and thoughts, and developing understanding and wisdom (Clack and Brian 28). In this essay, a comparison between the Buddhism philosophy and Christian religion will be discussed. In addition, the roots, development and influence on culture of Buddhism will be discussed.

 

Background

The origin of Buddhism is India; it was begun by Siddhartha, who was a prince of the Shakhya clan based in India (Harvey 11). After becoming unsatisfied with the Vedic religion and emerging religions, such as the Upanishads, Siddhartha stood outside the traditions and criticized their central teachings. Through deep meditation, Siddhartha founded the Buddhism philosophy after he gained an insight he sought for a long time.

Religion and Philosophy Concept

Religion and philosophy are different in regard to the concept of belief. Almost all philosophies do not generally accept the concept of belief; however, religion tries to bring in the concept of belief. According to philosophy, something can be considered as true only when it has been completely proven to be true, on a long time basis, through several forms of reasoning. In case it is not true then it is not considered the final truth. Nevertheless, in the case of religion, most of the things are superstitious, supernatural and incredulous in nature such that only the belief concept can make individuals stand by those things (Pojman and Michael 52). Another difference between philosophy and religion is that religion has to be guided by faith, which is not a requirement in philosophy.

One of the chief teachings of Buddhism is that life is suffering. In this teaching, the unsatisfactory nature of life is taught. Life always has some troubles or sorrows; even at its best, it is never entirely fulfilling. Another chief teaching of Buddhism is that suffering or pain in life is usually caused by self cravings, attachments, or selfish grasping following pressure and avoiding suffering or pain. The third chief teaching of Buddhism concerns attaining of liberation from pain (Harvey 21).

Buddhism has influenced the culture of the areas, where it is practiced, such areas include China and India. Buddhism seeks to explain the purpose of life by explaining apparent inequality and injustice around the world (Harvey 41). By practicing Buddhism, people have come to understand the human nature and sufferings that people are bound to encounter in life. Apart from understanding the sufferings that are present in life, Buddha has understood how to deal with these sufferings. This has influenced their culture because rather than living a life full of sufferings they seek ways of life that results in true happiness.

Besides, Buddhism teaches about ethical living, which influences the manner in which people live in their social and political lives. Therefore, the belief has influenced people to treat others with equality in every aspect of life. Therefore, the Buddhism belief system has positively influenced the political, social and economic culture of the areas, where it is practiced (Harvey 52). For example, the belief teaches on peaceful coexistence, which is a critical aspect that influence culture of a region.

There are some similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. One of the similarities is that both have a chosen way of life; they have a set of moral codes that guide them. The guidelines followed by Buddhism is the Eightfold Path while Christianity is guided by the 10 commandments (Pojman and Michael 62). These sets of guidelines have almost similar moral teachings. Another similarity between the two is that they accord respect to one or more omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent Gods. Besides, the two beliefs revolve on the issues of respecting God and that of treating others as equals. In addition, both beliefs teach on peaceful coexistence between one another.

Summary

All philosophies have certain basic principles that guide them, which is still the case in all religions. One of the basic principles guiding all philosophies is that there is a belief. All philosophies have to be guided by a certain belief, which does not have to be true. When it comes to all religions, the belief is believed as being true. Besides, all philosophies are guided by the principle that thought and actions have to be justified (Clack and Brian 73).

On the other hand, religions are guided by the basic principle of oneness. All believers of a certain religion have a show of oneness regarding their beliefs. For example, they accord respect to the same God and follow the set guidelines provided by the religion. In addition, all religions are guided by the basic principle of rituals. Every religion has some rituals that it identifies with.

Rituals and celebrations are vital to religions since they are viewed as avenues of spiritual connectedness with God, self and others (Lang 22). They help in understanding historical events that relate to religion or philosophies such as suffering. Apart from rituals and celebrations marking past historical events relating to a religion or philosophy, they also help in focusing on things to come, for instance, life after death (Lang 39). They are vital because they remind people, whom they are and their beliefs. Besides, they help in connecting the past with the present in terms of the traditions that associate with religion or philosophy. In addition, rituals and celebrations are vital as they help in holding firm to the religion or philosophy.

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