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Religion and history go hand in hand. Religion was created to tell our history: where we came from, and what higher being we have to thank for our existence. It also tells us what our beliefs are, and about life after death. Every religion dates back generations, but the two oldest religions in the universe are Hinduism and Buddhism with the earliest being Hinduism. Although Buddhism derives many of its ideals from Hinduism there are also many discrepancies as well. One large difference between the two is Hinduism does not focus on the worship of one true God but was formed from generations of principles and celebrates a multitude of deities, but that is an understatement.
There are 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, some believe there are endless. While some are much more widely revered, they each serve a different purpose and are vital to the religion. This may be one of the largest discrepancies between the two because not only does Buddhism not worship millions of gods; it doesn’t worship a single one. Buddhists strive towards an end goal, believing man does not need a god, and Buddha doesn’t actually take the place of god. Although Buddhism doesn’t have any gods, it does focus on one individual quite a bit. This individual is Buddhism’s creator. Buddha originated by a man by the name of Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Gautama Buddha who lived a pretty relaxed life until he was 29 years old and experienced the actuality of the dreadful side of life.
Consequently he made the decision to leave his life of luxury and began to practice self-discipline by living a simple life. Upon beginning this new path of life this is where the importance of looking at life realistically and learning to deal with the suffering throughout our life. In the Hindu religion there is the belief that we live more than one life known as samsara which is based on our performance in life. Following the death of an individual they continue to exist in a dimension of bliss or misery which is determined by a combination of a person’s actions throughout life whether good or bad. They continue to experience reincarnation throughout life and can morph into a different person, animal, or spirit. This is where the two are alike. This idea is referred to as different things; karma, dharma, moksha, and reincarnation, and is agreed with by both Buddhism and Hinduism. The main agreement being that there are endless lifecycles until the cycle is broken. There are actually steps to receiving salvation in the Hindu religion. One of which being Vairagya, the term in the Hindu religion that pertains to the separation from the cravings of the earth.
As soon as this desire continues the continuing cycle of samsara will go on. Jain is the title given to a person who has achieved the freedom of the connection to the world. Brahman is the supreme power and is something you have to consume yourself in. Possessing absolute knowledge of Brahman does not mean you have complete perception. Salvation from reincarnation concludes with moksha which is the final level of life. In the Hindu religion here are some who believe you can reach this final stage of while you still have breath and others see this stage solely as unifying with God. The path to moksha requires adherence to “personal deity (bhakti), inward spiritual knowledge of Brahman, (jnana) and doing one’s duty in the world without thought of reward (karma).” In Buddhism the freedom from suffering is described in the term Nirvana. This parallels to Hinduisms Moksha and has requirements of its own. The definition of Nirvana is “a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self”. Nirvana gives a person complete restraint from the outside world and not letting it control your destination. To get to this point there are thing you must do first, and firstly being Samsara. Samsara is a word in Buddhism that means “decay and pain.”
This aligns with the four noble truths. The first noble truth discusses the reality of suffrage in life and learning to deal with the pain. Secondly clinging to life in this world and not being grateful can add to our sorrow. Thirdly is the determination to confront the end to the desire for worldly cravings within yourself. In addition to the Four Noble Truths there is also the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to the ultimate internal tranquility. The first level is the Right Awareness and understanding life as it is without living in a dream world. The next level is Right Mindedness which is having pure objectives in life and not being self-centered. Third is the Right Language and not speaking ruthless words of others. This includes talking about oneself and having a bad attitude. Fourth is your behavior. This comprises of the following: no harm to others, no theft, and abstinence from sex. Fifth level is staying away from professions that can do damage to others. “This includes jobs trading in weapons used to kill other people; any form of trading human being, business in meat or intoxicants, and any form of trade in poisons or toxic agents designed to kill.” Sixth level is the right effort. This embraces evasion from all immoral actions and judgements towards others. Without the right effort you cannot advance in life. Seventh level is being heedful of what you focus on. This requires “Meditation and focus to contemplate the nature of reality more deeply.”
Lastly we have the eighth step which is Right Concentration. This is a very deep step that requires focusing on one purpose and meditation is the vehicle to help with this practice. Without this final step you are not able to reach the full potential of nirvana, which is complete peace. Nirvana is similar to the Hindu meaning of moksha which brings deliverance from samsara. As our text states this is a stage of life that seldom occurs for people. Once you attain this phase of your life you no longer have to experience the ongoing reincarnation. Nirvana is the final step to peace in an individual’s life and it takes diligence obedience in order to reach this destination in life. Both Buddhism and Hinduism have the respect for the suffering of this world and learn to appreciate and learn from their mistakes. Although they differ in the definition of the terms the goal for both religions is to ultimately experience complete peace from the trials and tribulations of the physical world and an ultimate end to adversity.
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