Buddhism Vs. Christianity: Studying Religions

Buddhism and Christianity are both of the most popular religions. The followers of Buddhism are primarily concentrated in the Asian region, with India being its birthplace. On the other hand, Christianity is generally common throughout Europe and Western countries, despite its origins in modern Israel and Palestine. Despite some localization, for centuries, Christianity and Buddhism were practiced alongside each other. Moreover, Buddhism arguably influenced Christianity, being the older religion by approximately six centuries. Many Buddhism missionaries traveled across the Silk Road and Roman Empire, spreading the religion and affecting the ethical foundation of Christianity. However, despite these ethical similarities, there are many differences, as the religions base their ideology divergently.

Both Buddhism and Christianity have one prominent figure who founded the religion. In Buddhism, it is Buddha, or Prince Siddhartha Gautama in his human life, compared to Jesus Christ in Christianity (Monotheism, n.d.). Many parallels can be drawn between Jesus’s and Buddha’s lives, including their birth, death, and moral beliefs. It can be further argued that the concept of Christ’s resurrection is connected to the notion of reincarnation in Buddhism. Buddha lives multiple lives and achieves enlightenment, becoming a higher being. In a similar fashion, Christ is a reincarnation of God, who lives on Earth and goes back to heaven as a higher being. As Jesus is a God in a human form, Gautama is also not an ordinary human, lacking the worst traits of humanity. Thus, the core image and principles of Buddha and Jesus overlap.

Moreover, in both religions, humans are originally flawed and can redeem themselves by following the examples of Jesus and Buddha, respectively. In Christianity, people are guilty of “original sin”, making them inherently corruptible by Satan. In Buddhism, people are ignorant and blind to the truth of the universe. Only Buddha and Jesus can save the people, and they should abide by their ideology to get closer to the infinite life of a soul. Therefore, both Jesus and Buddha become role models for humans to emulate. Moreover, the qualities that humans should emulate are similar, including kindness, forgiveness, and other morally positive characteristics.

Despite these similarities, there are significant differences in the core of these religions. While Buddhism rejects the notion of God, the core philosophy of Christianity is to accept and worship one God. In Buddhism, everyone can achieve enlightenment, or Nirvana, becoming Buddha, as is its ultimate goal, “What is needed in Buddhism is enlightenment, neither crucifixion nor resurrection” (Suzuki, 2018, p. 123). People need to rebel and rid themselves of their prejudices and open themselves to knowledge. On the other hand, in Christianity, only God can forgive people and grant them eternal life. Moreover, it takes the sacrifice of Jesus to reach this forgiveness. Thus, people are at the mercy of an authoritative God, while Buddhism promotes the idea of rebelliousness in spirituality. Moreover, there is no distinct Bible as a collection of God’s words in Buddhism, as Buddha is not a God. Therefore, Buddhism primarily relies on the scriptures with the teachings of Buddha and other masters who attained enlightenment.

Steaming from these ideological differences, Christianity and Buddhism have distinct rituals to attain their spiritual goals. While the former focuses the religious practices on the worship of God and intellectual understanding of the Bible, Buddhism brings a physical and mental aspect to the forefront. In Buddhism, to become enlightened, one must develop every side of themselves, including the right view, aspiration, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Thus, the religious figure in Buddhism can be often seen in meditation, compared to the Church gatherings to pray to God.

References

Monotheism. (n.d.). Approaches to Studying Religions. Sophia Learning. Web.

Suzuki, D. T. (2018). Mysticism: Christian and buddhist. Routledge. Web.