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Compare and Contrast Buddhism and Christianity Essay

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Religion has always been an important topic in almost every society on Earth. Many religions have similar and contrasting thoughts on certain issues, such as life after death and issues of morality and ethics. Buddhism and Christianity are two religions known worldwide, with 7% of the world practicing Buddhism and 31% of the world practicing Christianity. Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is considered to be the Savior of the world in the religion. Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths; all life is sorrowful, sorrow is due to craving, sorrow can only be stopped by the stopping of craving, and this can only be done by a course of carefully disciplined conduct, which would culminate in the life of concentration and meditation led by the Buddhist monk. These religions are not considered to be very alike to each other because they were created in different parts of the world and at very different time periods. However, these two religions do have some similar thoughts on certain central ideas in both of the religions. While these two religions seem unrelated to each other, and there certainly are differences, there are some issues, such as morality, death, and the afterlife, where they have comparative views.

Christianity is very clear on the nature of morality and ethics in their religion. It really was set out in the Bible for how people can be considered to be morally and ethically good in life. The Old Testament discusses the Ten Commandments, which are principles set in place for how the followers of Christianity can lead a good life in the name of God. The first three commandments basically affirm that the Christian God is the only God, no other gods should be worshipped, and to keep the Sabbath holy. The next seven commandments are where morality and ethics come into play. They honor your mother and father, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not covet your neighbor’s wife, and do not covet your neighbor’s goods. While there are plenty of different versions of the Ten Commandments, the one written above is one of the most common interpretations. These commandments are used as a guide for how to treat fellow humans. If you break these commandments and do not repent for your actions, then you will most likely not get into heaven. In the New Testament, Jesus gives a summary as to which are the most important commandments. The most important commandment is to love God above all things. But, the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself and to do unto others as you would do to others. These commandments are the basis for how to be a good person in the eyes of Christianity. This set of ethics and morals helps to set the base of what is expected of you in Christianity.

In Buddhism, the nature of morality and ethics of the religion is a little simpler to define than the Ten Commandments. In Buddhism, there are the Five Precepts, which tell people to avoid killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication. Four out of the Five Precepts are indistinguishable from four of the Ten Commandments. Killing is a mortal sin in Christianity while killing in Buddhism works against the idea of world peace. Stealing is against both of these sets of principles because it is morally wrong. Sexual misconduct is also considered wrong in both religions, with Christianity saying not to commit adultery and Buddhism believing that sexual pleasure hinders the ability to obtain enlightenment. Lying is considered wrong in both Christianity and Buddhism. Buddhism is also against intoxication, which is where it differs from Christianity. Buddhism is against intoxication because it can lead to people committing wrongdoings, which could be detrimental to the idea of world peace that Buddhism strives to achieve. Drinking alcohol is actually relatively important in Christianity. The New Testament recorded many stories of Jesus and alcohol, such as when Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding. Also, when Jesus had the Last Supper, he had his disciples drinking wine and said the wine was his blood, which is not meant to be literal. Even in modern times, people still drink wine at Church and are told that it is the blood of Christ. Buddhism and Christianity both have very similar sets of morals and ethics that are outlined for them for how to treat other humans, with some slight differences among them.

Many religions try to find an answer to what happens to humans after they die. The idea of an afterlife acts as comfort for most people when they follow a religion. It can help as a coping mechanism for families, in that it helps them know that the person who died may be in a better place than they were on Earth. Christians like to believe that death is not the end of their existence. The idea in Christianity is that there is an afterlife when people die, where people are judged upon their actions on Earth. The goal of a Christian is to lead a good life in accordance with the word of God and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. One of the most important teachings of Jesus would be the Golden Rule, which is found in the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus wanted people to do others what you would have them do to you. Basically, it means to treat everyone as you would like to be treated. This is not the only teaching of Jesus, but one of the most important to follow in Christianity. So, if a Christian leads a good life in accordance with the word of God and the teachings of Jesus, then that Christian will go to heaven. When it comes to heaven itself, everything is really open to interpretation on what happens in heaven. Many interpretations have been made about heaven, but no one truly knows what it is. It is supposed to exceed all expectations as to what it might be. However, if a person does not lead a good life, then that person would go to hell. Hell is supposed to be a place of punishment for people who do not lead a good life. It is supposed to be a very hot place that horrible people go to after they die as punishment for their actions committed on Earth. There is a middle ground between heaven and hell, which is purgatory. In limbo, humans are supposed to atone for their actions until they have paid their moral debts. Some people die before they are able to ask for forgiveness or atone for their actions on Earth. This does not mean that they should have to go to heaven or hell. Purgatory is the middle ground where people can try to repent for their actions in order to get into heaven. Heaven and Hell are for eternity, while purgatory offers an escape route into heaven. The thing about heaven, hell, and purgatory is that not all Christians are in agreement on how to get there because it can be a very subjective issue. There are many different interpretations of each of these places, and there is no definitive answer in any of the Christian schools of thought.

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Buddhism has a very contrasting idea when compared to Christianity when it comes to death and the afterlife. Buddhism denies the existence of the immortal soul, which is a key element in Christianity when it comes to heaven and hell. While Buddhists deny the immortal soul’s existence, they believe in transmigration. In Buddhism, there are two options when a person dies. The person either is reborn into another body or the person achieves the state of nirvana, which is the ultimate enlightenment in the religion and beyond the realms of death and rebirth. When it comes to rebirth, there are many determinants, such as karma. Previous deeds in a person’s life may determine whether a person will be reborn in a happy state or reborn in an evil state. If a person does good deeds throughout their life, then they may be born in a good state, and vice versa if a person does bad deeds in life. There is also the thought that last-held thought may also influence rebirth, as well as a person’s deeds throughout life. Rebirth and karma could be considered parallel to the duality of heaven and hell. In order to enter heaven, a person needs to be good. As well in Buddhism, a person who does good deeds may be reborn into a good life. In order to be sent to hell, a person needs to commit evil deeds. If a person commits evil deeds in Buddhism, they may be reborn into a bad or evil situation. In order to stop the rebirth cycle in Buddhism, a person needs to achieve nirvana, otherwise, the cycle will continue until the person does so. Achieving nirvana would be akin to getting into heaven for Christians. While heaven might seem to be a physical or spiritual place for Christians, nirvana is closer to a mental state for Buddhists. When a person achieves nirvana, all ideas of an individual’s personality and ego cease to exist, which leaves nothing to be reborn. Rebirth is considered to be the result of ignorance and that individuality and permanence do not exist.

In Christianity, Jesus Christ was considered to be the son of God. Jesus sacrificed himself in order for humanity to gain salvation. Salvation in Christianity saves human beings from the consequences of sin. Since all humans were born with Original Sin thanks to Adam and Eve, there was no chance at salvation until Jesus came along. Before Jesus was born as the Son of God, people were basically eternally doomed, meaning that all people went to hell. When Jesus died on the cross, he gave people the ability to have a chance at salvation. By following Jesus Christ and his teaching, you would become a better person on Earth, therefore amplifying your chance of getting salvation in the afterlife. By this I mean you will go to heaven. By having faith in God and the teachings of Jesus, a person will find salvation in the afterlife. However, it is possible for people not to find salvation. The people that do not find salvation are the ones that do not follow God or his word. This means that people who have no idea what Christianity is would not be able to find salvation in the afterlife, even if they were generally good people. People who do evil deeds also will not find salvation after death. In order to gain salvation and have eternal life with God after death, people need to do good deeds and follow the way of the Lord. Salvation in Christianity could be considered comparable to the idea of karma in Buddhism. Karma is the actions and deeds of a person that lead to further consequences, good or bad. Christians on Earth tend to receive their karma in the afterlife, while Buddhists can receive their karma in the form of rebirth. If they lived good lives and followed the word of God, then they will be rewarded a spot in heaven beside God eternally. However, if a person lived an evil life and did not follow the word of God, then they would be condemned and punished in hell for all of eternity.

In Buddhism, there is really no thought of an afterlife, but there is still the option for salvation. Suffering is one of the main themes of Buddhism. The first truth of the four noble truths is summarized as all life is suffering. Suffering is one of the things that is extremely consistent in Buddhism. The rebirth cycle in Buddhism is also a part of the suffering process. Humans continue to suffer through the rebirth process until they learn how to gain nirvana through enlightenment. You could compare birth and rebirth to the Christian idea of hell. In hell, beings are punished and suffer for not believing in God and doing evil actions. The ultimate goal in Buddhism is to achieve nirvana. If you do not achieve nirvana, then your suffering will continue in another life, which can seem like a punishment. Rebirth seems to be more similar to purgatory, in that it gives you another chance to make things right. While it may take a long time for a person to achieve nirvana, they still have the chance to. In Christianity, purgatory can last as long as needed for a person. For Buddhism, the way to make things right is to find a way to obtain nirvana. Suffering can only stop through achieving nirvana. Achieving nirvana also allows the cycle of rebirth to end, which would end the suffering that all beings feel. The only way to achieve nirvana is through enlightenment. The state of nirvana is akin to gaining salvation by getting into heaven. In heaven and the state of nirvana, there is no more suffering. But, instead of a physical or spiritual place like heaven, nirvana is purely a state of mind. In order to obtain nirvana, a person needs to adopt the right views about the nature of existence, then by a carefully controlled system of conduct, and finally by concentration and meditation. Entering the state of nirvana ends the suffering of life, which is considered to be salvation in Buddhism.

On the surface, it would appear to an average person that Buddhism and Christianity are two very separate sets of religions that have much more differences than similarities. For one, Buddhism does not believe in an actual afterlife, unlike Christianity which beliefs in heaven, hell, and purgatory. There is also no all-powerful, all-knowing being in Buddhism, which is considered to be God in Christianity. However, once you start to look into it more, these religions are very comparable with each other. Both of these religions have certain ideas on salvation that seek to help their followers find peace. While heaven seems to be a metaphysical place that the soul goes to after death, nirvana seems to be a mental state that is comparable to heaven in that true peace is achieved. The Ten Commandments and the Five Precepts share four common beliefs about how to live a good and fulfilled life. The overall goal of both of these religions is to show people how to live a good life in order to achieve true peace, which is why there are a lot of similarities between the two.

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Compare and Contrast Buddhism and Christianity Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
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