i chose Buddhism as my topic of the Critical Thinking assignment this week. Buddhism is a very interesting topic. In experience and research of Buddhism, I have learned its not so much a religion as it is a way of life with a goal of reaching enlightenment. Buddhism dates to the Sixth Century in 563 B.C. to a prince named Siddhartha Gautama, who gave up all his riches and set out on a journey in search of the source of suffering and how to put an end to it. Around 528-483 B.C. Siddhartha found his enlightenment in the city of Bodh Gaya, sitting under a fig tree by the river, vowing to not rise again until he had met his goal. After about 45 days of deep mediation, he had finally found enlightenment and became Buddha, “The Enlightened One” (Halverson, 2004).
During Buddha’s teachings, he never really spoke of many of the things that make up a worldview as we know in our faith of Christianity. Instead, during his sermons he would give his testimonies talking about how he found enlightenment. During those sermons he never really spoke of the beginnings of life or the universe at that matter. In our Christian faith, we know from our biblical studies reading the book of Genesis that God created the Heavens and Earth (Genesis 1:1). God is also responsible as being the creator of humanity. “So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God. He created him; male and female, He created them” (Genesis 1:26 ). Buddhism teaches that nothing in the material world is permanent. We are only passengers on an illusionary ride through a misperception of reality. (Wallace, 2014).
Buddha taught that there is no such thing as “self.” The self is on a repeating journey in the Samsara Cycle. In the Samsara Cycle, it is believed that each person is consists of a combination of five aggregates called Skandhas, which include the physical body, emotions, perception, volition, and the conscious (Halverson, 2004). In a conversation with husband’s cousin Tommy Chanthamixay, I learned in Buddhism beliefs that humanity originated at the beginning of the current Kalpa as Deva-like beings reborn from the Abhasvara Deva realm (Chanthamixay, 2021). In simpler terms, humans came from Heaven in the Buddhas current world. It is said in Buddhism that a Bodhisattva can appear in many different types of lives for instance, as an animal or as a Deva, though Buddhas are always human.
Buddhist say animals enrich our lives and help us to understand the natural world around us. Although as humans we are more important than all the other creatures beings that we have the power and intelligence to make influential decisions (Chanthamixay, 2021) just as in Christianity. David Praises the Lord in Psalms 8:1-9, telling Him how wonderful He is, basically thanking God for making man and putting man in charge over every other living thing on Earth (Psalm 8:1-9).
For a Christian, one’s purpose in life is to learn, live, and witness the Gospel Message. We live ours lives as Christians with our eye sat on the prize in the sky, but to do so one must seek redemption in our Savior Jesus Christ. He is our one and only key to the adorned paradise we all long to be. We all owe our lives to Him for the gift of eternal life that God gave to us the day Jesus sacrificed his own life (John 3:16). In some ways Buddhism has some what the same goal or purpose in life. Buddhist attempt to live a life of peacefulness and compassion. Their goal in life is to one day become a Bodhisattva. They believe by following the teachings of Buddha they can achieve Enlightenment, which can be done through The Noble Truths.
The Noble Truths are the core and the realization of Buddha’s journey to enlightenment. The Noble Truths is made up four ideas, 1. Life is suffering, 2. All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment, and understanding the result from all ignorance, 3. Suffering can be ended by defeating the ignorance and attachment, and 4. The path to the suppression of suffering, which is the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path are the right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation (Pecorino, 2001). Usually, The Noble Eightfold Path is grouped up into three sections and make up the core of the Buddhist beliefs which are Sila (morality), Panna (wisdom), and samadhi (concentration). Sila is how one would know right from wrong (Halverson, 2004). The sila consist of right speech, right action, and right livelihood. For one to stay on the right path to enlightenment you must follow Buddha’s simple commands which are 1. Taking of life and that means ALL life forms, 2. Stealing, 3. Practice moral sexual behavior, 4. No lying, and 5. Avoiding all drugs no matter the kind (Chanthamixay, 2021). Christianity has the 10 Commandments to follow as a moral code. There are two of the commandments that are the greatest of all of them as Jesus Christ was questioned in Matthew 22:36-40,
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with
All your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind. This is
The first and GREATEST commandment. And the second
Is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On These
Two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
When someone passes away in Buddhism the main goal is finding enlightenment, but the ultimate goal is breaking that cycle and finding forever peace in Nirvana. When one finds Nirvana, they are released from the wheel of life and the cycle of birth or rebirth, and finally become one with the universe (Pecorino, 2001). Although many mistakes the Hinduism practice of reincarnation as a practice of Buddhism, it is not apart of their belief system. Buddha taught that death cause the skandhas to be tore apart, like a computer for example, it breaks down resulting in a non-working piece of equipment and is unpieced bit by bit (Chanthamixay, 2021). Heaven is the goal in Christianity. God accepting us through those Holy Gates is a lifelong dream and goal for many in our culture. Reuniting with all our beloved friends and family of the past life and finally being graced by the present of our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12).
There are many differences between Buddhism and Christianity I learned during the time it took to do the research for this paper, which I found to be very interesting to say the least. Being married into an Asian family, who mostly practices Buddhism, I was surprised to learn that there was a lot that I just wasn’t familiar with. I hope as you read this paper you develop a better understanding of the Buddhist culture and beliefs just as I have.
Chanthamixay, T. (2021, April 26). Buddhism. (L. Hayes, Interviewer)
Genesis 1:1. (1982). In The Holy Bible (Gaint Print Edition ed., Vol. New King James Verson, p. 1426). Nashville, Tn: Thomas Nelson.
Genesis 1:26 . (n.d.). In The Holy Bible.
Halverson, D. (2004). Buddhism. Colorado Springs, Co: International Students, Inc.
John 3:16. (n.d.). In The Holy Bible.
Pecorino, P. (2001). Buddhism. In P. Pecorino, Philosophy of Religion. Retrieved from www.qcc.cuny.edu/sociualsciences/ppecorino/phil_of_religion_text/chapter_2_religions/buddhism.htm
Psalm 8:1-9. (n.d.). In The Holy Bible.
Revelation 20:12. (n.d.). In The Holy Bible.
Wallace, J. W. (2014, September 10). A Brief Overview of Buddhism. Cold Case Christianity.