Beliefs and Ethical Comparison of Buddhism and Confucianism

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Zach Williams
11/20/2012
History 1030
Dr. Jonathan Reid
Beliefs and Ethical Comparison of Buddhism and Confucianism Sylvia Boorstein states this quote on Buddhism, “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it (“Buddhist Quotes and Sayings”).” This is a very thought provoking quote. It is saying that accepting a moment just the way it is without fully believing it or disagreeing with it. The moment cannot be altered to make it positive. It is fully accepting life the way it comes. Buddhism is the teaching of a Buddha and the practice of reaching enlightenment. Once a Buddha has reached enlightenment, he begins to teach the Dharma. The Dharma is the teaching of a Buddha. Buddhists believe that the purpose of life is achieved through the study and practice of the Dharma. There are two sections of the Buddhist religion. “Mahayana emphasizes the attaining of Buddhahood and the helping of others to attain the same goal,” while Theravada is relatively conservative and is closer to the early Buddhist traditions (Charing, Cole, El-Droubie, Goonewardene, Pancholi, and Sambhi 104). Mahayana and Theravada are the two major existing traditions today. Mahayana is the larger of the two traditions and refers to seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. Compassion is the highest virtue within Mahayana Buddhism and they are politically liberal (Brown). Even though Theravada is less practiced than Mahayana, they still have over 150 million followers worldwide. The ultimate goal of the Theravada Buddhist is reaching Nirvana and they strive for wisdom over compassion (Brown). Some say that Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion because at no time do they emphasize the existence or non-existence of a god at any point in time. Neither do they have doctrines unlike most religions. But different schools of Buddhism believe different teachings. Some schools have asked questions like: “Is there a god?” and “Does the soul really exist?” But theory holds no value in Buddhist culture, unless pursued in the obtaining of enlightenment. “The term Buddha is derived from ‘budh’, to understand or be awakened, and is the title given to an Enlightened being. Theravada recognizes two kinds of Buddhas, Pacceka Buddhas who understand the truth but do not teach it and Samma Sambuddhas who understand the truth and go on to teach it. Theravada considers the Buddha to be an extraordinary human being with mental powers far beyond those of an ordinary human (Charing, Cole, El-Droubie, Goonewardene, Pancholi, and Sambhi 107).” Buddhism helps people overcome unhappiness, and to understand and come to terms with life and death. Buddhism has spread out of India and has been accepted by the peoples of other countries Buddhism spread north from its starting origin in northern India to Korea, Japan, Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia. It also spread south to Sri Lanka, Burma, Indo-China, and Thailand. Modern Communism has wiped out Buddhism in China and Thailand. Where Buddhist worship was once prevalent, there is now resurgence in these countries. While in Sri Lanka, Burma, Japan, and Korea, Buddhism is thriving. Buddhism is also attracting much attention in the United States and Europe (Charing, Cole, El-Droubie, Goonewardene, Pancholi, and Sambhi 123-129). Confucius himself says, “To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness (Moncur).” Confucius made his living as a teacher and a scholar and was probably a member of the lower nobility or knightly class. He described himself as a conservator and transmitter of tradition. Good government for Confucius depended on the appointment to office of good men, who would...
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