The Enlightenment of Christianity and the Salvation of Buddhism

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The Enlightenment of Christianity and the Salvation of Buddhism
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” An excerpt from Jesus’ Teachings found in Matthew 5 and Luke 14, it is not unlike the First Noble Truth of Buddhism, the Truth of Suffering, which discloses that, laconically, all life is suffering. The principles of Buddhism are set on this truth and aim to oppose such pain by attaining nirvana, which itself is obtained through living by morals and precepts established by Buddha. Christianity in turn promises redemption to any and all who live by words and actions of Jesus Christ and his teachings, living refined and moral lives whilst worshipping all three embodiments of God in return for salvation. What is entitled in both religions is the promise of happiness through spiritual practices, as well as enlightenment of higher knowing and understanding with a just view of rewards and punishment for all actions. All can be viewed as an atonement to do good and find reason for it, though tend to differ on their beliefs of who is responsible for their salvation.

Despite the contradictory cultures and time periods, both of the prominent figures in either religion were prophesized to do great future success for the betterment of mankind, and were of the few to succeed at such. The prophetic background of Jesus lies in Luke 1:35 where the angel Gabriel comes to the Virgin Mary and tells her she shall bear the Messiah, made possible by the Holy Spirit. Buddha, antithetically, was prophesized to be of either a great emperor or religious leader when his mother dreamt of a white baby elephant entering her side the night he was conceived. Followers of either religion would applaud their accomplishment. Though regardless of the success in their fulfillment of such destinies, Christ’s and Buddha’s missions were not an abnormality in their times. Buddha was just one of many a part of a religious movement that swept through India (already well established by the time of his birth), a ‘counter-culture of homeless religious mendicants who renounced the world and its teachings.’ (Keown 21) Jesus too was not alone in his operation. Itinerant teachers and miracle workers were a common occurrence in Jesus’ time, most of who too proclaimed the coming rule of God and some were even crucified by the Romans because of it. Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, first sermon, and death are the most emphasized in his life while Christians tend to focus on Jesus’ teachings, miracles, resurrection, and fulfilled prophecy. (Woodhead 4) As told in the Book of Genesis, God created the universe and all its inhabitants in six days, including man and the Garden of Eden in which lies the Tree of Knowledge. Woman is later created for man and she soon disobeys the only rule God created- eating from the Tree of Knowledge. This ultimately leads to their banishment from the garden and the punishment of childbearing and physical labor, which is later inherited to all of their children. Though some have interpreted the story to be symbolic of the progression into adulthood, those that have been taken by the Augustinian Interpretation would view the fault of Adam and Eve as disobedience and pride with the act being considered “utterly sinful.” Buddhism, in turn, claims no knowledge of a ‘beginning’ and believes that this world and the creation of it as cyclic, knowing no end. The only creation myth to be found tells of translucent beings who’ve became attracted to what was the beginnings of Earth. Greed makes them mortal and later leads to the establishment of a ruler in order to keep them happy, but with little success as it is implied that the beings are never able to find happiness. The contrast lies in the faults of man, whereas Christianity attributes the fall of man to pride and disobedience Buddhism locates the origin of human...
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