Different religions have different approaches while defining the concept of God, soul, redemption and afterlife and that precisely each of these approaches defines each worldview. The purpose of the essay is to compare and contrast the elements of worldview of two religions- Christianity, founded by Jesus Christ and Buddhism, founded by Gautama Buddha.
The Christian worldview believes in the existence of an Omnipotent and Omniscient entity named God, often referred to as the “Father” who is the creator of the universe and anything inhabiting in it. The Christian worldview strongly emphasizes the importance of attaining oneness with God that can be accomplished through unconditional submission to God’s will and by leading a virtuous life (Ford, 2016). On the other hand, Buddhism does not acknowledge the presence of any external authority controlling the universe or influencing the destiny of mankind. This worldview however resembles Christianity as it also emphasizes the importance of compassion and empathy for fellow creatures. Although Buddhist worldview, unlike Christianity does not claim that a man should become a virtuous follower of God to lead a peaceful afterlife, it does state "Consider others as yourself (Turner, 2014)."
The Christian worldview defines the concept of a self as a son of the Almighty, referred to as the Father. Although the body is mutable, the soul is imperishable and immortal which shares a tender and intimate relation with the external God, and this defines the concept of the self (Esqueda, 2014). The Buddhist worldview however does not rely on the concept of God for defining the self, and rather explains it in the light of five attributes- physical form, feelings, perceptions, intellectual activities such as volition, and consciousness. Since these components of the soul undergo transformation with every stage of life, Buddha believes in a temporary and ever-changing self, that just like the world is ever-changing (Park, 2017). The concept of an immortal should is dismissed here. The concept of self is important in defining the concept of suffering in both the worldviews. The Christian worldview believes that a man should lead a virtuous life as it will lead to Heaven and let him unify with the Heavenly Father. Anyone who refuses to follow the virtuous life preached by Christ, will be subject to eternal damnation (Ryken, 2013). However, the Buddhist worldview believes regardless of anything, man will be subject to suffering and death, and the Four Noble Truths state that it is only through the extinction of desire or attachment that one can achieve the cessation of sufferings (Thanissaro & Kulupana, 2015). While he self is subordinated to God in case of Christianity, the self play the ultimate role in attaining spiritual enlightenment and salvation in case of the Buddhist worldview.
While Buddhism does not acknowledge the importance of adhering to any religious ritual, Christian worldview strongly recommends Communion and Baptism (Friesen, 2015). Buddha spoke of the Law of Karma where one’s action, good or bad, will always have consequence that determine human destiny (Keown, 2016). The Christian worldview states that any kind of sin is the violation of the divine law and hence the offender is punished by the Almighty. While Buddhist worldview speaks of the cycle of birth and death, the Christian worldview negates the possibility of reincarnation. However, despite the differences in approach, both the worldviews recommend a selfless, virtuous life.
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Ford, J. L. (2016). Buddhism, Christianity, and The Matrix: the dialectic of myth-making in contemporary cinema. Journal of Religion & Film, 4(2), 1.
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Keown, D. (2016). Buddhism and bioethics. Springer.
Park, J. Y. (2017). Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging Zen Master Kim Iry?p. University of Hawai'i Press.
Ryken, P. G. (2013). Christian worldview: A student's guide. Crossway.
Thanissaro, P. N., & Kulupana, S. (2015). Buddhist teen worldview: some normative background for health professionals. Contemporary Buddhism, 16(1), 28-42.
Turner, A. (2014). Saving Buddhism: The impermanence of religion in colonial Burma. University of Hawai'i Press.