The homogeneity in religious beliefs is characteristic of most societies in the entire world. This paper critically examines and explores the advent of Buddhism and its comparison with Christianity. It intends to explore these two forms of religion by discussing some of their fundamental beliefs and practices and their aspects that are incompatible. The outline of these differences should therefore enable one to distinguish Christianity from Buddhism.
The practices and principles of Buddhism are founded on such virtues as peacefulness, loving kindness and wisdom. Among the fundamental Buddhist’s beliefs is their conviction and belief that a happy life full of fortunes is actually possible to attain by all humanity irrespective of ones age, race, gender or social status (Netland &Yandell, 2009). However, the fundamental beliefs in Christianity are purely founded on ones faith in the Messiah and ones conviction in Him as the savior. A happy life is purely the reserve of those who walk in the ways of righteousness and holiness. Fortune is not existent according to the biblical principles. The only fortunate people are those whose names have been written in the book of life having overcome the world of sin by believing in the only son of God, Christ the Messiah. Thus, in Christianity a happy life is considered a blessing from God that one enjoys when he/she lives a righteous life. Thus in this, Christianity remains incompatible with Buddhism (Netland & Yandell, 2009).
A close examination of some of the fundamental differences between Christianity and Buddhism revels that whereas Buddhism is founded on the principles of coolness and tolerance and that there exists certain truths in Buddhist doctrines, it is not compatible with the truths enshrined in Christianity (Archibald, 2009). The Buddhists do not believe in the existence of the almighty God. Therefore they do not have any discussions about rewards and punishments on the judgment day. However, Christianity and even contemporary science assert that there is actually one almighty God the creator of the heavens and the earth. According to Christianity, the God who created everything has absolute authority to administer justice to all people because he is a just God. Therefore, god punishes all injustice and sin because He is righteous and holy. Punishment and reward that is not outlined in Buddhism exists in Christianity and these are associated with judgment and accountability for ones sins (Netland &Yandell, 2009).
Buddhism is basically a religion that is not practiced in the context of faith and loyalty to a supernatural being. It is based on deeds that help to lighten suffering so that one can attain a state of enlightenment. Buddhism is thus founded on faith where creation and not the creator are worshiped (Archibald, 2009). The cycle of re-birth outlined in the teachings of Buddhism lacks evidence and is the cause of a shifted attention towards creation. Contrary to this, Christianity believes that man is not out rightly good but is born a sinner and therefore needs to be saved. Whereas Buddhists believe that one can save himself, Christianity refutes this on the basis that one can never save himself. According to Netland &Yandell, (2009) salvation is only receive through Christ the messiah through the divinely given grace who reconciles all that have received him back to the father, who is the creator.
Because Buddhism does not recognize sin, the concept of the savior is conspicuously lacking. Even though those practicing Buddhism seek refuge from Buddha, they do not believe that such refuge in Buddha makes one pure (Archibald, 2009). In Christianity however, the only way to salvation and for purification is through believing Jesus and accepting Him in ones life for eternal life. The relationship that exists between Buddha and the followers of Buddhism can be likened to that of a student and a teacher. This implies that Buddha is thus not an incarnation of God as some Hindu followers assert, but in Christianity, Jesus is the incarnation of God Himself (Netland &Yandell, 2009). Therefore while Buddhists try to purify themselves through meditations, giving up of worldly materials, Christianity maintains that all these can never make one right or save one (Netland & Yandell, 2009).
In the discussion of the destiny man, it is widely believed in Buddhism that upon death, one will later come back to live as another human being on earth. Archibald, (2009) cites that this cycle of birth and re-birth thus continue until one is eventually set free. In Christianity it is believed predestined that one dies physically once and after this death comes judgment. After judgment has been passed there is life after death. Them that overcome judgment shall resurrect and the spirit and the body shall then re-join. In this there seem to be some compatibility between the two religions. However, in Christianity the conditions of life after death are wholly based on once ability to maintain and lead a holy and righteous life. Such predisposition lacks in Buddhism. Wickedness thus leads to everlasting punishment and indignation.
Buddhists devotedly worship their gods although none of these gods is a true god. Christianity on its part however, has a different understanding God. So whereas Buddhism is polytheistic, Christianity believes in one sole supreme God (Netland &Yandell, 2009). Buddhists believe that they can attain the same level as Buddha once they reach a state of enlightenment. It is conspicuously clear that the beliefs and practices of Buddhism are full of pessimism while Christianity is founded on the principles of optimism. While Buddhists consider life as full of distress Christianity is always optimistic and devotes itself to the service of humanity. The more one serves in faithfulness the more one glorifies God and thus gains access to the blessings of God. The incompatibility between Christianity and Buddhism is further postulated in the beliefs and practices about food and eating. On this the doctrines of Buddhism appear to be too strict while Christianity is more liberal (Netland & Yandell, 2009).
In Buddhism, one is strictly required to be a vegetarian. Christianity presents all types of food as having been sanctified and fit for human consumption. Eating of chicken or eggs is believed to have the power to make one behave like a chicken. Further, eating of such creatures is considered to make one subject to retribution in the life to come. In this therefore Christianity appears superior to Buddhism as it gives one liberty to use all the creations for his needs (Archibald, 2009). In fact man was given complete authority and dominion over all the creation in the beginning of God’s creation.
While these two religions appear incompatible in many ways, there are certain aspects of both Christianity and Buddhism that seem to be consistent. Most religions world over including Christianity and Buddhism has the ethic of reciprocity. This principle seems to be governing authority on interpersonal relationships. It defines how one should treat one another (Archibald, 2009). For example, Christianity is based on the golden rule that dictates that one should do unto others what he would wish to be done to him/her. Morality as a theme appears conspicuous on both Christianity and Buddhism. The only difference and probably where Christianity is doing better than Buddhism is the fact that in Christianity morality is enforced by the requirements for eternity. Moral decadence in Christianity thus leads to judgment and punishment on the last day while this is not conditioned in Buddhism. Enforcement and adherence to the conditions of morality is thus strict when compared to Buddhism (Netland &Yandell, 2009).
When the two accounts are compared it is apparent beyond any reasonable doubt that Christianity clearly gives a detailed and unambiguous account of God and the creation. Such an account has even been proved by modern science (Netland &Yandell, 2009). Christianity postulates that there exists one true and supreme God who created everything in existence. Buddhists however, do not believe in the existence of one God but rather worship many gods. Christianity is founded on Biblical principles that are more comprehensive than Buddhism (Archibald, 2009).Thus there are far reaching reasons as to why one should consider Christianity than Buddhism.
Whereas both religions are centered behind some historical figures; Jesus and Buddha, only Jesus is presented to have conquered death (Netland &Yandell, 2009). Discussions of cycles of birth and re-birth thus lose ground in Buddhism because the central figure did not conquer death but is an image. It is only through Christ that one is cleansed of sin and purified. Good deeds wealth as presented in Buddhism does not make one right with God. In Buddhism, atonement of sin is believed to come when one adheres to karma that is impersonal and amoral. Thus whether one sins or remains righteous karma is not offended because karma is not a person. Only God reconciles one to Himself through the blood of Jesus who was crucified for the atonement of sins of those who believe in Him. The way to eternal life is to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and not being morally upright (Archibald, 2009).
Conclusively, Buddhism and Christianity are two distinct religions with beliefs that are peculiar to each other. Generally the beliefs and practices in Christianity are informed and treasured because compliance to the doctrines makes one right with God. Furhther, the principles of Christianity are supported and easy to explore and follow contrary to those in Buddhism.