Before explaining on my moral codes, the understanding of moral codes is essential to ensure that while explaining or putting across my moral practices I understand what I am talking about in this context. Moral codes area system of morality that a particular persons or people who may be united by a common religion or practice believe in, and somehow dictates on how they envision things in life. Thus, according to the environment that I happened to be brought up in, there are certain acts that I perceive as good or bad. Consequently, according to my religious practices, there are also acts of which are judged as good or bad. Fortunately, they do not contradict that which I grew up to judge as a good or bad act of something or to somebody.
As a Christian, there are the teachings of the Bible, which always instill my personal belief and how to act. Hence, my religion generally influences how I make choices since there is no contradiction between my personal belief and the Christian teachings that I have been exposed to. According to the principles of Christianity, most of the choices people make in life including me are always inclined to the Ten Commandments of the Bible. Though there are other teachings in the Bible pertaining to life’s moral teachings, the Ten Commandments are unique because in them, most of life ideals and realities do revolve[ CITATION Ron00 \l 1033 ].
What majorly influenced the development of these beliefs were my parents and the church itself. Though a large number of factors do contribute to a person development in Christianity or a specific religion, it happened that I came from a religious background; I was introduced to the Christian teaching and practices as a kindergarten kid. This was later supplemented by the Christian teachings that were taught to us when we were in a Sunday school. A part from that, while undergoing the middle scholar subject based on religion was also incorporated in the education system that introduced us more to the various religious practices that exist. This facilitated much in my understanding of Christianity as a religion[ CITATION Ron00 \l 1033 ].
A part from my personal contacts with the tutors and the subjects, some Media Channel also influenced my personal beliefs. Some programs in certain Medias also talked about Christianity. Especially in my early childhood, the dramas and the videos tapes produced to emulate Jesus Christ teachings and life. Television Programs do emulate or air Christian teachings and practices. These occurrences are usually aired during the ritual practices and festive seasons such as Christmas for the Christians to understand the origin and founder of their religion. My peers who are also members of the same religion have also influenced my own development in my beliefs, because as Christians, the Christians unions that are formed by youths to increase their own understanding of their religion also influenced the beliefs into me. In addition, one of the beliefs that have been true to me I confess has been the acclamation of Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Because that is what Christianity is based on[ CITATION Ron00 \l 1033 ].
My faith and beliefs has walked me through the walks of my life. My moral code is a total retrospective of the teachings and practices of my religious background. What I have discovered with life is that it entails the good and bad things that exist. Hence, this have been the practices of my daily life which also made me to come up with my own philosophy of life, which is, “when I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad I feel bad,” that’s my philosophy.
Being a successful follower of your faith depicts the contentment that one gains after doing something. Moreover, it does not mean by being contented with yourself is through comparison of yourself with others and view yourself as the best or as a successful follower of your faith, It is usually an inward feeling of what one has achieved in life. This is really, what it means to be a successful follower of your faith. Since the teachings of the Ten Commandments are majorly the pillars of Christianity as far as the moral conduct is concerned, following them to the latter means one is a successful follower of his faith. The two basic was which are always emphasized by my religion, as the major pillars of the remaining eight are the first and the fourth rule. The fourth being the Golden rule of love, with its practice one is in a position to follow the rest of the New Testament. Hence, by recognizing God as your personal behavior and the rule of love is what it takes for one to be a successful follower of once faith[ CITATION Ron00 \l 1033 ].
History of Buddhism as a Religion
Buddhism as a religion is argued to have its origin among the Indian community in Asia before gaining popularity and spreading to other regions of the world. United States of America is one of the regions where Buddhism seems to take root in the process of time. Its popularity in the region has made its rituals and practices quite common in contemporary America as is reflected by the high number of followers it commands[ CITATION Hus04 \l 1033 ].
Interesting though, is the manner in which this religion is argued to have originated or come into being. Gautama Buddha, who the religion is attributed to is said to have passed through thousands of lives before finally descending into the earth for his transmigration. He lived between 563 and 483 AD in presently Indo-Nepalese region. It all started when his mother Maya saw in a dream that she was having a white elephant in her womb, a significance that she was about to give birth to a Buddha. She later conceived Buddha and surprisingly gave birth to him painlessly. He is said to have spoke and walked immediately and was received by Brahma.
This unique conception and eventual birth of Buddha by Maya created a notion that divine forces were responsible for the conception. Buddha was now considered as a spiritual being with unique divine capabilities and power. This belief in Buddha continued to spread and consequently gained followers among the Indians in Asia. With subscription of multitudes of followers to this belief a religion was born, and a name assigned to it with respect to its founder- Buddha. It was thus referred to as Buddhism[ CITATION Dam09 \l 1033 ].
Just like any other religion, Buddhism had rituals and a set of rules and laws by which its followers were to live. The laws governed their actions both in the spiritual and social life. The solemn obedience of these laws and the constant conduction of rituals by the followers was crucial in fostering unity amongst them. As a result the religion grew stronger by the day despite great opposition by other existing religions who viewed their rituals as well as beliefs as being farfetched and defiant to the norms of spiritual sects.
One of the common rituals of the Buddhist religion was bowing. Bowing was supposed to be done to images of Buddha and other religious superiors. Offering flowers, pilgrimage, chanting among others was also practices that were conducted in honor of Buddha and other religious gods. Their teachings which were also a strong factor in the growth of the religion had pillars by which their actions were ordained. One of these pillars was Dharma, which was more of a common law than an exploratory philosophy. These laws were established through clarification and sermonized correctly. It majorly focused on an end that could only be attributed to fate.
The teachings were viewed as an opportunity for one to experience the consequences of the occurrence or outcome. It was however argued that one could not achieve this experience unless he or she followed the teachings to the latter. They hence believed that Dharma was able to present everlasting as well as instant fallouts here and now despite how long it takes. Therefore according to the teachings, there was no need to stay until the future. Buddhism was more focused on the now and then action, its consequences and a presentation of an opportunity to experience oneself with respect to ones action in as far as following of the teachings is concerned.
Process of development of the religion
Buddhism spread widely in the Asian regions before it broadened its scope to other regions of the world. The Chinese Buddhism for instance was introduced to China by India. Buddhism in Japan was successful because of the complementary it had with Shinto; the Japanese native religion. Though it was first accepted by the class, it later spread to the common population due to the complimentary. Though the emperor suppressed Buddhism at first, he was forced to withhold his suppression after Buddhism had gained many followers and spread all over, hence the success of Buddhism in China.
With its increase in popularity many people became interested in the religion. Most individuals were drawn to it since it rules appeared to be relatively flexible. Actions that were completely forbidden in other religions seemed not to matter much in Buddhism. It is therefore argued that most followers especially those who are not of ancient decent, subscribe to the religion to use it as a scapegoat or justification of their actions. This explains its ever increasing popularity in contemporary America[ CITATION Hus04 \l 1033 ].
It popularity can also be attributed to the migration of Asians into other regions of the world. United States of America being one of the countries with the highest number of Asian immigrants has consequently being subjected to the massive domination of the religion in most of the states. Like a world fire in the bush Buddhism continues to spread at a rather intriguing as well as surprising rate.
In the current state of affairs in the world, Buddhism has been identified as one of the forces among the many engaged in the social affairs of the society. Therefore people have come identify its role as a religion as well as the social problems affecting the contemporary world today i.e. correcting injustice, fighting against oppression of women, famine and ecological degradation.
Buddhism in the contemporary world
With a population of above 1 billion followers, Buddhism is one of the most populated religions in the world today.
Buddhism was recently featured a lot in the news with the rise of their leader’s rebellion in China: Dalai Lama from whence, the Buddhists have been trying to spread the message of peace across all continents and marshaling support for their leader who is faced with opposing forces in China. Among many methods that the Buddhists use in spreading their peace message is through literature. Buddhists have come up with a journal termed “Turning Wheel.” Turning wheel is a journal which is trying to persuade the world to come to a common understanding on the topic of peace. The novel also features environmental topics, human rights and social justice biasing on Buddha’s teachings.
There is no unique teachings sprout to the fore by Buddhism, Buddhism combined, through borrowing, doctrines from different religions. Its teachings were written at least four centuries after Buddha himself. Though other religions were also written about years after, they indicate fewer periods. Islam indicates a generation while Christianity indicates (60-200) years after Jesus. This leads to a lot of questions on the validity of the content written on Buddha. This is because after four years a lot of information has been altered with the removal and addition of the same. It may lead to a whole new story since the sources used to write on Buddhism had no validity[ CITATION Dam09 \l 1033 ].
Buddhists don’t believe in unison of ideas about their religion. In Buddhism, it is believed that truth can come from any person and thus explains the inconsistencies it faces from place to place. People in different geographical set ups practice different Buddhism with each believing they are right. The Buddhism in America may not be identical to that practiced in Tibet but Buddhist followers embrace it across since as they claim, “truth” can come from anywhere.
Buddhism is viewed as a religion with a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions. For instance, the birth of Buddha, while in Burma it is said to be in 540 BC, in SRI Lanka it is thought to be in 483 BC while in Tibet it is believed to be around 835 BC. This contradiction in the year in which Buddha was born shows the laxity in the religion. Though it is said to be one of the most spreading religions in the world today, Buddhism is still facing the year in which their “messiah” was born. This in some way show that Buddha worshiped in these different areas is not the same Buddha as a person cannot be born more than once.
In America the first Buddhist temple was built in 1853 in San Francisco. From then, Buddhism has grown 170% its original size and is now the 4th most practiced religion in America losing by a mere 22,000 to third placed Islam. More Buddhists are found in West America than in the East America. Statistically, it has registered the second highest increase in rise of descendants. This is also echoed in the whole world as the number. In America, more and more Native Americans are turning into Buddhism due to the confusion there is between Islam and Christianity. Buddhism has been a beneficiary of the chaos painting itself as a quite religion and hence more trustable than Christianity and Islam[ CITATION Ron00 \l 1033 ].
Buddhists stand on issues of international interests as same sexual marriages is not clear. Its scriptures state that one should not engage in “sexual misconduct” while it fails to define what is meant by the sexual misconduct. This leads to too many contradicting interpretations as some people think “misconduct” covers homosexuality while other think otherwise. Due to the differing concepts, brought about by the differing cultural set ups in the areas Buddhism is practiced, sexual misconduct is interpreted differently. Monks found practicing homosexuality are expelled from the order as they are viewed to have been defeated to keep to the order. Though this has no backing from Buddha’s teaching as Buddha did not address the topic himself. However, since most Buddhists are from the Middle East where the main stream idea of homosexuality is viewed to be evil, the general or main stream idea or belief of the Buddhists concerning homosexuality is that it is evil and should not be practiced.
Buddhism is also argued to be against racism with Buddha’s teaching warning. Buddha teaches that the mind and body are borrowed from the earth and we temporarily own then and that after we age and die, we shall return them to the earth. This teaches that we treat each equal since our body is borrowed and should be used in accordance with the wants and needs of Buddha. Buddhism itself was born of the idea that no man was born greater than another and all a created equal. Buddha leads the Buddhists in this teaching as he was against the caste system practiced in India.
Keown, Damien. Buddhism. London: Sterling Publishing Company, 2009.
Novak, Huston Smith & Philip. Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. Lodon: HarperCollins, 2004.
Ronald, H. Christianity. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.