Hinduism and Buddhism
Hinduism and Buddhism consist of many diverse traditions and some of them are revealed in this paper. The course work includes descriptions of the main foundational spiritual beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions are very old and have ancient roots and the origin of each religion is identified in this work. Hinduism and Buddhism are widely spread in Asia and all over the world and they have similarities and differences, that are briefly described here. Some spiritual practices of each religion are revealed and specific examples are provided.
Keywords: Hinduism, Buddhism, religion, beliefs.
Hinduism and Buddhism
Buddhism is the religious and philosophical doctrine (Dharma) of spiritual awakening (Bodhi), which arose around the VI century B.C. in ancient India. The founder of this doctrine is Siddhartha Gautama, who later received the name of the Buddha Sakyamuni. Basic Beliefs of Buddhism include the Four Noble Truths:
1. There is suffering (dukkha);
2. Suffering has a reason - a want for sensual pleasure;
3. It is possible to be free from suffering;
4. There is a path that leads to release from suffering - the Eightfold Path leading to Nirvana.
There are also such basic Buddhist concepts like the doctrine of cause and origin, the principle of "no-soul" and the doctrine of immediacy. In Buddhists understanding life and the world is expressed in concepts of Samsāra, Karma, Rebirth, and their interrelation (Nakamura, 1980).
Hinduism is one of the Indian religions, is often described as a combination of religious traditions and schools of thought that emerged in the Indian subcontinent and have common features. Hinduism has its roots in Vedic, Harappa and Dravidian civilizations, which is why it is called the world's oldest religion. There was no founder of Hinduism and no unified system of beliefs and common doctrine (Bailey, 2012).
Most of Hindus believe in the divine reality that creates, sustains and destroys the universe. They believe in the universal God, who is also inside every living creature and a human can come close to God in different ways. The absolute majority of Hindus believe that the spirit or soul is eternal. Each life forms one of a kind of psycho-physical nature of man that determines his karma, which is directly related to reincarnation, as well as the personality of the individual, his character and his family.
Hindus try to understand Brahma – the God of creation, with their own souls (Atman), whereas Buddhists try to find Anatman (not soul). During the life of a Hindu goes from one life stage to the next, trying to develop himself for better understanding Brahma. The whole Buddhist life is devoted to renunciation, deliverance from the illusion of own existence and passions. The ultimate goal for both is reaching Nirvana. In accordance with both religions the one has to be reborn until he or she reaches enlightenment. Buddhists have no gods, whereas Hindus have at least one god to worship depending on the sect (Bailey, 2012).
Hindus worship their gods through statues called Murtis. Hinduism has a well-developed system of symbolism and iconography, which is manifested in art, architecture, literature and worship. Most Hindus take part in religious practices daily: they offer Murti lighted lamps, incense and food, read various scriptures, pray, read mantras and devotional songs, practice various types of meditation. The pilgrimage is a religious practice of Hinduism.
The main spiritual practice of Buddhism is meditation. It is a combination of methods for physical and spiritual self-improvement associated with the three groups of practices (the doctrine of moral, reasoning about meditation, explaining how to gain wisdom). In a narrow sense, Buddhist meditation is Bhavana or "cultivation" that consists of the self-observation practice, concentration and intuitive insight (Edelglass, 2011).
There are several schools of Buddhism in the mordern world. They are Theravada, Mahayana, School of Pure Land and Tibetan Buddhism. Each school has own practice and Path. For example Tibetan Buddhism suggests to refer to the Refuge in the Three Jewels, then removes the illusions of samsara and teaches the practice of renunciation. Novitiates develop compassionate attitude towards all beings, experience the birth of bodhicitta and try to feel the "emptiness." Then it is time to practice Vajrayana under the guidance of guru, using visualization and mantra for communication with the archetypal forms (Edelglass, 2011).
Hinduism now includes both polytheistic and monotheistic elements, as well as ancient religious and mystical practices and their modern variations. Hindu pantheon has about 35 deities. There are different practices depending on the object of worship, designed to make a connection with the deity of the believer. So followers of Mimamsa practice the Vedic ritual, Vedantists - philosophical meditation on the nature of the Godhead, yogi - meditation and direct mystical contemplation. For example worshipers of the god Ganesh start each day from uttering prayers, asking to eliminate difficulties that hinder the happy resolution of their deeds.
Nakamura, H. (1980). Buddhism (religion). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/83184/Buddhism
Bailey, G. (2012, April 24). Hinduism and Buddhism by Greg Bailey. Hinduism and Buddhism. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195399318/obo-9780195399318-0039.xml?rskey=FpwTZ2&result=5&q=buddhism#firstMatch
Edelglass, W. (2011, August 26). Buddhist Philosophy by William Edelglass. Buddhist Philosophy. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195396577/obo-9780195396577-0016.xml?rskey=FpwTZ2&result=12&q=buddhism#firstMatch