The term religion is used to refer to the approach that human beings give to their spirituality as provided by their beliefs, symbols, narratives, and practices on a supernatural figure. Human beings express religious inclination through several ways; some of which include prayers, rituals, and music. There are different types of religions, varying far and wide but at the same time having some commonalities cutting across all of them. These different types of religious practices can be compared or contrasted in terms of their individual laws, lifestyle, ethics, traditions, mythology, and history (Brodd, 2003, 23-25.). The term is used in an overall sense to give reference to a shared conviction among a group of individuals as far as specific behaviors are concerned. This research paper will give some of the aspects common between Judaism and Buddhism as well as the areas where they have ideological and principle differences.
The Differences and Similarities between Judaism and Buddhism in Relation to Their Origination, Foundation, Beliefs, Rituals, and Major Prophets
This is the Abrahamic religion; Abrahamic in the sense that it recognizes Abraham as the head Patriarch of their faith. The Judaism sacred text (The Old Testament of the Bible) holds that Judaism started after the covenant between God and Abraham in Circa 2000 BCE, which made Abraham ahead Patriarch. Two other patriarchates are also recognized in this religion is Isaac and Jacob. Their teachings follow the laws (The Ten Commandments) which they believe were given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai (Gen. 20-NKJV). The holy book of Judaism (The Old Testament-as the Christians refer to it) is known as the Tanakh by the Jewish. The book is divided into three parts; the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim all making a total of 39 books. These three divisions are where the Jews draw guidelines by which they are required to live by within the society. The head of a Judaism religious organization is called a Rabbi. Some of the beliefs under this religious culture about God (their supreme being) include; He exists, He is Incorporeal, Eternal, One and he knows everyone’s needs. They also believe in the coming of the Messiah, Resurrection theory, and that the good deeds will be rewarded while the bad will be punished when the earth finally comes to an end.
Buddhism was first established in Northern India by Lord Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) in the 6th Century BCE. So far, it is the Fourth-Largest religious group in the World with a population of 365 million followers (6% of the world’s population). They refer to their spiritual leader as the Buddha and pray in a Synagogue. Buddhist base their teachings on the “Siddhartha Gautama Principles” who were their head Buddha and the founder of Buddhism. It is believed that through Gautama’s awakened knowledge, he managed to teach the Buddhists the true meaning of nature and how to live in harmony among themselves with good conduct and moral behaviors…by so doing, Buddhists considered him as a savior who delivered them from their uncertainty and sufferings. Buddhism is most common among the Asian countries where it first originated, but lately, the culture has spread and is found all over the world (McFarlane, 2001).
Findings in (McFarlane 2001.) report that there was a time when Gautama came across a rotting corpse, a deceased man, an ascetic, and a very old man; he then came to realize how the society was full of evils and misfortune and decided to make these four scenarios the Buddhist’s Principles known as the “Four Sights”. It is these “four sights” that drove him into abandoning the royal life that he had all along enjoyed for 29 years in the palace and Instead he sought a spiritual quest which led him to being the spiritual leader of Buddhists.
To the Buddhists, Devotion to their beliefs is an integral and vital part of their worship. They do this by either bowing, giving offerings, chanting religious texts, and going on pilgrimage. This set of religious groups also have guiding ethics which involves adherence to purity indeed, an insult free speech, and purity in thought; these acts are believed to be able to promote peace and stability to their community. The Buddhists have drawn eight basic rules retraining their faithful from indulging into. The Buddhist faithful are advised to shun any act of violence, theft, immorality, lying, dancing, luxury, eating at the wrong time, and drugs
Despite the variance, these two religious groups share some concepts of beliefs; for instance, the belief that there is no need for a sinless Savior to lift man out of sin…Jesus is given no divine recognition in both Buddhism and Judaism, they also share the way they view the ethics of reciprocity, i.e. the rules and regulations that, govern human behavior towards one another in both Buddhism and Judaism are the same, belief in the existence of another life after death and finally is the common belief in the power of prayer.
While Judaism believes in praying and fasting to strengthen their faith in God, the Buddhists on their side believe that such practices of physical molestation like fasting, holding one’s breath, do not have any spiritual benefit. They instead embrace meditation, which they call “The Middle Way” -a compromise position between the two extremes of self-motivation and self-indulgence. Contrary to Judaism who has the Old Testament of the Bible as their religious text, the Buddhists have no specific central text to which they make their religion’s reference. Most of their teachings are based on a more scholastic approach not spiritual…but a consensus is on the offing to synchronize the message in all the Buddhist available texts so that out of them a single text can be formed to unify the religion (Pascal 2001).
Another notable difference between the Buddhists and Jews features in the belief in reincarnation, a concept that Jews wholly refute. Buddhists believe that once a person dies he is reborn several cycles; where he may reappear in entities different to the former self, thus there is no permanent extinction. In this context, Judaism holds it that the true believers who are righteous will resurrect and live an eternal life when the Messiah comes, while the evil will burn in hell. Some other divergent views by the two religious groups are as follows; To the Buddhists, there is no such thing as the Garden of Eden, the Flood during Noah times, and the end of the world…contrary to Judaism. Further, it is revealed that the Buddhist teachings are Non-Theists unlike the teachings of all other religious practices, including Judaism that teaches the belief in one Supreme God. Questions have been raised to this effect on whether Buddhism is really a religion or just a group of individuals seeking enlightenment. These teachings by the Buddha are also not based on the doctrines as with Judaism, but are focused on deeds and practice…they teach only what is seen executable by man, while Judaism stress on belief and mastery of the Ten Commandments.
This paper has conclusively illustrated that regardless of the religious inclination of an individual, all human beings are the same and they are seeking a common thing in religion. That is to try to find a balance point between nature’s sharp point definition of matters and the several meaningless generalities in life. All religious groups, particularly the ones that have just been discussed above are geared to monitor the behavior, values, and morals of their members through a set of religious laws/doctrines. From the revelations of this research paper, it can also be deriver that the sole reason that drove people to start religions was the belief that there exists some life after death so as to justify the benefit of good actions.
Brodd Jefferey. (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press.
Judaism 101: an “online encyclopedia of Judaism, covering Jewish beliefs, people, places, things, language, scripture, holidays, practices and customs.” (2009). Web.
Pascal Boyer. (2001). Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought. Basic Books.
Stewart McFarlane in Peter Harvey, ed. (2001). Buddhism. Continuum.
The teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. (2009). Web.