RELIGION AND THEOLOGY 12

AComparison on Worldviews from a Christian View and How They DifferFrom Others

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AComparison on Worldviews from a Christian View and How They DifferFrom Others

Thereare different religions in the world today with diverse worldviews ofwhat life is like. Some of the different worldviews of the purposeand meaning of life make it challenging to come up with a commonground in which individuals can communicate with other individualswho hold views that are dissimilar to theirs. The religious dividecan be, particularly, wide between the Christian and Buddhistreligions. Thus, any common ground between these two religionsbecomes a bridge that fosters understanding and assists incommunication between individuals from different faiths. A commonground that is universal for both religions that is understood to bepart of life is pain and suffering. As such, this paper compares someof the key elements of the Christian’sworldviews as pertaining topain and suffering in order to gain understanding of the Christian’sworldviews and how they differ from others, such as Buddhist’sworldviews. Finally, this paper will draw out any similarities anddifferences of the worldviews of the Christian and Buddhistreligions.

Buddhismon Pain and Suffering

Buddhistshave a worldview of liberation from pain and suffering. As a matterof fact, Buddhism main teaching, the Four Noble Truths, concerns painand suffering. The First Nobel Truth claims that pain and sufferingexist. Buddhist describes the first Noble Truth as follows, “Birthis sorrow, age is sorrow, diseases are sorrow, death is sorrowcontact with the unpleasant is sorrow, separation of pleasure issorrow, every wish unfulfilled is sorrow” (Duiker &amp Spielvogel,2015). This implies that individuals are never able to keeppermanently what they strive for, and just as happy moments existpain also exists on every part of the life of individuals. The SecondNobel Truth claims that pain and suffering are caused by the desiresof man. Buddhist describes the second Noble Truth as follows, “Itarises from craving, which leads to rebirth, which brings delight andpassion, and seeks pleasure now here, now there” (Duiker &ampSpielvogel, 2015). Since individuals’ desires, such as delight,passion, and pleasure are never fulfilled, the result is pain andsuffering.

TheThird Nobel Truth is overcoming pain and suffering, which is theSecond Nobel Truth. Buddhist explains that if the cause of the SecondNobel Truth is the unfulfilled desires, such as delight, passion, andpleasure, the cure is overcoming the desires (Duiker &ampSpielvogel, 2015). The Fourth Nobel Truth claims that individualsneed to follow the Eightfold Path to end pain and suffering. Theobjective of the Eightfold Path is to help individuals clarify theirminds by gaining insight into reality and to eradicate delusion,aversion, and greed (Bucknell &amp Stuart-Fox, 2013). The EightfoldPath with its division is shown in the table below.

Division

Eightfold Path

Wisdom

The right view

The right intention

Ethical Conduct (Morality)

The right speech

The right action

The right livelihood

Concentration

The right effort

The right mindfulness

The right concentration

TheFour Nobel Truths form a cycle of life where an individual iscontinuously born, dies, and is reborn until the individual arrivesat “right view” and makes a firm resolve to follow the Nobel Paththat results in true happiness known as Nirvana (Bernard, 2014). Thecycle of rebirth is governed by Karma and not God. Karma is the lawof cause and effect action and reaction. Therefore, when anindividual produces a thought, the thought is seen as a cause. Theeffect is how the outcome of the thought impacts the world. SinceBuddhism focus on the thoughts of individuals, it is significant forindividuals to concentrate on purifying thoughts because they are theroot of actions, such as greed, delusion, and aversion. As Rahula(2014) puts it, “By oneself, indeed, is evil done by oneself isone defiled. By oneself is evil left undone by oneself, indeed, isone purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifiesanother.”

Inone instance, a politician who has thoughts of becoming wealthy mayembezzle government funds. This may lead to pain and sufferingbecause the politician may be jailed and people may not be able toaccess government funds to purchase seeds and fertilizer to farm inorder to grow crops to feed hungry people. Therefore, according toBuddhism, the politican will need to concentrate on purifying hisgreedy thoughts in order to move away from pain and suffering ofbeing jailed by directing government funds to farmers so that cropscan be grown to feed hungry people. In another instance, a criminalwho has thoughts of owning a car may steal one from another person.This may result in pain and suffering because the criminal may getinjured by police and the owner of the car may have to carry outdaily activities without a car. Therefore, according to Buddhism, thecriminal just as the politician will need to concentrate on purifyinghis thoughts in order to move away from pain and suffering of beinginjured by police.

Christianityon Pain and Suffering

Similarto Buddhism, Christians have a worldview of liberation from pain andsuffering. To begin, the life of a Christian is to love God. Thefreedom to love requires a choice from an individual. An individualwas created by God to have a choice to serve and love God sin is arejection of this. Thus, the choice a Christian individual makes notto serve and love God is regarded as a source of pain and suffering.From the worldview of a Christian, pain and suffering is a result ofevil either indirectly or directly. Evil performed by otherindividuals either moral or immoral will be direct evil. This evil iswhen another individual causes the pain and suffering of anotherindividual. Indirect evil is pain and suffering caused withoutvolitional intent, such as a tsunami or an earthquake. The Christianworldview of evil is that it does not just exist an individual hasto make it happen.

Therefore,pain and suffering originate from the choices individuals makethrough freewill provided by God. From the Christian worldview, Godcreated women and men and gave them freewill to make choices forthemselves regardless of the type of choice made either evil orgood. However, the freewill to choose is not the issue the issue iswhen individuals choose evil over good. For example, the recentrevenge attacks by Micah Xavier Johnson on five Dallas policeofficers in the United States as a result of the death of AltonSterling and another black man is an example of an individualchoosing evil over good (Achenbach, Wan, Berman, &amp Balingit,2016). Johnson chose evil over good when he killed the five innocentDallas police officers. This leads to pain and suffering for familiesand friends of the five Dallas police officers because they have tocope with the pain of not having their beloved with them. However,for the families of Dallas police officers who lost a beloved person,there is hope that their pain and suffering can be taken away. TheChristian worldview of pain and suffering focus on the concept thatindividuals do not suffer alone because God takes away their pain andsuffering through his son Jesus Christ. This can be seen from thepopular reading from the Bible “I am the way and the truth and thelife. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Kohlenberger,2003). Once individuals give themselves to Christ, they can end theirsuffering, which can only be done in the presence of God. One wayChristians make sure that they ascend to heaven is by following theteachings of Christ and the Ten Commandments given to Moses by Godfor Israelites in their exodus to the Promised Land. Therefore, thepain and suffering of Christians, such as the families of the Dallaspolice officers who were killed can only be alleviated by God throughChrist and not by the internal self.

Forthose individuals who do not choose to follow Christ, even thoughevil has been done on them, such as the killings of the five Dallaspolice officers they will receive their desire for revenge, delusion,aversion, and greed that will lead them to hell. However, for thoseindividuals who follow Christ, their pain and suffering will bealleviated as well as have a place for them in heaven after theirdeath on earth. In conclusion, for Christians, the worldview is thatheaven is liberation from pain and suffering and hell liberation fromGod.

Comparisonof Christianity and Buddhism on Pain and Suffering

Inlight of the above two religions, there are similarities ofunderstanding between the Christian and Buddhist worldviews. First,the worldviews from both religions recognize that life is not the wayit is supposed to be. They both understand that pain and sufferingexist in the world and consider them not to be the ideal existencefor individuals. For Christians, heaven, which is the ultimate end,is liberation of pain and suffering. Similarly, for Buddhists,Nirvana, which is the ultimate end, is liberation of pain andsuffering. Another similarity is the concept that the source ofindividuals’ pain and suffering starts within. Christians view evilas coming from within individuals and any perceived external force ofevil is coming from within other individuals. Likewise, Buddhistsview evil as coming from within. It seems that both Christians andBuddhists see that the source of pain and suffering comes from withinindividuals themselves and the choices they make. Still onsimilarities, both Christians and Buddhists agree that pain andsuffering that is experienced by individuals in life comes from thethoughts that result in actions. Those actions then lead to pain andsuffering of other individuals.

Whilethe two religions have similar worldviews on pain and suffering,there is contrast on how individuals can reach an end to pain andsuffering. With Buddhist, the end to pain and suffering can bereached when ignorance and habitual misapprehension of the nature ofreality are overcome. According to Lama (1997), “freedom andliberation can only be achieved when our fundamental ignorance, ourhabitual misapprehension of the nature of reality is totallyovercome.” However, for Buddhists, it is not easy to overcomeignorance and habitual misapprehension of the nature of reality. AsLama (1997) puts it, “You must bear in mind that the attainment ofenlightenment is not an easy task. It requires time, will, andperseverance.” To summarize, when individuals engage in thepractice of morality, they lay a strong foundation for spiritual andmental growth. When individuals engage in the practice ofconcentration, they prepare the mind for training in insight and makethe mind receptive to a higher purpose. This enables the mind channelmental energy and attention towards a particular object. Therefore,on the basis of a state of mind that is stable, an individual cangenerate genuine insight into the nature of reality.

Asshown above, the Buddhist solution to pain and suffering is to clearthe mind in order to allow enlightenment to take place. This is wherea big difference emerges between the worldviews of Christians andBuddhists. The Christian worldview is different because it claimsthat individuals cannot reach liberation from pain and sufferingwithout assistance from an external force. The Christian worldviewclaims that all individuals are sinners, and thereby, cannot doanything to save themselves from pain and suffering. Therefore, Godhad to provide a solution to help individuals alleviate their painand suffering. The love of God is illustrated when He became a humanbeing and took the pain and suffering of human beings so that thosewho decide to follow God find relief for their pain and suffering.Ultimately, the worldview of Christians rests on choice.

Thus,a wrong choice of an individual results in pain and suffering. Forexample, when an individual decides to kill another individual, theindividual may end up in pain and suffering because of guilt. God hasgiven individuals a second chance. However, individuals have onlythis life to make their choice of whether to follow God’s son or tochoose an eternal life of separation from God in Hell. Therefore,when an individual refuses to follow God’s son, the individualcontinues to suffer in this world in pain with the assurance ofeternal damnation in hell. Contrary to this, the Buddhists haveendless chances to make the right choice in order to end their painand suffering in a cycle that never ends until an individual reachesenlightenment. Therefore, their end of pain and suffering dependsentirely on them.

ChristiansView of Buddhism

Thecomparison of Christianity and Buddhism on pain and suffering hasshown the similarities and differences between the two religions. Inlight of the comparison, it is important to examine how Christiansview Buddhism by focusing on religious concepts. First, Christiansview Buddhism as a religion that is devoid of authority becauseindividuals take responsibility for their own lives. This impliesthat individuals are free to do anything that will end their pain andsuffering regardless of whether the other individuals will beaffected or not. Compared to Buddhism, Christianity is based on theauthority of God through Jesus Christ. This implies that individualsare not free to end their pain and suffering through the use ofnegative means. For instance, a Christian who lost a loved one duringthe killing of Dallas police officers is not allowed to exterminatethe killer to end pain and suffering. Instead, the Christian isallowed to report the killer to the police.

Second,Christians view Buddhism as a religion that does not believe in aneternal life where an individual lives forever whether in heaven orhell. Compared to Buddhism, Christianity believes in eternal lifewhere an individual lives forever in heaven if that individualfollowed Christ and in hell if that individual did not follow Christ.Third, Christians view Buddhism as a religion that is devoid oftraditions. Buddhists think that traditions get in the way of theinternal aspect of removing pain and suffering. Compared to Buddhism,Christianity is based on numerous traditions, such as baptism andcommunion which reaffirm the Christian views. Fourth, Christians viewBuddhism as a religion of self-effort that concentrated on itsfollowers finding a solution to end their pain and suffering.Compared to Buddhism, Christianity practices the externalrelationship between an individual and God through Christ.

Finally,Christians view Buddhism as a religion that is devoid of thesupernatural. Buddhists think that there is no sense for miraclesbeing performed by an external force because they do not need anexternal force to end their pain and suffering. This implies thatBuddhists do not believe in an external force, such as God that canperform miracles to alleviate pain and suffering by healing the sickin the world. Compared to Buddhism, Christianity has the view thatmiracles are the manifestation of the ability of God to helpindividuals alleviate pain and suffering. This implies thatChristians believe that an external force, which is God throughChrist, can heal their sickness and end their pain and suffering.Therefore, the view of Christians of Buddhism is that of a religionthat is devoid of an external authority like God that can assistindividuals to end their pain and suffering in this world.

Conclusion

Inthe discussion, it is apparent that Christians and Buddhists agree onthe worldview that pain and suffering are as a result of individuals.In the discussion, it also apparent that because the thoughts,actions, and choices of individuals are not like the way they aresupposed to be, they create pain and suffering. In one example, wesaw that the killing of the Dallas police officers in the UnitedStates created pain and suffering to the families of the killedpolice officers. In another example, we saw that the stealing of acar by a criminal created pain and suffering because of injury causedby the police officers and the owner could no longer use the car.While both religions agree that thoughts, actions, and choices ofindividuals create pain and suffering, they both have differentworldview points concerning pain and suffering. The Buddhist viewindividuals as the redeemer of their own pain and suffering contraryto the Christians who view God through Jesus Christ as the redeemerof their pain and suffering. As the Christian Bible puts it “I amthe way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father exceptthrough me” (Kohlenberger, 2003).

References

Achenbach,J., Wan, W., Berman, M., &amp Balingit, M. (2016). FiveDallas police officers were killed by a lone attacker, authoritiessay. Washington Post.Retrieved 19 July 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/08/like-a-little-war- snipers-shoot-11-police-officers-during-dallas-protest-march-killing-five/

Bernard,M. (2014). Thestrength of self-acceptance: Theory, practice and research.New York: Springer Science &amp Business Media.

Bucknell,R., &amp Stuart-Fox, M. (2013). Thetwilight language.New York: Routledge.

Duiker,W., &amp Spielvogel, J. (2015). Worldhistory.Boston: Cengage Learning.

Kohlenberger,J. (2003). Theevangelical parallel New Testament.New York: Oxford University Press.

Lama,D. (1997). Theheart of compassion: A Dalai Lama reader.East Anglia: Full Circle.

Rahula,W. (2014). Whatthe Buddha taught.London: Oneworld Publications.