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Basic Beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism

Buddhism and Hinduism are two of the most commonly practiced religions in the world today. It is believed that both religions originated in northern India around 500 BCE. The two religions later on expanded to other regions, especially in Asia, where Buddhism continues to have a major spiritual and religious impact on people. The two religions are otherwise referred to as twins due to their shared origins and various beliefs ingrained in their teachings and doctrines. Although the two religions have similarities, there exist some contextual differences in interpretation and understanding of some of their basic concepts. This paper gives an insight into how the concepts of Karma and Rebirth flowed by concepts of self and no-self are understood and practiced in the religious traditions of both Hinduism and Buddhism.

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The doctrine of Karma and Rebirth is shared in both Hinduism and Buddhism. However, the two religions differ in some fundamental respects brought about by the existing differences in their respective comprehension and interpretation of the world, the existence of man, the creator, the human soul, and reality as it is understood. According to this doctrine, any action by man has an attached consequence from which there is no escape. Under the doctrine of Karma, it is believed that a person’s past actions determine his or her present state of existence, while the present actions would eventually influence their future existence (Patgiri, 2020). Closely connected to this doctrine is the concept of rebirth. According to the theory of rebirth, when a person dies, their consciousness transmigrates to another body through birth (Lin & Yen, 2015). This transmigration is, however, determined by the accumulated Karma in their previous life cycles.

Both Hinduism and Buddhism hold the belief that suffering and continued rebirth are a result of Karma. These religions profess that Karma originates from innate desires caused by attraction, repugnance, and connectedness or clinging (Patgiri, 2020: Kumar, K., & Lethonen, 2021). Persons who develop and participate in desirable actions are promoted in their next lives, while those who engage in undesired actions regarded as sinful descend into lower worlds and continue suffering in their next lives. For instance, it is believed that Buddha was reborn in a more desirable good state of existence simply because he lived his entire life exerting a beneficial impact on all sentient beings. Even so, having meritorious Karma does not release one from the bondage of rebirth and suffering (Jayram, 2021). Therefore, one has to strive to achieve liberation by understanding suffering and its cause with the help of Dharma

On the concepts of self and no-self, the two religions have a contradicting views. In Hinduism, human beings are regarded as “atman or soul,” and they possess intrinsic immortality. In other words, the Bahamas, also regarded as the Supreme Being in Indian society, resides within a man. In addition to that, Hinduism holds a belief that man’s inner self and the physical world have a direct correlation and that God is the innermost spirit residing within man (Dhiman,2013). As such, the ultimate goal of man, according to Hinduism, is to realize their true self. On the other hand, Buddhism professes the dogma of no-self (Anatman). The basis of the doctrine of no-self in Buddhism is founded on its ultimate goal of releasing the human soul from its unending suffering. According to Buddhism, acknowledgment of self results in various human dilemmas and undesirable conduct leading to unending suffering.

Since Buddhism seeks to liberate the human soul and bring an end to suffering, the belief in no self is the only path to attaining enlightenment. Buddhists view selves, if they even existed, as independent metaphysical real entities (Garfield, 2018). Humans, however, do not meet this particular definition of self. Instead, human exists as persons. According to (Garfield, 2018), persons are created by the human psychological and social processes and are a reflection of the various roles they play in the fulfillment of duty to all other persons in a collectively constructed world. Furthermore, in support of the argument of denial of self, Buddhists assert that persons undergo constant changes throughout various phases of development; hence what one was a year before would not be the same today. Persons are constantly changing as a result of different experiences they go through in their lifecycles. As such, there is no such thing as a self, but just persons who consider themselves as selves.

Although there are differences in interpretation and practice of various concepts, both religions conclude that human beings are in a crisis that needs saving or rather a, liberation. As such, in an attempt to liberate the human soul from the various life predicaments, Buddhists employ the concept of enlightenment, referred to as nirvana, and the concept of attachment, referred to as tanka, whilst followers of Hinduism attempt to end suffering and various predicaments that befall man through liberation (moksa) (Shin, 2017). In conclusion, one could deduce that both Hinduism and Buddhism have the same goal of attaining liberation but only different paths to attaining it.

References

Dhiman, S. (2013). The ethical and spiritual philosophy of the bhagavad gita: A Survey, Religion Database, 6(1), 19-39.

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Garfield, J. (2018). Why there is no self: A Buddhist view for the West. Web.

Jayram, V. (2021). Karma Doctrine in Hinduism and Buddhism. Web.

Kumar, K., & Lethonen, T. (2020). The self, karma and rebirth. Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion, 25, 3-63.

Lin, C. T., & Yen, W. H. (2015). On the naturalization of karma and rebirth. International Journal of Dharma Studies, 3(1), 1-18.

Patgiri, R. (2020). A brief analysis of God, self, karma and rebirth in context of buddhism and jainism. Psychology and Education Journal, 57(8), 985-987.

Shin, K. (2017). The concept of self in hinduism, buddhism, and christianity and its implication for interfaith relations. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

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StudyCorgi. "Basic Beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism." October 29, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/basic-beliefs-of-hinduism-and-buddhism/.

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