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East and West Teachings’ Concepts Differences

Karma, Samsara, and Nirvana

In Buddhism, Samsara refers to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Human beings undergo a series of rebirths in various forms until they can escape this routine (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

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Karma imprisons the individual in the wandering. Karma refers to the chain of causes and necessary consequences in the world of human actions. It is believed that giving up desires and worldly attachments can lead to nirvana. The latter is the permanent liberation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

Brahman, Atman, and Reality

Brahman is an important facet of Indian philosophy. He is regarded as the definitive reality. He is also the source and sustainer of all things, including human beings and gods (Moore & Bruder, 2013). On the other hand, atman is the self. It is the soul and principal of individual life.

Meditation and contemplation helps one understand that Braham and atman are the same. As such, one becomes enlightened about the relative non-reality of the world and individual character.

Some people see nirvana as a merger between individual transitory existence and the ultimate reality, which is Brahman (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

Buddha’s Four Noble Truths

Buddha’s answer to the problem of suffering is contained in the doctrine of the four noble truths. The truths acknowledge suffering and its specific and identifiable causes. In addition, Buddha teaches that suffering can be terminated. Finally, it is taught that suffering can be eliminated by living as expressed in the eightfold (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

Self-abnegation and selfish cravings can be stopped. As such, one can overcome ignorance to achieve nirvana, a state of security and complete peace. Buddha’s teachings are accurate given that he drew his conclusions from real life issues and personal experiences.

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The Eight-Fold Path

The path highlights the appropriate way of living with the aim of ending suffering (Moore & Bruder, 2013). The path consists of eight steps. Right view is knowledge on what ails human life. Right aim requires one to have the will to overcome selfish desires and passions. Right speech advocates for avoidance of lies and harmful gossip. Right action means ignoring improper desires (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

Buddha also insists on right living and effort. The former requires one to make an honest living, while the latter calls for struggle against immoral conditions. Right mindfulness requires one to attain enlightenment on the nature and effects of selfish cravings.

Lastly, right contemplation combines all the principles to deal with all aspects of life (Moore & Bruder, 2013). The eight fold path is a reasonable philosophy for life since it deals with the mental outlook of an individual.

Tao, Yin, and Yang

Lao Tzu defines Tao as the power that gives order and substance to all things in the world. He views it as the force behind natural order. He distinguishes between two forces in the universe.

The two include an expansive force, Yang, and a contractive force, Yin (Moore & Bruder, 2013). The connection is made evident by the fact that Tao is like an empty bowl that holds and yields to all these powers. Consequently, the two forces cannot exist without Tao. Upsetting yin and yang would cause an imbalance in Tao.

Effortless Non-Striving

Lao Tzu argues about effortless non-striving. One can achieve this by cultivating tranquility and equilibrium in their life. In addition, one should understand that the enduring foundation of life is peace and not strife (Moore & Bruder, 2013). Lao compares a person living effortlessly with water. According to him, wise rulers should only use violence as a last resort.

Confucius’ Principle of Mean

The principle of mean provides a standard to measure all things. It encourages people to avoid extremes and moderate their behavior. According to Confucius, when things function according to this principle, they stand in a relationship of mutual dependence (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

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The philosophy also touches on family. Confucius states that proper functioning of the family depends on the subordinate members and responsible governance of the parents.

Views of Murasaki Shikibu and the Role and Status of Women

Murasaki was born at a time when women were not allowed to think of such things as self-identity, morality, free will, determinism, and salvation (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

She believed that women should challenge Karma and engage in what was then forbidden. She expounds on the basic recipe for Buddhism by adding spiritual enlightenment and contemplation (Moore & Bruder, 2013). According to her philosophy, women do not need to be reincarnated as males to begin the process of philosophical enlightenment.

St. Anselm’s Argument about God’s Existence

St. Anselm asserts that God is the greatest being conceivable. The scholar concludes that anyone who claims to conceive a greater being than the greatest being conceivable is an utter fool (Moore & Bruder, 2013). He argues that it is self-contradictory to deny God’s existence.

Guanilo’s Objection to the Ontological Argument

Guanilo finds Anselm’s argument completely unconvincing. He argues that the argument can be used to prove the most absurd things (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

He proves his assessment by using Anselm’s reasoning to demonstrate the existence of the most perfect island, which is impossible. Consequently, he concludes that any line of thought that can be used to reach such a defective conclusion is in itself defective.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways

St. Aquinas provides five ways of proving God’s existence. The first suggests that God was the first mover. He put all things in motion. The second implies that God must have being the first cause of everything (Moore & Bruder, 2013). In the third way, Aquinas argues that not everything is such that it needs not to exist.

He concludes that there must be some necessary being that has its own necessity. That being is God (Moore & Bruder, 2013). The fourth way argues that God is the source of perfections. Such perfections include goodness and truth. Finally, God is the intelligent being to whom all things are directed (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

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Leibniz’s Claims that this is the ‘Best of all Possible worlds”

Leibniz claims are used to defend the goodness of the world in spite of the existence of evil. He explains that it was only logical for God to create other things to be limited compared to Him.

As such, the creation was not wholly good. He also argues that one has to look at an entire painting to appreciate the full beauty of it. Similarly, one has to look at the world from a global perspective (Moore & Bruder, 2013). Leibniz’s assertions are agreeable given that one needs to take into consideration all possible perspectives to make an informed judgment about something.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Claim that ‘God is Dead’

Friedrich’s claims that any human being with the smallest level of intelligence would realize that there is no rational order to the universe or an intelligent plan in it (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

He claims that people should realize the harmony and order they imagine to exist in the universe is merely pasted on by the human mind. According to him, new types of human beings would arise. The newcomers would accept life with all its shortcomings, including pains (Moore & Bruder, 2013). The realization is what he terms as the death of God.

William James and Religious Belief

James distinguishes between two commandments of rational thinkers. The two are either to believe the truth or to avoid errors. He notes that some people would rather live without any belief than to believe in a falsehood.

James rebukes such choices by arguing that in religion, it is better to yield to the hope that everything is true than to give way to fear of being in error (Moore & Bruder, 2013). According to him, losing the benefits of belief is worse than protection from erring.

My Religious Views are Right but Yours are Wrong

Everyone knows that their religious views and beliefs may be true or false. In addition, for one to be right or wrong, they must know that the two options are a possibility (Moore & Bruder, 2013).

As such, if one can provide enough proof and find enough truth in their faith, then they can dismiss those held by others by regarding them to be wrong. For instance, all the philosophers analyzed in this paper make efforts to show that their perspectives are true. They try to portray the views of their rivals as fallacies.

Similarly, if one can prove that their religious being is the greatest, then they can claim that other people who believe in other greater beings are wrong.


Moore, B., & Bruder, K. (2013). Philosophy: The power of ideas (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

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