Essay on Buddhism vs Hinduism

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In Reaching the Final Goal in Life: Hinduism and Buddhism
Course Code: RLGA01H3 | Professor Henry Shiu |

Hinduism and Buddhism are two distinct religions that originated from India. Hinduism and Buddhism share similarities such as that of karma and reincarnation. However, Hinduism and Buddhism greatly differ in their ideas of what the ultimate destination in life is. While Buddha founded Buddhism, Hinduism has no official founder. Both religions share the same spiritual philosophical essence that is not followed by a traditional religion such as that of Christianity. Some would say that because Hinduism was present in India before Buddhism, that Buddhism is possibly a continuation of Hinduism. Ideas present in both religions do share some homogeneity, although both can ultimately be distinguished. Through understanding the structure in which each religion explains their cycle of life and life goals one can separate the religions and realize similarities.

In Hinduism, the aims of life also know as the four Purusarthas of life include Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Moksha is the final step of the Hindu cycle of life, and achieving spiritual liberation. Artha signifies the materialistic enjoyment of living on earth. Artha is the motivations that one finds purpose to accomplish while living. Kama is considered one of the aims toward fulfilling sexual pleasure, and well as an aim in marriages. Dharma has many meanings but generally is considered one's purpose in life. Dharma is doing what is done to fulfill Kama and Artha, but more is required to meet the ends to Moksha, "A life that is dedicated to the unrestrained satisfaction of these urges is undesirable and even dangerous. It is consequently necessary that it should be regulated by the ideal spiritual realization, dharma," (Murty 2006). Dharma covers all aspects of religious and societal responsibilities given during life, which requires to be abided to do by following a life that is morally and ethically right.

Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism does not explicitly explain the aims of life other than to reach Nirvana. However, Buddhists follow the teachings of Buddha's Four Noble Truths, which explain the suffering humans, endure in their life. The first Noble Truth is Dukha, which explains there is always suffering in life and that happiness and pleasure are not permanent in life. The second Noble Truth is called Samudaya. Samudaya describes that all suffering come from ignorance. Nirodha, is the third Noble Truth explaining how suffering can end when one detaches themselves from ignorance and other emotions to reach the ultimate goal of life; liberation with Nirvana. The final Noble Truth is a path that leads to suppressing suffering, called The Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is comprised of eight steps that will lead to the suppression of ignorance and open one's mind to reach Nirvana (Pal 2006). Similar to Dharma from Hinduism, The Eightfold Path follows a way in which a one goes through life doing good by others and themselves.

Hinduism believes in the concepts of heaven and hell. Heaven is seen as a realm where those after death can join the Hindu gods. Those admitted to heaven were those who participated in rituals, sacrifices, and offering to the god while they were still alive and on Earth. Most of those who enter heaven are priests and warriors. Those who were condemned to hell were considered to be the one who neglected their rituals. However, heaven and hell are not the final destinations in one's life, but transitioning states to re-enter the cycle of birth and death. One's karma during their given life may also determine what level of heaven or hell they will be admitted to. The goal and the permanent release from the cycle of life and death is when the soul has reached bliss of Nirvana, there the soul is then made united with Brahman, the divine reality and the final destination. Once one with Brahman, it is then there is a blissful closeness