19 Differences Between Buddhism And Other Religions
Buddhism is one of the most unique ‘religions’ to ever exist. Known for its pragmatic approach, Buddhism is beloved all over the world, and for good reason: it’s seemingly the opposite of so much negative influence religion has today. Take a look at this list and check out the differences for yourself!
- There is no almighty God in Buddhism, no one to hand out rewards and punishments.
- Buddhism is not strictly a religion in the context of being a faith toward a supernatural being.
- In Buddhism, the ultimate objective of followers/practitioners is enlightenment and/or liberation from Samsara, rather than heaven.
- A Buddha is not a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he never promises to remove impurities from those on the path.
- The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student, not God/servant.
- Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self-discipline, and individual striving.
- The teachings of Dharma are universal and are not rooted in Buddhism alone. Sakyamuni Buddha (as the historical Buddha) discovered and shared the teachings/ universal truths with all sentient beings. He is not the creator of such teachings — just the transmitter.
- The concept of Hell in Buddhism is very different from that of other religions. It is not a place for eternal damnation as viewed by ‘almighty creator’ religions. In Buddhism, it is just one of the six realms in Samsara (the worst of three undesirable realms).
- There is no concept of sin in Buddhism — just karma.
- All sentient beings have Buddha Nature/ Essence. One can become an enlightened being (Buddha) in due course if one practices diligently and attains purity of mind (ie absolutely no delusions or afflictions).
- Karma is a cornerstone in Buddhist doctrines and refers to an important metaphysical concept concerned with action and its consequences. The law of karma explains the problem of suffering, the mystery of the so-called fate, and above all the inequality of mankind.
- Buddhism places a high value on compassion for all living things, including animals. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory.
- Buddhism goes beyond doing good and being good. One must not be attached to good deeds or the idea of doing good; otherwise, it is just another form of craving.
- There is no holy war concept in Buddhism. Killing is breaking a key moral precept in Buddhism. One is strictly forbidden to kill another person in the name of religion or worldly excuse.
- Buddhist teachings have no mentions of beginning and or end to one’s existence. There is virtually no recognition of a first cause — e.g. how does human existence first come about?
- The Buddha is omniscient but he is not omnipotent. Buddha does not claim to be a creator of lives or the Universe.
- The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism are important and strong. While all religions teach some forms or variations of stabilizing/single-pointedness meditation, only Buddhism emphasizes Vipassana (Insight) meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment.
- The doctrine of Sunyata or Emptiness is unique to Buddhism and its many aspects are well expounded in advanced Buddhist teachings. Briefly, this doctrine asserts the transcendental nature of Ultimate Reality. It declares the phenomenal world to be void of all limitations of particularization and that all concepts of dualism are abolished.
- Samsara is a fundamental concept in Buddhism and it is simply the ‘perpetual cycles of existence’ or endless rounds of rebirth among the six realms of existence. This cyclical rebirth pattern will only end when a sentient being attains Nirvana, i.e. virtual exhaustion of karma, habitual traces, defilements, and delusions. All other religions preach one heaven, one earth, and one hell, but this perspective is very limited compared with Buddhist samsara where heaven is just one of the six realms of existence and it has 28 levels/planes.
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