Buddhism and Christianity in the same light Essay

This essay has a total of 679 words and 4 pages.

Buddhism and Christianity in the same light

A community, a system of belief, a tradition and a way of life- Catholicism and Theravada
Buddhism are all of these and many more. There are many affinities between Theravada
Buddhism and Catholicism, but each tradition is marked with its own unique origins. Thus
it is valuable to explore Buddhist rituals, practices, ethics and morals comparatively to
those Catholic, but equally important to examine those features that are uniquely their
own religion.


Every religion that strives to achieve its own way of life chooses distinctive practices
and rituals to reach their desired spiritual goals. When considering Catholicism and
Buddhism, the two main forms of worship are prayer and meditation.

While Nirvana is the ultimate spiritual attainment, most ordinary Buddhists show their
commitment to the Buddha through several religious practices. The basic motives behind
Buddhist practices mirror with those behind the Catholic tradition (Seay (2001,p.58). Both
traditions aim to create togetherness within their community by developing a sense of
communion with all present through a group activity. Some of these activities include
group prayer/meditation and group singing/chanting. Another motive behind some Buddhist
and Catholic practices is the principle of suffering, a significant element of religious
tradition. This principle was formed on the basis of the suffering endured by Saddartha
Gutama and Jesus Christ and is put into practice through traditions like achieving Nirvana
and Lent sacrifices. Sacrificing something that is of great significance to a follower is
a reflection of their commitment and devotion to that religion, thus leading people to
believe that because of that action they are a worthier Catholic or Buddhist.

Whilst there are many similarities between the traditions, many differences are apparent
when considering Ninian's dimension, ‘ritual and practice'. The first disparity between
Buddhist and Catholic worship is the reasons for their devotion. Catholic prayer is a
personalised approach to petition, praise and/or thank their God. Catholic prayer is both
controlled and spontaneous. This is contrary to the Theravada Buddhist practice as
meditation is always disciplined, controlled, self-contained and nonpetitional. When
Catholics pray it is either in public or private, whilst Buddhist meditation is strictly
physically and spiritually solitary. For monks, it is sufficient for practicing meditation
and no prayer, as prayer is a distraction to achieving Nirvana. Whereas for Mahayana
Buddhism, followers can benefit from prayer but Buddha does not claim the capacity to
answer prayers of petition. This is contrary to Catholics, as they believe their prayers
can be heard and answered by their God.


Catholic morality is based on key passages from Christian scripture. The Christian
Beatitudes are taught by the Catholic Church and reflects the way in which Catholics
should operate within the community. The Buddhist Eightfold Path has similar themes to the
Beatitudes as it teaches Buddhists significant morality needed to be a worthy Buddhist.
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