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The religious differences
What I am going to say would offend most people, as I plan to be blunt. I think that most Religions are shams. It is obviously something, like Myths, made to explain the world. But certain religions, such as Christianity, are as corrupt as the people considered evil in these very religions.
An example that I can think of right off the top of my head is something I saw when I was flipping through the channels on TV. I happened to pass the bible channel and there was this show on. I was curious and I left it on this show for a few seconds. They were talking about the Bible, and what I heard sickened me. They were talking about a passage in the book of Leviticus. A man of Egyptian and Israeli descent was passing through an Israeli camp. He happened to make a remark about God and they sentenced him to death by stoning. This appalled me. Doesn't Christianity also teach people to respect human life? Is life so unimportant that every time someone says something bad about God that he should die? Does God want human sacrifice? I certainly wouldn't worship an awful God like that.
And how about Hell? I once read Dante's Inferno and you wouldn't believe the people who are supposed to go to Hell! Among them are: Homosexuals, Atheists, Opportunists and, the most loathing of all, Pagans! Among the Pagans are anyone who worshipped a different God, people who weren't baptized and people who were born before Jesus Christ.
Yet, I must admit, there are some religions that seem to be O.K. Most of these are religions based on teachings and ideas rather than some tyrannical God. These religions include Hinduism, Shinto and Buddhism. Among these religions, the most appealing to me would be Buddhism. It teaches that all life is sacred and that people should always be striving to do their best to reach perfection or, as it is commonly referred to, Nirvana.
It wasn't derived from some almighty being made up by superstitious peasants. It was formed by a ruler named Siddhartha. This is his story.
Buddha was a ruler who was born in Kapilavastu, India, just outside present day Nepal. He showed an early inclination to meditation and reflection, displeasing his father, who wanted him to be a warrior and ruler rather than a religious philosopher. Yielding to his father's wishes, he married at an early age and participated in the worldly life of the court. Buddha found his carefree, self-indulgent existence dull, and after a while he left home and began wandering in search of enlightenment. One day in 533, according to tradition, he encountered an aged man, a sick man, and a corpse, and he suddenly and deeply realized that suffering is the common lot of humankind. He then came upon a mendicant monk, calm and serene, whereupon he determined to adopt his way of life and forsake family, wealth, and power in the quest for truth. This decision, known in Buddhism as the Great Renunciation, is celebrated by Buddhists as a turning point in history.
Wandering over northern India, Buddha first investigated Hinduism. He took instruction from some famous Brahman teachers, but he found the Hindu caste system repellent and Hindu asceticism futile. He continued his search, attracting but later losing five followers. About 528, he experienced the Great Enlightenment, which revealed the way of salvation from suffering. Shortly afterward he preached his first sermon. This sermon, the text of which is preserved, contains the gist of Buddhism.
Afterwards he traveled through the valley of the Ganges River, teaching his doctrines, gathering followers, and establishing monastic communities that admitted anyone regardless of caste. He returned briefly to his native town and converted his father, his wife, and other members of his family to his beliefs. After 45 years of missionary activity Buddha died in Nepal. He was about 80 years old.
At the core of Buddhism are the four Truths:
- Life is suffering. This is more than a mere recognition of the presence of suffering in existence. It is a statement that, in its very nature, human existence is essentially painful from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Even death brings no relief, for the Buddha accepted the Hindu idea of resurrection, with death leading to further rebirth.
- All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment, and grasping that result from such ignorance.
Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment.
- The path to the suppression of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation.
- These eight are usually divided into three categories that form the cornerstone of Buddhist faith: morality, wisdom, and samadhi or concentration.
In my opinion, Buddha was a great human being, who wanted people to have a better way of life, not for them to worship him and revere him over human life. I think that Buddhism teaches better morals and values than Christianity ever has. I was raised a skeptic, but if I was to convert to a religion I wouldn't convert to Christianity, I'd become a Buddhist.