1. Wu and Miller 1236-1249). It is

1.   
Individualism from The Point of View of Christianity And
Hinduism 

     It can be said
that a religion of particular cultures reflects the psychology of that culture
(Cohen, Wu and Miller 1236-1249). In other words, the philosophy and opinions
of a group when combined again for to the religion the following. So, by studying
a particular religion, we can thereby get a feel for the philosophy and
psychology of culture.

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 Eastern philosophies
and religions have long been against the idea of individualism (Cohen, Wu and
Miller 1236-1249). Hinduism, for instance, believes that individualism is an
illusion (Cohen, Wu and Miller 1236-1249). It is the collective that holds
power in such beliefs. The idea that an individual is any different from the
collective is considered to be a naïve view. It is not that the philosophy
discounts the existence of the individual, it only goes against the fact that
an individual is somehow different from the collective. In other words, an
individual is part of the whole, and thus the feeling and sense of identity is
an illusion (Cohen, Wu and Miller 1236-1249).

Hinduism originated in India not through the works of any
specific founder but from the various ways of living that existed in ancient
India. Hinduism recognizes many different cultural structures and authorities,
though the highest authorities are recognized as the Vedas. The Ramayana,
Mahabharata, and Bhagavad-Gita are other recognized authorities that are of
lesser impact.

“Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen
worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals
create a communion with these … Gods.” (Academy, 2017)

Hinduism as a word means both the social and relies
construct of Indian society. Even though we are focusing on the religions
aspect of Hinduism, we must remember that both bodies are tied to each other.

As is usually the case with religions (Cohen, Wu and Miller
1236-1249), the basic tenets of Hinduism deal with the cycle of life foremost
and the practicality of day to day life later. Hindus believe in reincarnation.

According to them, after death, a person’s spirit is given body. This body can
be that of an animal, a person of another caste (social level), or a god. This
is determined by what is known as the Karmic law, i.e., if one has done good
deeds (according to Vedas), he would have a higher station in the next life,
and if he has sinned, he would have a lower position. This cycle of death and
rebirth continues on and on until one attics enlightenment.

“There is no eternal hell, no damnation, in Hinduism,
and no intrinsic evil–no satanic force that opposes the will of God.” –
(Academy, 2011)

Christianity has God as the creator that stands out of space
and time (Pratte, 2011). In other words, God stands outside the product of its
creation. Humans are God’s creation, but not part of God. The concept of souls
inhabiting the body makes this viewpoint very clear since the soul is supposed
to be judged for its actions by ending up in either hell or heaven. This
judgment from God forms one of the core pillars of the religion. The “The
Commandments,” the nature of hell and heaven, the analogies of ‘sheep and
shepherd’ various other tenets of the faith point to the fact that God exists
outside our reality and this reality serves as the judgment field of God where
the worthy end up in heaven and the unworthy in hell. For instance, the
following quotes do well to illustrate the place of an individual about the
creation.

Isaiah 55:8,9 – “God’s thoughts and ways are higher than
ours as the heavens are higher than the earth.” (Pratte, 2011)   

Jeremiah 10:23 – “The way of man is not in himself; it is
not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Pratte, 2011)

Galatians 1:8,9 – “No teaching except the gospel of Jesus
Christ can bring salvation and a right relationship with God.” (Pratte, 2011)

Essentially human nature and intellect cannot pave a way to
divine truth. No amount of self-reflection can lead a person to God. (Pratte,
2011). According to Christianity, man is not part of God. Thus, a person cannot
find spiritual truth through meditation. It is only God who may reveal the
spiritual truth.

     Hence, the hope
of Hinduism is to escape material existence and the reincarnation cycle by
looking for God within oneself, whereas Christians believe that God cannot be
found within the heart of the ‘sinner.’ The soul of a person is not a part of
God. In other words, one cannot find God within oneself since no amount of
meditation could reveal something that does not exist in the self.

Christianity is a faith in oneself. But Hinduism claims no
faith as there is no ‘self to which we can ascribe a faith. How can an
individual will matter if the entirety is God itself? Thus, the Hindus distance
themselves from hell, heaven, and free will. God, to them, is not a lawgiver
nor the greater (Cohen, Wu and Miller 1236-1249). Rather the creation itself is
the god. While it maintains many gods, all of those are also part and inclusive
of ‘Atman,’ the universal consciousness.

The concept of karma is still prone to misinterpretation
because of the of the nature of ‘free will’ in Hinduism. How can one sin if the
entire creation is god itself and there is a specific plan according to which
the world moves? This issue comes up often Hinduism. For instance, if we all
are part of God or higher consciousness and there is no separation between
humans and creation, how could the concept of individual sin or evil doing come
into play. Since everything, including the good and the bad, is part of
creation the very notion of sin disappears.

It seems as if there are two parts of Hinduism, one that
deals with the mystical and the other that deals with the day to day human
activities, hence the need to form the caste system.

 

2. What Is Peace and How Is It
Achieved

The word Peace in itself holds no meaning. It is not the
opposite of violence. A hungry man’s idea of peace is a full stomach. A nation
at war may claim the end of violence as peace, even though it may come at the
price of hunger.  Similarly, a man may
seek peace from the stress and tension of the everyday life. A priest may seek
peace in communion with God, perhaps even death, the ultimate representation of
God’s embrace. 

Many would suggest that the absence of violence or war is
peace (“What Is Peace?”, 2017). But can we equate a ‘just’ peace with a
piece of slavery, or injustice? Can we dare suggest that just because an unjust
society does not have conflict, its idea of Peace has the same value as that of
an honorable society? If that is the case, then we should accept the
conflict-free regimes of dictators and tyrants as peaceful (Rummel,1975,
35).  One may derive from the above
argument that peace is not a static phase that either exists or not. It is a
dynamic feature of society that has less to do with violence and more to do
with human interactions and mindset (Rummel,1975, 36). There exists a
relationship between peace and conflict, such that the conditions necessary for
peace and any changes in such conditions make conflict more likely or less
likely. We need to consider the idea that peace does not exist in a vacuum. It
might be better to treat peace as a social contract, such that we as the
members of society achieve peace through negotiations, adjustments,
resolutions, and decisions. Such a scenario makes peace an active, dynamic part
of society and not a passive tenet (Rummel,1975, 102). It is through our
cooperative existence and interaction that we bring about the conditions of
peace. Peace also holds a pivotal relation to power. It is only through a
balance of power that the conditions of peace are fulfilled (Rummel,1975, 102).

Peace can both be external and internal from the point of
view of an individual (Rummel,1975, 40). As a social construct, peace is
limited to the external sphere where the interactions and actions of other
members of society play a role in bringing about peaceful environment. But if
we were to consider human nature we would find the flaw in such an arrangement
(“What Is Peace?”, 2017). If a person is not at peace with himself and
finds chaos in his heart, it won’t be long before the said chaos leaks to the
external world. Perhaps we may call the internal peace a ‘spiritual peace.’ If
the expectations and desire of an individual are not in congruence with the
social reality, there can be no peace.

The social reality that is evidenced in the world in the
forms of contracts, governments, national and international interactions are
just the manifestation of the expectations, values, and meaning inherent in the
minds of the people that are party to the social contract.

 

3. The Differences and Similarities
Between Buddhism And Taoism

Buddhism and Taoism are two examples of philosophies that
have their origins in India. Buddhism originated with Siddhartha Gautama, who
later came to be known as the Buddha or “the awakened one” (Fieser, 2017).

Buddha offered insight into the reality of life. According to him, suffering
exists only because of one’s attachment to material things. It is only through
moderation and Dhamma (or Dharma in Sanskrit) that we can attain Nirvana
(enlightenment) (Fieser, 2017). One of the six pillars of Dhamma is
“Ehipassiko.” It roughly translates as “encouraging investigation”
(“Ancient Eastern Philosophy: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism,”
2017). Buddha did not want his followers to follow him because of blind
devotion (Liusuwan, 2017). He invited his followers to question his teachings
and see for themselves if the teaching were reasonable. It is also worth noting
that sense of morality and moderation is placed higher than any dogma
(Liusuwan, 2017). Even the pañca-sila or the Five Precepts are only practical
and dramatic rules that should govern one’s life (“The Five Precepts:
Pañca-Sila,” 2005). One of the most fascinating and compelling aspects of
Buddhism is the lack of deities and unnecessary belief structure.

Taoism is a philosophical and religious tradition that has
its origins in China. It is also known as Daoism. Traditionally, Lao-tzu,
translated as “master Lao,” is credited with the foundation of Taoism and with
having written the most important text of Taoism, Dao De Jing (Book of the way)
(Fieser, 2017). It has since been adopted as the state religion of China even
though its tenets have less to with religious belief and is more of a path to
greater understanding (Fieser, 2017). ‘The dao’ is the central concept in
Taoism. It is translated as ‘the path’ or ‘the way’ (“Ancient Eastern
Philosophy: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism,” 2017). Dao De Jing
refers to ‘the dao’ as the ‘mother of everything’ (Fieser, 2017). In other
words, everything was born of Dao, and everything is sustained by Dao.

Following this logic, we can say that everything is part of the Dao and hence
our sense of identity is an illusion. This is very similar to the Hindu belief
of the Creator and Creation being one. Taoism maintains that there exists a
sort of non-permanence in nature, a cycle of life where everything decays and
returns to ‘the Dao’ and is recycled and returns again. Daoism asks us to
follow this cycle of transformation willingly and without anger or regret
because to do otherwise would be a disobedience of nature (Everett and Dun
108). In essence, Taoism asks us to live in harmony with nature and oneself. It
also preaches the concept of ‘non-action’ or effortless-action (Everett and Dun
108). This concept seems contradictory until we remember that Dao exists in
everything and it is only when we are in tune with the Dao that we can find the
best way to live life. This philosophy also carries into governance. Taoism
preaches the need for minimal governance and claims that the more a government
imposes itself on its members, the more the social choice grows (Fieser, 2017).

As is evidenced by the above discussion, both Buddhism and
Taoism have the concept of ‘flowing with nature.’ But Buddhism decidedly tries
to avoid the pleasures of life. Taoism on the other hand, wants its followers
to accept the pleasures and the sufferings of life as natural. It is difficult
to choose between Eastern philosophies because they tend to have similar views
on death and reincarnation. It is only the ‘how’ of the question that changes.

My personal preference in the face of the above evidence is
Taoism, not because it has any inherent superiority over Buddhism, but because
it fosters a deeper understating of nature and how the world works. It seeks
enlightenment through balance and not by doing away with or changing a part of
your psychology. The concept of Yin and Yang, the opposite forces of nature,
very clearly describes the various shades of awareness that can exist in a
human mind and how we may balance them.

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