Religion has always been the elaborate roof placed upon the symbolic homes in history that make up the milestones in civilization. These roofs have forged the feelings of protection for those dwelling within their walls of knowledge and wisdom.
Buddha searched for enlightenment for self through knowledge.
He appealed to the divided with his teachings and created a symbolic home in history that would later be given the roof called Buddhism.
Jesus of Nazareth walked amongst the poor appealing to the masses through what was perceived as divined wisdom. His symbolic home had a strong emphasis on morality, after his death, the roof placed upon his home was called Christianity.
Buddha and Jesus began the construction of separate symbolic houses in world history that would ultimately be completed by the desires of those that dwelled within the very walls of each.
Each religion and their sources have many components in common, and differences that are just as distinct as the cultures surrounding them.
Born from possible myth and ambiguous facts, Buddha lived sometime in the 5th and 6th century B.C.E. It was a time in which a powerful caste system stratified the people of India by fear of religious chastisement for their souls upon death. How well they performed there duties in life would dictate the welfare of their souls and affect how they would be reincarnated for their next life. Priests, known as Brahman, warriors, and merchants resided at the highest levels of the caste system controlling those beneath them through belief and faith. Buddha was born south of the Himalayas into a warrior clan. In youth, religious teachers taught him wisdom through his travels.
“In the wilderness, the Buddha experimented with the many ways Indian gurus, or religious teachers, had devised to reach a higher understanding of the nature of humanity and the supernatural world.”
Buddha believed that the goal of ones self is to seek enlightenment based on the discovery of what became to be known as the Four Noble Truths:
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
When Buddha died his followers worshipped him as a divine being, a deity. His teaching, which began as knowledge to help self, quickly increased to the ranks of a full religion, known as Buddhism. The teachings of Buddha directly challenged the caste system by having the ability to affect any person at any level. Enlightenment could not be controlled by any one group of ruler it had to be something that one sought for the betterment of self.
A simple carpenter believed to be the son of God by those that followed him was known to be a great prophet and teacher. Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew that urged for the purification of the Jewish religion. He delivered wisdom to his followers through strong moral messages based on love and respect of others while worshipping God. His messages of humility could be felt by the poor, while his message of charity threatened the rich.
“Jesus won many followers among the poor. He also roused suspicion among the upper classes and the leaders of the Jewish religion.”
This eventually led to his untimely death by crucifixion. After his death Jesus’ teaching were organized into the religion of Christianity. It became one of the fastest growing faiths of its time.
The similarities between the religion of Buddhism and Christianity were unmistakable even in their origins.
Both began by teachers focused on delivering a message to better one’s self. Both appealed to the common person and dared to include those of any stratification level or gender. Both were founded by leaders with enigmatic histories in which very little can be validated and yet both religions have more dedicated followers than any single field of math or science in existence.
It took a short time before the potential power of each of these faiths would be understood and manipulated. Buddhism quickly splintered into various schools based on each group’s interpretations of the philosophies of Buddha while Christianity fragmented into countless denominations based on those that would be targeted for control. Spirituality is continually expressed by each path, but service to the religion as a whole through action is the priority.
The key difference between Buddhism and Christianity has always been the concept of attachment. Buddhism sought nirvana through the understanding of suffering. Suffering was taught by Buddhists to be derived from the worldly attachments that a person strived to attain. The enlightened Buddhist could only find inner peace by releasing all worldly attachments of fame, money, love, etc.
Christianity did not teach its followers to detach from these things but to embrace each one with humility while giving all praises to God. Christianity promoted beneficence and love for the fellow-man as well as the development of a strong personal relationship with God. Christian religion functioned from the perspective of hope through worship.
The spread of each of these religious practices survived the many ages of conquerors and surpassed the boundaries of many empires. The most effective carrying factor for each was hope within the ranks of the poor and power intertwined with the grasp of the greedy.
Effecting the advancements of other religions, Buddhism added new homes to the community of belief by creating major impacts on Hinduism and Jainism.
The tenacity of Christianity surpassed not only the borders of religion but entrenched itself as the base infrastructure for the development of many governments.
Both religions were the conceptual roofs placed upon many of the spiritual homes in history that outlined the direction of mankind. Similar in many ways and yet different through traditions, each of these faiths were the tools of the most critical ability that had been taught by almost all religions as the one thing that positioned man above all other beast…the power of will.