Essay topic: Compare and contrast the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama as the founder of Buddhism with either the teachings of Jesus as the founder of Christianity or Muhammad as the founder of Islam.
Guidelines: In topic 8 we deal with New Religious Movements and the fact that each of the major world religions was once a New Religious Movement. In topic 9 we dealt with the role of the founder in New Religious Movements. Use the material of topics 8, 9, 10 and 11 to present an overview of the teachings of the founder in the two traditions. What are the similarities and differences in the teachings of these two founders?
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”# Although his mother had previously given birth to other children, it was regarded “in a loose sense a virgin birth”#, as no sexual act was performed to conceive the child.
This event portrays a very similar story to the birth of Jesus Christ. In contrast however, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary, chosen by God to borne his son in a manger in a stable. Many Christians consider the birth of Jesus to be a miraculous event, as not only was it a virgin birth, but Mary was informed of his decision when an angel of the Lord came to speak to her. It was here that Mary was informed of the importance of the child she was to give birth to, as God sent Jesus “to save the world”# from their sins. From this it is evident that each of these figures were seen to hold important roles in the development of each of these religions.
As a young man Siddhartha Gautama was sheltered from all sickness, death and old age, but when he ventured out of the kingdom and witnessed such events, it is said to have “robbed him of all peace of mind”# and therefore encouraged him to make the resolve to dedicate his life to finding a cure for suffering. It is interesting to note that Siddhartha did not immediately know what path to take. He experimented with several religions and “after six years of seeking, he arrived at the system that became Buddhism.”# It was only after living a life of severe austerity and reflection that he concluded that self denial was the “path to victory of the spirit over the flesh”# and would therefore lead him on the road to higher consciousness and ultimately to become a Buddha.
In contrast, Jesus was born with a distinct purpose and role for his life, to save the world from their sin. Through examining the bible it is apparent that he was aware of this role from his birth. A passage in the Bible recorded by John, recounts a conversation Jesus has with a woman about awaiting the return of the Messiah. It is at this point that Jesus displays his awareness of his role as he replies to the woman, “I who speak to you am he.”#
Aspects of the lives that both these founders lead whilst on earth can be viewed not only as an example for their followers, but also gives insight into details of the religions. Whilst Jesus openly claimed to be the Son of God, Siddhartha (Buddha) “did not claim divinity or even a divine source for his teachings. He saw himself as only an example.”# The scriptures record that both men performed miracles, highlighting their unique power, from Jesus raising the dead#, to Buddha using his powers to send people into a deep sleep#
The deaths of these two men portray two vastly different events as one signifies the end of a single individual and releases them to the afterlife, and the other enables the world to have the opportunity to live in eternity with God. When Buddha had reached about 80 years old, he came to his death after a meal brought on an attack of mortal illness.# It was at this point that his...