There are many religions in the world. Two of the most popular religions in the world are Buddhism and Hinduism. These two religions are very old religions. The ideals, tenets and aspects of these religions have been embraced by many individuals and by many other religions over time. In looking closely at these two religions, it is noticeable that there are similarities and parallelisms between the Buddhism and Hinduism religions. “Buddhism naturally shares many ideas with Hinduism (Brodd, Sobolweski, 2003, p. 75). ” This is not surprising because of the roots and history of these two religions.
But despite what could be considered as similarities or even close ties found between Buddhism and Hinduism, there are professionals who noted how lines are set and differences are established between the two religions. Similarly, the differences that underlie in the paths leading towards the particular directions of the specific religion, may it be Buddhism or Hinduism. “Buddhists teachings or Dharma – not to be confused with the related Hindu doctrine of dharma, or “ethical duty” – are in some respects difficult to understand (Brodd, Sobolweski, 2003, p. 75). “
Ideas that share parallelisms or similarities, in one point or another, like the idea of dharma in Buddhism or Hinduism, or the state of improved sense of self, or self awakening, of the elevation of the spiritual self in a higher plane through the tenets and practices inspired by religion, are all important in the practice, observation and exercise of religion. The role of these aspects is important in understanding why or why not humans subscribe to religion and its religious ideals.
In consideration of these ideas, this paper will explore the discussions about Buddhism, Hinduism, Dharma and the complexities involved in the motivations; reasons and rationale on why or why not individuals immerse themselves in the ideals of these religions particularly on dharma or why individuals criticize the religion; and the aspects they often point out as footholds of their arguments, pro or against these religions and its ideals, tenets, beliefs and impact on thinking, attitude and behavior. What is dharma?
Followers of the Hindu belief believe that the dharma refers to the ethical code or the sense of responsibility one places on one’s self. While dharma in Buddhism refers to the teachings that one of the most important persons in Buddhism – Siddhartha Gautama – taught the followers of this particular religion. As a set of teachings or as a moral or ethical code, the two ideas of dharma are all about inspiring people to do actions which would be considered as “good” or “ideal. ” Neither the dharma in Hinduism nor the dharma in Buddhism espouses the action which can be considered as “bad”, “ill-willed” or “malicious”.
Because of that, the ideas of dharma go hand in hand with practice of religious fervor. One should follow the dharma in Buddhism or the dharma in Hinduism even with the presence of an ultimate personal deity to whom one must provide an account of ones actions, thoughts, etc. The ideas involving the dharma in both religions and the reasons why a person practices and observes the dharma is closely related with the practice and consciousness on doing things that the person believes will earn him or her favor or good graces of his or her own personal god or deity.
The idea is this – it is reconcilable to have one’s faith and one’s religious actions feature actions in tune with and in accordance to the dharma (both in Buddhism and in Hinduism) and actions that one might believe are actions approved by his or her own god. The pursuit of what is right in one’s mind is often related to the pursuit of doing what he or she thinks god would have wanted him or her to do. The teachings of the gods and deities of the major religions is about moral right. Dharma is always about doing what is morally right because Buddha did not teach or preached to the people about doing the wrong things.
This situation is suitable especially in this day and age wherein individuals are not always exclusive to one religion anymore. Catholic Christians are welcoming the ideals and practices from other religions including Buddhism and Hinduism and the idea of dharma. Handling these two side by side is not impossible since they compliment each other and do not contradict each other. With this, dharma is observed even if there is also the pursuit of accountability of action for one’s specific personal god because the choice of actions runs in similar directions and not in opposing or contradicting pathways.
Even if the action of the person is geared towards pleasing his or her own personal deity or god, the same action can be done following the Dharma. It would not conflict with the religion. On the contrary, it can be used to improve the actions of the individuals. Following the Dharma will result in the creation of a behavior that results to actions that are favorable to the gods and consistent with the ideals of the religion and is favorable and consistent to the ideals of Dharma as well.
For example, Buddhists and Hindus can do things – the right things – so that when the time comes that they are called for their accountability, they can say that they did good things consistent to the religious belief. Their actions are motivated not just by religion or religious directions but also by the directions of the Dharma. Their actions can be considered as something better. It is ideal for an individual to not just act based on what their religion dictates but also based on what the Dharma dictates because it makes people’s actions more morally sound (Isherwood, Berg, Summers, 2007, p. 137).
Simply said, Dharma is about doing in accordance to what is right and what is wrong. “Everybody has their own dharma, that is to say the duty which is important to themselves… there are certain things which he should do and certain things that he should not do (Isherwood, Berg, Summers, 2007, p. 137). ” This paradigm exists side by side with religious beliefs and this ideal can be used to improve religious practices in the effort to gain the approval of a person’s god/deity. Dharma in Buddhism is an ideal that helps an individual possess an ideal set of behavior; while the idea of Dharma in Hinduism has a similar role in a person’s life.
In this concept, both Hinduism and Buddhism shares the similarity of providing the people/believers with a mindset or thinking/behavior paradigm that can help them act in a way that is more acceptable and helps them live more harmoniously with each other. Dharma guides a person. One should focus on his or her own Dharma in accordance with the details and characteristics of his/her life (Isherwood, Berg, Summers, 2007, p. 137). “It is very, very important to follow one’s own dharma and not somebody else’s (Isherwood, Berg, Summers, 2007, p. 137)”.
One of the characteristics of some of the religions in practice today is the presence of the concept of punishment and enticement/rewards. Religion, through its tenets and through the leaders of the religion that manage the “faithful”, always reminds the followers about the set of punishment waiting those who do not follow the pack and the rewards in store for those who do as the religion says. In some aspects of some of the religions today, the tenets of the religion include setting behavioral guidelines.
In these guidelines, behaviors of the members which are against the guidelines deserve punishment often severe like the Christian/Catholic practice of excommunicating members, as well as the threat of ending up in fiery or frozen realm of torture and suffering for the soul like hell. While the behavior of the members of the religious congregation which are consistent to the ideals and guidelines of the religion deserve merit and later on, reward, which often comes in non-physical form like good things happening to the soul and the promise of a better afterlife. This sometimes becomes an important point when criticisms are raised.
There are critics that believe that the creation of the punishment/reward system in these religions dictate the behavior of the members. They do not experience a genuine spiritual growth unlike what happens to individuals who experience a change in their lives because of the result of reflection, meditation and actions which are not enforced behind the power of threat and punishment. For example, some of the members act as dictated because they are fearful of the punishments, or some act as dictated because they want to get the rewards promised by their religion.
The concept of the Dharma tradition provides no such direct punishment or reward system. Dharma in Buddhism and in Hinduism is focused on guiding an individual with the prospect that the person can achieve a state. But this is not akin to the idea of reward because achieving that state does not end or stop, rather it is pursued everyday. It is only a genuine sense of self and a genuine appreciation of what has changed in life which can truly say if the pursuit of the Dharma tradition either in Buddhism in Hinduism has been successful and effective.
Vis-a-vis, there is no punishment for those who would not follow. This particular aspect of Buddhism/Hinduism is not about giving out punishment; but instead explains to the individual how doing, otherwise, can result to making one’s life more difficult than necessary. One might set out to understand and follow the Dharma in both traditions even without the concept of punishment or enticement. One of the aspects of the idea of Dharma that can convince anyone to follow this ideal with or without the punishment/enticement is because it is more than just about the self.
Dharma, in both Buddhism and Hinduism, is about the sense of balance of the person in the universe. If the person has reached the consciousness, wherein his or her concern is more than his or her physical body or more than the sake of his or her physical existence (including consideration of material things and the pursuit of concepts related to the physical, material self/world like the worldly concept of material/temporary reward, etc), punishment and enticement which are limited to the physical existence becomes non-bearing or non factor.
Instead, the person focuses on growth that makes the individual more focused on how he or she is in tune or living harmoniously with the rest of the universe (Ramen, 2007, p. 40). “Dharma is more than just a set of rules to be a good person; it is the fundamental law that binds the universe together (Ramen, 2007, p. 40). ” In support of this argument, the author also added that “to go against the Dharma is to defy the universe” and that in following Dharma “is to be in harmony with all things (Ramen, 2007, p. 40). “