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Buddhism vs Catholicism Essay Sample

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Buddhism vs Catholicism Essay Sample

Buddhism and Christianity are two religions which have many similarities and differences. Both religious have ceremonies which bring the person into the religious community and both religions also have ceremonies which take place after the person passes away. Discussed in this essay will be the background and order of these religious ceremonies. Similarities and differences will be drawn from these ceremonies and in conclusion the meaning of these ceremonies will be discussed.

The Sacrament of Baptism is the first step in the initiation process of becoming apart of the Christian community. Baptism takes place at a young age. Most infants taking place in Baptism are only a few months old. Baptism is all about welcoming a new member to the Christian community and letting them live the way Jesus lived his life. The ceremony of Baptism takes place in 6 parts. The parents and the selected godparents of the child are asked what their intentions are. Prayers are made and a couple of readings are taken out of the bible. The blessing of the child is then made and the Priest touches the child’s forehead with the holy water. The water is a symbol of washing away a person’s sins. The child is clothed in a white garment which is a symbol of purity and innocence. A Baptism candle is lit and the Priest says a pray to bless the child. The conclusion of the rite takes place and the Lord’s Prayer is said by the mass.

The equivalent ceremony to Baptism in the Buddhist religion is known as Taking Refuge. This ceremony takes place after the person has really thought about what they are doing. The person involved in this ceremony is not an infant but are only allowed to take refuge when they are old enough to make their own decisions. The ceremony of Taking Refuge is in seven parts. The initiate (the person taking refuge) thinks about all the things that Budda believes in and teaches. The initiate thinks about giving up all evil things in life. Incense is then offered and they say a speech which involves them asking for forgiveness. They then kneel and face the statue of the Buddha and bow three times, each time touching their palms and forehead to the floor. The initiate accepts the Three Refuges (Buddha, Dharma & Sangha) by reciting a speech in the language of Pali. They then agree to live by the five precepts which are like rules in life. These are:

.Abstaining from destroying living creatures.

 Abstaining from taking anything not freely given.

Abstaining from sexual misconduct.

Abstaining from false speech.

Abstaining from taking intoxicants, which lead to carelessness.

The ceremony is finished after the monk gives the initiate a new name which has a meaning. This meaning is something that the initiate should try to fulfil during their lifetime.

The meaning of a Christian Baptism is to become apart of the Christian community. In being baptised you will live your life the way that Jesus did in his life. Baptism is the first step taken as a child to become apart of the Christian community. The child wears white clothing as a sign of purity and innocence. During the ceremony of Baptism the child is splashed with water and the water represents the washing away of sins. Water makes you clean and that is the theory behind Baptism that the water is cleaning away your sins. Being Baptised means that you have been blessed by the Priest & therefore God so you have become apart of the religious community.

The initiate who is Taking Refuge is committing themselves to a life long journey of becoming a better person by being Buddhist. Taking Refuge is only the first step into becoming a better person. Once the initiate has Taken Refuge they have set upon the proper path of practising Buddhism and receiving teachings about the Buddha. When a person commits themselves to becoming a Buddhist, they have the goal of being able to liberate themselves by achieving Nirvana. The speech that is said during the ceremony asks for help from the Dharma, Buddha & Sangha to help them reach Nirvana. The giving of the new name to the initiate is a sign that by becoming a Buddhist you are able to start a new life and live in a better way.

Christian funerals are usually celebrated within the mass itself but this is not always the case. The coffin is sprinkled with holy water by the Priest to remind the community of the person’s Baptism. A white cloth, known as a pall, is placed over the candle as another reminder of Baptism. The candle used at Easter is lit to remind those present of Christ. Prayers are offered. At the conclusion of the mass more holy water is sprinkled on the coffin and incense is burned. Prayers are made to bless the dead person so that they may go to heaven to be with God and blessings are also made over the community so that they too will be able to continue with their lives after the death of a friend or family member. The coffin is then taken to the place of burial where the last respects are paid to the deceased.

The traditional Buddhist funeral only takes place in Tibet and this is known as a sky burial. Other types of Buddhist funeral can include water burial or cremation but sky burial is a type of funeral limited to Tibet and the Buddhist religion. In the perfect circumstances the following would take place after a Buddhist person died, however, sometimes parts must be skipped because the body may have to be moved or the person dies tragically. When the person is dying Chapter 10 of ‘Bodisatva’s Way of Life’ is read to the person. After death their mind & soul leaves their body to go into a state of limbo. This state of limbo can last up to 49 days and during this time the soul goes through three stages also known as Bardos.

Bardo 1:The soul is in a trance for four days but they do not know that they are dead. Monks are able to talk to the soul to help them guide the soul through the three bardos.

Bardo 2:The soul can see their whole life right before their eyes. They are able to see a very bright light. If the person is not scared and heads towards the light then they have reached Nirvana and they will not be reborn. However, most people see the light and become scared of it and turn away, so the person is, therefore, reborn again.

Bardo 3:The deceased person looks for new parents into the new body which they will be born.

In the meantime, the body is left untouched for three days. This is so the soul is not disturbed. After the three days, sky burial takes place. The body is taken far away from civilisation by a monk. The body is wrapped in white cloths. The body is taken far away into the mountains of Tibet and the Monk unwraps the body and starts to cut it up. He will cut the flesh into small pieces and the throw them to feed the vultures. The bones are also smashed and fed to the vultures so that the whole body has disappeared once the ceremony is over.

During a Christian funeral a lot of symbols are used in the ceremony. Holy water is sprinkled to remind the community of the person’s Baptism which was what helped them to live their life by God’s way. Candles are lit to represent the presence of Christ so that the community know that he is there and that Christ will take the deceased away and up to heaven. Incense is burned because it is purifying the body because of the smoke. Also as the smoke rises it is taking the prayers of the mass up to heaven. A cross is also placed upon the coffin to remind the community of the way the person lived their life.

While sky burial is a practised really unheard of it does have very logical reasons behind it. Some are practical and some are theological. Because of the very rocky terrain in Tibet it is very hard to dig a burial site for the body. Also because of a lack of wood coffins are unable to be made or a fire can’t be started to cremate the body. The terrain is impossible to dig so being able to dispose the body by feeding it to the vultures is more convenient. However it is what Buddhist people believe in that makes sky burial important to their morals. All Buddhist people believe in showing compassion for living creatures whether it is people or animals because every living creature has a soul. By feeding the vultures, the monk is showing compassion to the vultures, which is a lower creature and they are generating good karma which helps them to reach Nirvana. By disposing the body in this way they are also able to destroy the body which does not live on but the soul does.

In conclusion, Christian and Buddhist ceremonies do have things in common. Both Baptism and Taking Refuge are about coming apart of the religious community and agreeing to live your life by God/Buddha.

The one thing that Christian funeral and a sky burial have in common is that in both the soul is taken away from the body. The Christian soul goes up to heaven and the Buddhist soul travels through the Bardos.

The main issue that can be learnt from studying the ceremonies of two different religions is that each religion is unique and different. They have reasons for being different whether it is for practical reasons or because of what their religion believes in.

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