Confucian the Confucian cultures regard self as that which is intensely cognizant of other peoples social presence. According to this religion, the presence of other people in the phenomenological world is integral to the rise of selfhood (Sias 17). This implies that Confucian cultures conjointly differentiates self and others from the phenomenological world and relates self to others. Self-realization is the ultimate purpose of life according to the Confucian thought, and it occupies a critical position in the conception of selfhood in the Confucian culture.
Daoism in itself, Daoism is the embodiment of contradictions and paradoxes. Under this concept, all things are relative but identical since Dao is universal. Selfhood derives its meaning from the coexistence of other beings. However, Daoism, unlike the Confucian does not recognize the hierarchical perception of society, self or cosmos; neither does it acknowledge the role of social relationships in the definition of self (Shin 43). To the Daoism, perfect individuals have no self, and thus, the ideal man is selfless.
However, it is critical to understand that Chuang-Tzu's concept of selflessness does not deny the ontological selfhood as Buddhism which does not acknowledge the existence of the self in the first place. While Buddhism regards life as inherent misery, Daoism holds that people must take sorrow as well as joy as part of life. Buddhism holds that when an individual attains moral-intellectual perfection, they cease to have the illusion of selfhood because there is nothing to be reborn (Sias 26). At such a stage, an individual attains Nirvana where their primal ignorance becomes extinct.
The conception of selfhood in Hinduism originates from monistic metaphysics, which is best illustrated in Vedanta. An Advaita doctrine (a section of Vedanta school of thought) provides that existence of one reality called Brahman, which is formless, ubiquitous, immaterial, absolute, ineffable, immutable and does not have any attributes. Advaita thus holds that a true selfhood is identical to Brahman (Shin 39). Vedanta characterizes human condition as marked by sufferings and misery, and connects these to selfhood.
4. Judaism On Suffering
Torah acknowledges the existence of suffering in the world by introducing the concept of reward and punishment. In the book of Deuteronomy, God warns the Israelites at Mount Sinai during the covenant that suffering will visit them if they abandon His ways. This sense shows that reward and punishment do not solve a problem but merely explains it. This can be explained by the fact that even the righteous people suffer (Gellman 21).
The Bible book of Job illustrates this dilemma. Despite Job being righteous, his is facing intensified tragedies. Job's confidants start to question God's justice when Job insists on his innocence. In the end, God speaks to him, rejects the response his friends gave him to denounce Him. This incidence proves that even the righteous people can suffer. God wonders what could lead Job to doubt Him (Gellman 23). This scripture illustrates the mysteries of the universe as a response to sufferings. It is thus a perfect illustration that people without infinite mind cannot understand the ways of the master of all creation.
On the other hand, Buddha claimed that humans are encircled within samsara, where they experience unbearable suffering as they continue to wander aimlessly all day, year and throughout their lives. He asserts that human suffering results from their tight grip on the selfhood. Thus, he suggests that humans can alleviate themselves from suffering by first identifying its cause followed by adopting a medicine-like training path that would enhance them to restore their original good health; enlightenment (Day 11). He stated, "All I teach is suffering and the end of suffering." However, it is noteworthy that the suffering taught by Buddha's does not essentially imply a great physical harm. It implies the mental sufferings that humans undergo every day when the tendency to hold on to pleasure encounters the fleeting nature of life, which ultimately creates an ungovernable and unsatisfying experience.
5. On God Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
The three are monotheistic faiths, worshiping the God of Abraham, Adam, and Moses, a God of the universe and a sustainer of life. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism commonly believe in monotheism, prophets and divine revelation, a sacred history, Satan and angels. All these three faiths emphasize a special covenant with the creator, Christianity through Jesus Christ, Judaism through Moses while Islam made the covenant through Mohammed. The Christians acknowledge the covenant with God and His revelation to the Jews (Nirenberg 68). However, Christianity deems itself as being above Judaism as a result of the redemption through Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christianity emphasizes the New Testament and the new covenant with God. Similarly, Islam recognizes Christianity and Judaism including their revelations such as the message of Jesus, the New Testament and the Torah, and their biblical prophets such as Abraham and Moses. In fact, a reference to Jesus and the Virgin Mary appear many times in the Quran more than the Bible.
Nonetheless, according to Muslims, Islam is above Judaism and Christianity, and hold that Quran represents the final and complete word of Allah (God) while Mohammed was the last prophet of God. On the other hand, although Christianity acknowledges and accepts the Hebrew Bible, Islamic faith believes that both Old and New Testament have been corrupted and do not contain the original revelations (Koopmans 55). Besides, the Christians belief that Jesus is the son of God together with other doctrines such as atonement and redemption makes Islam believe that Christian faith is including human fabrication to God's revelation.
It is quite hard to focus on one God without getting distracted. However, this does not imply that we have better things in our lives that God, no. I think it is just because humans cannot be still. Psalms 46:10 states, "Be still and know that I am God." However, this is the hardest thing to do in life. It is hard for us to be still and avoid all the distractions of life to be able to present our souls to God. We keep thinking of other ideas, emotions, and objects, and in the process cannot remain still and steadfast in God.
6. This saying suggests that human beings have free wills to good or bad decisions. However, these decisions have an impact on human life; they can either give him eternal life or eternal destruction. However, in a way, it warns humans of choosing an evil path because there comes a time when Satan will abandon the sinner, and it will be too late for the individual. Therefore, this saying is both an encouragement for human beings to strive to do good and a warning against doing evil. It also shows that sin has its ultimate end. Ones Satan leads the sinner to their destruction, they abandon them to be destroyed entirely while the righteous continue to gain favor in the face of the Lord.
Buddhism believes in four fundamental truths which include;
All life is suffering, misery and pain.
Sufferings results from humans crave for personal desires.
Overcoming the selfish human cravings is possible.
They can only be overcome through the Eightfold Path.
The analysis of these Four Truths shows that suffering is a central concern in Buddhism. They are the foundation of the religion's central focus, its philosophy, and practice.
Similarly, as humans, we are poised to go through stressful situations in our daily lives. These may not be in the forms of pure physical harms but may take psychological or emotional harms. Seeing terrorists kill people, civil wars leading millions of deaths, natural disasters such as Haiti, old people in the sub-Saharan African unable to buy food due to poverty. All these and much more heap us with emotional stress, which disturbs our internal systems thus triggering suffering within us. Nonetheless, Buddhism recognizes and posits that suffering characterizes human life. It its viewpoint, life consists of dissatisfaction and suffering (dukkha).
Buddhism holds that humans an imperfect nature. As a result, they have to endure suffering in various forms; physical pain, tiredness, injury among others, which eventually culminate into death. This implies that man can never put permanently what they crave for in life. As happy moments pass by, so is the human life.
Buddhisms Eightfold Path for ending suffering is as follows;
Right Understanding this is the wisdom that will lead to the ultimate reality. Therefore, Buddhism provides that seeing things the way they are rather than what we want them to be will give the best solution in this situation. It is the first step of acknowledging what is going on and start pursuing the best solution.
Right Though this denotes detachment from the emotions, feelings and thought extended to all humans. Exercising selfless detachment, non-violence and love are the noblest qualities of wisdom that will end human suffering on earth.
Right Speech this is an ethical conduct which urges human beings to be able to discern what they say and where they say it. As humans, we must abstain from wrong and harmful speech and only focus on speaking the truth, using benevolent and friendly words.
Right Action this enhances honorable, moral and peaceful conduct. Right action admonishes humans to abstain from stealing, illegitimate sexual intercourse, destroying life and practicing illicit sexual intercourse. It encourages people to lead an honorable and peaceful life. When humanity observes this rule, it will be the end of their suffering.
Right Livelihood one should not harm others to earn their livelihoods. For instance, when people cease from trading in lethal weapons, cheating, poisoning and intoxicating drinks among other ills then there will be no more suffering.
Right Effort this is a mental discipline that will assist humans to perfect their good and wholesome states. Therefore, when people consistently make efforts to resist evil and unwholesome temptations, they are likely to end their sufferings as well as prevent others from suffering their actions.
Right Mindfulness an individual ought to know their nature concerning thoughts, ideas, conceptions and things; how they appear, how they are suppressed, develop among others. This will assist humans to cause sufferings to other people and themselves.
Right Concentration this is an essential factor in mental discipline. It assists individuals to discard unwholesome thoughts, replacing them with feelings of happiness and joy. Thus, bringing our suffering to an ultimate end.
While applying the Buddhas Eightfold Path, I realize that attaining the state of true happiness and joy does not involve a quick fix. I have to make a radical shift in my understanding and relationship with myself and others. Moreover, these concepts are not something that you can only pursue when you have time; they must be practiced all time and in all aspects of our lives to attain the desired results.
Day, Keri. "Freedom on My Mind: Buddhist-Womanist Dialogue." Buddhist-Christian Studies 36.1 (2016): 9-15.
Gellman, Jerome. "Jewish Chosenness and Religious DiversityA Contemporary Approach." Religious Perspectives on Religious Diversity (2016): 21.
Idel, Moshe, and Bernard McGinn, eds. Mystical union in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: An ecumenical dialogue. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.Koopmans, Ruud. "Religious fundamentalism and hostility against out-groups: A comparison of Muslims and Christians in Western Europe." Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 41.1 (2015): 33-57.
Nirenberg, David. Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism...
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