Buddhism and Christianity as Social Reform Movements

Buddhism and Christianity are two great religions in the world that made a lot of contributions to the development of human beings in all aspects of life. These two religions may be worlds apart doctrinally and institutionally, but in their works for the betterment of human beings and the society, they are like wings that work together for the advancement and progress of civilizations. Buddhism and Christianity both have founders whose main teaching is the purification of the human heart.

When human beings are defiled from selfishness, greed, and other wrongdoings, they will always be living in harmony not only with others but also with the environment that they are into. Both Jesus and the Buddha emphasized on the purity of the human heart. It is the heart that is important, it is the treasures of the heart that is more precious that any other wealth in the world. This is what Jesus and the Buddha wanted for people to realize to achieve a life of purpose and happiness, thus, Jesus and the Buddha are very similar types of social reformers.

Jesus and the Buddha are both great teachers that sought spiritual transformations. They both live in a time when people are ignorant of the true nature of life. The societal conditions that Jesus and the Buddha are into enabled them to seek and teach the wisdom of enlightenment, and that the value of compassion is central to the teaching of Jesus and the Buddha in attaining this enlightened path. The societal conditions during the time when Buddha and Jesus lived were characterized by chaos and greed as well as poverty conditions that made people suffered gravely.
Jesus and the Buddha believe that all these sufferings that people experience are rooted on people’s ignorance on the fact that they themselves caused those problems. Human heart is full of impurities, and the only way to purify it according to the Buddha is to free oneself from earthly desires. Jesus also led an ascetic life together with his disciples, denouncing all worldly wealth to pursue a life of spiritual transformations. Both Jesus and the Buddha advocated for radical changes in the common practices of the people in those days.
The conditions during the time when Buddha preached his teaching were characterized by severe poverty, sickness and tribal wars that caused a lot of casualties. These conditions were very similar with what Jesus also experienced in his time. In responding to these societal conditions, both Jesus and the Buddha taught that people should cultivate compassion and love in their heart. It is only through selfless love that people will tolerate and respect one another.
Both Jesus and the Buddha tried to fix the social problems that caused people to suffer as well as humanity’s animalistic tendencies like anger and greed, through a reformation in values and spiritual transformation. The Christian golden rule saying, “Do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you” is very similar with what Buddha emphasized, “Treat others as yourself”. In these passages, one can see that Jesus and the Buddha gives importance to people’s actions and attitude towards others.
People should not incur hatred in their hearts as this is similar to hating the self. One should treat other people in a way that will not hurt or belittle them as this would mean belittling oneself. Jesus and the Buddha said that when other people try to hurt you, you should not fight back with anger and hate, because fire cannot be extinguished by fire. A true human being has to be mindful of his words and deeds so as not to hurt others. This holds true with the law of karma.
Whatever you do will always go back to you be it good or bad, depending on the causes you made. In Christianity, it is imperative for human beings to cultivate the self through the path of righteousness. In the same manner, Buddhism’s law on morality is highly depicted in the Christianity’s Ten Commandments. Buddhism and Christianity are closely related in the way they view the kind of society that we should be living in and should aspire for.
Jesus and the Buddha describe an ideal society as a place where conflict does not exist and equality is always in the mind of the people. An ideal society values justice, freedom and morality. Nobody will experience sufferings; no one will have to endure cycles of poverty, disasters and epidemics. Social change begins when a person tries to rededicate all his or her effort to an intensified ethical commitment, to something that causes the person to develop more wisdom and compassion.
These two religions always emphasized brotherly love towards other people, to treat other people as equal to oneself. Jesus emphasized that everyone is equal in the eyes of God, and Buddha also espoused the belief that in every human being, the Buddha nature exists regardless of race, color and culture. Both Christianity and Buddhism flowered during the time when everything seemed to be so hopeless and defiled. Both religions existed to correct people’s misconceptions of the reality, to lead people to the right path of peace and happiness.
In conclusion, Jesus and the Buddha are very similar social reformers and that these two influential figures were truly great people who advocated for a just and humane society based on the values attributed to love, compassion, wisdom and respect. References Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc. The Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom. Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. 2000 Hochswender, W. , Martin, G. & Morino, T. The Buddha in Your Mirror. Santa Monica, CA: Middleway Press. 2001. New American Bible. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. : Washington, DC. 2001.

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