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Buddhism And Christianity In The Same Light

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A community, a system of belief, a tradition and a way of life- Catholicism and Theravada Buddhism are all of these and many more. There are many affinities between Theravada Buddhism and Catholicism, but each tradition is marked with its own unique origins. Thus it is valuable to explore Buddhist rituals, practices, ethics and morals comparatively to those Catholic, but equally important to examine those features that are uniquely their own religion.

Every religion that strives to achieve its own way of life chooses distinctive practices and rituals to reach their desired spiritual goals. When considering Catholicism and Buddhism, the two main forms of worship are prayer and meditation.

While Nirvana is the ultimate spiritual attainment, most ordinary Buddhists show their commitment to the Buddha through several religious practices. The basic motives behind Buddhist practices mirror with those behind the Catholic tradition (Seay (2001,p.58). Both traditions aim to create togetherness within their community by developing a sense of communion with all present through a group activity. Some of these activities include group prayer/meditation and group singing/chanting. Another motive behind some Buddhist and Catholic practices is the principle of suffering, a significant element of religious tradition. This principle was formed on the basis of the suffering endured by Saddartha Gutama and Jesus Christ and is put into practice through traditions like achieving Nirvana and Lent sacrifices. Sacrificing something that is of great significance to a follower is a reflection of their commitment and devotion to that religion, thus leading people to believe that because of that action they are a worthier Catholic or Buddhist.

Whilst there are many similarities between the traditions, many differences are apparent when considering Ninian's dimension, 'ritual and practice'. The first disparity between Buddhist and Catholic worship is the reasons for their devotion. Catholic prayer is a personalised approach to petition, praise and/or thank their God. Catholic prayer is both controlled and spontaneous. This is contrary to the Theravada Buddhist practice as meditation is always disciplined, controlled, self-contained and nonpetitional. When Catholics pray it is either in public or private, whilst Buddhist meditation is strictly physically and spiritually solitary. For monks, it is sufficient for practicing meditation and no prayer, as prayer is a distraction to achieving Nirvana. Whereas for Mahayana Buddhism, followers can benefit from prayer but Buddha does not claim the capacity to answer prayers of petition. This is contrary to Catholics, as they believe their prayers can



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