The Question of Origin- The Buddhist Worldview of how life began is a complicated one for me to understand. To the Theravada Buddhist, humanity comes from Nirvana, an abstract Void. For Buddha, Nirvana was the end of suffering (Buddhism, A Religious Profile from International Students, Inc.). Therefor, in Buddha’s terms then the question of origin would be the beginning of suffering.
The Question of Identity- The Buddhist Worldview of what it means to be human and how we are to treat others is based upon an ethical conduct or what the Buddhist call the sila. One of the sila principles commands that you refrain from the taking of any life form, not just human (Buddhism, A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.).
The Question of Meaning/Purpose- The purpose of the life of a Buddhist is to end all suffering, which is caused by desire and can be overcome through self-discipline. The Mahayana Buddhist describes this as, “becoming aware of the Buddha-nature within” while the Theravada Buddhist believes we must, “realize the nonexistence of the self, thus finding permanence and ceasing all desire” (Buddhism, A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.).
The Question of Morality- The Buddhist Worldview of morality or Samadhi (mental discipline) can be found in the Eightfold Path that includes, Right Effort, Right Awareness and Right Meditation. The Samadhi, is defined as: a deep state of consciousness “on which all sense of personal identity ceases” (Rice, p. 310). In essence, with enough mental self-control you can reach goodness within yourself. In the sila or ethical conduct, it also commands to refrain from stealing, immoral sexual behavior, lying or taking intoxicants (Buddhism, A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.).
The Question of Destiny- The Theravada Buddhist Worldview does not teach that a continuous life essence exists after death. According to Buddha, there is no samsara (reincarnation) cycle. Instead, a person if a combination of five aggregates or combinations, called shandhas, which include the physical body, emotions, perception, volition, and consciousness (Ch’en, p. 44). When you die, these five parts that make up a human break off, “much like a car, it ceases to be a cohesive unit when it is taken apart piece by piece” (Buddhism, A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.). This is called, nirvana. The Mahayana Buddhist Worldview believes you have a choice to enter nirvana or out of your own compassion you may return to guide others as a god or, bodhisattvas (Buddhism, A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.).
II. Biblical/Christian Worldview
The Question of Origin- The Buddhism Worldview is completely opposite of the Christian Worldview. The Buddhist believes their existence is from nothing or a Void. The Christian Worldview of how life began is based upon what is written in the bible, which is the inspired word of a loving God (2 Timothy 3:16). In the beginning God existed (John 1:1) therefore before the world came to be, God existed (Proverbs 8:23). God spoke life into the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and every living thing on the earth including the plants and the animals. He then created man and from man he created woman (Genesis 2:22).
The Question of Identity- The Buddhist Worldview has a select set of man made ethics termed sila that deciphers no difference between human, animal or plant life. That being said the sila also commands to “refrain from taking life from any form, human or animal” (Buddhism, A Religious Profile by International Students, Inc.). In contrast, the Christian Worldview of what it means to be human and how we are to treat the living things on the earth is shown in (Genesis 1:26) when God said let us make man in our image and have him rule over all the animals of the earth. God created man in likeness with Himself making man able to do what plants and animals can not, which is have communion with Him.
The Question of Meaning/Purpose- The Buddhist Worldview believes that the purpose of life is to end all suffering. (Buddhism, A Religious Profile by International Students, Inc.). The Christian Worldview of the purpose of man is found in the Bible, John 17:3 “that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Consider, 70). A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the Christian Worldview of the meaning of life.
The Question of Morality- The Buddhist Worldview states that through the power of self-guidance one can come to a state in which one no longer desires and then no longer suffers. Through the Eightfold Path, the Buddhist will develop, “such a literally selfless perspective, he or she finds the power to speak well of others” and will not “break the moral precepts of Buddhism” (Buddhism, A Religious Profile by International Students, Inc.). Contrasting, the Christian Worldview of morality is laid out not only in scripture given by God but is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). The compass that guides our heart to know what is right and wrong is our conscience, which is distinct from the animal kingdom (Consider, 81).
The Question of Destiny- In the Buddhist Worldview, when one arrives at “death” one is simply reaching complete Nirvana, an abstract Void of nothingness (Theravada) or an undifferentiated Buddha essence (Mahayana) (Buddhism, A Religious Profile by International Students, Inc.). The Christian Worldview of death is not an ending but a beginning, Death precedes into two infinite states: Heaven or Hell. The Bible says God so loved the world (John 3:16) that He has restored our salvation through the redemption of His one and only Son Jesus Christ whom He sent to suffer and die on a cross so that we may be spiritually born again and live forever with God in Heaven for eternity.