Philosophies of Life for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews & Scientologists
Author's Note: I wrote this piece several years ago for a class. It's purpose was to point out that while many religions have different practices, they all are driven upon the philosophy of ultimately being the best person that you can become. Some may find the five religions outlined a strange combination, however I wanted to have a wide selection to compare to each other. It is certainly not necessary to be religious to take something away from this article and I hope you enjoy it.
There are many different religions in the world and most of them originate back from ancient times. Every religion has a set of values and beliefs that guides and motivates its followers. One thing that all religions have in common is that they contain the core principles of peace, hope and faith.
Buddhism has been existed for many centuries. Buddhists do not believe in God and instead adhere to the teachings of its founder. There are many disputes on the exact birth of Buddhism however it’s founder, Siddhārtha Gautama, is thought to of lived in the fifth century. It is believed that he attained enlightenment at age 35 and from that point on he started teaching others and gaining followers. There are many different types of Buddhism around the world today; however they all have many similarities. Buddhism is said to be the 5th largest religion in the world and has anywhere from 230 million to 500 million followers world wide.
There is a teaching in Buddhism called the “Four Truths”. It states that that in everyone’s life there is sorrow and suffering. They are caused by desire and can be cured by the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is what motivates Buddhists to become better people and have happier lives. The philosophies of the Noble Eightfold Path are the following: Right Speech, Right Actions, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration, Right Thoughts, and Right Understanding. All of the terms are pretty self explanatory and are the core principles that Buddhists adhere to in order to have a full and complete life.
Hinduism is said to be the world’s oldest religion. Elements of Hinduism were found in the Indus Valley civilization which dates back to (5000 BC – 3500 BC). Hindus are polytheistic, which means that they have beliefs in multiple gods. Hinduism is said to be the 3rd largest religion in the world with approximately one billion followers.
Hindus have four goals of life (purusharthas) that are considered noble. The first one is “kama” and it represents pleasure and enjoyment. The second goal is “artha” and it denotes worldly prosperity and success. The third is “dharma” and its purpose is to follow the laws and rule that an individual lives under. Lastly, the fourth goal is for liberation from the cycle of samsara. Samsara is the belief in reincarnation. Hindus can reach the four goals of life in different ways, but one of the major ways is yoga, which is used to achieve the spiritual goal of life. Many Hindus are vegetarians and adhere to the practice of “Ahimsa” which is the respect of all life including plants, insects, and animals. Even if a Hindu has not chosen to live life as a vegetarian, almost all Hindus refrain from consuming beef.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world and has approximately 1.4 billion followers. Muslims adhere to the teaching of Muhammad, who lived in the 7th century. It is believed by Muslims that Muhammad was God’s last prophet and that God revealed the Qur’an. Muslims believe in one god, Allah. The Qur’an is the book that Muslims refer to for guidance on how they should live their lives.
Muslims adhere to the following set of beliefs. There are Five Pillars of Islam which represent the “Five duties of every Muslim”. The most important pillar is the “shahadatan” which means faith. Muslims must have faith in Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And must say the following in prayer: “I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” The next pillar is “Salah”, which means ritual prayer. It is required that the Salah is performed five times a day at certain times and Muslims must use a compass to make sure they are facing towards Mecca. The third pillar is “Zakat”, which means charitable giving. For Muslims that can afford it, they are required to donate money to charity. For the lesser well off Muslims, volunteering is also acceptable. The fourth pillar is “Sawm” which is fasting during the month of the Islamic holiday Ramadan. During this time of fasting, Muslims must refrain from consuming food and drink and other certain activities. The last and fifth pillar, and perhaps the most interesting is called the “Hajj” which is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Everyone each Muslim’s lifetime, they must make a journey at least once to Mecca. The Five Pillars of Islam are what shape each and every Muslim’s way of life.
Judaism is one of the older religions in the world. It dates back to 2000 BC when God and Abraham made a Covenant. Surprisingly, there are only about 14 million Jews, making Judaism the eleventh largest religion in the world. Jews regard the Torah and Talmud as texts used to identify how they should conduct their lives. Jews believe in one God, the same one that the Christian faith believes in.
Judaism consists of thirteen principles of how Jews should conduct their lives. All of these principles surround the issue of having faith in God and believing in his magnitude. It is customary for Jews to say prayers 3 times daily to God. Judaism has many different holy days and two of the most common and well-known are Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. Yom Kippur is the day where Jews fast and prayer to ask for forgiveness of their sins that occurred in the previous year. Hanukkah is another major Jewish holiday and represents a major occurrence in the history of Judaism – the re-dedication of the Temple.
Scientology is referred to by some as a controversial religion. Its founder, Ron Hubbard, was a science fiction author and started developing Scientology in 1952. He continued teaching others about his beliefs until his death in 1986. Scientology, also known as the Church of Scientology was founded in America but has since then traveled into other countries and the fight for it to become a recognized religion is just starting to succeed.
The core beliefs of Scientology all revolve around rehabilitating one’s mind from psychiatric drugs and other traumas that have occurred to the body. Scientologists view psychiatric drugs and psychiatric counseling as dangerous and abusive practices. They believe that a person is immortal in the sense that everyone has lived past lives and will continue to live after the death of the current body in the form of a new spirit. A difference between Scientology and other religions is that the Church of Scientology states that “what is true for you is what you have observed yourself.” Many religions state that you must believe and have faith in the beliefs and principles practiced in order to remain in good standing; however Scientology does not do that. The religion also emphasizes morals and the importance of family. Some opponents of Scientology label it as a mysterious and controversial cult.