Essay On God, The Answer Of Life And Death

2001 words - 9 pages

Ever since people could imagine, they questioned what is life, what is the meaning of life and what happens after death. Religion is the answer. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the Western religions, or Abrahamic religions, because they all believe in Abraham, an important prophet in all three faiths. These religions believe in one all-powerful God who created the world.1 There are many Eastern religions, but the main two are Hinduism and Buddhism. Both religions believe in the idea of reincarnation, the cycle of death and rebirth. 2 These five major religions, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, provide the major explanations of life and death and why people are here. Each religion answers the questions through various means such as holy books, gods and goddesses, and the afterlife."Holy Books form a tangible core for religions."3 They are a source of guidance so that people know how to live their lives, as well as answer the many questions people have about their religion.4 To start, the Hebrew bible is called the Tanakh. The Tanakh was given to Moses, a prophet, at Mt. Sinai, Egypt. The book has two covenants, or laws, one applying to all people and the other applying to only Jews. The book concludes with writings and sacred songs.5 The Christian Bible has two halves, one being the Jewish Tanakh, called the Old Testament in Christianity. The Old Testament and the Tanakh are not identical, but they are very similar. The other is the New Testament which tells about the life of Jesus, the first years of the Christian church, and living a life according to Jesus. The Islamic bible, the Qur'an, is made up of 114 chapters, or Surahs. It prepares Muslims for Judgement Day, a decision of Allah, the Islamic God, whether or not a Muslim should go to paradise or hell after death. If a Muslim has committed too many sins, then he shall go to hell.6 All three books are guides which suggest to people how to live their lives. The bible and the Qur'an are guides for Christians and Muslims on how to go to Heaven or paradise. The Tanakh is consist of many stories and the past of the Israelites. Unlike Western religions, the Eastern holy scriptures do not have a single holy book. Instead, there are multiple writings.The Eastern holy writings are broken up into multiple books. The Buddhist holy book is the Tripitaka, which consists of three sections. The first is the Vinaya Pitaka or basket of discipline, which explains how to live as a monk. The second is the Sutta Pitaka, basket of discourse, which includes the life and teachings of the first of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. The last part is the Abhidhamma Pitaka, Basket of Special Doctrine, which is a section of additional texts. The Tripitaka was put together around 500 B.C.E. Written around 1,400 B.C.E, The Vedas are much older then the Tripitaka. The Vedas are the Hindu holy scriptures. Each of the Vedas concentrate on different topics, such as songs, chants, sacrifices and incarnations.7 Many people believe that the Vedas were transmitted orally for almost 8,000 years, making it older than the Old Testament, created in approximately 3950 B.C.E. All five writings are very important to their religions because they give the believers a source of knowledge that can guide them how to live their lives.The world and life are creations of gods. Each religion has its own way of explaining how the world was created. In the Abrahamic religions, each religion has an all powerful God who created the world. Although all the Western religions believe in a single Gods, that God is where they differ. Christians believe in the trinity, which is belief in one God in three parts: God the father, God the Son, and God the holy spirit. Muslims and Jews think of the trinity as three Gods. Also, Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate opposed to an important prophet of Western religion. In Hinduism, there are many gods and goddesses, both evil and good, one named Brahma is the ancestor of all Gods and Demons. Brahma is the Hindu god who created the world. The universe was said to be entirely water only containing one golden egg. The egg broke into two and Brahma emerged to create the universe.8 In Buddhism, they do not have Gods. They also do not believe in the past and do not address, pay attention or care about how the world was created.9Gods also can answer another question people have: what is the meaning of life? In Islam, the all powerful God, Allah, created the world. According to the Qur'an, the purpose of life is to worship Him and prove surrender to His will.10 In Judaism, the purpose of life is to show love to God by performing his commandments which will change and save the world. 11"What is after death?" is a fearful question without religion. Religion turns the fear of death into a paradise. In the Abrahamic religions, there is a heaven and a hell. Heaven is a perfect paradise, while hell is a place of evil and suffering. In Christianity, on the Day of Judgement, a person is sent to heaven or hell for eternity, depending on if they believe in Christ. The meaning of life in Christianity is to find salvation from sin to go to heaven. In Judaism, a person is sent to heaven if he is righteous while someone is sent to hell if they are wicked.12 In Islam, if someone is told to walk across a bridge and if their sins weigh them down too much they will fall to hell. If he crosses the bridge they will continue to paradise.13 In Christianity, to go to heaven is to believe in Jesus while in Islam and Judaism, going to heaven is being righteous and good. 14Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in reincarnation, but the escape is where they differ. Hindus must reach a state of nirvana to leave the continuous cycle of reincarnation. To reach nirvana, after many lives of reincarnation, a person must achieve perfection or salvation. Then, Hindus become a part of everything and find perfect peace.15 Buddhists believe that they will constantly become reincarnated until they reach a state of enlightenment. Enlightenment is when a Buddhist becomes unattached from everything without any addictions, desires, loves or pain. Buddhist then become a part of everything, just as in Hinduism.16 The meaning of life for Buddhists and Hindus is to escape the cycle of reincarnation.Prophets are the messengers of God who reveal people the answers to the questions that people have. In the Western religions, there are four significant prophets. The first is Abraham, the father, through whom God revealed himself. Next, of all prophets, Moses is unique because he spoke to God directly. Moses was given the ten commandments by God. In Islam, Muhammad is said to be the last prophet. He was revealed the Qur'an to by the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years. Jesus is the prophet who God revealed the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."17 To Christians, he is more than a prophet, he is God incarnate and the Messiah. Muslims do believe that Christ was born from a virgin, created various miracles and went to heaven after death, but not that he is God and was crucified. 18In Western religion, the Messiah is the ultimate prophet. In Christianity, the Messiah is the savior, Jesus, and in Islam the messiah is the prophet Muhammad. In Judaism, according to the Tanakh, there will be many years of wars and hardship. After, the Jewish messiah will come to bring peace.19In the Eastern religions, there are no prophets, but there other spiritual beings. In Buddhism, there are no gods so there are no messengers from God. There are spiritual teachers called lamas, meaning "superior one." Lamas are usually teachers and posses spiritual powers. In some cases, when one reaches enlightenment, they will voluntarily decide to return to earth to teach others about Buddhism. These returned Buddhas are called Bodhisattvas. In Hinduism, there are no prophets either, but there are gurus a spiritual teacher of Hinduism who has a spiritual connection with their gods. The gurus' role is to teach people of the Vedas so that they can escape the cycle of reincarnation.A religion's history is the story of its answers. The oldest religion is Hinduism. The oldest Veda dates back to 5,000 B.C.E. Before then, the Vedas were transfered orally for many years. Hinduism and Judaism, which can be traced back 6,000 years, are very ancient and were developed before contact with the Greeks, who were the first to put religion into a system. In Judea, present day Israel, 2000 years ago Jesus Christ travelled from village to village challenging religious authorities. Jesus was killed on a cross for his behavior, but he rose from the dead to become the Messiah. Jesus' followers brought Christianity to what it is today. Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism. Buddha Shakyamuni in approximately 500 B.C.E did not agree with the Hindu idea of reincarnation. He thought that being pure and good, would stop the cycle of reincarnation. There were few followers of Buddhism, but after Buddha Shakyamuni died, a great Mauryan King became a Buddhist and the religion spread rapidly. A younger religion, Islam, was born in 610 A.D. in Saudi Arabia. The prophet Mohammed was revealed the Qur'an through the angel Gabriel.Many more people currently believe in the answers of Christianity and Islam, as opposed to Judaism and Buddhism. Christianity is the most popular religion with over 2.1 billion believers or 33% of the world. Christianity is the most abundant in the Americas and Europe. Islam is the next most popular religion with 22% or 1.5 billion people. Islam is more favored in the Middle East and in countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh. Hindus make up 15% of the world's people very popular in India. Buddhism shares Asia with Hinduism and other smaller tribal religions making it a lesser faith in Asia with 376 million believers, or 6% of the world. Buddhism is popular in Thailand, Cambodia and Tibet. Judaism has just 14 million believers, which makes up only 0.22% of the world. Judaism is the only religion in Israel, but it is spread throughout the UK, the United States, and France. The remainder of the world believes in various tribal religions and atheism.20 21All religions are answers to the questions people have about life and death. They explain what is life, what is the meaning of life and what is after death in there own way. Although there are many holy books, many prophets, many gurus, many heavens and hells, and many gods, all religions explain unknown questions of life. "There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it." −George Bernard.22Endnotes1 Gellman, Rabbi Marc and Hartman, Thomas Monsignor. Religion for Dummies. New York: Wiley Publishing, 2002. pg. 15 2Religion 17. 3Religion 12. 4Religion 117. 5Religion Packet 311. 6Religion 119. 7Religion 128. 9 Religion 332. 12 Religion 38. 13 Religion 328. 14 Religion 32. 15 Religion 38. 16 Religion 41. 19 20 21 22


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