This is the third in a series of essays written by my students. The first was on a spiritual topic – Ancestor Worship in Việt Nam. This too is on a spiritual topic. To give the western reader some background, about 10% of Việt Nam’s population is Roman Catholic, and most of the remainder are Buddhist, with small percentages of Cao Dai, and followers of various ethnic minority practices. There is also a small, but growing Protestant church known as Tin Lành. All religious groups must register with, and be approved by the government.
As usual, the student remains anonymous. Enjoy.
I was born and grew up in a Christian family. So I am a Christian and I belong to a Protestant church. I am proud to be living in my family. There is another part of me, that is Christian, and I am equally proud of that. It is the religion of my ancestor, and I hope I will hold firm to my belief till ending life. My parents taught me that God is love. I know that God sent his Son Christ to pay the cost of death and set human free, and restore it back to paradise lost. According to me, this was a miracle of love, and a promise that one day He shall return. I therefore have a duty to obey and please God. I love Him and I want to serve Him. Sometimes, when I have difficulties or temptation, I am always reminded of God’s word. It helps me overcome difficulties and trials. “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” I know that what has done for me, He can do for anyone who seeks Him.
My topic is “Compare the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist.” May be, I am a Christian and I think I will talk about a Christian more than Buddhist as well as Christian. But, I will try my best and also talk about a Buddhist like a Christian. At first, I want to make a general introduction about two this religion sect. At the center of the Christian faith lies the event of Jesus. The vast majority of Christian is Trinitarian. This means, god is three person – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are inseparable and indivisible. There are not three Gods but one God manifested in three ways. A Christian believes Jesus of Nazareth was both full divine. The reason for the Son of god’s becoming a human is to give people a way to reach God. Christian believes what separates them from God, and real relationship between god and human is blurred by human faults. Jesus’ death and resurrection gave people hope that this real relationship could be healed, and it was by God’s love and grace that we were forgiven. This is called Atonement. At the end of his earthly life, the Holy Spirit came upon all those who accept Jesus’ authority as the Son of God. Today, Christian believe that the power of Holy Spirit will to be active their lives. When they pray to God that the Spirit will guide the, and they feel happy to talk to God.
There are many different forms of Buddhism but all follow the Buddha and his teachings. Siddhatta Gotama lived in India around 2,500 years ago and was given the title Buddha, which means Awakened or enlightened one, by his followers. Gotama taught that there is no Ultimate. All people bear the responsibility for their own lives and its consequences in this life and those to follow. “Buddhists need no monks, but the belief in rebirth and the natural order of cause and effect places the ordained in a special category where they are treated with respect and reverence.” Essentially non-violent, Buddhism is build upon a deep commitment to the Buddha, the Dham (teaching of the Buddha) and the Sangha (community of lay and ordained Buddhist). These are sometimes described as the three Jewels. It is these three essential elements which are taken as guidance on the path of life. They provide safety (another description in the Three Refuges)But they can also allow the individual to grow in life, wisdom, and compassion.
Buddhism is the second largest religion in the world. Twenty percent of the world’s population is Buddhist. There are different kind of Buddhism, however all Buddhist do meditation. One of the meditations done is on death. Everyday, through meditation, we recall our death and so we do not worry about dying. When a Buddhist person is dying, the family may think, “what can we do for the dying person?” They will invite a monk to see the dying person and to do chanting. In Buddhism, the world chanting is used instead of prayer. As a person is dying, they chant permanency of the life. It is because of our birth that we have to accept our death. Death is not unusual. That is the Buddhism point of view. So everyday, when they finish their normal regular prayer, we do some meditation on death. That is why the Buddhist is not afraid to die, and also why the family is ready to accept the death.
Christian believes and except after life (paradise). As God has promised “I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (Holy Bible) When a Christian person is dying, they will not invite a monk like Buddhists but they have pastor to hold ceremony. In that ceremony, they will sing hymns, and read the Holy Bible. Although they feel sad for the lost relative, they believe that they will be meet the relative again in Paradise (eternal life).
Buddhism’s conceptual dogma is that life is an ocean of misery. “BIRTH – OLD – ILLNESS – DEATH” It originated explain to people’s misery and as a method to separate that misery. Following Buddha’s word teaches that people who want separate than that suffering, have to go into monastery. Buddhist has to sanctify them and think, “You must reap what you have sown.” Monks usually diet and think that they have to ill –treat their body and mind to be elevated. Buddhists believes that they have to rely on their own strength, sanctify themselves to pass into Nirvana. But, they are very vague about Nirvana. I have know one person, he has been a monk more than 65 years old. When he became old, he had a serious disease. He said that if he died at that moment, he do not know what he would have in Nirvana after 65 years of training. When Buddha taught his disciple (Mr. A-Nan-Da) “the truth compare with moon, do not think that He is moon,” it meant he does not have the power to change the law in the universe as well as problems in people life.
Christian – God set up people to people talk to God. At first, people lived in the Garden of Eden, they had close relationship to God. But, due to their own opinions and stubbornness, they did not obey to God, followed the example of Satan’s temptation (naked) and committed sins to God. Sin had separated people from God. When people committed sin, people went out of the Garden of Eden and the presence of God. People lived in misery, hopelessness, and sadness. People always tried to be personally perfect and desired a happy life by own effort themselves, such as , a moral way of life, philosophy, and religion. But all the people’s effort was wasted. People cannot save themselves but they can base on whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus Christ is only God’s solution for sin problem. Buddhist usually effort to improve themselves, simple drinking and eating, thinking of goods and hope their children will have better things in the future. Christian knows that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) They are completely helpless before sin. They cannot find success by their own efforts. By faith, they receive God’s salvation for this world – to be happy life. “The righteous will live by his faith.” (Holy Bible) In contrast to Buddha, Jesus Christ said that “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So, god is the truth, is only way to people reach to God.
God has commanded that “observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Besides, they have read the Holy Bible and pray to god each day. So, they always have a close relationship to God. To Buddhists, they put their belief on Buddha. To Christian, they put their belief on Jesus Christ. Christian believes that Jesus Christ is God and the perfect person. Only Jesus Christ can grant people’s salvation, separate sin and has authority to give it to the whole world, and eternal life in Paradise. Buddhist have not witnesses but the Christian have witnesses. They obey God’s command “therefore go and make disciples all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) Christian believes in God’s word. “We believe that what the Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments is true. We believer there are only one God, the eternal God and Creator who exists as a Trinity: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe all men are sinners who can be saved only through God’ grace by turning from sin to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” (Internet) They receive Jesus Christ who has poured out for many forgiveness of sins. They have to keep, obey God’s command, and reborn (reborn by God). So, they can go into Paradise.
Easter Day is always a reminder of the fact that Jesus Christ, the son of god, died on the cross for my sins, which separate me from God and rose again into heaven so that I can have a relationship with Him. It is very difficult to explain my relationship with God; to me God is all in all, he is my father, mother, brother, sister, and friend. Whenever I am down, I turn to Him in prayer in comfort, and strength. He is always there for me.
Buddhists think that when they have a difficult, they usually go to the pagoda to chant and they feel more peaceful. They always go to the pagoda at first year or big full moon day.
Christians usually go to the church on Sunday and the other days in the week. “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” To me, I am always peaceful, happy when I live in God’s house. I sure that God is always beside me, helps me, and cares for me. I think that only God cam help people separate sin. In short, between a Christian and a Buddhist have many the difference but with my knowledge, I can say some basic thing about a Christian and a Buddhist. I think that each peoples have particular religion. To me, I hope that everyone will soon realize “God is the truth.” No one can say like God “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Holy Bible (NIV)
Doan Trung Con. Lich su Nha Phat. Nha Xuat Ban Ton Giao 2001
Nguyen duc tu. 2500 Nam Phat Giao, Nha Xuat Ban Van Hoa Thong Tin 2002