Ritual Comparisons between Christianity and Buddhism Essay

Rituals are significant occasions during the stages of human being cycle: birth, (initiation), marriage and death. According to Shriner (2007 p. 1) rituals provide a distinction between one group of people as compared to the other group (community). In a confusing world, Shriner suggests that ritual help us identify, appreciate and cherish the relationship we have during times of crisis and help us come together.
It also promote a chain of life where link between ancestors and unborn is connected. Harrar, (2003, p. 28) pointed out that during family meetings, occasions or ceremonies, family rituals make people experience joy, happiness and affection of natural strength of sharing special moments. Fiese, (2006, p.62) observed that rituals, as a family affairs, enrich and strengthen the family values. Therefore in this essay, I will discuss Christianity rituals, which is common in Western countries and Buddhism rituals which was commonly practiced in eastern countries such as Korea.

One of the oldest and classical Christian rituals was Lords and Mass Supper. I will use genealogical Lietzmanns’s approach which ideally investigates Eucharistic liturgies and the relevance of those rituals. This celebration is focused on the Last Supper of Christ Jesus with his disciples. It is meant to strengthen the love, priesthood, Eucharist and the humbleness which Christians should have amongst each other just like Jesus when he humbly washed disciples’ feet. Mass supper was performed ajus5t a day to the remembrance of persecution of Jesus.

Historically, the ritual began in Jerusalem during the late fourth- evening. Customarily, the ritual began in places where Jesus shows passion to people. Studies show that in Rome, where Catholics believers originated, Mass rituals were performed with the intention of reconciling penitents to participate in Easter occasional celebrations. On the same seventh century, there was spread of such custom in Jerusalem. To show sign of love and unity, Rome the Pope led Mass of the Lord’s Supper celebration. During eighteen century, there were three subdivisions of Masses: one for the Last Supper, one for blessing the holy oils and the other one for reconciliation.

Progressively to current century, Christians have valued the Lords supper. Practically, they gathered themselves in a church. The priests lead the congregation to eat Jesus’ body, symbolized by a piece of sacrament and Jesus’ blood which is mostly symbolized by wine. During the occasions before eating, Christians purify themselves by forgiving anybody who has wronged them. Humbly purifying themselves, the life of Jesus, the only son of God is remembered and the painful suffering he experienced when he was killed for the sins of mankind to be forgiven.
Buddhism is a religion commonly practiced in Eastern countries. Who is Buddha? Lindsay Ring (2007 p.1) gave us an overview of Buddha ad Buddhism religion. During two and a half thousand years ago, a man named Buddha Shakyamuni gave teachings in India and later founded Buddhism religion. Such teachings are believed to be the source of enlightenment because it investigates the root of the problem, the cause and provide efficient ways of solving them.  Buddha’s taught the power of positive minded and its rewards to true everlasting happiness and pleasure. However when it comes to practice, Buddhist is associated and guided with reflective and keeping quiet to investigate what is in one’s mind.

Studies show that Buddhism involves different varieties of rituals which are performed basically to bring enlightenment and act a source of blessing not only to oneself but also for the benefit of the welfare of other individuals. Although there are small variations on how such rituals are performed in countries such as China, India, Japan, Srilanka and Taiwan, they are a central meditation nearly to all of the practices. (Religion Facts, 2012, pp. 1)

Meditation ritual is common among Buddha believers. There are various techniques of meditation such as insight, mindfulness, tranquility, supramundane powers and concentration. The two commonly used techniques are mindfulness and concentration. In mindfulness, the mind is given the responsibility to observe itself. For example, one should be responsibly do a task or sensation activity without becoming distracted by following thoughts concentration is when believers’ mind get focused on mental object, for example visualizing body process such as how energy flows within the body system. Is meditation necessary? Lynne studied and observed that meditation has a lot of benefits. It controls blood pressure, ease stress, promote relaxation, act as a way of managing pain and facilitate psychotherapy. This is achieved by triggering automatic nervous system. As such it was used over the centuries by Buddhist to promote self understanding and the most important of all is to enhance direct spiritual experience.

Mantra ritual is performed for the belief of three effects: gaining personal power, offering supernatural protection and invoking deities. Mantra means one who is responsible for protecting the mind. Buddhists are focused on reciting and chanting the mantra. One of the famously known mantra is “Om mani padme Hum” research shows that when the protection is desired in the society, mantra is cited (chanted) by group of individuals. But it can also be chanted privately. (Gleeman, 2012, P.1)

Comparatively Christianity and Buddhism have similarities and difference based on how they perform rituals. Beginning with similarities, Christians and Buddhism share the same “wisdom “during the ritual operation. Both show keen attention to what is being taught. As they perform rituals as observed on You Tube, there is hidden power of submission, respect, dedication, humbleness, patience and love. Both rituals and teaching encompasses on the power of togetherness and love. Mantra by Buddhist and Lords Supper by Christians are performed for the attainment of essence of brotherhood and caring of the welfare of each other. The repetition is common in between both believers to ensure that the essence of religions is passed to generations to come. Buddhists believe in Buddha who died centuries ago just like Christians who celebrate Christ who died and resurrected two thousands years ago.

While Christianity religion does not focus its practices on thorough understanding of the teachings through recitation, Buddhist believes in the power of perfection of the mind and they recite teachings off head. Monks rituals does not involve themselves in eating while Christians do eating remembrance of body and the blood of Jesus which was pored on the cross because of their sins. Monks commonly practice learning of their practices such as meditation and mantra because it involve brain mastering of the common facts while Christians do simple exercise where everybody can easily understand how ritual is being performed.

Birth of Buddha is the most observed and celebrated rituals among the Buddhists. Although it is celebrated differently in differnt countries, the occasion is widely spread in Eastern countries. In most of the temples such as Korea, the statute of Buddha is hanged in a raised area where devotees can group themselves and humbly poured special tea or water on it. Some temples will show their generosity by providing free vegetarian food to all who attended the shrine. It is observed that during Buddha’s birthday, the essence of love and charity is portrayed. Donations of items, special meals such as slaughtering of the animals are some of the activities for the welfare of anybody who managed to attend the ritual. In Korea, for instance, the ritual is signified by the hanging of paper lanterns, lotus flowers in such a way that it connects all the Buddhism temples. Families certificates which is then attached to the lantern. The peak of the celebration is evening where the families’ dance joyfully with their certificate attached on the lantern.

Among Christian, Christmas is the most enjoyable ritual. Christmas day is the day when Jesus Christ, son of God, who was send to the world to redeem sins, was born. In fact, according to You Tube observations, Christmas is performed differently around the world. But the common characteristics is display of Christmas stockings, lightning of candles and Christmas trees, candy canes and other common scenes symbolizing the birth of Christ Jesus. Also there are different songs being singed during that Special Day depicting the pleasure and importance of Jesus in peoples lives. Stories are told about differnt figures like the Father Christmas, Baby Jesus, Grandfather Frost, Santa Claus and St. Nicholas. Different special foods are eaten during that day of Christ birth.

Buddhist and Christians treat the birth of Buddha and Jesus with high degree of respect. In both rituals, there is enormous caring of colleagues by generously sharing what is available. Both also treat the day by displaying shining items such as candles. Special food are cooked and shared with those who do not have in society. Donations, giving and receiving gifts and charity missions is common when Christmas and Buddha’s birthday is approaching. Buddha and Christ birth vary slightly. While Buddhist shouts over the night by displaying family certificate, Christians do not display certificates

In conclusion, basing my observation on the outside view, it can be observed that both Christianity and Buddhism have central concern of the rituals. They respect their rituals because it has some religious meaning which can distinguish their lives from those of the other religions. Someone who can view rituals from inside may make wrong judgment because he or she will freely on his / her area of interests and overlook at the other area. The advantage of both Christianity and Buddhism is that both pay attention to the good values of humanity which if transformed and applied to daily lives will ultimately lead to human progress. For example, the values of love, respect, learning positive thinking, general good conduct and many more others is surety of better society. Therefore it is my opinion that I can advise any atheist to be in part of any of the above community such that those good values which will enrich life are discovered.

Shriner, J., (2007), The importance of Rituals in Family Life, Family and Consumer Science Journal, Ohio State University. P.1

Fiese, B. H., (2002) A review of 50 years research on naturally occurring family routines and rituals: Cause for Celebration? Journal of family psychology, p.63

Harrar, S.( 2003) Family rituals brings comfort and joy, prevention, p. 28 Available: Academic Search Premier Database.

Lindsay R. (2011) About Buddhism- the teachings of Buddha, p. 1, Akanishta Kadampa Buddhism center. Retrieved from   http://meditationinmadison.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=91&Itemid=115

Religion Facts, (2012) Buddhist Rituals and Practices, pp.1 Religion links, sacred sites, retrieved from http://www.religionfacts

Gleeman, L., (2012) Buddhist Rituals, p. 1 Lifestyle theme by Studio Press. Retrieved from  http://buddhists.org/buddhist-symbols/buddhist-rituals-from-mantras-to-mudras/

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