Example research essay topic: The Individual’s Goal In Buddhism And Hinduism – 1,859 words

I have always been intrigued by Chinese
philosophy. As a little boy growing up on the
island of Luzon in the Philippines, I would try to
read my uncles college books on philosophy and try
to understand what is going on. I had no idea what
was going on. Maybe it was because I was young,
but I did not understand anything I was reading.
Let us now go to the present. I am now in college
and I am studying Asian Philosophy. At this time I
am studying the ways of Confucious, who speaks of
humaneness, fillial devotion and ritual decorum.

I
am also learning about Mozi, who preaches of
universal love, of Laozi, who teaches about
simplifying life and being in harmony with the
dao. Lastly there is Zhuangzi, who……….. In
Theravada Buddhism, the goal of the individual is
to achieve Nirvana through the loss of
individuality and cease to exist in the current
world. In order to achieve this goal, Theravada
Buddhists were taught to develop a state of mind
in which any type of action towards them would not
affect them in any way. They were taught to have a
state of mind like the earth, for the earth if
littered upon by men yet it does not get angry and
hate. The same goes of water, air and fire, men
defile all of these elements but these elements
are not hurt by these actions.

This way of
thinking is useful because there will be
encounters with unpleasant people throughout life,
these such encounters, if not reacted upon in a
neutral manner, can accumulate Karma, which for
the Theravada Buddhist, means that Nirvana cannot
be achieved. This is why having a passive state of
mind could become useful. Furthermore, Theravada
Buddhists should be conscious of the corruption of
the body. This is important because passion will
grow less. If passion grows less, then sin grows
less. Also, meditation of the mind is exercised.
This is done in order to develop the mind in such
a way as to be conscious of even your last breath.
Moreover, according to Embree,A monk becomes his
own lamp and refuge by continually looking on hid
body, feelings, perceptions, moods and ideas in
such a manner that he conquers the cravings and
depressions of ordinary men and is always
strenuous, self possessed and collected in mind.
(112) This means that a monk should become self
reliant and be able to control the cravings of
being a human being in such a way as to suppress
any outside desire and be steadfast and rigid as a
rock at all times.

Another interesting aspect of
Theravada Buddhism that I found out was that of
thrift. Generally, there is a belief that expensive ceremonies and domestic rituals are
wasteful as well as useless.(114) They view fairs
and festivals as places where men lose hard earned
money, and where drinking and gambling are
widespread. In other words, it is a big waste.
Furthermore, monks were supposed to beg for their
food, no t take it. Monks were not to have sex,
they must give up this desire in order to gain
salvation. Monks must not lie and always speak the
truth. A monk does not slander people, he only
speaks of peaceful things.

In the same way, he has
given up talking bad to a person, all that he
speaks is things that are nice to hear. He does
not chat out of the blue, his words are thought
out and concise. He will not participate in any
normal event that a regular person might go to,
such as fairs and shows. He is to be honest at all
times and never injure another. This describes the
road in which the Theravada monk must travel by in
order to achieve Nirvana. He is to lose his
individuality until he dies and ends up in
Nirvana.

Mahayana Buddhism is in contrast to
Theravada Buddhism in that Mahayana Buddhism
believes that the Theravada thought of the
complete loss of personality in order to achieve
Nirvana is selfish and trivial. Mahayana Buddhism
believes that emptiness is the absolute truth.
This means that everything is empty. Even thoughts
are empty. Therefore Mahayana monks have faith in
Emptiness. The most striking description I came
across was, Pleasure does not please him, pain
does not trouble him…one who maintains the
doctrine of Emptiness has neither likes nor
dislikes. What he likes he knows to be only
emptiness and sees it as such.(175) I thought this
was interesting because if nothing exists, what is
the point of doing anything? Mahayana Buddhism
believes in the Bodhisattva, who is a very
compassionate being that has decided not to
achieve Nirvana until everyone else achieves
Nirvana, then he will go.

This is interesting to
me because it would seem impossible to get
everyone to achieve Nirvana. In a lifetime, there
will be people who will never get to nirvana, so
the mission of the Bodhisattva is almost like if
you were to go into a gunfight armed with a
toothpick. It seems impossible to achieve, yet the
Bodhisattva still goes on just because he wants to
help people. I think that is hero quality.
Furthermore, there is the Mahayana belief that
goes against asceticism, it states that self
mortification is useless because sorrow only goes
to further sorrow. It is also said that the man
who mortifies the flesh in order to gain rebirth
in heaven is completely selfish and misguided, and
his last state will be worse than his first. (167)
This states that it is fruitless to hurt yourself
for salvation in heaven because you will not get
salvation, what you will get is another lifetime
in a state lower than what you have right now, say
a rock, in which you might have to live eternity
as that rock and suffer forever.

Moreover, the
Mahayana monks believed in joy in all things. They
say that, Consciousness of sorrow and joy comes by
habit; so, if whenever sorrow arises we make a
habit of associating with it a feeling of joy,
consciousness of joy will indeed arise. The fruit
of this is a contemplative spirit full of joy in
all things. This means that even if the monk is
beaten or sad, he will give his beating or sadness
a connection with joy. This is useful because no
matter what happens to the monk, he will always be
happy, therefore his karma will not increase
because he has no hate his oppressors. In all this
is essential in becoming a Bodhisattva.

Also,
there is the belief that poverty and hunger is
evil. Poverty and hunger will lead to sin and an
unhappy rebirth. They also believed that hunger is
the source of evil cravings. This means that
hunger and poverty is unacceptable because it is
associated with evil. It is said that, Food given
to those who can afford it is charity wasted, but
food given to those who cannot satisfy it
otherwise is charity indeed…those who give food
give life.(172) This shows that if you are able to
acquire food yet elect to stay in poverty, you are
wasting charity, and wasting food that could go to
someone who actually needed it. In Hinduism, an
individual would strive for the Four Ends of Man.
The individual goes throughout the stages of the
student, the householder, the hermit [he leaves
the house to live in the forest and feed on
berries.]and the ascetic.

A caste system in
Hinduism makes sure that society runs smoothly by
having its inhabitants perform their own Dharma,
or duty, to preserve the society. In the First End
of Man, Dharma, man is instructed in ways of
righteousness, duty and virtue. Within the caste
system, a person must do their Dharma or else
disaster will befall everyone in society.
According to Hinduism, To adopt the Dharma of
another is perilous. Dharma is important and
should not be violated because it sustains the
entire universe. If one were to stop doing his
Dharma or do another persons Dharma, it would be
bad because the universe would cease to function.
In other words, people are supposed to stick to
what they are doing. If you are a beggar, stay a
beggar.

If you are a cook, stay a cook, only then
will the universe continue to function. In the
Second End of Man, Artha, the object of activity
is material gain and prosperity.(209) According to
Hinduism, It is it [the science of polity] that
the proper functioning of society depends….On
material gain depends the realization of Dharma
and pleasure. This shows just how important money
and prosperity is to the Hindu. According to them,
material gain is key to pleasure and the
realization of Dharma. Dharma also means
sustenance, so this would be logical because if
you have material wealth, then you will be able to
sustain yourself and your family [Dharma] and in
that sustenance, you will find pleasure. In the
Third End of Man, Kama, the object of activity is
love or pleasure.(209) The Hindus speak of
pleasure from enjoying the arts, hanging out with
your friends and enjoying the company of a young
lady.

Also, ways of showing love such as biting
were described. I think that pleasure is important
to the Hindus because without the love of a woman
or the companionship of friends, life would be
boring, and people would be less compelled to do
their Dharma, thus causing chaos. In the Fourth
end of man, Moksa, an Individual renounces
activities such as prosperity and passion in order
to concentrate on spiritual activities to achieve
freedom from life in this world. I recall the
passage where Arjuna tells Krishna that he does
not want to fight in battle because he would be
fighting and killing his cousins. Krishna tells
Arjuna that essence of the person slain does not
die, therefore nobody is killed. Basically, he
tells Arjuna that it was hid Dharma to fight and
that if he didnt do it, it would be bad.

Arjuna
would be the receiving end of nasty comments and
he will be viewed as a coward. He is told that if
he is slain, he will go to heaven, and if he wins,
he will rule the earth. Either way, he is not
killed because his essence still lives on. In
conclusion, Buddhism and Hinduism have their
differences in the way an individual would have to
go in order to attain Nirvana and Freedom from
worldly life. I thought it was interesting to see
the difference between the various thoughts in the
way they go about living their lives. The
Theravada Buddhists complete loss of individuality
as opposed to the Mahayanas compassionate
Bodhisattva.

The Hindu belief of Dharma seems a
too strict for me, but if it works for them, why
change it. I think Ill just stick to my current
views of the world and not become Buddhist or
Hindu anytime soon in fear of being reborn as a
pile of holy cow dung or causing the end of the
earth by changing my job..

Research essay sample on The Individuals Goal In Buddhism And Hinduism