Every human being is concerned with what happens after death-heaven and nirvana
What happens after the death of a human being is the concern of every human person. This question is among the main reasons why religion was invented by humankind many years back. Currently, religion is still a significant influential force that has various ideologies that fuel the never-ending debate. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians describe the heaven concept. The focus of this paper is on the Christian Heaven and Buddhist Nirvana (Clark, 53). The assertion of this paper is that Christian Heaven and Buddhist Nirvana are vague, indistinct and unreliable concepts that both religions have. This paper uses relevant and authoritative findings of scholars in both religions to compare and contrast the ideologies of Christian Heaven and Buddhist Nirvana.
Jesus Christ and his disciples who were his followers described Christian Heaven in the biblical books of John, Luke, Mark, Matthew and Acts of Apostles which include Saint Paul’s letters as an indistinct and vague state. Sakya Muni, a Buddhist teacher also described Buddhist Nirvana in a similar manner. Both Sakya and Jesus as depicted in the teachings of these religions appear to have the same confidences about Hell’s existence. They exercised caution while expressing ideologies that they had about Heaven.
According to the teachings that were perpetuated by Jesus and those who followed him, Heaven is clearly a concept that cannot be relied upon. Here is the analysis of the teachings of Jesus about Heaven and the analysis of His teaching about Hell which are the concepts of Christianity.
The belief of Jesus was that there existed a place where people who lived wicked lives were bound to go. The devil held or managed this place together with the wicked angels. For instance, in the biblical or Christian book, Matthew (Chapter 12), Jesus’ teachings describe this place as a place where people would weep, gnash their teeth and wail. Heaven on the other hand as Matthew (Xiii. 43) described it is a place where the righteous or the redeemed will live and shine the way the sun does. According to Luke Xvi 22, Heaven is a simple relaxation or restfulness at the bosom of Abraham. The reader is made to accept that the blessed people can experience and see the torments of the damned people in Hell.
However, it does not appear as if Lazarus, the poor person or the faithful father has the enjoyment that one should contemplate. While writing to Corinthians (1, 15), Saint Paul described heaven as the faithful and just people’s resurrection where all people will emerge in form of a spirit of the initially earthly self. In the gospel according to John (14, 2), Jesus’ report reveals that there are many mansions in the house of his father although what is done in these mansions is not described or revealed (Inman 36; Knitter 19).
There are also revelations of Christian Heaven’s teachings in other books. St. John’s book, The Revelation gives a detailed description of the belief of some Christians about heaven. This book describes heaven as the place that has infinite riches that include gold and precious stones, enjoyable odors and music. The book describes this place as a place where joys are always in contact with the wealth evidences constantly. Apart from wealth evidences, heaven also involves eternal singing as well as absence of suffering, sorrow and pain.
Heaven is also described as the New Jerusalem. This Jerusalem has fabulous adornment of gems and a burning sun that lights it. It has clear water that refreshes it and different varieties of trees and fruits furnishing it. John describes heaven as a place where there are no diseases that have to be healed. People who were not hell’s candidates were destined to live forever enjoying a crystal river. The differences in these visionary writings have not been found yet and they ought to make humans distrust them due to the wild theories which can be generated from these absurdities. Therefore, Christian Heaven is revealed as a place that each Christian writer as well as the followers of Jesus wants to describe using their superior knowledge (Inman 28-34).
In the description of the Buddhist Nirvana by Sakya Muni, Nirvana should be desired by all good men. Nirvana means total destruction or inhalation after practicing and learning law. This is heaven’s ideology which many Buddhists including the famous historian, St. Hillarie and teachers hold. However, Max Muller, a great authority in German opposed this view in a meeting with other German philologists in 1869 in Kiel city. According to a declaration by Muller, the belief of death the way Buddha taught it is not part of the doctrine that he advocated for. His argument was that supposing that Nirvana signified annihilation is wrong (Sach 185).
Muller noted that Buddhist Nirvana implies total termination of misery and pain. Scholars have also quoted Siddhartha as using Nirvana as a synonym for Nirvritti or Moksha. These states give a description of Nirvana as the higher spiritual liberty and bliss state. With these great differences, it is vital to question the reason while trying to understand Nirvana and Heaven. The belief of Sakya’s followers is that after death, they will attain immortality. They further believe that they will be free from the horrors of earthly life. Nevertheless, freedom from the pleasures of the earth is negative after the death of a human being (Sach 186).
With these arguments, some researchers have compared these regions as well as their ideologies about heaven or life after human death. The assertion of the researchers is that these religions have distinct differences. A major difference between Nirvana and Heaven is that according to Christian teachings, Heaven implies non-stop abundant life. Buddhist Nirvana stands for or promises a void, lengthy road or non-existence. Heaven promises a never-ending paradise. It promises a place of special immortality where suffering and sin do not exist since the faithful people live with God who loves them forever. Christians are promised heaven by God where they will inherit what God owns. Additionally, they are promised an increase in love, peace, adventure, knowledge and a good community with great treasures. They are promised a place of overjoyed wonder (Weldon 5; Sach 190).
Contrary to this, Buddhist Nirvana promises nonexistence or void of life in the Nirvana. Researchers like Clive Erricker have described this contrast by writing that continuing selfhood is promised in Christian heaven. His assertion is that Christians understand heaven as the future state which follows the earthly life and this is not what happens in Nirvana. Erricker notes that it is possible to use earthly terms to understand heaven but this is not the case for Nirvana. Actually, Erricker condemns Nirvana contending that it is impossible to compare it to the Samsaric existence which entails everything’s cessation.
Therefore, the Nirvana’s problem is that it sounds like an idea that is terribly negative. This is because it seems like all precious things of human kind including their earthly experience are destroyed and rejected. Most Christian writers have supported this notion by Erricker who contend that in Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to destroy human individuality through Nirvana or to destroy everything meaningful to humans’ existence (Weldon 128).
In a nut shell, this paper has discussed the arguments that writers and scholars have written about Christian Heaven and Buddhist Nirvana in details. Contrasts and comparisons of these religions have also been made. The paper has revealed that the teachings of these religions in terms of Nirvana or Heaven are instinct and vague. Although there are differences in the teachings of these religions as some writers argue, there are writers who have indicated that Heaven and Nirvana are indistinct and vague. These studies should be a good lesson for people and religious extremists who do not tolerate the religious beliefs of the others. With the consideration of the civilization that the modern humankind has enjoyed for centuries, it can safely be argued that taking a neutral position is the best option. This is because nobody actually knows anything regarding the future humankind’s state.
Clark, Donald N. Culture and Costums of Korea. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press, 2000, 53.
Inman, Thomas. Ancient Faiths and Modern: A Dissertation Upon Worships, Legends and Divinities. Alexandria: University of Michigan Library, 2006.
Knitter, Paul F. Without Buddha I could not be a Christian. Croydon: Oneworld Publications , 2009.
Sach, Jacky. The Everything Buddhism Book: Learn the Ancient Traditions and Apply Them to Modern Life. Avon, Mass: Adams Media, 2003, 185- 192.
Weldon, John. “Buddhism And Nichiren Shoshu/Soka Gakkai Buddhism –A Critique and Biblical Analysis.” ATRI Publishing (2012): 152.
“NICHIREN SHOSHU BUDDHISM: MYSTICAL MATERIALISM FOR THE MASSES.” www.equip.org/PDF/DN095.pdf (2011): 1-7.
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