Buddhist Nirvana and the Christian Heavens
Christianity and Buddhism are among the most famous global religions. At the center of Buddhism are the doctrines and the life of Gautama Buddha. Christianity on the other hand is based on Jesus Christ’s doctrines and life. Buddhism is a religion of non-theistic (does not involve the belief of a God). Christianity is a religion of monotheistic (it involves the belief of one God). Buddhism is derived from Hinduism and Dharmic religion. Christianity on the other hand is derived from Abrahamic and Judaism religion.
There is a definitive goal of both religions that every believer should try to or must achieve. Buddhists always work hard so that they can attain a definite goal that is called the Nirvana. Christians do everything they can to their God in order to realize the definite goal of going to heaven (Schmidt-Leukel 266). Christians and Buddhists seem to share values. However, the reality is that these religions are similar because they have striking differences. Additionally, their origins are different paradigms.
Nirvana refers to freedom from suffering, rebirth and death. The conception of Buddhists is that Nirvana is something that comes from the end or conclusion of the eight-fold course as well as the end of suffering. Precisely, nirvana refers to the last state in which the believers’ souls reach during their journey. However, this happens at different lifetimes. These lifetimes are seen as lamps’ sequence where one is lit every time until the time when the final lamp burns out. The assertion of Buddhists is that human desires and cravings cause the incarnation process. Believers can only break away from the rebirth cycle when they are able to live without all desires. It is interesting that believers are able to reach the nirvana state if they can do away with their desires. Believers are called saints if they reach this state. Essentially, nirvana is regarded as a state of the end of death and rebirth cycles by Buddhists. It simply means the end of suffering and human pains. It is the state of the end of personal consciousness as well as desires (Hanson 232).
Heaven refers to the place of execution and ultimate happiness. Believers who are able to reach this place live close to God. God, angels and saints reside in Heaven. Christianity teachings describe heaven as a place where glorification of Christians will take place. This description is based on second Corinthians 4: 17. This book says that an eternal glory’s weight that is beyond comparison is produced by light affliction (Harper Collins Study Bible).
Additionally, Christians view heaven as the place where they will rest. They will be free from persecution, pressure and pain. On reaching there, believers will rest. The belief of Christians is that heaven presents holiness’ place. In Revelation 21:27, people who practice abomination as well as lying and anything that is unclean shall not enter heaven (Harper Collins Study Bible). There will be security from sin for those who get there because their existence will be in a sinless faultlessness status. The belief of Christians is that God created them so that they can glorify and serve him. Therefore, it is inappropriate for humans to strive to achieve self interests. Heaven presents a place where people will serve God.
Buddhists believe that saints enter nirvana after their death. Their identity of being distinct individuals is lost. The nirvana concept varies from the Christian heaven concept. Nirvana refers to a state where one has no desires while heaven refers to a state where essential God’s desire is fulfilled. Additionally, nirvana is seen as the final apathy’s state while heaven is the state where ultimate joy and fulfillment are achieved. Essentially, nirvana refers to a state of mental purity without physical existence. Heaven on the other hand is described as a physical place.
According to Buddhists, individuals have to lose entity and body to enter nirvana. This is a contrary concept to Christianity’s concept when it comes to going to heaven. One maintains identity and body forever. One has to leave the earthly world to enter heaven. They can die or go there alive. Rapture is believed in by Christians. Those who obey God’s commandment will go to heaven. Christianity teaches that after death, the body returns to the ground since soil was used to create it. However, the soul continues with its life.
During rapture, all people will awake to attend judgment (Ellens 332). Contrary to this aspect of Christian heaven, the belief of Buddhists is that one can attain nirvana while still on earth. Their belief is that nirvana was attained by Buddha as a mental state after 45 years that followed his enlightenment. He continued with his life on earth for 35 years. Nirvana is compared to the end of every world formation. Desire annihilation, existence’s base denunciation and passion’s non existence are mentioned in Buddhism description of nirvana (Hanson 232).
Close attention is paid to Buddhist. Believers are allowed to speculate about their nirvana status. The idea of heaven is exhorted among Christians since they are taught to think about the above things by the bible. The word above refers to God’s kingdom among Christians since it implies heaven. According to Buddhists, nirvana is beyond imaginable experience. This is a very different concept from the view that Christians have of heaven. Christian teachings are drawn from different biblical books. The bible has several details about heaven. However, the assertion of the bible is that nobody knows what God has in store for those who stick to the covenant. Additionally, the bible says that what He has prepared has not been heard by any ear or conceived by any mind. Heaven is described as a place that is filled with happiness and joy (Ellens 332).
Buddhism contends that people who attain the nirvana state attain the omniscience state. Omniscience refers to a countless knowledge state. The bible does not provide evidence to support heaven’s omniscience state. Nirvana does not mention the existence of people and God. Contrary to this, the belief of Christians is that heaven is the physical residence of God. He also has other inhabitants who include Saints and Angels. Christ’s bride also resides in heaven.
The teaching of Buddhism is that one has to take a course that is beyond suffering. It also encourages disconnecting self from the worldly things. This is the only way one can attain nirvana. These teachings are contrary to Christianity teachings. The belief of Christians is that Jesus endured the worst suffering. His crucifixion was aimed at saving mankind. Christians should confess and believe in Jesus in order to be united with God. This way, they will enter heaven after obeying his commandments.
Regardless of these differences, heaven and nirvana have some similarities. However, these similarities do not make them one thing. Both heaven and nirvana do not have any type of death or suffering. Heaven and nirvana are always glowing and people who reach their transcendent state do this forever. They both present peace of mind where people feel relieved. The assertion of both religions is that people who will remain outside this state of everlasting happiness will always be sad.
Buddhism and Christianity have similarities and differences in terms of their teachings and beliefs. Christians believe that there is one God. Buddhists believe in several gods. Every religion aims at reaching an ultimate goal. For Christians, this goal is to live the way God expects of them so that they can enter heaven. Buddhists try hard to attain the nirvana state. None of these states has suffering. Pain will no longer be felt by those who attain this state.
Heaven is considered as the physical place or residence of God with other inhabitants who include saints and angels. Nirvana is not viewed at as a physical place by Buddhists. Instead, it is a mental state in which individuals attain omniscience. To enter heaven, Christians must leave this world or the earth. Buddhists reach nirvana without having to leave the earth. Although nirvana and heaven have similarities, they are different. They have numerous differences which come from their different paradigms.
Harper Collins Study Bible. New Revised Standard Version.
Hanson, Jim. "Searching For the Power-I: Nietzsche and Nirvana." Asian Philosophy 18.3 (2008): 231-244.
Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. "Buddhism And Christianity: Antagonistic Or Complementary?." Studies In World Christianity 9.2 (2003): 265-279.
Ellens, J H. Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife: Eternity in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.