Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism are eastern religions and philosophies that have been practiced by millions of people for centuries. While Hinduism is centered around a supreme being, Buddhism and Confucianism are centered around the teachings of a man and Daoism is centered around a concept, the religions share similarities. Each encourages moral behavior, charity and respect for the universe.
Hindus believe there is one supreme unifying force that creates, protects and preserves. There are many gods and deities in the Hindu religion, but they are all different facets of the one being. A person must be born a Hindu, they cannot convert. A person must live a good life and practice kindness and charity in order to attain the ultimate reward; that is joining with the supreme being. How one lives determines what happens to them, that is one's soul, when one dies. Bad deeds in one life are punished in the next life. The soul is reborn until all bad karma has been erased and it can be united with the supreme being.
Buddhism is more of a life philosophy than a religion. There is no god to be worshiped. Instead, Buddhists focus on attaining inner peace. Siddhartha Gotama, an Indian prince, founded Buddhism to teach enlightenment. The Buddhist philosophy teaches moral behavior, thinking before acting, considering consequences and gaining an understanding of life. According to Buddha, the four noble truths of life are that everyone suffers, we cause our own suffering, we should stop doing things that make us suffer and follow an enlightened path to end our suffering.
Confucianism is based on the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius. Confucianism, like Buddhism, is about following teachings rather than worshiping a deity. The teachings suppose that all humans are essentially good and this goodness must be practiced toward fellow humans. Politeness, virtue, righteousness, propriety and moral wisdom are essential components of a good person. Elders and ancestors are to be held in reverence as they give life to their children. Education and learning are also highly regarded.
Daoism, or Taoism, is a Chinese philosophy Lao Tzu started around 500 B.C. The central theme of Daoism is balance. A person should strive to be one with Dao, living a simple life in harmony with nature. Dao is not a being, but a concept that is neither good nor evil. It creates the universe but does not try to interfere with or control it. Compassion for other life, living in moderation and having humility may lead you toward the Dao. Freeing oneself from desires and believing in the equality of man and nature may help one lead a peaceful and happy life.
- Kauai's Hindu Monastary: Nine Beliefs of Hinduism
- Smithsonian Institution: What Are the Basic Beliefs of Hinduism?
- Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry Social Studies Department: Ancient India Unit: Creating a Mandala of Hindu Beliefs
- BuddhaNet Basic Buddhism Gude: A Five Minute Introduction
- San Francisco State University: Following the Buddha's Footsteps
- Lander University Humanities Division: Main Concepts of Confucianism
- Stanford School of Medicine: Cultural Beliefs and Practices: Role of Confucianism
- Enloe High School: Daoism
- The Shangra-la Mission: Taoist Beliefs
- Daoist Center: Basic Information Sheet on Daoism (Taoism)
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