How does Buddhism differ from other world religions such as Christianity?
There are many common features between Buddhism and other world religions on ethical and moral issues, such as not killing other human beings, stealing, etc. and on the positive side the practice of generosity, compassion etc. Morality is only the preliminary stage and is a means to an end. Though essential, it alone does not lead to one’s deliverance.
Buddhism differs from other religions in three ways:
(a) It does not demand faith in a ‘creator god’.
(b) It teaches a doctrine of anatta (no soul, no self), which means that there is no ever-lasting or abiding essence in living beings.
(c) It also teaches a doctrine of paticcasamuppada (conditioned genesis or dependent origination), which means that nothing exists independently, but only in dependence upon other causally-related events. Hence it could be said that Buddhism is not a religion.
Some have held the view that Buddhism is a philosophy, but the Buddha did not preach mere philosophical or intellectual theories. The Dhamma (Buddha’s teachings) deals with reality and truths that can be verified by personal experience. Unlike a philosophy, this leads to the elimination of all forms of suffering and release from conditioned existence. One can discuss endlessly whether Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy; it does not matter what you call it - It is a way of life. In fact, some of the ancient teachings are very much in keeping with modern scientific thought, therefore you might even call it a 'Science of Life'.
The essence of Buddhism is summarised in the following beautiful ancient verse:
|Sabba papassa akaranam
- kusalassa upasampada
|To cease from all evil
To cultivate good
- etam Buddhana sasanam
|To purify one's mind
This is the advice of all Buddhas