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Are All Religions

Ultimately the Same?


Breanna Laliberte
RELS 2300 World Religions
11/12/17
Are all religions ultimately the same? A question that many may ask, as well as a

question that is not asked enough. I say this because those that identify with one religion, often

believe that their religion is the only right religion, and for those people I challenge them to

really ponder the idea on if all religions are ultimately the same. As for the population that

perhaps do not believe in religion or dont claim to be of a religion, I know that this question is

approached often for I happen to fall in that bracket.

To give a definition to religion in a way that shows that all are ultimately the same, I

would say that it is something that one believes and follows in order to live and achieve the best

of life. Throughout the next few pages I hope to provide quality examples of the different

religions I have studied this semester to support my reasoning.

Hinduism

Hinduism originated around the Indus Valley near the River Indus which makes up 80%

of the Indian population (India and Nepal), and happens to be one of the oldest living religions in

the world. Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of

teachings. For these reasons, writers often refer to Hinduism as a a way of life or a family of

religions rather than a single religion.

One of the most revered holy writings are the Vedas, which contain four or more

collections of sacrificial hymns, chants, rituals and explanations. In addition to the Vedas, there

are the Upanishads, which are multiple in number and contain topics such as dreams,

meditations, self-realization, state of consciousness and the unity of all things; and the Puranas

which were most recently written and are popularly well-known in India today with the myths

and stories of the more recent gods of India. I say gods, because to Hindus what god means
varies in different traditions. Most Hindus however, do believe in a Supreme God, whose

qualities and forms are represented by the multitude of deities which emanate from him. God can

be approached in a number of ways and a devoted person can relate to God as a majestic king, as

a parent figure, a friend, child or even as a ferocious Goddess. But Hindus main and ultimate

goal is to escape the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, governed by karma, by realizing ultimate

reality from liberation of the limitations of space, time and matter.

Buddhism

Buddhism, similar to Hinduism, is not centered on the relationship between humanity and

God, but on spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life,

which is accomplished through practice and development of morality, meditation, and wisdom.

The history of Buddhism is the story of Siddhartha Gautamas spiritual journey to

enlightenment and the teachings and ways of living developed from it. Siddhartha Gautama was

said to have to lived for more than 80 years during the fifth century BCE, born to a royal family in

the village of Lumbini in present day Nepal, where his privileged life insulated him from the

sufferings of life; such as sickness, age and death. Once he had grown, he went outside the royal

enclosure and saw, each for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse which greatly

disturbed him. In addition to these sightings he also saw a monk, which he took as a sign to leave

his protected royal life and live as a homeless holy man.

Through Siddharthas travels he saw much more of the worlds suffering, but no escape

from the inevitable so he tried to practice meditation as well as live a life of extreme asceticism,

but both did not satisfy him. Then one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree, Siddhartha became

deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life, determined to penetrate its

truth.
He finally achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha. Buddha set in motion the

wheel of teaching, rather than worshipping one god or gods, and for the next 45 years of his life

he taught many disciples, who became noble ones who attained enlightenment for themselves.

Judaism

Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions and was founded over 3500 years ago

in the Middle East (BBC, 2009). The Jewish sense of history begins with the stories recounted in

the Hebrew bible or Tanakh, and the Biblical history begins with the creation of the world by a

supreme deity or God, and progresses through the patriarchs, matriarchs, and Moses who spoke

with God and led the people according to Gods commandments. (Fisher, 2015).

This led the Jews to believe that there is only one God and the essential commandment

to humans is to love God (Fisher, 2015), which is the basis for the idea that God appointed them

to be his chosen people in order to set an example of holiness and ethical behavior to the world.

(BBC, 2009) To bring holiness into everything that the Jews do, they do it as an act that praises

God, as well as by honoring God for all that is done; an act of worship one would call it.

Christianity

Christianity is the worlds biggest religion, with about 2.1 billion followers worldwide.

(BBC, 2011) The religion of Christianity is based on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection

of Jesus, (Fisher, 2015) whom they recognize as the Son of God who was sent to save mankind

from death and sin. Jesus Christ had also taught the love of God, who is to be called Father, and

the love of ones neighbor.

Christians believe in justification by faith that through their belief in Jesus as the Son of

God, and his death and resurrection, they can have a right relationship with God, whose
forgiveness was made once and for all through the death of Jesus Christ. (BBC, 2011) They also

believe in saints, which is most commonly used to refer to a Christian who has lived a good and

holy life on earth.

Sikhism

Sikhism was born in the Punjab area of South Asia, which now falls into the present-day

states of India and Pakistan. The faith began around 1500 CE with Guru Nanak teaching nine

Gurus. There are now over 20 million Sikhs in the world. (BBC, 2009)

Guru Nanak was inspired by a powerful spiritual experience that gave him a vision of the

true nature of God, and confirmed his idea that to live a good life a person should do good deeds

as well as meditate on God.

Sikhs believe God cannot be understood properly by human beings, but he can be

experienced through love, worship, and contemplation, so they look for God both inside

themselves and in the world around them.

Now, given the information about these 5 different religions, both from Indian and Western parts

of the world, ask yourself one more time, is religion really all the same? and you may come up

with the same conclusion that I often found myself coming to multiple times throughout this

semester.

Which is yes, religions really are all the same. Sure, many religions may have different rules to

follow, or different gods or deities that they believe in, but the ultimate goal behind each religion

is to better yourself as a person and allow yourself to live a life you and many others would be

proud of, and by doing so, you are becoming either one with God, close to God, or ending a

cycle of suffering, according to your beliefs.


I only wish that this conclusion that I have reached, wasnt something that needed to be given

much thought behind or even argued by some, because I really do believe that this could end not

all, but some of the discrimination faced throughout the world.


Works Cited

Fisher, Fisher Pat, and Robin Rinehart. Living Religions. 10th ed.

Religions - Buddhism: Buddhism at a glance. BBC, BBC, 17 Nov. 2009,

www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/ataglance/glance.shtml.

Religions Judaism: Judaism at a Glance. BBC, BBC, 12 June 2009,

www.bbc.co.uk/religions/judaism/ataglance/glance.shtml.

The Basics of Christian Beliefs. 14 Aug. 2011,

www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/basics_1.shtml.

Sikh Beliefs. Religions, 24 Sept. 2009, www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/sikhism/beliefs/belie

fs.shtml.