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Like most religions, Buddhism has a structure through which relief from the burdens of life can be attained. Unlike most other religions, that state of nirvana is achievable during one’s lifetime in contrast to the idea of receiving peace at the end of life through admission into Heaven. The Buddhist religion can be compared to other religions with the result being an understanding of how it has logistically been embraced as well as why it has been aesthetically embraced. Throughout history, religions have rarely been focused on a single individual. Hinduism, the Greek Olympian Gods, and the Jewish faith were all based upon a God or gods that had not lived an earthly life. Even Christianity is not based upon the life of a man, but on the teachings of God as articulated through his experience in manifesting his son on Earth. Buddhism, on the other hand, is based on the teachings of a man who was born, had a childhood, and evolved into a great teacher through whom an ‘awakening’ occurred that defined the beliefs of those who then followed his teachings. Through the teachings of the Buddha, a middle way is found that does not require the individual to live in extreme asceticism, but to also not indulge in an extravagant lifestyle. The teachings of Buddha allowed the individual to be released from the idea of gods ruling their lives and gave to them the concept that anyone can reach nirvana, which is a release from earthly woes. Self-mastery is attained through the Four Noble Truths and through the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are that all life is permeated through suffering, all suffering is caused by desire, desire can only be overcome by Nirvana, and the way to nirvana is guided by eight principles. Those principles are that righteousness can be found through right ideas, right thought, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right consciousness, and right meditation. In following these teachings the individual will be released from desire. Manichaeism was developed during the third century through an Iranian born man named Mani and can be compared to Buddhism through the emphasis on the teachings of this man, just as Islam is founded on the teachings of Muhammad, the last prophet of the one God. Whereas Buddhism and Manichaeism both focus on an earthly man’s thoughts, Islam teaches that Muhammad was channeling the teachings of God. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all use human conduits as teachers for the same God; however these three religions have been in conflict for most of history. Manichaeism incorporated the ideas of the Judaism history in order to define a new power balance between God and Satan in which the power of God was diminished to equal that of Satan through whom a balance was created. According to Scott, the response that Mani had to Buddhism was to describe the Buddha as a Messenger of Light, just like himself, but that the teachings of Buddha that would have reflected the same message as his own had been corrupted because they were not written by Buddha himself.1 Mani asserted that the teachings of Buddha had been changed because they were not chronicled enough to survive his passing. Albright asserts the same about the teachings within the Judeo-Christian heritage as he reminds his readers that the Old Testament is likely corrupted and out of chronology because of the number of reinterpretations that have occurred through a series of rewrites that passed those words down through history.2 Buddhism is not the only highly practiced religion in modern society that is based upon teachings that are not directly written from the source. Christianity is defined by teachings that did not come to be
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