There are several definitions of the technical term “good life” and there are countless standards on “how one should live”, however, there are two personalities that teach differently with regards to this. This paper entitled “The Good Life: Perspectives of Buddha and Confucius” intends to answer the following questions:
- “What is the ‘good life’ according to Buddha? ”;
- “What is the ‘good life’ according to Confucius? ”;
- “How should one live according to Buddha? ”; and last but not least
- “How should one live according to Confucius? ”.
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II. The Good Life According to Buddha The good life according to Buddha is to live according to certain standards that will lead one to obtain the “definitive life of bliss” (Thapar, 1966). In addition to that the “good life” is where “equal treatment” is experienced (Thapar, 1966). This is stated under the category “Sunyata” (Thapar, 1966). Furthermore, it also entails “nirvana”, which means that “whatever happens or no matter how disordered incidents may turn out to be, there will always be perfect peace, as well as, fairness in the end” (Gotiangco, 2001).
Believing in such is already living the good life according to Buddha (Gotiangco, 2001). Moreover, living the good life is also to practice the combination of “compassion and wisdom” (Gotiangco, 2001). This means that individuals ought to show sympathy towards other people which may be achieved by “understanding the real meaning of life (Gotiangco, 2001). He reiterated that “wisdom should be developed as well to be able to impart the right teachings of Buddhism while compassion should also be present to be able to appropriately carry out the appropriately the teachings of Buddhism” (Gotiangco, 2001).
Last but not least is to “develop wisdom and faith” which involves the conviction with open-mindedness to be able to see visibly other people’s point of view without any preconceived notion and foregone conclusion; belief with extremely profound contemplation to be able to be acquainted with its soundness; commitment with efforts to be able to really comprehend it; and confidence with realization to be able to recognize that there is really no difference between the belief of an individual and the truth (Gotiangco, 2001).
III. The Good Life According to Confucius The good life according to Confucius is a never-ending aspiration for moral faultlessness/perfection (Gotiangco, 2001). How One Should Live According to Buddha According to Buddha, one should live in a matter that observes the following: Essential Teachings First of all, the basic and essential teachings of Buddha should be learned and practiced by an individual (Thapar, 1966).
Steps to Follow to Achieve a Life of Bliss and Perfection Second is to be extremely aware of the concrete steps to attain “a life of bliss and perfection” (Thapar, 1966).
The following should then be followed: It is important for one to discover what causes suffering to be felt or experienced (Thapar, 1996). Buddha technically defined suffering as “anything that hinders preference or anything which go against an individual’s will, for instance death, illnesses, etc” (Thapar, 1966). ) It is needed for an individual to know what he or she should do to be able to avoid encountering suffering (Thapar, 1966). Likewise, an individual is obliged to “control himself or herself” and to “fight off suffering” which “presents itself through lust, negative emotions, hatred, lapse in judgment, as well as, self-centeredness” (Thapar, 1966). This is in connection with the one mentioned in Part A of this section/category that teachings should be read incessantly to be able to internalize it (Thapar, 1966).
This is because such internalization and habitual meditation will play a large role in letting go of wants and release of disparaging mania/fixations which will eventually keep the mind and body of a person to be calm (Thapar, 1966). Of course, to live calmly is to be able to initiate goodwill and capability of delivering rational decisions which are all parts of the good life according to Buddha (Thapar, 1966). 3) Last but not least is to know what is technically known as karma (Thapar, 1966).
Buddha said that “since the calmness, rational judgment and goodwill are already present then it can be claimed that rebirth or karma has already taken place (Thapar, 1966). A human being who now actually has better control of herself/himself may now attain “perfect bliss or nirvana”, which in turn is the objective of living and so the most basic principle to how one should live as well (Thapar, 1966).
How One Should Live According to Confucius
There is a set of standards that one should follow according to Confucius (Gotiangco, 2001). It entails being ethical and being humanitarian (Gotiangco, 2001).
Specifically, there are three elements included in the aforementioned two and these are “human relations, virtues, as well as, rituals” (Gotiangco, 2001). All these components are required or needed to be able to meet the standards on how one should really live from the perspective of Confucius (Gotiangco, 2001). A. Human Relations Human relations should be very harmonious according to Confucius (Gotiangco, 2001). The five kinds of human relations that should be kept are the following: “
- parents – children;
- husband – wife;
- older – younger;
- friend – friend;
- and last but not least
- ruler – subject” (Gotiangco, 2001).
He advises that “a parent should be able to understand what a parents really means; a husband should know how to be a good husband; a daughter or a girl should be able to internalize the allusions highly related with being a female or a daughter; likewise, a ruler or a subject should be familiar of being a ruler or a subject respectively (Gotiangco, 2001). He said that everybody is anticipated to “relate” in accordance with the aforementioned kinds of relationships to be able to achieve harmony and maintain stability as well (Gotiangco, 2001).
B. Virtues He thus reiterates that all the members of the family should be provided with the proper training to be able to exhibit the suitable and proper values relevant to the relationship they are involved with (Gotiangco, 2001). The training referred to here by Confucius include the following: First of all is “loyalty” (Gotiangco, 2001). Second is “filial piety” “which is technically defined as “the Chinese way of showing respect to parents and ancestors” (Gotiangco, 2001). Third is known as “obedience” (Gotiangco, 2001).
Last but not least is better known as “conduct” (Gotiangco, 2001). Confucius stated that to be familiar with the aforementioned appropriate values will help people be more conscious of what they are about to carry out and since it maintains good relationships with others then it is a way of living the good life (Gotiangco, 2001). C. Rituals There are certain “rituals” that must be observed (and should be instilled preferably during childhood) as well according to Confucius (Gotiangco, 2001). Some of these are the following:
First is to provide “formal education” to individuals (Gotiangco, 2001). This is in addition to the parental assistance and regulation given to their children (Gotiangco, 2001). Second is the “worshipping of ancestors” (Gotiangco, 2001). This is important it is effective in instituting and upholding “high esteem, reverence, faithfulness, as well as, loyalty among the members of the immediate family, as well as, that of the clan” (Gotiangco, 2001). Third is “contemplative reading or meditation” (Gotiangco, 2001).
Confucius stated that the aforementioned is needed to enlighten the mind, invigorate it, as well as, instill and advocate values like tolerance/staying power, self-control/temperance, as well as, calmness that’s welled up inside a person (Gotiangco, 2001). He added that in times of extreme conflict or catastrophes, such values will definitely help the person (Gotiangco, 2001). Last but not least is the training in what is technically referred to as the “Confucian Six Arts” (Gotiangco, 2001). Included in the “Confucian Six Arts” are the following: ) “Music and Literature”, which are considered necessary for the “purposes of humanism and finesse” (Gotiangco, 2001). “Mathematics”, which helps challenge and eventually sharpen “mental awareness” and “logic” (Gotiangco, 2001). “Callligraphy”, which actually trains one to become extremely patient and strong-minded/indomitable (Gotiangco, 2001). “Martial Arts”, which helps and molds someone to exhibit exactness and meticulousness (Gotiangco, 2001). In addition to that, it encourages maintenance of the body to become physically fit (Gotiangco, 2001). )
“Archery”, which “according to the philosophy of Confucianism, is needed for the purposes of developing deference, as well as, agility” (Gotiangco, 2001). “Chariot Racing”, which Confucius says that it highly increases fortitude/stamina, as well as, adroitness/dexterity (Gotiangco, 2001). “Confucian Literature Reading”, wherein a child is compelled to read the following books everyday: “
- I Ching or the Book of Change;
- Shuh Ching or the Book of History;
- Shih Ching or the Book of Odes;
- Spring and Autumn Annals; the Analects;
- the Great Learning; and last but not least
- the Doctrine of the Mean” (Gotiangco, 2001).
The aforesaid books serve as “directions” or “models” for people to follow and to light their paths as they keep up with life and face all the challenges/endeavors that may come their way (Gotiangco, 2001). Confucius reiterated that the aforementioned rituals is a critical part of “how one should live” and so it is very important to him to start early with the aforementioned rituals (Gotiangco, 2001). He said that traditions will not only be sustained, the community/society will be cultivated and taken cared of as well (Gotiangco, 2001). In addition to that, the spirit of reciprocity lives on as well” (Gotiangco, 2001).
The good life according to Buddha is one that is directed to reach “a definitive life of bliss” while for Confucius “it is the unending desire to attain moral perfection” (Gotiangco, 2001). According to Buddha, one should live by knowing and practicing his teachings and following the steps to attaining “a life of bliss and perfection” while for Confucius, one should live by maintaining good relations, instilling virtues and observing rituals (Gotiangco, 2001).
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