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Buddhism and The Categorical Imperative

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Buddhism is a both a religion and philosophy that includes practices, traditions and beliefs that are based on the teachings from its founder, Siddhartha Gautama. There have been different arguments on whether it is a religion yet it has no God. However, it has been concluded that this view is dependent n the adapted definition of religion. It was founded in Northeastern India. There are two major branches of Buddhism; Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada refers to the School of Elders while Mahayana refers to the Great Vehicle. There are about 350-500 Buddhists all over the world (Keown, 2009).

I chose Buddhism because I find the religion captivating. This is because they are strong believers in their culture and practices. They hardly divert from their beliefs. This is unlike Christianity whereby Christians tend to divert from their beliefs. As a result, controversy arises and different people tend to have a different perception of what they should believe in. for example, in Buddhism, they are well aware that there is the existence of karma. This implies that for every action that one does, it is transmitted to the mind and each of these actions has a consequence (Smith, 2007).

The contribution of Buddhism to liberation and meditation is another reason why I chose it. The religion has achieved this through Yoga activities. For one to engage in Yoga activities, one does not necessarily need to be a Buddhist. Yoga is important for anyone who wishes to get something out of their minds. One is able to bypass hurdles in life through the practice of Yoga. Yoga is also recommended for people who are under stress. Through Yoga, they are able to liberate themselves from the things causing them stress. Yoga plays a major role in the meditation process about anything. Due to Buddhism, Yoga was discovered and it continues to contribute greatly towards comfort.

Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative

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The Categorical Imperative is the center piece in Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy. According to Kant, human beings occupy a place in the universe and morality is a mere commandment of reason. His main idea was that individuals ought to unto others as they would wish that others do to them. Any actions that are undertaken should be such that they can be applied as a universal law. These sentiments are in line with the Buddhism religion. The religion is mainly based on the teachings from the founder, Siddhartha Gautama. This is because his actions and beliefs were such that they would be adaptable as a universal law. Universal, in this case, refers to all the Buddhists that follow his teachings and practices (Kant, 2002).

The main aim of Kant’s categorical imperative was to differentiate between right and wrong. This way, individuals would be morally upright. This is clearly shown in Buddhism religion. This is because, just like any other religion, it has the culture it believes in. these includes the traditions, practices and teachings. Through all these, Buddhists can categorize and differentiate rights from wrongs. (Kant & Paton, 2009) As a result, they are able to be morally upright. From what has already been established, it is evident that in the Buddhism religion, there are consequences for any wrong doings. This is a clear indication of Immanuel’s theory in practice.

It can also be noticed that both Buddhism and Immanuel Kant’s theories have end states. In Buddhism, the end state is the release from suffering. On the other hand, the end state in Kant’s theory is the Kingdom of ends whereby individuals who are completely different learn to coexist. They are also able to live life under similar universal laws irrespective of their differences. However, these laws are purely based personal opinions. There is also the similarity in terms of ethics. Buddhists believe in the ethics established through the teachings that receive in their religion. The same case applies to the ethics according to Kant’s categorical imperative. According to Kant, ethics are the laws that govern moral values. They are the laws of freedom and all the things that ought to happen but do not necessarily happen. This could be due to lack of knowledge to differentiate between right and wrong.

The Buddhism religion believes in the need for enlightenment in the course of living each day. This is because the religion tries to give a solution to overcoming suffering. By doing this, people are enlightened and have the power to move on. This is echoed through Kant’s categorical imperative. If people are careful in making sure that they uphold morals, there would not be any suffering. This in return would mean that they would lead happy lives. The moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant seeks to offer a direction to individuals to ensure that their actions are in accordance to moral values.

It is evident that the beliefs and practices of the Buddhist community are in line with the moral philosophy by Immanuel Kant. It is important that individuals all over the world identify themselves with a religion or believing community. This will ensure that they are able to refer to their beliefs when making right and wrong decisions. This will also ensure that they uphold humanity and live in accordance with societal expectations. Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative gives a general guideline of differentiating right and wrong and applies to any religion. This is because humanity and morality remain constant irrespective of the religions that we choose to follow.

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