A Comparative Essay On The Idea Of A Perfect Person As Viewed By The Major Eastern Religions

2483 words - 10 pages

When asked to imagine something perfect, like a perfect circle, people across the globe imagine a concentric round figure fulfilling a set of standards. The term perfection, however, loses its static nature when applied to such concepts as the perfect human being. Throughout history people have created standards for what the perfect person should be like. What a particular society sees as good or bad can be a main factor in influencing the idea of human perfectibility. A perfect person in a caveman society might be a strong aggressive bison hunter, but his mangy appearance and lack of acquaintance with a toothbrush might make him very imperfect today in a lawyer's suit in downtown New York. The same idea holds true for any other cultural tradition, including different religions. By taking a closer look at the three major eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism, the idea of human perfection can be better understood.The purpose of each religious tradition is the attainment of some ultimate goal. It is the achievement of this goal that characterizes the perfect human in that particular religion. This absolute is what Mircea Eliade refers to as "the sacred" (Eliade, 1959). For Hindus it is transcendence; a perfect Hindu is one who has transcended the world. In Buddhism "the sacred" is enlightenment; the perfect Buddhist is one who is enlightened. For Daoism it is harmony; the perfect Daoist is one who is in harmony with the people and things around him. By examining the importance of "the sacred" and how it can be achieved, we can better understand each religious tradition and their different views on perfection.HINDUISMThe Hindu religion is comprised of many different sects. Some of the concepts differ slightly between the different forms. The most basic ideas, however, are widely accepted. Transcendent means, "being above and independent of the material universe" (Radhakrishnan and Moore, 1957). In Hinduism this term can be thought of as a means of becoming free from the restraints of the world and entering into a kind of heaven. This transcendence is often associated with the deity Brahman. Brahman represents the Supreme Reality for Hindus (Shattuck, 1999). When one attains the capacity to place the consciousness out of the cosmic dimension, it is believed that one can enter into transcendence, which is an upholding or all-encompassing Consciousness. This consciousness is not involved in the flux and flow of material creation and hence is untouched by the ravages of time and decay and death that appear to be the principal features of our universe (Radhakrishnan and Moore, 1057). Methods of escape into this "transcendent Brahman" were thus devised in order to grant solace to the troubled human spirit (Iyer, 1992). This state of peace, by virtue of its static quality, is able to liberate the seeker from any further involvement in the torment of life and death.The way to achieve transcendence is through the practice of good karma. Karma is...

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