Christians Live for Today, Buddhists Live for Tomorrow
Death is perhaps the most difficult aspect of life humans are forced to deal with. In order to help us cope, we have implemented the grieving process--a series of events with the purpose of making death easier to deal with--into our lives. Not everyone handles death in the same fashion, and each culture has rituals characteristic to itself that may differ greatly from another culture's rituals. Christianity and Buddhism are two religions that have completely different grieving processes, and in a conversation with Ms. Sit-Sen Wong, a Buddhist from Malaysia, this idea was confirmed as a fact. Through life, Buddhists constantly prepare for death and the afterlife, while Christians, although concerned about that, focus on enjoying the present life as much as possible. Many factors have contributed to this deduction and all are based on the differences in the grieving process rituals between American Christians and Malaysian Buddhists.
Until someone close to us passes away, we forget just how important every minute is that we have. Life is short, therefore, it is necessary not to spend too much time on any one thing. The amount of time spent mourning in America is considerably less than that spent in Malaysia. For example, the funeral and burial, the final outward phases of grieving, takes place, on average, a week after the death of the individual. The Buddhists, however, pray for the soul of the individual every day for six entire weeks. While the Christian view is to grieve, but quickly continue with one's life, the Buddhists feel that they cannot continue until the prayer process is complete. While a Christian may continue to pray, as no specific amount of time is designated to prayer, he/she is encouraged to return to life as normal, as well.
Traditionally, Christians feel prayer is very important, as do Buddhists, but do not spend quite as much time on it as Malaysians. Interestingly enough, while a Christian may just assume that everyone prays for the family and friends of the newly deceased, this is not so in Buddhism. Instead, prayer is reserved for the soul of the deceased. Like Christians, they believe that, after death, the soul embarks on a journey. It has several paths and many bridges to choose from, and it is up to the soul to find the right path and cross the right bridge. Basically, what one does during life has no impact on what happens to one's soul. Christians, however, do believe that what one does in life...