The Nature of Ethics in Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism
When asking the question about the nature of ethics, it is hard to explain where they came from because not everyone has the same views or religions. Since religions have different standards, there are different sources to them and different reasons for why people should follow them. When trying to find answers to questions about the nature of ethics, it is impossible to know which religion's view is correct. This paper will discuss the different views on the nature of ethics of three major religions: Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism.
Before trying to explain ethics in Hinduism, one must first know the basic beliefs in it. The ultimate goal for Hindus is to achieve Moksha, which is basically stopping the cycle of reincarnation and ceasing to exist. Hindus also believe in Samsara, which means that the present life is the result of previous existences bound by the law of Karma (Exploring Religious Meaning, 198). Karma is basically the notion that what one does in their present lifetime determines how he/she will live in their next lifetime. Hindus believe in reincarnation, so death is basically another part of the endless cycle of rebirths. Some compare Karma to the cycle of growth in crops. According to Katha Upanishad, "Like corn, man ripens and falls to the ground; like corn he springs up again in his season" (Burke, 22).
As to what ethical principles or standards of behavior Hindus govern their lives around depends on the person. Since most believe in Karma, they tend to live their lives in manner that they feel they will be rewarded in their next life. It is said that a Hindu that is born into a low caste has been punished through the Law of Karma for something that they did in a previous life. Those who are born into a prosperous family are being rewarded through the Law of Karma because of the good they did in a previous life. How a Hindu governs their lives also depends on which of the three Margas (paths to achieve Moksha) that they choose to follow. Jnana Marga is the path of knowledge, Karma Marga is the path of action, and Bhakti Marga is the path of devotion. Depending on which marga a Hindu follows, dictates how that person lives their life.
If a Hindu does not follow the standards of his religion, he will be punished. He wouldn't be punished in the sense of heaven or hell though like in Christianity. Since Hindus believe in Karma, their next life will reflect how they live their previous life. He would probably be born into a lower caste and will suffer a lot in his lifetime.
It is necessary to explain Buddhism's background before trying to explain its ethics. Siddhartha Gautama is the person who is most revered in the Buddhist religion. As a child, he was kept from seeing/learning about many of the harsh realities in the world. According to Exploring Religious Meaning, "As a young man he ventured forth into that world...