While Hinduism and Buddhism share common roots, Judaism does not share its origin with either of these.

Despite this, when one considers the things that religions in themselves hope to accomplish, it becomes easier to find similarities among even seemingly very different religions. The religions Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism all teach vastly different doctrines and each is considered by many to be exclusive of the other two. However, closer scrutiny will provide evidence that these three religions do share some common characteristics.In many ways that have to do with such concepts as pantheism, dualism, polytheism, suffering, afterlife, and the transcendence of earth, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism all hold threads of doctrines or beliefs in common.

Hinduism and Buddhism share a common birthplace in India. The Hindu religion has been described as having a large number of varying beliefs all contained within one system. It also contains very many methods of worship that vary according to taste or according to the different gods being worshipped at any given time.The religious has often been termed pantheistic because of its ability to deify practically any natural object imaginable. The religion was descended from a mixture of several belief systems that were brought into India during the time of its inhabitation by the Aryans approximately 1750 B.

C. E. During this the earliest time of the religion’s existence, the main objects worshipped were found in the forces that define nature, such as the wind, rain, and sunshine. In this sense, the Hindu religion began as a polytheistic one and continued to expand its polytheism as the centuries went by.The Judaic religion does in fact share a legendary polytheistic beginning during the time before the Torah personality Moses—a great and revered leader of the Jews.

In fact, just as the Hindu religion seemed to have descended from another, so the Judaic religion is thought by some to have descended from fetishism and animism. In this religion too, some things and locations were worshipped, and this demonstrates a polytheistic origin. In fact, one of the Jewish names for God, Elohim, is a plural form of the word Eloha—and this underscores the idea that the Jewish God though one, exists in more than one form (Birodkar, 1998).This too points toward a pluralism that can be compared with the Hindu religion.

In the Hindu religion, the deity Shri Ram is said to contain within himself a mixture of both good and evil qualities. This can be loosely compared to the Judaic God who is responsible for the creation of all that is contained within the earth, whether good or evil. Since this mixture of good and bad that exists within Shri Ram is said to be very balanced, this may also be compared with the Buddhist religion, which is centered on the idea of balance.Buddhism teaches of the Middle Path, in which the adherent strives to seek out the core of all things, weighing all its sides. This leads the follower of Buddhism to be meditative and not rash in his or her actions, but to seek to find a balance between any forces that seem to oppose. This idea of balance would therefore connect Buddhism both to Judaism and Hinduism.

In keeping with this idea of balance is also one in which deities of the Hindu religion were often mixed or given the attributes of more than one other deity—presumably to create and maintain the balance sought in the religion.The characters of the major Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva, for instance, have often been mixed and given to such deities Sashta and Ayappa (Birodkar, 1998). This too is similar to the Hebrew (Judaic) God who according to the Shema is one, but yet who manifests himself in a number of different ways and with different names such as Yahweh, Elohim and Adonai. On the other side of this is the fact that many traditional Jews and Hindus have developed problems believing in the existence of a God. Their religions have been based on this existence of one or many gods, yet exposure to science has often led them to question these beliefs.

Buddhism offers spiritual experience without necessitating a belief in God. The Dalai-Lama of Tibetan Buddhism has touted his religion as “a kind of atheism” in which metaphysical aspects can be rejected. The religion is based mainly on meditation and is humanist in its search for peace and harmony within the person rather than toward any manifested external Supreme Being. It therefore facilitates the scientific-minded Jew who searches for religion but desires no God (Biddulph, 147).

Buddhism also helps Jews escape the arguments concerning the true attributes of God usually advocated by conflicting theologians (Markham, 148-9).Despite these things, however, one finds the Jewish scriptures to be remarkable in its scientific outlook. Several methods of washing in the Torah, for example, have embodied methods of hygiene that have been proven correct in later scientific studies. Therefore, Buddhism and Judaism do share some similarities in their scientific natures. Hinduism itself has been said by some to have begun with science, as persons sought methods of comprehending the mind and the reality that surrounds it (BBC, 2007). .

Buddhism also contains the idea that the person who practices it is able to reach a state of Nirvana, as was attained by its founder Siddartha Gotauma. This state entails a form of liberation from the material and tangible aspects of life that seem to imprison the human being in the temporal universe (Rong & Rong, 1996). It also contained the concept of the cycle of life, and in this way also shares similarities with Hinduism and Judaism. In the Hindu religion, man’s life does not end with his death, but continues beyond it through the reincarnation of his spirit.This belief is also shared in the Buddhist religion.

In Judaism too there exists the concept of life after death, through which humans are liberated from their bodies and are allowed to live in the bosom of Abraham—or in heaven with Yahweh. In this way, all three religions share a belief in a state of being that transcends and succeeds our common human existence. The Buddhist religion also teaches about the causes of pain and suffering. The doctrines of the Buddha express the idea that such pain comes not from a deity that metes it out to whom he/she will, but that each form of pain has its own origin.According to Buddhism, pain comes down to a matter of cause and effect. Each instance of pain originates with the doer and recipient of the pain whose actions have somehow influenced the pain-causing occurrence.

This idea is somewhat similar to the Hindu concept of Karma, in which good and bad actions previously performed by a person are revisited upon them at a later time. Therefore, though the Buddhist concept contains a less blameful outlook, both religions place the burden of responsibility for pain upon the human beings involved (Rong & Rong, 1996).It follows therefore that in the Hindu religion, if one would like to end suffering, one must perform good actions only so that only good Karma will come back to visit. This idea has its counterpart in the Buddhist religion, which teaches about the Law of Dependent Origination.

This law states that the way to end suffering is to put an end to the causes of suffering. While these two religions differ in this point with Judaism, which attributes good and bad occurrences to the actions of Yahweh, similarities may also be found upon closer examination.The Karma spoken of in the Hindu religion might be seen as having its Judaic correspondent Yahweh himself. According the Judaism, Yahweh judges the actions of men and then rewards them subsequently according to the deeds they have performed (Birodkar, 1998).

Therefore, good deeds equal good futures. This might also be seen as having something in common with Buddhism too, as the initial deed judged as good by Yahweh might be seen as the cause of the subsequent reward (the effect). Thus cause and effect are also present in Judaism.Yet the problem of suffering has often become a stumbling block to Jews, who are faced with the puzzle of reconciling the idea of a good, loving and omnipotent God with the evil and suffering that is undeniable in the world. They wonder why any supreme being who has their best interest at heart would allow individuals to suffer in the kinds of ways that are evident and sometimes even necessary.

One writer points to this difficulty, and offers the Buddhist alternative of bad Karma, where suffering is caused by evil actions that have been performed in former lives.This therefore places the persons themselves in charge of their own life and responsible for their suffering (Causton, 13). Another section of Causton’s book highlights Buddhism’s commitment to ending suffering via the phrase zam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is alleged that good fortune inevitably follows the recitation of this phrase (195). Therefore, while Christianity and Judaism propose suffering as an inevitable gateway to happiness, Buddhism seeks to explain the problem of suffering. The explanation for suffering offered by Buddhists denotes it as completely avoidable and places the control back in the hands of the human being.

Another researcher, Harvey, proposes that Buddhism is attractive to Christians and Jews because the idea of karma is simply a better explanation for the degrees of suffering and why seemingly good people go through bad things. Markham gives the account of Jane Compton who expressed dissatisfaction with Christianity as a religious option. She chose Buddhism because she considered it simple and practical, “offering both a diagnosis and a solution” (Markham, 148 cited in Spotlight Ministries).However, the two religions unite in that Judaism does also present an explanation for suffering in the story of Adam and Eve who brought sin into the world. Furthermore, Yahweh promises to send a Messiah who will embody the end of all suffering and set up a kingdom in which all will be happiness.

The duality present in Judaism is also present to some extent in Hinduism, as might be found in the story of Sashta. In this story, the gods and the demons unite to do some work, and it can be seen that good deities are separated from evil ones within this religion.This is also true in the Jewish religion, in which Yahweh embodies good while The Evil One (the devil or serpent) embodies evil, Angels might also be seen as representing the “good gods” of the Sashta story, while the devil’s angels (demons) align perfectly with the demons of the Sashta story. Therefore, duality of good versus evil together with supernatural beings that represent these ideas are present in both Judaism and Hinduism.

Even in areas where differences have been highlighted by scholars within these religions it is possible to detect areas of similarities.According to The Buddhist Channel approximately 30 percent of the 3 million Buddhists living in America are Jewish converts. A large portion of converts are also Hindu (Birodkar, 1998), and this phenomenon has led to the question of why people adhering to these two religions would choose to become Buddhist proselytes. On a small scale, this conversion on the part of many contemporary Jews has been attributed to an inability to come to terms with the existence of a God.

However, one of the major reasons given by these persons is found in the question of suffering.Judaism and Christianity share a common root, and the idea of suffering is at the heart of both religions. Converts have testified that the Buddhist commitment to ending suffering has been a major source of its magnetism for Jews, though tolerance and atheism have also been attractions for them. However, as mentioned before, both religions do (even in this) share a common thread because both offer some form of solution to suffering. Despite the fact that the Buddhist solution may appear more attractive or palatable, the two religions do recognize that a need exists to answer the question of suffering.

As a result of this, one finds that a further similarity exists between them. As mentioned before, the Jewish tradition is based on the idea that sin entered the world at the time of Adam and Eve. As a result of this sin, suffering was born. This suffering is seen in the certainty of death, and also in such phenomena as the necessity of toil (work) and pain during childbirth.

This represents a concrete example of the cause and effect ideas of suffering taught within the Buddhist religion. Other forms of suffering in Judaism can be found in the means through which forgiveness of sin can be sought.In order for sins to be forgiven, blood must be shed and so death must occur. The best animal of a flock had to be sacrificed in the within these tradition—and this ultimately culminated in the death of the scapegoat. Though the two religions diverge here, as Buddhism offers no further suffering as a penance for sin and pain, both may be seen to agree that causes must be removed. In Judaism, the punishment provides a way to remove the cause after the fact so that the suffering might not be perpetual.

A final aspect of the attraction Jews find to Buddhism is its greater tendency toward tolerance.Christianity and Judaism are notoriously intolerant of other religions. Within a society that strives for tolerance, Buddhism is an attractive choice to Jews who feel their religion makes it necessary for them to be intolerant of others (Harvey, 317). One Jesuit missionary of the 19th century has been reported as being attracted to Buddhism for this reason of tolerance, consequently incorporating Zen practices into his Catholic worship (Burnett, 254-255). However, Judaism also teaches that neighbors must be loved as oneself and given preference only second to Yahweh himself.This, therefore, presents a common ground between the two religions, as loving one’s neighbor surely demonstrates some level of tolerance.

The problems of suffering, tolerance, and the existence of God have all been contributors to the conflicts among the religions Hinduism, Judaism Buddhism. However, these topics also represent areas in which the religions might be said to have strong similarities. Buddhism has been considered by these persons to offer palatable answers to the problem of suffering by giving reasons for its existence as well as methods of its avoidance.However, so have Hinduism and Judaism with their ideas of karma and the retribution and forgiveness of God.

The tendency of Buddhists to be tolerant of other religions and alternative lifestyles also rivals Judaism; however, closer looks will demonstrate that Judaism too preaches tolerance. Finally, the pantheism and polytheism of Hinduism can be seen to correspond with the Buddhist idea of finding one’s own consecrated path (Middle Path) and the multifaceted nature of the God of Judaism.Referenceshttp://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=2,2640,0,0,1,0http://www.buddhanet.net/cbp2_f4.htmhttp://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/buddhism.html