Re synoptic essay.

        The initial problem with studying the belief in life after death is that there are a vast number of theories stating what they believe ‘life after death’ actually is. Therefore in order to effectively ascertain arguments for and against this idea, it is necessary to deal with each individual theory separately. Within this essay I will be discussing and assessing the views of Buddhists and looking at ‘life after death’ from an ethical point of view.

        In the teaching of the Buddha, all of us will pass away eventually as a part in the natural process of birth, old-age and death and that we should always keep in mind the impermanence of life. To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will be reborn. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions. According to Buddhism, our lives and all that occurs in our lives is a result of Karma.  Every action creates a new karma, this karma or action is created within our body, our speech or our mind and this action leaves a subtle imprint on our mind which has the potential to ripen as future happiness or future suffering, depending on whether the action was positive or negative. If we bring happiness to people, we will be happy.  If we create suffering, we will experience suffering either in this life or in a future one. This is called the Law of Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect.  Karmic law will lead the spirit of the dead to be reborn, in realms which are suitable appropriate to their karmic accumulations. This would lead the person to be reborn in one of 6 realms which are; heaven, human beings, Gods, hungry ghost, animal and hell. Buddhists believe however, none of these places are permanent and one does not remain in any place indefinitely. So we can say that in Buddhism, life does not end, merely goes on in other forms that are the result of accumulated karma. Buddhism is a belief that emphasizes the impermanence of lives, including all those beyond the present life. But its ultimate goal is that of Nirvana. "The proper ultimate goal for man, no matter how much he may line his way through birth-death by flower beds of temporary betterment or pleasure, is to escape world process completely in timeless, space less, distinction less Nirvana." (King 21).

        Plato’s theory of dualism argues that it is the mind that determines our personality and that the body is an outer shelf for the real self. The body is contingent and therefore destined for decay but the mind is associated with the higher realities such as truth, goodness and justice and is immortal. Plato believed that the soul continues after death, just as Buddhists do. Plato believed the soul could survive in another body, as in reincarnation, which is similar to the idea given in Buddhism that we are reborn.

        Aristotle also had the idea that the soul and body are separate parts that go together to make up a human but he disagreed with the idea that the soul survives without a body, when the body dies so does the soul. Aristotle believed that all things have a soul, but only human beings have a rational soul, this allows humans to be happy, according to Aristotle. He believed the soul was split into four sections, the desiderative part concerned with wants and desires, the vegetative part concerned with need and instincts, the scientific part concerned with logic and facts and the calculative part which ways up the options and chooses the best option. A human using all parts of it soul to come to moral decisions, and it is these moral decisions which make us a good person. In most religions people try to live a moral life because the believe it will have some kind of consequence on what happens to them after this life, for example Christians hope being moral in this life will mean they go to heaven when they die. Aristotle gave twelve moral virtues which fall between two vices, the vice of excess or the vice of deficiency. His list included courage which lies between rashness and cowardice, and modesty which lies between shyness and shamelessness. Aristotle came up with the doctrine of the mean, which meant we must try to ensure that we veer away from both vices and so hit the ‘mean’ or midway point.  

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        Buddhism suggests a "middle way" between worldly life and the extremes of self-denial, this is similar to the mean way suggested by Aristotle. The Buddha taught what he referred to as 'the Middle Way, a path that led to enlightenment by avoiding the extremes of sensory self-indulgence and self-mortification. Just as the Buddha argued against self-mortification as a practice that is beneficial to spiritual advancement, he also warned against indulgence in sensual pleasures. A key passage from the scriptures is this one: 'One should not pursue sensual pleasure, which is low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble, and unbeneficial; and one should not ...

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