Meaning of birth

  • Buddhism

    We are reborn from a previous life until we reach nirvana (extinction of all desire and release from suffering).

  • Hinduism

    We are reborn from a previous life until we realize our oneness with Brahman. The cycle of death and rebirth is called samsara.

  • Traditional Judaism

    We are created in the image of God and come into the world with the capacity to choose either good or evil.

  • Contemporary Judaism

    Highly diverse, ranging from ultra-Orthodox and traditional (the minority) to the less traditional / secular (the majority).

  • Biblical worldview

    We are created in the image of God but come into the world inclined to sin because of the sin of Adam.

Way of truth

  • Buddhism

    By following the teachings of Buddha, namely, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Buddha’s teachings are incorporated in written scriptures such as the Tripitaka (“three baskets”).

  • Hinduism

    By spiritual disciplines such as yoga which enable one to achieve enlightenment. Suffering and samsara result from ignorance of truth. The Vedas are the authoritative scriptures.

  • Traditional Judaism

    The Law of Moses, as authoritatively interpreted by the rabbis in the Oral Law. Truth is seen in deed more than in creed, although one cardinal belief is the unity of God. Non-Jews need only observe the “Seven Noachide Laws.”

  • Contemporary Judaism

    Beliefs about life and truth often reflect the contemporary postmodern stance, while lifestyle and identity often are based around Jewish traditions variously reinterpreted in the modern context.

  • Biblical worldview

    Through Jesus (Yeshua), who provides atonement for sin and who declared himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life.” The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is divinely revealed and the final authority.

Spiritual life

  • Buddhism

    Theravada Buddhists, practice disciplines which lead to nirvana. Deliverance is only for the few who can attain it, namely, the monks.

    Mahayana Buddhists, seek personal deliverance and assist in others’ salvation. The ideal Buddhist is a bodhisattva, one who forsakes his own deliverance to aid others. Deliverance or salvation is open to all, laity as well as monks.

  • Hinduism

    This consists in the practice of spiritual disciplines such as yoga which deliver one from the cycle of death and rebirth by helping one to realize his or her oneness with Brahman.

    Many incarnations and deities may be worshipped.

  • Traditional Judaism

    Obeying the commandments (mitzvot) given by a personal God, as well as in studying the Torah and other holy books, resulting in blessing in this life. Both ritual requirements and ethical values inform daily life.

  • Contemporary Judaism

    Some Jews have chosen to practice Buddhism; they are often known as JUBUs. Others have explored Hinduism. Eastern thinking has in part informed the movement known as Jewish Renewal, closely connected with the name of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

  • Biblical worldview

    Placing faith in Yeshua as the atonement for our sin and God’s promised Messiah for our salvation. Continued spiritual growth through living a life of service and love, and through prayer, Bible study and worship.

Afterlife

  • Buddhism

    The cycle of death and rebirth continues until nirvana is reached. Until then, reincarnation may take place in a variety of worlds, including various heavens and hells.

  • Hinduism

    After this life, rebirth continues until deliverance is achieved. Then one merges into Brahman, the All.

  • Traditional Judaism

    Ideas of the afterlife are not emphasized as much as how one should live in this life. Nevertheless, Torah obedience leads to life in the olam ha-ba, the “world to come,” which includes the hope of bodily resurrection.

  • Contemporary Judaism

    Rather than holding to the idea of an actual afterlife, it is common for many Jews to believe that one lives on in one’s achievements, one’s descendants, or that “no one knows, we’ll find out when we get there.” This again reflects the wider views of contemporary society.

  • Biblical worldview

    At some point after death, bodily resurrection ensues, followed by God’s judgment. Heaven and hell are eternal destinies to which all people go based on their relationship to God and Yeshua.


This chart presents a summary view. For more detail, see Irving Hexham, Understanding World Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011) or similar books.