Karma is present and fairly similar in the religions of the Ganges. There are, however, a few distinct differences in the four religions jainism, sikhism, buddhism, and hinduism.In Sikhism, karma is presented in the context that you reap what you sow. In the sense that past actions and their consequences affect your current life and the life you with be reborn into, it is much like the other three religions. Sikhs believe, however, that being born a human is the highest form of an incarnation on earth. Karam, as they call it, “is not inexorable, not absolute,” (ET p. 122) meaning that even someone with considerable “bad” karam can still reach the presence of God. Divine will and grace trumps any karma or past action, as long as the individual can show true devotion and good nature.In Jainism, bad karma attracts more bad karma. Karmic “particles” are attached to the soul, the jiva. When one dies, and is reborn through the samsara cycle, all of these karmic particles, good and bad, create a new being. The jiva carries all past karma from life to life until the person either removes them or they go away through natural means. The cause of these karmic particles (punya being good karma and paap being bad) are what jains consider our “passions”, which leave us in our eternal bondage and rebirth (ET p. 159). In order to break this cycle all karma must be purged from the jiva through the process of nirjava which leads to the separation of the ajiva from the jiva.In Hinduism, to enjoy the good consequences of your actions and to therefore do good thinking only of worldly pleasure, even if it brings good karma, is bad and continues the rebirth cycle. According to the Bhagavad- Gita, one of the ways to reach enlightenment is through selfless action without consequences. In this way, good karma is considered, “the golden handcuffs,” leaving you shackled to the process of samsara (ET p. 43-44). Hindus derive their knowledge of karma through text such as the Gita. Buddhists, on the other hand, get their knowledge of the idea of karma from Gautama Buddha who, after meditating under the bodhi tree and seeing the workings of karma, described it to his followers. Karma, to buddhists, is simply the “natural order of things,” and is not necessarily a divine punishment or reward (ET p. 202). Broadly, the purpose of the Eightfold Path is to remove the consequences of past sins in order to reach Nirvana, and in this way Buddha teaches his followers how they can themselves reach an enlightened state through devotion and selflessness. 4. Pure Land Buddhism and Chan Buddhism, while very different in both methods of reaching enlightenment and what the goal in for their followers, share common and encompassing roots which bind their teachings.Pure Land Buddhism (known as Jingtu in China and Jodo in Japan) focuses on devotion to Amida buddha who centuries ago, as a young prince-turned-bodhisattva, vowed to create a “western paradise” and heaven. All those who wished to be admitted to this land without hunger, aging, or death could be granted admission as long as they followed the teachings and pledged devotion to Amitabha (ET p. 223). In the Pure Land, contrary to traditional buddhist teachings, “rebirth on earth will no longer be necessary,” instead those who existed in Amida Buddha’s heaven would live eternal there. Pure Land Buddhism, therefore, stresses the repetition of Amitabha’s name, which is thought to bring the devotee closer to God and Amitabha himself (ET p.226). Chan (Zen) Buddhism, on the other hand, focuses its teachings around wordless meditation and on the more spiritual side of enlightenment. Instead of relying on the repetition of a name or phrase, Zen masters took less traditional methods to help their pupils on their way to satori, or enlightenment. Some of these methods included violent ones such as breaking a devotee’s nose or pushing him into a thornbush unexpectedly in order to help these reach the “nothingness” necessary to progress to a mindstate outside of rational thought, although each master had his own special technique that may not have been as extreme (ET p. 228).The two sects do share common roots, however, in the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. Both sects also are alike in the sense that they both require complete repetition (either in the form of recitation or meditation) in order to attain a higher nature. They are alike in their uniqueness from other forms of buddhism, and the amount of devotion that is required from their followers.Section 2 6. Many of what we now call “confucian” ideas and traditions existed long before Confucius was born. Confucius himself, “professed to be a transmitter of tradition rather than an innovator,” (ET p. 269). The Five Classics, some parts written as early as 1000 BCE, describe the importance of a well maintained civil, familial, and filial life, and described what good conduct in the familial (private) realm and how to cultivate morals and individual spirituality. In The Book of Documents, one of the Five Classics, three mythical sage kings (Yao representing the civil aspect, Shun the familial, and Yu the filial) and their legends. These act as means to convey the proper way one ought to behave in each type of relationship and duty (ET p.270). The other books (Changes, Poetry, Rites, and the Spring- Autumnal Annals) convey rites such as marriage and burials, and poetry which criticised to some extent bad government, some of these selected by Confucius himself. Confucius brought many changes and emphasised important parts of Confucian tradition. He proclaimed that a, ” noble person concerns himself with the root; when the root is established, the way is born. Being filial and fraternal- is this not the root of humaneness?” bringing traditional texts a step further in highlighting the importance of fraternity with friends and siblings, and the familial duty that all people face and should not shunt. To Confucius, a great leader who wants his people to be happy will have it so, and therefore a “humane” leader who treats his family with humanity makes a proper ruler. He asserts that a “good” and wellminded leader is needed to reign over “simple minded” folk (ET p. 276). Confucius also emphasised the ‘Silver Rule’ which inspired a similar philosophy in the west: what you would not want for yourself, do not do to others (ET p. 275). 7. The Han dynasty salvaged what they could from the destructive Qin dynasty, and effectively ensured that Confucianism would survive all through present day. Han Confucianism led to many changes in classical thought, however. They added trustworthiness to the four original “virtues” (humaneness, rites, wisdom, and action). Han Confucianists also believed during this period that government should remain a force for the people and make sure adequate resources were available to its citizenry before concerning itself with anything else (ET p. 289). Along with providing further guidelines to what they believed governance ought to be, they also added texts which emphasised the role of women in Confucian society, such as Biographies of Virtuous Women by Lienu Zhuan. This allowed a more nuanced place for women in eastern philosophy and the private and public spheres of living.