Free «Statement of Purpose» Essay Sample
I am applying for admission to the PhD program at the University of Hawaii because I want to pursue a career in the philosophy of religion. In particular, I am interested in studying the connections between Islam and Buddhism.
My path to Hawaii University was quite long and it was connected both with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience that I obtained during my life. After I graduated from Kuwait University, I had been teaching philosophy in a high school for three years. I experienced many problems when I was trying to reduce the consequences of standard thinking among students that were formed due to the dogmatic religious beliefs. Therefore, students rejected every thought that was not driven from Islam, even if the thought is compatible with Islamic thoughts. They often said, “We have the perfect religion and we do not need to look to others’ thoughts to commit right actions”. However, when I explained the similarities between Islam and other religion teachings, the students were shocked as there were many similar features and characteristics they were not aware of. In fact, if students read the Quran carefully, they may realize that understanding ideas of other people and religions is extremely important. For instance, God says: “And We have already sent messengers before you. Among them are those [whose stories] We have related to you, and among them are those [whose stories] We have not related to you…” (The Forgiver, 40:78). Hence, it is a good and worthy idea to explore whether there are any other prophets that are not known yet.
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I decided to use Buddhism as an example to prove that there are many significant similarities between different religions. Consequently, Buddha may be a prophet, considering the fact that Buddhism teachings have several important features that can serve as good evidence to it. For instance, Buddhism has a practical aspect that shows the path of how the person should live his or her life and reach happiness by seeking nirvana. Moreover, Buddhism offers a unique ethical approach that can be reached from different perspectives, such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. In addition, it uses the notion of universal awareness implementing the idea of “engaged Buddhism”. Thus, Buddhism could be considered a universal ethical system that can be adopted by different people who have different backgrounds and ideologies.
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I decided to continue my studying to award the MA and the PhD degrees, because in such way my personal effectiveness in the society would be much higher. When I realized that excessive religious dogmatism is a significant problem for my society, I understood that my duty was to further study the problems of connections and similarities between religions. Consequently, it will help me make a bigger contribution to the process of solving numerous problems in my field. Therefore, I applied for the scholarship in Kuwait University and everyone told me that it would be very difficult or even impossible to study philosophy in English because my previous courses had been in Arabic. However, my motto and response to the critics of my idea was “nothing is impossible”. I exerted every effort to improve my level of English and polish my knowledge of the required subjects. As a result, I was the only one who qualified for the scholarship and I achieved my goal and won the scholarship in 2014.
Philosophy is the only way that can free human minds, especially in my region, where there are many strict religious beliefs and obligatory cultural laws. As a result of such strict religious believes, Muslims have a difficult time in accepting other religious, specially the non-Abrahamic ones, such as Buddhism. Thus, in order to solve the practical problem, it is important to discuss and analyze it, first of all, at the theoretical level with considering the primary concepts of Islam and Buddhism. It is obvious that discussing them in respect to religion raises conflictions and problems. Therefore, it is necessary to thoroughly analyze them in more general ground that can accept both of them. In addition, the general ground should be capable to be applied in the practical level. Therefore, my approach will focus on the study of Islam and Buddhism with respect to ethics rather than religion by answering the following questions. Why do Muslims reject Buddhism? What are the differences between Islam and Buddhism in respect to religion and ethics?
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My approach is divided into several steps through analyzing and synthesizing. The first step is analyzing the common ideas concerning morality in Islam and Buddhism by discussing the goal of morality in both religions. It will be crucial to differentiate various kinds of motivations, such as desires, inclinations, duties, and rationality. The second step is to synthesize the different motivations by constructing moral norms that can be applied for Islam and Buddhism to reach a common goal, which is happiness. In addition, the second step deals with investigating whether it is possible to categorize Buddhism as a certain normative ethical theory, such as consequentialism, deontology or virtue ethics.
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The topics and spheres that I intend to study at the University of Hawaii are extremely important for the modern world. Nowadays, religions are often considered to be the metaphoric and aimed at creating division between the nations and civilizations. People sometimes believe that differences in religions cause various military conflicts and wars. However, the modern philosophy, culture studies, sociology, and other related disciplines have all the capacities to change such opinion and prove that similarities existing between religions are a way of connecting nations and creating a harmonious multicultural environment in any place of the world.
I applied for the University of Hawaii because it has a high reputation in Eastern philosophies. In addition, it provides the best environment to study the given issue due to several reasons. First, it offers several Graduate courses in Buddhism and Eastern philosophies. Secondly, the department of philosophy contains faculty members with deep interest in Islamic philosophy, such as Prof.