World Religion


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The first slide presentation I give to my World Religion Students

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  • For example, their definition might include belief in a God or Goddess or combination of Gods and Goddesses who are responsible for the creation of the universe and for its continuing operation. This excludes such non-theistic  religions as Buddhism and many forms of religious Satanism which have no such belief.3) For example, David Edward's definition would seem to include cosmology and ecology within his definition of religion -- fields of investigation that most people regard to be a scientific studies and non-religious in nature.
  • While this definition is true and encompasses the problem with trying to define religion by not defining it we are still left without a definitionThis definition would exclude religions that do not engage in worship. It implies that there are two important components to religion:one's belief and worship in a deity or deitiesone's ethical behavior towards other persons
  • This definition would not consider some Buddhist sects as religions. Many Unitarian Universalists are excluded by this description. Strictly interpreted, it would also reject polytheistic religions, since it refers to "a" personal God." This is a curious definition because it does not require elements often associated with religion, such as deity, morality, worldview, etc. Also it requires that a person pursue their religion with enthusiasm. Many people identify themselves with a specific religion, but are not intensely engaged with their faith.
  • A worldview is a set of basic, foundational beliefs concerning deity, humanity and the rest of the universe.) Thus we would consider Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Native American Spirituality, Wicca, and other Neopagan traditions to be religions. We also include Agnosticism, Atheism, Humanism, Ethical Culture etc. as religions, because they also contain a "belief about deity." Their belief is that they do not know whether a deity exists, or they have no knowledge of God, or they sincerely believe that God does not exist. 
  • The ancient polytheistic belief systems viewed gods as being in control of all natural events such as rainfall, harvests and fertility. Generally, polytheistic cultures believed in sacrifices to appease their gods. For instance, the Canaanites sacrificed to the male god, Baal, and his female counterpart, Ashteroth. Baal controlled the rain and the harvest, while Ashteroth controlled fertility and reproduction. The Greeks and Romans developed polytheism to a highly structured pantheon of gods and goddesses.
  • prevailed in numerous ancient cultures. Pantheistic beliefs are also finding resurgence among various New Age movements.
  • From this point in history, God began revealing Himself to the world through the nation of Israel. The Jewish Scriptures record the journey of the Israelites from slaves in Egypt to the "promised land" in Canaan under the leadership of Moses. During a period of about 1500 years, God revealed what became the Old Testament of the Bible, relating the history of Israel with the character and laws of God. During the period of the Roman Empire, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem as the long-awaited Messiah. The ministry of Jesus ended in about 32 AD with His crucifixion and resurrection. After Christ's ascension into heaven, the Christian church grew in His name and the New Testament was written. About 600 years later, Muhammad began preaching in Mecca. Muhammad believed he was the ultimate prophet of God, and his teachings became the precepts of Islam as recorded in the Qur'an.
  • In general, the different gods and goddesses in Hinduism are different ways of conceiving and approaching the one god beyond name and form. Diferent forms of worship through images symbols and rituals are helpful to different kinds of persons. Some do not need external worship the gaol is to transcend these forms and the world as it is ordinarily perceived and to realize the divine presence everywhere.Śruti – that which is heard (i.e. revelation) and Smriti – that which is remembered (i.e. tradition, not revelation). The Vedas constituting the former category are considered scripture by many followers of Vedic religion. The post-Vedic scriptures form the latter category: the various shastras and the itihaases, or histories in epic verse. A sort of cross-over between the religious epics and Upanishads of the Vedas is the BhagavadGita, considered to be revered scripture by almost all Hindus today. The Vedas form the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature[1] and the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism.[2]Each of the four Vedas may be divided into two sections:The Mantra portion, also called the Saṃhitā (संहिता), is a collection of hymns to be used in Vedic sacrifices. The Brāhmaṇas portion (ब्राह्मण) (not to be confused with Brahman, or the brahmin caste), contains specific rules and regulations for the sacrifices as well as prose commentaries explaining the meaning of the mantras and rituals.[8]The Brāhmaṇas, describing rules and purpose of Saṃhitās, are further divided:the Āraṇyakas (आरण्यक), which conclude the Brahmanas, are written along a blurry line between the Upaniṣhads (उपनिषद्), which contain highly philosophical and metaphysical writings about the nature of, and the relationship between, the soul (ātman) and Brahman. The Upanishads are often referred to collectively as Vedanta ("the end of the Vedas"), not only because they appear physically in the concluding pages of each Veda, but also because the mystical truths they express are seen by many as the culmination of all the other Vedic knowledge.[9]While the Upanishads are indeed classed within the fold of the "Vedas", their actual importance to Hindu philosophy has far exceeded that of possibly any other set of Hindu scriptures, and even resulted in the BhagavadGita, which is a self-proclaimed yoga upanishad. Thus, they deserve a look that is independent from the samhitas and brahamans, against whose excessive ritualism the Upanishads famously rebelled. They form Vedanta and are the basis of much of Classical Hindu thought.The Upanishads ("Sittings Near [a Teacher]") are part of the Hindu Shruti; these religious scriptures primarily discuss philosophy and "cosmic reality"; they also contain transcripts of various debates or discussions. There are 123 books argued to be part of the Upanishads; however, only 13 are accepted by all Hindus as primary. They are commentaries on the Vedas and their branch of Hinduism is called Vedanta. See Upanishads for a much more detailed look at the mystic backbone of Hinduism.The Upanishads are acknowledged by scholars and philosophers from both East and West, from Schrödinger, Thoreau and Emerson to Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and AurobindoGhosh, to be superlatively beautiful in poetry and rich in philosophy.
  • In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine colour of clouds (dark-blue), four-armed, holding a lotus, mace, conch and chakra (wheel). Vishnu is also described in the BhagavadGita as having a 'Universal Form' (Vishvarupa) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception.[5]The Trimurti (English: ‘three forms’; Sanskrit: trimūrti) is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer."[8][9] These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad"[10] or the "Great Trinity".[11] Of the three members of the Trimurti, the BhagavataPurana, which espouses the Vaishnavite viewpoint, explains that the greatest benefit can be had from Vishnu.[12]
  • Shiva is usually worshipped in the abstract form of Shiva linga. In images, he is generally represented as immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Maya, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the lord of the dance. Third eye: Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire (Kāma) to ashes.[, hair that is shaggy or curlySacredGanga: The Ganga river flows from the matted hair of Shiva. The epithet Gaṅgādhara ("bearer of the river Gaṅgā") refers to this feature.[88][89] The Ganga (Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva's hair.[90]As a family man and householder, he has a wife, Parvati (also known as Umā), and two sons, Ganesha and SkandaThese are represented as the five faces of Shiva and are associated in various texts with the five elements, the five senses, the five organs of perception, and the five organs of action.[164][165] Doctrinal differences and, possibly, errors in transmission, have resulted in some differences between texts in details of how these five forms are linked with various attributes.[166] The overall meaning of these associations is summarized by Stella Kramrisch:Through these transcendent categories, Śiva, the ultimate reality, becomes the efficient and material cause of all that exists.[167]According to the Pañcabrahma Upanishad:One should know all things of the phenomenal world as of a fivefold character, for the reason that the eternal verity of Śiva is of the character of the fivefold Brahman. (Pañcabrahma Upanishad 31)[168]
  • Yoga or discipline comprise four paths to enlightenment or discerning the true nature of reality
  • World Religion

    1. 1. Introduction to World Religions Class One
    2. 2.  Hinduism Jainism Buddhism Islam Shinto Early African Religions Judaism Confucianism Taoism
    3. 3.  What are your definitions of Religion?
    4. 4.  Defining the word "religion" is fraught with difficulty. Many attempts have been made. Most seem to focus on too narrowly only a few aspects of religion; they tend to exclude those religions that do not fit well. As Kile Jones wrote in his essay on defining religion:  "It is apparent that religion can be seen as a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological, and psychological phenomenon of human kind. To limit religion to only one of these categories is to miss its multifaceted nature and lose out on the complete definition."
    5. 5.  Some exclude beliefs and practices that many people passionately defend as religious. Some definitions equate "religion" with "Christianity," and thus define two out of every three humans in the world as non- religious. Some definitions are so broadly written that they include beliefs and areas of study that most people do not regard as religious. Some define "religion" in terms of "the sacred" and/or "the spiritual," and thus require the creation of two more definitions. Sometimes, definitions of "religion" contain more than one deficiency.
    6. 6.  Barnes & Noble (Cambridge) Encyclopedia (1990):  " single definition will suffice to encompass the varied sets of traditions, practices, and ideas which constitute different religions." Websters New World Dictionary (Third College Edition):  "any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy."
    7. 7.  The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1990):  "Human recognition of superhuman controlling power and especially of a personal God entitled to obedience” Merriam-Websters Online Dictionary:  "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith."
    8. 8.  William James: "the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto." Alfred North Whitehead: "what the individual does with his own solitariness." Jerry Moyer: "Religion is a system of beliefs by which a people reduce anxiety over natural phenomena through some means of explication.“ Paul Tillich: "Religious is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern"
    9. 9.  Clifford Geertz defined religion as a cultural system:  "A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.” Karl Marx: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
    10. 10. Religion is any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, and a worldview.
    11. 11.  The origin of religion can generally be traced to the Ancient Near East and classified in three basic categories: polytheistic, pantheistic and monotheistic. Atheism is really a modern belief that resulted from the "Enlightenment" period of the 18th century.
    12. 12.  Polytheism (a belief in many gods) Originated with Hinduism in about 2500 BC. Hindu beliefs were recorded in the Bhagavad Gita, which revealed that many gods were subject to a supreme Brahman god. Polytheism was also the religion of many other ancient cultures, including Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece and Rome.
    13. 13.  Pantheism (a belief that all is God) The belief that the universe itself was divine was typified in the Animism beliefs of the African and American Indian cultures, the later Egyptian religion under the Pharaohs, and Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism in the cultures of the Far East. Pantheism is the principle that god is everything, and everything is god. Therefore, nature is also part of god. We must be in harmony with nature. We must nurture it and be nurtured by it. Humankind is no different than any other animal. We must live in harmony with them, understand them, and learn from them, focusing on the relationship between humankind and the elements of nature.
    14. 14.  Monotheism (a belief in one God) Foundation of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim line of religions, which began with a man named Abraham in about 2000 BC.
    15. 15.  c. 2000 BC: Time of Abraham, the patriarch of Israel. c. 1200 BC: Time of Moses, the Hebrew leader of the Exodus. c. 1100 - 500 BC: Hindus compile their holy texts, the Vedas. c. 563 - 483 BC: Time of Buddha, founder of Buddhism. c. 551 - 479 BC: Time of Confucius, founder of Confucianism. c. 200 BC: The Hindu book, Bhagavad Gita, is written. c. 2 to 4 BC - 32 AD: Time of Jesus Christ, the Messiah and founder of Christianity. c. 32 AD: The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. c. 40 - 90 AD: The New Testament is written by the followers of Jesus Christ. c. 570 - 632 AD: Time of Muhammad, who records the Quran as the basis of Islam.
    16. 16. History and Beliefs
    17. 17.  Founder: None Creed/Doctrine: None Sacred Texts: The Vedas (bodies of knowledge), The Brahmanas, The Aranyakas, The Upanishads, The Mahabharata, The Ramayana, The Code of Manu, The Puranas and The Yoga Sutras Summary: God is both within being and object in the universe—and transcends every being and object; the essence of each soul I divine; and the purpose of life is to become aware of that divine essence.  The many forms of worship ritual and meditation in Hinduism are intended to lead the soul toward direct experience of God or Self
    18. 18.  Polytheistic - one which worships multiple deities: gods and goddesses. Monotheistic religion, because it recognizes only one supreme God: Brahman, that all reality is a unity. Trinitarian because Brahman is simultaneously visualized as a triad:  Brahma, the Creator  Vishnu, (Krishna) the Preserver and  Shiva, the Destroyer Henotheistic religion -- a religion which recognizes a single deity, but which recognizes other gods and goddesses as facets or manifestations or aspects of that supreme God.
    19. 19.  Vishnu, (Krishna) the Preserver, who preserves these new creations. Whenever dharma (eternal order, righteousness, religion, law and duty)is threatened, Vishnu travels from heaven to earth in one of ten incarnations.
    20. 20. Shiva, the Destroyer, is at times compassionate,erotic and destructive.
    21. 21.  URBAN HINDUS Most urban Hindus follow one of two major divisions within Hinduism: Vaishnavism: which generally regards Vishnu as the ultimate deity Shivaism: which generally regards Shiva as the ultimate deity.
    22. 22.  RURAL HINDUS Many rural Hindus worship their own village goddess or an earth goddess. She is believed to rule over fertility and disease -- and thus over life and death. The priesthood is less important in rural Hinduism: non-Brahmins and non-priests often carry out ritual and prayer there.
    23. 23.  For Hindus, which specific god or goddess you worship doesn’t matter much, because all are just visible expressions of the one ultimate unseen reality: BRAHMAN
    24. 24.  Atman is the inner self, the ‘soul’ that is reincarnated. Atman is the part of god in every living thing. The purpose of life is to unite Atman with Brahman
    25. 25.  Hindus believe in the repetitious Transmigration of the Soul. This is the transfer of ones soul after death into another body. This produces a continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth through many lifetimes. This cycle is called samsara.
    26. 26.  Karma is the accumulated sum of ones good and bad deeds. Karma determines how you will live your next life. Through pure acts, thoughts and devotion, one can be reborn at a higher level. Bad deeds can cause a person to be reborn as a lower level, or even as an Animal/insect.
    27. 27.  The main goal for those who renounce the world is: Moksa or liberation from "samsara," This is uniting Atman with Brahman. Moksa is considered the supreme end of mankind.
    28. 28.  Building good karma: The Way of Action  Fulfill your responsibilities, be honest and fair, treat others with compassion. Building good karma: The Way of Devotion  Intense dedication to worship of a god  Offerings are given to assist the poor  Other activities include daily devotions, public rituals, and puja, a ceremonial dinner for a god. Building good karma: The Way of Wisdom  Meditation is often practiced, with Yoga being the most common. The goal of meditation is to help break- through the Maya and to seek Brahman.
    29. 29.  Method of keeping us in control of our body, mind and actions One must master these four types of yoga  Jnana yoga – the path of knowledge  Bhakti yoga – the path of devotion  Karma yoga – the path of action  Raja yoga – the path based on control of one’s actions and thoughts Having learnt these, the body can be detached from the soul. Achieve union with the supreme self or God. 30
    30. 30.  According to Mahatma Gandhi, love, sacrifice and truthfulness leads to comfort and pleasure in everyday life. Gandhi’s use of nonviolence was a strong weapon in achieving India’s independence Pluralism  Hinduism promotes not only tolerance and respect for differences in belief and religion, but also acceptance of those paths as legitimate 31
    31. 31.  Hinduism has a deserved reputation of being highly tolerant of other religions. Hindus have a saying: "Ekam Sataha Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti," which may be translated: "The truth is One, but different Sages call it by Different Names"
    32. 32. 1. Why does Hinduism have so many Gods?  Hindus all believe in one Supreme God who created many Gods, highly advanced spiritual beings, to be His helpers2. Do Hindus believe in reincarnation?  Yes, we believe the soul (without body) is immortal and takes birth again and again. (samsara)3. What is Karma?  Karma is the universal principal of cause and effect. Both good and bad karma not only decide our fate (sorrow and happiness) in the present life, but also in future life. 33
    33. 33. 4. Why do Hindus worship the cow?  By honoring this gentle animal, who gives more than she takes, we honor the creatures as well.5. Are Hindus idol worshipers?  We worship God through the image so that we can commune with Him and receive His blessings.6. Are Hindus forbidden to eat meat?  Hindus teach vegetarianism as a way of life to not hurt living creatures.7. Do Hindus have a Bible?  Our “Bible” is called the Veda which means “wisdom” and which reveals the word of God. 34
    34. 34. 8. Why do many Hindus wear a dot near the middle of their forehead?  It represents a divine sight and shows that one is a Hindu.9. Are the Gods of Hinduism really married?  It is true that God is often depicted with a spouse in traditional stories, a symbol of love between husband and wife.10. What about caste and untouchability?  Caste is the hereditary division of Indian society based on occupation (priests, warriors, business people, and workers). The lowest caste, untouchables, suffer from discrimination. It is now illegal in India. 35
    35. 35.  Women and Men: must cover arms and legs One should remove shoes before entering the main sanctuary You sit wherever you wish on the floor Priests conduct the service Silence is expected from all present during the ceremony, except during chanting. The Bhagavad-Gita is used during many services