Belief Systems Regents Prep Global History & Geography
Wealth With Virtue – Essentials For Further Advances
It is the duty of the ruler and officials to bring wealth to the populace, yet promotion of money-worship is the worst policy one could adopt.
Wealth without virtue ( de ) will harm all sentient beings, while wealth with virtue is what all people hope for.
Therefore, one cannot be affluent without advocating virtue.
Wealth With Virtue Master Li Hongzhi
Virtue is accumulated in past lives. Becoming a king, an official, wealthy, or nobility all come from virtue. No virtue, no gain; the loss of virtue means the loss of everything. Thus, those who seek power and wealth must first accumulate virtue. By suffering hardships and doing good deeds one can accumulate virtue among the masses.
Cloth-Bag Monk was one of them, and that is why Maitreya has been associated with Cloth-Bag Monk. But the image of Buddha Maitreya is not like Cloth-Bag Monk, who, with a big belly, was always laughing—that was merely his image when he was among humans. A Buddha is holy and solemn, and most of them are quite young and attractive, for the higher their level, the more beautiful.
Wealth With Virtue (con’t)
To achieve this, one must understand the principle of cause and effect. Knowing this can enable officials and the populace to exercise self-restraint, and prosperity and peace will thereby prevail under heaven.
Essentials for Further Advances
Direct Democracy (Greece) vs. Republic (Rome)
A direct democracy is a system of government in which citizens participate directly rather than through elected representatives
A Republic is a system of government in which officials are chosen by the people
Emergence and Spread of Belief Systems Unit 1 Section 4
Major Belief Systems
Religious beliefs developed even in very early cultures. As civilizations arose in Africa, Europe, and Asia, more complex systems of belief developed.
The belief that every living and nonliving thing in nature has a spirit is called animism. Animism was a feature of the belief systems of many early people. Stone Age paintings on the walls of caves probably express these early beliefs.
Prayers to Ancestors
Many believed that by praying to ancestors, they could influence the gods to help them. Therefore people would offer food and other necessities to their ancestors’ spirits.
Beliefs of Early Civilizations
Religions of some early civilizations combined animism with reference for ancestors. People in Shang China and in some traditional African societies believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors could affect life in a positive or negative way.
Buddhism also developed in India but later spread into other areas, such as China. Its founder, a prince named Siddhartha Gautama in the 500s B.C.
The Enlightened One
Siddhartha Gautama aka Sakyamuni Buddha, left his wealthy home to search for the meaning of human suffering. While meditating under a sacred tree, he found the answer to his question, and he was thereafter referred to as the Buddha, or the Enlightened One.
The Four Noble Truths
The central philosophy of Buddhism revolves around the Four Noble Truths.
All life is suffering
Suffering is caused by desire for things that are illusions
The way to eliminate suffering is to eliminate desire.
Following the Eightfold Path will help people overcome desire.
The ultimate goal is nirvana which is union with the universe and release from the cycle of death and rebirth.
The Eightfold Path
After the Buddha died, his teachings were collected into the Tripitaka or “Three Baskets of Wisdom.” This collection is made up of rules for Buddhist monks; sermons; and discussions of Buddhist beliefs. Later, other Buddhists added many more scriptures.
Buddhism and Hinduism as Taught by Master Li Hongzhi
The Buddha Fa has different manifestations at different levels. However, the higher the level, the closer it is to the truth. The lower the level, the further away from the truth. Those monks reached the state of Unlocking Gong and became enlightened at low levels.
Messing With Buddhism
To interpret what Sakyamuni said, they used the manifestation of the universe that they saw at their levels and the situations and principles that they understood. That is, some monks interpreted Sakyamuni’s Dharma one way or another.
Hinduism and Buddhism According to Zhuan Falun
Instead of using Sakyamuni’s original words, some monks also preached what they understood as Sakyamuni’s words; this made the Buddhist Dharma distorted beyond recognition, and it was no longer the Dharma taught by Sakyamuni. In the end, this caused the Buddhist Dharma to disappear in India. This is a serious lesson in history.
Buddhism Came First
Regents says Hinduism came first but our teacher said that after Sakyamuni died some of Buddhism was combined with Brahminism and became Hinduism.
Hindus believe in one unifying spirit called brahman.
The three most important Hindu gods are:
Brahma – the Creator
Vishnu – the Preserver
Shiva – the Destroyer
The goal of life is to achieve union with brahman.
One of Hindu gods
Goal of Hinduism
Achieving union with brahman is said to occur as people free themselves from the selfish desires that separate them from the universal spirit.
Most people cannot achieve this union in one lifetime.
The concept of reincarnation, the rebirth of the soul in a new body, allows people to continue their journey toward union with brahman.
People get closer to this union by being born into higher and higher levels of existence.
Karma and Dharma (found in both Hinduism and Buddhism)
In each lifetime, a person can come closer to union with brahman by obeying the law of karma.
Karma consists of all the deeds of a person’s life that affect his or her existence in the next life.
The caste system is an important part of Hinduism.
Castes are social groups into which people are born and out of which they cannot move during a lifetime.
A person may, however, by acquiring good karma, be born into a higher caste in the next life.
Karma and Dharma (con’t)
By living in a right way, a person will be reborn at a higher level.
Evil deeds cause people to be reborn into a lower level.
Good deeds involve following dharma, the moral and religious duties that are expected as an individual.
A person’s gender, class, age, and occupation all affect his/her dharma.
Sacred Texts of Hinduism
Over several thousand years, Hindu teachings were developed and recorded in a number of sacred texts.
These include the Vedas, collections of prayers and sacred verses, and the Upanishads, philosophical dialogues about Hindu beliefs.
Confucius, born in 551 B.C. was China’s most influential thinker.
Confucius’s teachings, collected in The Analects, taught people to accept their given places in society.
These individual places were expressed through five key relationships
Confucius believed that, except for friendships, none of these relationships was equal. Older people were superior to younger, for example, and men were superior to women. Every person had duties and responsibilities that depended on his or her polition.
Other ideas of Confucius include the following:
People are naturally good
Education should be the road to advancement in society.
To ensure social order, the individual must find and accept his or her proper place in society.
Taoism sought to help people to live in harmony with nature.
Important virtues in Taoism are yielding and acceptance.
Confucius Asking Lao Zi about Etiquette | 孔子问礼图
Lao Zu, the founder of
Taoism, taught people to
contemplate the Tao, or
the ‘way’ of the universe.
Some followers of Lao Zi rejected the world and human government and often withdrew to become hermits, mystics, or poets.
Taoists also believe in a balance between yin and yang.
Yin and Yang
The Yin stands for Earth, darkness and female forces.
The Yang stands for Heaven, light, and male forces
The peace and well-being of the universe depend on harmony between yin and yang.
Sacred Texts of Taoism
The beliefs of Taoism are collected in two works.
Lao Zu is traditionally thought to be the author of the first, “The Way of Virtue.”
A second text is the “Zhuang-zi”, written several centuries later. It contains fables, sayings, and dialogues.
The Hebrews were one of the nomadic groups who lived in the Fertile Crescent.
According to Hebrew tradition, the Hebrews became enslaved in Egypt, and God helped them escape this slavery.
By about 1000 B.C. the Hebrews had set up the kingdom of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.
They believed that God had promised them this land.
Over time, Hebrew beliefs evolved into the religion we today call Judaism.
Belief in One God Monotheism
Most other religions of the time worshiped many gods and goddesses. The Hebrews, believed that God was their special protector and was all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere.
Sacred Texts and Moral Teachings
According to the sacred scriptures of the Hebrews, the Torah, God made a covenant, or a binding agreement, to be the God of the Hebrews.
Jews also believe that God gave them the Ten Commandments through Moses.
The Ten Commandments
These are the laws that describe how people should behave toward God and each other.
The Old Testament of the Bible includes the Torah, which is made up of five books.
The Torah also sets out many other laws that establish the moral basis for Judaism.
Hebrew sacred scriptures also include the writings of spiritual leaders called prophets, who urged Hebrews to act according to God’s teachings. The prophets preached a strong code of ethics, or moral standards of behavior. Judaic thought had a strong influence on two other world religions: Christianity and Islam.
Christianity began in Palestine with the teachings of Jew named Jesus in about AD 30.
Beginning with a small group of followers, Christianity grew and spread to become the official religion of the Roman empire by A.D. 392
However, Christians were persecuted for 300 years before this happened.
Life and Death of Jesus
According to Christian tradition, Jesus’ mother Mary had been told before his birth that he would be the Messiah.
Messiah is the Jewish word, derived from Hebrew, for a savior sent by God.
Jesus grew up worshiping God and following Jewish law.
At about age 30, he began to travel through the countryside preaching and teaching new beliefs.
Many Jews and Romans worried that Jesus was dangerous.
Around 29 A.D., the Romans arrested Jesus, tried him, and executed him by crucifixion. By this method a person was nailed to a cross and left to die.
“ A God comes down
To the world yet
humans nail him to
Master Li Hongzhi
Lecture at the Great Lakes Conference
Incidents such as Jesus being nailed to the cross have become the precedent for high-level beings who come down to save people. How could this be acceptable? This itself is degenerate! A god comes down to save people, yet humans nail him to a cross--what a huge crime people have committed! They're still paying for it today.
Jesus arose again from the dead… Many of his followers said that he had risen from the grave.
His followers worked to spread his teachings around the world.
Jesus had 12 disciples all of whom betrayed him in one way or another on the night of his death.
Spreading the Gospel
Jesus visited his disciples to show them that he had arisen and he forgave them for their betrayal and asked them to go and spread his gospel around the world.
For the next 300 years Christians were viciously persecuted.
Each of his disciples, except for one, was tortured to death.
The Teachings (Gospels) of Jesus the Christ
The teachings of Jesus were rooted in Jewish tradition. For example, Jesus accepted the Ten Commandments that God had given to the Jews through Moses.
At the same time, he preached new ideas.
The Son of God
According to his followers, he was the son of God and the savior the Jews had been expecting.
His mission was to bring salvation and eternal life to anyone who would follow his teachings.
Jesus taught mercy and sympathy for the poor and helpless.
Jesus also preached brotherhood and the equality of people before God.
Spreading the Gospel
Jesus commanded that his disciples spread His Gospel throughout the world.
He said: “Preach the truth, even though you will be like a lamb among wolves.
Eleven out of his twelve disciples were executed.
The Christians were persecuted for 300 years.
In 313 Emperor Constantine ended the persecution by allowing freedom of worship throughout the Empire.
Fifty years later it became the official religion of Rome
300 Years of Persecution
Li Hongzhi Interview Jan 24/04 By NTDTV…
An average person can't understand those who cultivate themselves.
Long ago Christians were persecuted for 300 years, and in those 300 years the persecution they suffered was just ruthless, but it turned out they couldn't defeat them, and instead it only made Christianity flourish.
And why is that? When you touch on that question it involves the matter of faith.
In our Falun Gong practice, the part of Falun Gong you see before you includes recovering health and some other things, and that part alone makes for a big difference between us and people who don't do self-cultivation."
The Christian Sacred Text
The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible.
It has two parts.
The Old Testament includes the Hebrew scriptures, books of law, history, prophetic writing, and poetry.
The New Testament includes the Gospels (describing Jesus and his teachings) and other writings, mostly letters written by Christians that explain Christian doctrine.
In A.D. 622, a new religion called Islam arose in Arabia. Like Christians and Jews, people who follow Islam believe in one God.
Reasons for the Spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire
The poor and oppressed found comfort in Jesus’ message of love.
They liked the idea of a better life after death.
Christian missionaries often added Greek concepts to their teaching of the religion which appealed to educated Romans as well as others.
In about 570, an Arab named Muhammad was born in Mecca. Muhammad became a caravan merchant, married, and had children.
He was troubled, however, by the idol worship of the Arabs of the time.
According to Muslim tradition, the angel Gabriel commanded Muhammad to spread the message of Islam.
Muhammad obeyed this command.
Soon Meccan merchants sought to kill him.
Muhammad Leaves Mecca
In 622, Muhammad and his followers left Mecca for Medina on a journey known as the hijra.
The hijra was a turning point for Islam
Muslim converts in Medina welcomed Muhammad, and the religion grew.
Followers of Muhammad are called Muslims.
The Five Pillars
These are five basic duties:
Belief in one God – Allah, who is compassionate and all powerful.
They must pray five times daily.
They must give money to the poor.
Fasting from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.
Visit Mecca at least once in their life.
Muslim’s Sacred Text
The sacred scriptures of Islam are contained in the Quran (or Koran).
The Quran is the final authority on all matters and provides a guide to life for Muslims.
Muslim scholars have also developed an immense body of laws, called the Sharia, that covers all aspects of life.
The Five Orthodox Religions
In fact, orthodox religions that have appeared in history in the world such as Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, and including Judaism, could all enable the human heart to turn to goodness while, in the meantime, enabling those who genuinely wanted to move up in cultivation practice to attain the Fa and complete their cultivation practice.
Teaching the Fa in Sydney
They would also enable those who were not able to succeed in cultivation for the time being to become better people in ordinary human society and would create opportunities for them to practice cultivation again in the future. This is the way it will be.
Expansion of World Religions
Some of the religions discussed here, such as Confucianism and Taoism, remained within a fairly limited geographical area. Hinduism spread throughout India and into Southeast Asia. Other religions spread more widely.
Spread of Buddhism
Over the centuries, the Buddha’s teachings won wide acceptance.
The Mauryan (India) ruler Asoka converted to Buddhism and sent messengers to spread Buddhist beliefs.
Spread of Buddhism (con’t)
Over time, traders and missionaries, or people dedicated to spreading a religion, spread Buddhism far beyond India to many parts of Asia, including China, Japan Korea, and Southeast Asia.
In India, where Buddhism started, it eventually declined.
Spread of Judaism
Judaism spread in a unique way. The Romans expelled the Jews from Palestine in A.D. 135.
This even became known as the diaspora, or scattering of people.
Wherever Jews settled, they lived in close-knit communities and maintained their identity through the careful preservation of tradition.
Spread of Christianity
Christianity first spread through the work of Christian missionaries such as Paul.
Even though Roman rules persecuted Christians, the religion continued to spread throughout the Roman empire.
This occurred for many reasons.
Emperor Constantine and Emperor Theodosius
In 313, the Emperor Constantine allowed freedom of worship throughout the Roman empire.
Late, Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the empire.
The Fall of the Western Roman Empire
After the fall, missionaries continued to spread Christianity through Europe. Trading networks also spread Christianity, especially as Europe began voyages of exploration and expansion in the 1400s.
Europeans took Christianity with them when they established settlements in the Americas, Africa and Asia
Spread of Islam
In the 150 years after the death of Muhammad, Islam spread over three continents.
Skillful Arab fighters spread Islam through military conquest.
Praying Five Times A Day
Trade had always been considered an honorable occupation for Muslims. Muslims built vast trading empires. Merchants established trading networks with Africa, China, and India.
In India, Muslim traders were an important means of spreading Islam.
At the other end of the Eurasian landmass, Islam spread from North Africa into Spain.
Pearls and Fish Eyes
In the muddy human world, pearls and fish eyes are jumbled together. A Tathagata must descend to the world quietly. When he teaches the Fa, evil practices are bound to interfere. The Dao and the demonic ways are taught at the same time and in the same world. Amidst truth and falsehood, enlightening is important. How to distinguish them?
Pearls and Fish Eyes
There are bound to be exceptional people. Those who really have a predestined relationship and can enlighten will come one after another, entering the Dao and obtaining the Fa. They will distinguish the righteous from the evil, obtain true teachings, lighten their bodies, enhance their wisdom, enrich their hearts, and board the boat of the Fa, sailing smoothly. How wonderful! Strive forward with every effort until Consummation.
Many belief systems emerged over time in various parts of the world. In India, Hinduism and Buddhism developed. In China, Confucianism and Taoism were significant philosophies. In the Middle East, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam developed. All of these belief systems had important effects on the civilizations of their time as well as later on. Several belief systems spread widely through missionary effort, conquest, and trade.
Teaching the Fa in NY 2007
Then during this process of going through real-life experiences in this world and learning about the world, humans of course had to be told, while mankind's culture was being established, about the most important things, such as: What are Gods? What are Buddhas? What are Daos? And what are the different gods? So, how was mankind's culture established? These gods were sent to the human world so that they could have humans learn about these things through being saved. Actually, as to saving people, I just said that those that were saved were the subordinate souls.
Teaching the Fa in NY 2007
Not a single person has been able to return to the heavens--everyone is still reincarnating in the human world. Because the subordinate soul is affected by the person's external form, he has the same appearance as the person. Those with a good innate potential for enlightenment may see that he has returned to the heavens, but this divine being was merely a human being's subordinate soul that happened to have the same image as the person. He was not really the main body of that person, though, and the person still has to undergo reincarnation.
Teaching the Fa in NY 2007
History was established in just such a manner, step by step, right on up to the present, and man was in this manner reared to become a person with modern thinking and behavior, and this was so that when human history reached this last phase, human beings would be able to recognize the Fa. In other words, the emergence of Shakyamuni and the emergence of some gods in history amounted to the emergence of divinely-imparted cultures. And in fact, that was itself to establish for human beings a way of thinking that would enable them to understand divine beings and to establish a culture that would make the idea of divine beings comprehensible. Were history otherwise, when I came to impart the Fa today it would have been very hard for me to teach this Fa, as you would not know what a god was, what a Buddha was, or what a Dao was.
Master’s Lecture in NY 2007
How would I teach it, then? I would have to explain everything to you, including what Buddhas, Daos, and Gods are like, what their characteristics are, what they do, how they save people, what saving people is, what happens to people who are saved, and so on. And even if I were to explain all of that to you, you wouldn't have the real-life experiences and knowledge needed, nor any picture in your mind, nor would you have gone through a process of comprehending things. How would I impart the Fa in that case? How could you understand it? That is why all of this had to be completed in the course of history, and thus people today can understand what a god is, what the Fa is, what cultivation is, what Consummation is, and so on.
Jesus then goes on to explain that all twelve of his disciples will betray him and would soon scatter in fear for their lives. Peter exclaimed that this was not so.
"Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples." -Matthew 26.
Judas betrayed Jesus - What's the story? "Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over" (Mark 14:10-11). This opportunity presented itself in the Garden of Gethsemane (this place is found on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives). Jesus had gone there along with the other disciples to pray before His impending crucifixion. As Matthew 26:47-50 states, "While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: 'The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.' Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, 'Greetings, Rabbi!' and kissed him. Jesus replied, 'Friend, do what you came for.' Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him." When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned to die he was quite remorseful and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
He informed them that he had sinned and had betrayed innocent blood (Matthew 27:3-4a.) His distress was hardly of concern to the chief priests. "'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.' 'What is that to us?' they replied. 'That's your responsibility.'" The final outcome was that Judas committed suicide. It is interesting to note that the other disciples deserted Jesus when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56b). Peter even vehemently denied that he knew Jesus when questioned.
"After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, 'Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.' Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, 'I don't know the man!'
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: 'Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:73-75). "Then they prayed, 'Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.' Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:24-26). All the disciples, inclusive of Judas Iscariot, had to face their own challenge of faithfulness to Jesus. All of them in one way or the other had their bouts of failure